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'India's voice much more widely felt around the world': former Australian PM lauds PM Modi

Delhi: India has come a long way from being introspective to having its voice heard much widely on the world stage today under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday.

"I think it is a long time since India has been effective on the world stage as it currently is under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I think for a long time India was introspective. Yes, it was colossal of the subcontinent, but beyond its own region, India tended to take a pretty low key approach to things," Abbott said.

"Well, I think in an uplifting, decent and humane way, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is certainly making India's voice much more widely felt around the world," he added.


Former Australian PM Tony Abbot: I think it is a long time since India has been effective at world stage as it is currently under Prime Minister Modi. I think for a long time India was fairly introspective. 1/2

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Abbott said that India has all the credentials to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council. "If there is one country which, by dent of its military strength and its size and economic potential, has a claim to be on the United Nations Security Council, it is India." "I am not sure that the Australian government has an official position on this, but personally I would be very sympathetic to seeing India on the Security Council. The world needs two democratic superpowers, not just one."

He also said that no country which is committed to the rule of law should be anxious about the quadrilateral grouping among India, US, Australia, and Japan, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said here on Monday in response to China's apparent anxiety over the strategic alliance.


#JusticeforFathimaLatheef: HRD Ministry summons IIT-Madras director over student's suicide

Delhi: The Ministry of Human Resource Development has summoned Bhaskar Ramamurthi, IIT-Madras Director reagrding the college's student Fathima Latheef's suicide case.

The 19-year-old Latheef, a first year student of M.A. Humanities and Development Studies, had committed suicide on November 9 by hanging herself from the ceiling fan in her hostel room, allegedly for religious bias.

The prestigious institute has been rocked by protests after her Kerala- based family has alleged a senior faculty was responsible for her taking the extreme step.

Two students of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) began an indefinite fast on Monday demanding an internal inquiry against the faculty members of the Humanities and Social Sciences Department for the suicide of first year student Fathima Latheef.

The two students -- Azhar Moideen and Justin Joseph -- held placards demanding a probe into the death of Fathima and began their fast and also submitted a representation to the Director.

The fasting students also demanded the formation of a committee of experts to look into the mental well being of the students and the efficacy of the present systems in managing the issues faced by the students.

Father of the deceased student Abdul Latheef had last week called on Chief Minister K Palaniswami and the Tamil Nadu Director General of Police, seeking a fair, expeditious probe.

Political parties, including DMK, too staged protests over the incident and the case, handled by the local police initially, has been transferred to the Central Crime Branch.

With inputs from Agencies.


SC upholds disqualification of Karnataka MLAs, allows them to contest by-polls

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the decision of the then Karnataka speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to disqualify 17 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs under the anti-defection law and said that they can contest the upcoming by-elections in the state.

"We are upholding the order of the Speaker," said Justice Ramana while reading out the judgment. The top court said that resignation does not take away the power of disqualification by the speaker.

"Since we are deciding disqualification, resignation is not needed to be gone into. As such there is no doubt that disqualification has nothing to do with resignation," the court said.


The rebel legislators were disqualified by the then speaker K R Ramesh Kumar in July under the anti-defection law after they tendered their resignation.

They were also barred from contesting polls for the duration of the current assembly, which is slated to end in 2023. The move had led to fall of the Congress-JD (S) coalition government, paving way for BJP to stake claim to form a new government in the state.

The disgruntled MLAs then moved the apex court challenging their disqualification. They sought quashing of the order passed by the speaker and prohibition imposed on them to contest elections. The matter was reserved by the court on October 25.

The elections for 15 out of 17 seats are slated to be held on December 5. They were earlier scheduled to be conducted on October 21 but were deferred by the Election Commission (EC) as the petitions of disqualified MLAs were pending in the top court.

The poll body had withheld the elections for two seats -- Maski and Rajarajeshwari -- as the petitions against these Assembly constituencies are pending in the Karnataka High Court.

After their disqualification, the strength of the 224-member Assembly had come down to 207. This had brought down the majority mark to 104. The BJP, which helms the government in the state, has 106 MLAs in the Assembly.

