Taking a swipe at China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi
said that India’s growth rate of over seven per cent was being achieved in a
country that is also a vibrant democracy.
Speaking at the Advancing Asia conference here, he said
India dispelled the myth that democracy and rapid economic growth could not
India’s rapid economic growth, he said, was also very
distinct in Asia, as the country had never tried to gain in trade at the
expense of partners, never undervalued its exchange rate; it rather added to
the world and Asian demand by running current account deficits.
The IMF recently included China’s yuan into its reserve
Amid global problems, Mr. Modi said, India was a haven of
In a difficult external environment and despite a second
successive year of weak rainfall, India has increased growth rate to 7.6 per
cent, the highest among major economies in the world.
India and the IMF also announced the signing of a
Memorandum of Understanding for establishing the South Asia Regional
Training and Technical Assistance Centre.
It is expected to become the focal point for planning,
coordinating, and implementing the IMF’s capacity-development activities in
After all the negativity associated with US education in
the recent months, here is some good news for Indian students.
The US government has made certain changes to
non-immigrant visas that will now allow the eligible students to obtain the
Optional Practical Training (OPT) for three years.
However, the facility will be extended only to the
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students who secure
their degrees from accredited institutes and the companies that are part of
the E-verify programme.
Since most Indian students enrol in these courses, the
new norms may work to their advantage despite the stringent norms attached
to the changes.
The new rule also says that STEM-OPT students should not
replace any American worker, temporary or permanent and the salary offered
to the OPT students should be similar to the American workers.
Students who prefer good institutes in the US will gain
while those from non-accredited institutions will not gain from the new
Another positive note may be that OPT students will get
more time to apply for the H1B visas that are capped at 65,000 every year in
addition to the 20,000 meant for US-educated students.
The government has decided to get tough with large
employers who increasingly rely on contract workers often without paying
them their statutory dues such as employees’ provident fund contribution.
As part of the plan, the Employees Provident Fund
Organisation (EFPO) has asked all the public sector firms to upload on their
websites the details of project contracts awarded to various agencies in a
bid to ensure contract workers get provident fund benefits.
Central PF Commissioner V.P. Joy, who recently took
charge of the Rs. 10 lakh crore retirement fund body, is expected to send a
similar directive to 4,700 private companies employing over 1,000 workers
The Contract Labour Act requires employers to pay equal
pay and benefits for work done by contract employees that is similar to
regular employees’ role.
But its implementation has been weak and attempts to
bring in a stronger law have been thwarted as government agencies and public
sector units also deploy a large number of contract employees and are
reluctant to pay them more.
EPFO is looking to make public as well as private sector
companies, which are the principal employers of contract workers,
accountable for providing PF benefits.
The public sector companies will have to register the
details of all contract employers of each project on EPFO’s website.