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Sunday, April 30, 2017
Infosys, TCS, Cognizant violating H-1B visa norms: US official

Infosys, TCS, Cognizant violating H-1B visa norms: US officialThe US has complained that Indian blue chip IT firms Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Cognizant unfairly get the lion's share of H-1Bvisas by putting extra tickets into the lottery system, which the Trump administration wants to replace with a 'merit-based' immigration policy. A Trump administration official said at a White House briefing last week that a small number of giant outsourcing firms flood the system with applications, which increases their chances of success in the lottery draw.

"You may know their names well, but like the top recipients of the H-1B visa are companies like Tata, Infosys, Cognizant—they will apply for a very large number of visas, more than they get, by putting extra tickets in the lottery raffle, if you will, and then they'll get the lion's share of visas," the senior official said, according to a transcript of the briefing posted on the White House website.

Asked why Indian companies were singled out for mention, he responded that TCS, Infosys and Cognizant were the top three recipients of H-1B visas. "And those three... have an average wage for H-1B visas between $60,000 and $65,000 (a year). By contrast, the median Silicon Valley software engineer's wage is probably around $150,000," the official said.

While TCS and Cognizant did not offer a comment, Infosys said, "We have provided a statement on the H-1B matter earlier. At this point we have nothing additional to add." Infosys's earlier statement on H-1B was: "We are deeply committed to helping US clients leverage technology to transform their businesses, empower their employees in new ways, and become even more competitive. To do this, we continue to invest in the local communities in which we operate, including hiring local American top talent, bringing education and training to our clients to shrink the skills gap in the US, and working with policy-makers to foster innovation within states and across the country. It's our endeavour to help clients leverage the best US talent together with the best global talent, to drive economic growth in the US, ensure the US continues to be at the forefront of innovation, and bring skills and education in the new technologies that will transform our world." The US official said H-1B visas were awarded through random lottery with about 80% of H-1B workers being paid less than the median wage in their fields. "Only about 5% to 6%, depending on the year, of H-1B workers command the highest wage tier recognised by the department of labour, there being four wage tiers. And the highest wage tier, for instance, in 2015, was only 5% of H1B workers," he said. He said workers are often brought in well below market rates to replace American workers, again, sort of violating the principle of the programme, which is supposed to be a means for bringing in skilled labour. "Instead, you're bringing in a lot of times workers who are actually less skilled and lower paid than the workers that they're replacing," he said. (Source: Times of India)

RCom, Aircel seek shareholders’ approval as merger hits last lap

RCom, Aircel seek shareholders’ approval as merger hits last lapThe mega merger between Reliance Communications (RCom) and Aircel to create the country’s third-largest operator is entering the final phase, with both companies seeking shareholder approval in the coming days.

Aircel will hold its shareholders’ meeting on April 22, while that of RCom will be on April 24. The meetings have been convened following a direction by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), according to the notices posted on the companies’ websites. Following the shareholder meetings, NCLT will hear the merger application filed by the companies on April 24 itself. Shareholder and NCLT approvals are the statutory requirements for the merger.

In March, the companies received Competition Commission of India’s approvals for the merger, prior to which approvals the companies had got permission from capital markets regulator SEBI, and the BSE and NSE.

The merger was announced in September 2016, under which RCom and Aircel’s Malaysia-based promoters Maxis Communications Bhd will hold 50 per cent each in a newly-created venture, with equal representation on the board.
Helping pare debt

The merger would help both players pare debt by ₹14,000 crore each, which will be transferred to the new entity. At present, RCom’s debt stands at ₹42,000 crore, while that of Aircel is at about ₹18,500 crore. (Source:The Hindubusiness Line)

Airtel, Vodafone, Idea saw most billing complaints in Oct-Dec

Airtel, Vodafone, Idea saw most billing complaints in Oct-DecThe complaints in the case of Bharti Airtel mostly came from 2G pre-paid subscribers in Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Kolkata, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir, where the benchmark violation ranged between 0.11 per cent and 0.12 per cent.
Users of Airtel, Vodafone and Idea mobile services filed maximum billing complaints in October-December of 2016, as per the latest report of Trai. The complaints in the case of Bharti Airtel mostly came from 2G pre-paid subscribers in Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Kolkata, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir, where the benchmark violation ranged between 0.11 per cent and 0.12 per cent.