With the by-poll elections, the majority mark will climb to 222 and the BJP will have to win a minimum of six out of fifteen seats to keep its majority.


Flying higher and higher with Haier

Haier Appliances (India) Pvt. Ltd is a 100 per cent subsidiary of Haier Group. It likes to remain low-key in its announcements to media, yet manages to be extremely aggressive in the markets for white goods – both in India but more so globally.

It is easily the global leader in this segment, and aims to be #3 in India by next year. With a net revenue of Rs. 3,500 crore in 2018, Haier India has plans to become a $1 billion (Rs.7,000 crore) company by 2020.

At the helm is Eric Braganza, President, Haier India -- a quiet, modest man who has engineered Haier’s success in this country. Having completed his schooling from St. Columbia’s in Delhi, and graduation from Shri Ram College of Commerce (also from Delhi), Eric became president of this company in September 2009.

It was then a Rs. 200 crore company. Since then, he has meticulously crafted his strategy to make it one of the most formidable players in the white goods segment in India. He spoke with R.N.Bhaskar in his first ever interview to the media.

Edited excerpts:

Haier has come a long way ever since you took over the reins of this company

True. I took over the reins of the company in India over a decade ago when Haier was still at the initial stages of its growth. I saw there was a tremendous potential for the brand to become a household name and we leveraged this as an opportunity for making Haier one of the leading brands in India.

From the right positioning of the brand for Indian consumers to tapping an entire basket of products that Haier was offering worldwide, there were several factors that contributed to its growth.

It was also essential to identify what the Indian market required and ensure we brought those types of products to the Indian consumer. We had to strengthen our dealer network, our after-sales service and adjust our products to the right price point.

Today, Haier is considered to be one of the most preferred brands in home appliances by Indian households. We continue to strengthen the trust that we have developed with our customers by offering them products that complement their evolving lifestyles and are aligned with our motto of ‘Inspired Living’.

We envision becoming a $1 billion company in India and one of the top 3 brands in the home appliances segment by 2020. We also aim to expand our product portfolio along with geographical expansions and focus upon making several investments in terms of increasing local manufacturing, making superior quality products, strengthening our service and distribution network.

What are the factors that helped you grow? Was it pricing, quality, after sales service, or a combination of these? Or are there other factors at work?

It was a combination of pricing, quality, our strong aftersales services and hard work of the employees that has helped up to make a mark for ourselves in the industry.

For instance, we analyzed how the traditional refrigerators are designed in a way where the less-used freezer section is at the top and the more-often-used refrigerator section is at the bottom.

Thus, every time the user needs to use the refrigerator section, he has to bend down to access it. Keeping this in mind, we launched a campaign focused on our Bottom Mounted Refrigerators on the narrative “Ulte ko Seedha” in 2016.

We were the first-ever brand in the industry to introduce this range of Bottom Mounted Refrigerators which helped in reducing bending of consumers by 90% and enabled greater visibility of the refrigerator section with food items stored at the eye-level.

With the launch of our smart home solutions store in New Delhi, we also took a step closer in making our consumer’s lifestyle future-ready.

Additionally, we have introduced many technologically advanced products like the double drum washing machine, self-cleaning technology air conditioner and the industry’s first PuriCool range of air conditioners that come with a built-in air purifier and automatic PM 2.5 air quality detection system.

What is your distribution network like? How many customer service centres do you have?

Currently, Haier has a network of 17,000 dealers across India, comprising 2,000 direct dealers and 15,000 indirect. The brand is further growing its customer base through an extensive retail network of large format stores, multi-brand outlets and a robust dealer network across the country.

We have a large service footprint in the country of Haier Exclusive Service Centers (ESCs), Authorized Service Centers (ASCs) and Direct Service Centers (DSCs) in more than 19,000 pin codes across India.

With services like door to door Mobile Service Vans, 24 x 7 toll-free helpline and Dr. FIDO Live Chat feature available on the Haier India website, we want to ensure a quick and efficient service solution for our customers across India.

What would your market share in India be in each of the three major products that you produce: refrigerators, air conditioners and washing machines?

Haier recorded a net revenue of around Rs. 3,500 crore in 2018. This means that we registered a growth of around 50 per cent and became one of the top five consumer durables brands in India in this category.

In 2018, we grew 71 per cent in our overall refrigerator business and doubled our sales in the mid and high segment. In the washing machine segment, we grew 55 per cent and in the air conditioner segment we witnessed a growth of 40 per cent. In our Commercial AC business, we witnessed an equally impressive growth of 50 per cent.

Haier is the world's largest brand in consumer goods. Was it through organic growth or through acquisitions?

Haier Group is positioned No.1 in global home appliance industry for consecutive 10 years (according to Euromonitor International 2018). The Haier Group today has transformed itself from a traditional manufacturer to an open entrepreneurship platform.

In the era of the Internet and post e-commerce, the company seeks to extend its ecosystem to social networks and community economies while enhancing the user value of Haier products and services and instilling integrity as a core competency throughout the Group. Haier aims to become a global leader in the era of the Internet of Things (IoT).

In 2019, Haier Group officially initiated the global smart home strategic footprint with its cluster of 7 brands including Haier, Casarte, Leader, GE Appliances from USA, Fisher & Paykel from New Zealand, AQUA from Japan and Candy from Italy.

Each brand has its own unique market positioning and provides outstanding user experiences for end users. In overseas markets, Haier has 12 industrial parks and 54 factories.

In 2018, Haier Group's global turnover reached 266.1 billion yuan [one yuan is a bit over Rs.10] with a year-on-year increase of 10%.

One of the factors that aided its growth was a brilliant management strategy by Zhang Ruimin. Could we know more about this?

Haier’s Rendanheyi Model for management is based upon creating a huge value of its services for customers, employees and enterprise and maintain the vitality of venture enterprises in the fast-paced age of Internet.

Under this model we segregated the functioning enterprises within the company into micro-enterprises. These self-organizing micro businesses act as separate entities where the employees do not wait to hear from the boss, but rather listen to their valuable customers.

The core idea behind this is to ensure that employees get ownership, decision-making rights and a customer-paid salary. With such a working set-up they themselves begin thinking like entrepreneurs. As a result, we have one of the lowest attrition rates in the country.

Although we have adapted the model, we still believe in continuous exploration to redefine, challenge, and improve our employees’ way of working. Along the way, we will continue to incorporate radical transformations, practices, and principles as we come across in our quest to make work more fun.

Haier has plans to expand its capacity, earlier than expected. Your views.

In November 2017, we announced the expansion of our existing manufacturing facility in Pune, Maharashtra into our first industrial park in India with an investment of Rs 600 crore.

The facility produces 2 million refrigerators and half a million units each of LED TVs, ACs, Washing machines and water heaters in India. In August 2018, Haier signed an MoU with the UP Government and announced its second industrial park in India in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. That is part of our commitment to ‘Make in India’.

Under this agreement, Haier invested Rs. 3,069 crore for setting up its industrial park in the state over the next four years in two phases. The ground-breaking ceremony in Greater Noida was held in March 2019. We aim to be a billion dollar company by 2020 and be among the top three brands in the consumer durables segment by then.

How many people do you employ currently?

India is a hub for skilled engineers, researches and scientists and it is imperative for OEMs like Haier to tap this talent pool and provide them with attractive opportunities. R&D and Innovation is at the heart of every operation we initiate at Haier.

We see India as a destination to hire competent engineers.. But we still work as a start-up where we tend to tap innovative ideas and provide an open platform to our employees to share new insights that are vital for the growth of our company.

In the coming years, we aim to create almost 4,000 new direct employment opportunities along with over 10,000 indirect jobs through this expansion.


Air pollution crisis: Toxic smog engulfs Delhi, AQI plunges to 'severe plus'

New Delhi: As the air quality in Delhi plunged to a 'severe plus' category on Wednesday, several parts of the capital were engulfed by a layer of smog in the morning.