According to quality of service norms, the complaint level should not be more than 0.1 per cent per 100 bills issued in one quarter.
The maximum violations are found in the case of Vodafone, where 0.15 per cent and 0.13 per cent of bills were disputed by its users in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, respectively.

Vodafone is the only company during the reported quarter whose post-paid customers in the Mumbai circle also raised a number of quality issues. Complaints against Idea in the north-east telecom circle pertained to 0.13 per cent of disputed bills. As for other quality parameters, Trai found performance of Aircel below par for call drops in most telecom circles. Trai has set a penalty of up to Rs 2 lakh for poor mobile service, including call drops. The penalty kicks in for more than 2 per cent call drops in a quarter in one telecom circle.
According to the report, Aircel's 2G network crossed this limit in four circles. The call drop rate on the Aircel network was as high as 27.73 in the north-east circle. Airtel, Sistema Shyam and Reliance Communications (GSM) service also overshot the call drop level in one circle each.

During the peak hour, the rate is relaxed up to 3 per cent. Even in this category, the figure remained above this level for Aircel 2G in 11 out of the 22 telecom circles. State-owned BSNL, Tata Teleservices (CDMA) and Vodafone also failed on the 3 per cent parameter in one circle each. Telenor's performance was found below par in Bihar and UP East circle, as per the report. RCom topped the list of offenders in the deposits refund category, followed by Tata Teleservices. As per Trai rules, a telecom operator should refund 100 per cent of the claimed deposit within 60 days, but RCom, including its subsidiary, breached this norm across 20 circles in the country.
TTSL did not comply with the deposit rule in six telecom circles, according to the report. PRS ARD ADI MKJ. (Source: ET Telecom)

Delhi court to hear Vodafone's plea against Reliance Jio's free offer

Delhi court to hear Vodafone's plea against Reliance Jio's free offerOn January 30, Vodafone India moved the Delhi High Court claiming that Trai has also failed to implement the telecom department's (DoT) circulars.
Delhi High court on Monday will hear the plea filed by Vodafone India alleging that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had failed to prohibit Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd's (RJIO) "blatant violation" of tariff orders, directions and regulations by permitting it to continue with its free offers.

On January 30, Vodafone India moved the Delhi High Court claiming that Trai has also failed to implement the telecom department's (DoT) circulars.

Earlier, Bharti Airtel and Idea moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) alleging that the regulator has been a mute spectator to the gross violations committed by Reliance Jio. (Source: ETtelecom)

Direct BSNL to withdraw app-based calling service: COAI asks TRAI

Direct BSNL to withdraw app-based calling service: COAI asks TRAIBSNL's limited fixed mobile telephony service is an app-based calling service that virtually turns mobiles into cordless phone working in sync with landlines to make and receive calls within home premises.
Mobile phone companies have sought the sector regulator’s immediate intervention to direct state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) to stop its app-based limited fixed mobile telephony (LFMT) service, which they claim flouts licence norms, runs afoul of the national numbering plan and also evades interconnect charges.

State-run BSNL’s app-based limited FMT service enables customers to literally convert their smartphones into cordless phones to make and receive cheaper landline calls from indoors, bypassing mobile networks and interconnection charges. Customers opting for the service merely need to download an app on to their smartphones using a BSNL broadband connection. “BSNL’s new app-based LMFT service is disguised as a landline service, and is in breach of the national numbering plan and licence conditions,” the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), said in letter to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

The COAI represents India’s three-largest telecom companies, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular among others. Newest 4G operator Reliance Jio Infocomm is also a member of the industry association, but COAI said Jio held a divergent view on the matter.

COAI’s director general Rajan Mathews, in his letter to the sector regulator, said BSNL’s new limited fixed mobile service use the caller-line identification (CLI) of landlines for making calls from mobiles, and in turn, evade interconnect charges. This is since no termination charges are applicable for calls between landlines under Trai’s prevailing Interconnection Usage Charges (IUC) regulation.

Mathews warned that if BSNL’s service is permitted by the regulator, “other operators with a landline number series might also start using their methodology to skirting interconnect charges, which would lead to major revenue implications for mobile operators”.