In morning, the visibility was low and thick smog had engulfed area around Sarai Kale Khan, Africa Avenue and Vasant Vihar, causing problems for commuters, due to the presence of pollutants in the air.


Photo: Visuals from around Lodhi Road, Akshardham and Sarai Kale Khan At 8:30 in the morning, the air quality index (AQI) was 467. At Dhirpur, the air quality was 442 while at Delhi University it docked at 498.

In the capital's famous Chandni Chowk area, the AQI was relatively low with 393, which falls in the very poor category and at Pusa road, it was 460.

People in Delhi are complaining of breathlessness and fatigue because of the spike in the air pollutants in the air. "I come to Delhi regularly from Hyderabad. I am not able to go for a morning walk as I feel breathless and suffocated in the morning.

Collective measures should be taken to combat pollution. I have started using the mask to prevent myself from the dirty air," said Stephen Leura, a traveler to Delhi while speaking to ANI.

"From the past 2-3 days, the pollution was less but suddenly it has increased today. I feel irritation in eyes and fatigue, " said Ankit, a local.

The sky is likely to be partly cloudy for the next two days under the influence of approaching Western Disturbance but no precipitation is expected.

However, in other metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad, the air quality is in moderate category giving relief for the locals.

The overall status of air quality in Pune was 97, Mumbai at 117 and at Ahmedabad, it was 191.


BJP deriving 'sadistic pleasure' out of Maha logjam: Shiv Sena

Mumbai: In a vitriolic attack on the BJP, the Shiv Sena on Wednesday said it was deriving "sadistic pleasure" out of the struggle of other political parties to form government in Maharashtra.

Without taking any names, the Sena, in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana', said those who talk of ethics in politics are currently the "most disruptive".


President's rule was imposed in the state on Tuesday after Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari sent a report to the Centre, stating that formation of a stable government was impossible in the current situation despite all his efforts.

The development came as the political stalemate continued since the declaration of Assembly poll results last month, with the Congress and NCP saying they had not yet taken any decision on Shiv Sena's proposal of forming a government and will hold further discussions.

Prior to it, the BJP, which won 105 seats, on Sunday expressed its inability to form government due to lack of enough numbers.

Despite their alliance getting a majority, the BJP and the Shiv Sena parted ways following disagreement over power sharing, with the Uddhav Thackeray-led party insisting on the chief minister's post.

"If a party with 105 MLAs could not form government, others would struggle for sure. But it does not mean the largest party should rejoice. This attitude of deriving sadistic pleasure has pushed Maharashtra into today's situation," the Sena claimed.

The BJP, as the single largest party, was given "15 days" to form government, but the Sena got merely 24 hours, it rued.

How could signatures of all MLAs be secured when some were out of the state? the Sena wondered, adding that "this is called misuse of the state machinery".

Despite having a clear idea that three parties (Sena, Congress and NCP) need to coordinate properly, the Raj Bhawan gave only 24 hours and on (their) failure (to muster numbers), the BJP was seen rejoicing, it is not a good sign," it said.

It seems someone is more happy over non-formation of government in the state, the Sena said in sarcastic comments. "Those who talk of ethics in politics are the most disruptive in the current politics," the Marathi daily said.

It alleged that the BJP's decision to sit in the opposition was not a strategy, but part of some conspiracy. "The mandate was for the BJP and Shiv Sena. Had the BJP kept its promise, we would have not searched for an alternative.

The BJP talks of being a party of principles, morality and civility, then it should have followed it after the Assembly elections," the Sena said.

In the Assembly elections held last month, the BJP won 105 seats, followed by the Shiv Sena (56), the NCP (54) and the Congress (48) in the 288-member House.


Tis Hazari clash: Lawyers to hold demonstrations at India Gate on November 15

New Delhi: In the wake of the clashes between the police and lawyers earlier this month, the Bar Council of Delhi has decided to hold a demonstration at India Gate on November 15.