“Existing interconnection agreements between COAI’s member operators and BSNL do not permit such calls, and does not permit internet telephony services either,” Mathews wrote in his letter to the sector regulator, a copy of which was reviewed by ET.

Earlier this month, BSNL had said its latest app-based limited FMT calling service was “different” from its previous FMT service, which it had been forced to put on hold following stiff opposition from mobile phone companies.

Explaining the rationale behind the new app-based calling service, BSNL chairman Anupam Shrivastava had recently said that since landline subscribers found it inconvenient to fetch contact details from mobiles and then dial from a fixed line, the new app-based service would turn a mobile handset into a cordless device within a user's home premises, allowing him or her to avail of BSNL’s attractive landline tariffs.

However, COAI’s Mathews countered by saying that “BSNL’s new limited FMT service may have now be restricted to indoor home use, but in-principle, it is the same version of the earlier service, in that, its essence and functionality was fundamentally the same of connecting to BSNL’s landlines through mobiles using an app”. (Source: ETtelecom)

PhonePe, Flipkart apps have violated UPI norms on interoperability: NPCI

PhonePe, Flipkart apps have violated UPI norms on interoperability: NPCIThe National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) late on Friday evening said that PhonePe and Flipkart apps are in "contravention" of the UPI guidelines on interoperability.
Hence, NPCI has directed PhonePe and Flipkart*to comply with the UPI guidelines and allow payments from UPI handles of all banks on their Apps.
Simultaneously, ICICI Bank has been requested to allow UPI transactions from PhonePe App as soon as PhonePe and Flipkart's start complying with the UPI guidelines on interoperability. (Source: The Hindubusiness Line)

Decide on Jio case in ‘reasonable time’: TDSAT to TRAI

Decide on Jio case in ‘reasonable time’: TDSAT to TRAITelecom tribunal TDSAT today asked sector regulator TRAI to decide on Reliance Jio’s free 4G service within “reasonable time”. A TDSAT bench, comprising members B B Srivastava and A K Bhargava, heard arguments of both sides — Airtel and TRAI — and posted the matter on February 1 for the next hearing.
The tribunal has directed the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to take a stand on Reliance Jio’s free 4G offer in reasonable time.

The TDSAT direction came while hearing a petition filed by Bharti Airtel, which has moved the tribunal against TRAI’s decision allowing Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio to continue with its free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days, alleging that the regulator acted as “a mute spectator” to violations. In its 25-page petition before the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), Airtel had asked the quasi-judicial body to direct the telecom sector regulator to ensure Reliance Jio does not provide its free voice and data plan beyond December 3.

In the petition, Airtel had alleged that the regulator in its decision dated October 20 “erroneously” concluded that since Reliance Jio’s promotional offer of free services was only valid till December 3, it is consistent with the direction for 90 days. (Source: The Hindubusiness Line)

CBI probes Paytm employee’s role in Rs 10 lakh worth fraud cases

CBI probes Paytm employee’s role in Rs 10 lakh worth fraud cases The alleged complicity of Paytm’s own employees in defrauding the company in cahoots with private individuals has come under the scanner of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In the last one week the country’s premier investigating agency has registered two cases on complaints of fraud of nearly Rs 10 lakh made by One97Communications Limited, the parent company of Paytm.

The Central Bureau of Investigation sleuths are now investigating the role of insiders in facilitating the fraud. Atotal of 22 private individuals, 15 — in one FIR and seven in the second — and “unknown officials” of Paytm have been booked by the CBI on Paytm’s complaint. All the 22 have been booked under the names they used while registering as customers with Paytm. ET attempted to reach out to all the 22.

Mobile numbers of seven individuals, mentioned in the FIR, were found to be invalid (the numbers do not exist). While other numbers were out of reach/switched off. ET was able to speak to six persons.

All of them expressed disbelief on learning about the registration of FIR on charges of criminal conspiracy, forgery and cheating. Four of them conceded that they are Paytm customers but claimed to have used Paytm only for “recharge” purposes.

The other two flatly denied being customers of Paytm. All six denied being residents of the addresses mentioned in the FIR. “I am shocked. This has to be some kind of misunderstanding. What FIR, on what charges ?” replied Sonam Tomar.

She added “I use Paytm only for recharging purposes. I have not made any purchase, what to talk of claiming a refund. These details can be easily verified from my Paytm account”.