Mahavir Sharma, Chairman and Dhir Singh Kasana, Coordination Committee Secretary-General, Bar Council of Delhi said that the lawyers will carry out a march from India Gate to the residence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah to handover a representation to him. Earlier today, Sharma had said that the lawyers' strike would continue across all district courts in Delhi.


Yesterday, a court here sought compliance report from Delhi police in the FIRs related to clash at Tis Hazari Court complex on November 2. The court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Jitender Singh, sought the report on the application of lawyer's committee seeking "status report in related FIRs and issue directions to the Delhi police to arrest the accused or suspected persons named in the FIRs".

The court further directed the concerned DCP to file the status report on or before November 20. The legal committee of Delhi Bar Association, through the application, has alleged that fair investigation is not taking place in the matter and the investigation agency has not recorded the statement of witnesses or advocates who were present during the alleged incident. It has also sought preservation of the CCTV footage from inside and around the place of incident.

On the other hand, the public prosecutor appearing for Delhi police submitted that a fair investigation is being carried out by the crime branch of Delhi Police and the agency is leaving no stone unturned for expeditiously complete the investigation. A judicial inquiry too had been ordered after a violent clash erupted between police and lawyers at Tis Hazari Court complex over an alleged parking issue, which left several cops and advocates injured.


Encounter at Ganderbal: 1 terrorist killed and 1 Indian soldier injured in ongoing encounter between terrorists and security

Jammu and Kashmir: An encounter is underway between terrorists and security forces in Gund area of Jammu and Kashmir's Ganderbal district.

"Encounter has started at Gund, Ganderbal. Further details shall follow," Kashmir Zone Police tweeted on Tuesday morning.

One terrorist was killed in an ongoing encounter between terrorists and security forces in Gund area of Jammu and Kashmir's Ganderbal district.

One terrorist eliminated in an encounter near Gund, #Ganderbal. Operation in progress," said Chinar Corps - Indian Army.

Security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in Kulan area of the central Kashmir district in the morning following inputs about the presence of militants. During the search, the hiding militants fired upon the security forces, who retaliated, according to an officer.

An army soldier was also injured and rushed to a medical facility for treatment, the officer said.

The identity and group affiliation of the slain militant is yet to be ascertained. The operation is on and further details are awaited, the officer added.

More details of the ongoing operation are awaited.

This comes after two terrorists of UN-designated terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, were neutralised in an encounter with security forces in Bandipora on Monday.

Arms and ammunition were recovered from their possession.

Inputs from Agencies.


PM Modi wishes nation on Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birth anniversary

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday wished the nation on the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.

"Today, on the very special occasion of the 550th Prakash Parv of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, my greetings to everyone. This is a day to rededicate ourselves to fulfilling Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji's dream of a just, inclusive and harmonious society," he tweeted.

The Prime Minister also tweeted a video showcasing part of his speech from the inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor, on November 9, where he had called on countrymen to take inspirations from life and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev.

"Guru Nanak Dev Ji taught us the importance of living with true values and also gave an economic system based on honesty and self-confidence," he outlined.

On November 9, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated the Kartarpur corridor at Gurdaspur, facilitating the visa-free travel of Indian pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib, which is the last resting place of Guru Nanak Dev.

The corridor connects Dera Baba Nanak in India's Punjab with Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Narowal district of Pakistan's Punjab province.

Taking to Twitter, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh also extended his greeting and wrote, "I bow to Shri Guru Nanakdev Ji on the auspicious occasion of his 550th jayanti."

Meanwhile, hundreds of devotees have flocked to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib on the occasion of Guru Purab to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. The Gurudwaras have been decorated with lights on the occasion.

The day is celebrated on the full moon day of the Kartik month as per the Hindu calendar. Hence, it is also known as Kartik Poornima.


President accepts Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant's resignation, gives portfolio to Javadekar

New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant from the Union council of ministers with immediate effect, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.

Sawant's resignation has been accepted on advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to the spokesperson.


As advised by the prime minister, the president has directed that Union minister Prakash Javadekar be assigned the charge of the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises in addition to his existing portfolios, the spokesperson added.