Denying that he is a resident of Govindpuri, as mentioned against his name in the FIR, Rinku Yadav expressed shock. “I live in Mahendragarh (Haryana). I have not made any other transaction on Paytm except recharge” he told ET. Dilip Jha, another suspect, said “The last purchase made by me was a phone which I had ordered from Flipkart and I have not returned it”.

Vikas Yadav, whose address is mentioned as “Gali number 13, Govindpuri” said he is Vikas Thakur and not Yadav. “Am a resident of Rohini. I have never used Paytm”, Thakur said. Sushant Sood whose brother’s name figures in the second FIR registered by CBI told ET “My brother’s name is Sachin Sood and not Chaudhari (as mentioned in the FIR). He has never used Paytm”.

Interestingly, customers registered with Paytm under names like “Hotty killer” and “brother” figure in onthe CBI’s FIR. Mobiles of both “Hotty killer” and “brother” were found to be out of reach. Also, addresses of all the 22 accused belong to only four places: Govindpuri (9); Saket, Sainik Farm & IGNOU road (6); Bilwara, Rajasthan (4), Mathura (2) and one in Lodhi colony. Detailed questionnaire, repeated calls & Sms(es) sent to Paytm went unanswered.

Suspecting involvement of its employees in the fraud, Paytm’s complaint, given to the CBI, reads “the fraudulent refunds happened through the use/illegal use of user ids and password of employees of company entrusted for this task. Hence, either the employees themselves or some person associated with them or some unknown people have fraudulently refunded the order amount with common intentions to wrongfully gain along with such involved customers”.

A CBI official, on the condition of anonymity, told ET: “The role of company’s employees is under the scanner. As per its (company) own complaint, the fraud seems improbable without the involvement of their own employees”.

It is pertinent to mention here that the company has alleged, in its complaint “that the accused persons first acquired knowledge as to how the system of company works and then conspired to book orders, take deliveries of products at common addresses known or belonging to them and their accomplices and then made or managed false and fabricated entries in the computer system of the company”.
The complaint further reads the accomplices “approved/made fraudulent refunds against the same orders, the delivery of which were successfully taken by them or their accomplices”. (Source: Economic Times)

Shades of brand envy in Paypal's row with Paytm

Shades of brand envy in Paypal's row with PaytmIndian legal experts pointed to a shade of unhealthy competition in global payments company PayPal's opposition to local digital wallet leader Paytm over the latter's trademark application to register its logo. California-based PayPal, founded by Silicon Valley bigwigs such as Elon Musk and Peter Thiel in 1998, registered a notice of opposition with the registrar of trademarks on November 18, contesting that there were similarities between the logos of the two brands.

The complaint came on the final day of the four-month timeframe for registering opposition to six-year-old Paytm's advertisement of its trademark application, filed on July 18. "Paytm has been around for some time now and PayPal could have objected to the use of the mark by initiating legal proceedings. This wasn't done. Whilst filing of oppositions is fairly normal in the industry, in the present case, it may also be a competitive move," said Samuel Niranjan, counsel, intellectual property, at law firm Khaitan & Co.

"It seems that considering the popularity of Paytm recently (thanks to demonetisation and the government's push for digital payments), PayPal may have decided to file an opposition on the last day of the deadline," he added. Vaibhav Parikh, partner at Nishith Desai Associates, said PayPal's move seemed to stem from competitiveness. ET reached out to the lawyer representing PayPal in the matter, but he did not comment. Paytm and PayPal India said they don't want to comment.

PayPal's main contention in the notice, which is available online, is that the mark sought by Paytm is "deceptively and confusingly similar" to PayPal's. It accused the Alibaba-backed Indian company of "slavishly adopting the two-tone blue colour scheme of its logo."
It also goes on to say in its notice that both marks begin with the term 'Pay', citing that consumers tend to remember the first mark more than the second syllable and that it could cause "a likelihood of confusion."

Rahul Dev, patent and trademark attorney at Tech Corp Legal, argued with the US company's logic."Personally, I find PayPal's argument difficult to stand the test of law as no single party can own exclusive rights to use the generic word 'pay' in the sector pertaining to financial services. If you review the brand names like 'PayPal', 'Paytm', 'PayU', etc, these can be clearly differentiated by their customers without much confusion." (Source: Economic Times)

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