VMate extends its CSR initiative to SOS Children’s Village

SOS Children’s village gifted with water purifiers and a tree plantation drive was concluded

To strengthen its CSR initiative, VMate, a trending short video platform launched a clean drinking water initiative and organized a special event at SOS Children’s Village, Varanasi, UP to engage and entertain the children. SOS is an international non-governmental and a non-profit organization working for the holistic development of parentless and abandoned children. The top 20 VMate creators invited to lead the occasion, infused new energy and high spirits among many SOS children through their unique talent and one-on-one interactions with the children. The heart-warming event was concluded with a philanthropic gesture of distributing 16 water purifiers for the SOS Children’s Village in Varanasi, UP to enable access to clean drinking water. In the past, VMate had collaborated with an NGO called Chetna to uplift the spirits of street children under VMate’s #DonateASmile campaign.

The VMate creators and children also took part in tree plantation drive, enjoyed magic show, fun games, wall painting and cake cutting ceremony throughout the day. VMate along with a group of creators are dedicating efforts to spread awareness on mindful consumption of natural resources, cleanliness and more. VMate is actively pursuing the social causes and encouraging its creators to create content which touches the moral fabric of the society in a positive way. During the event, many videos were uploaded by the creators to capture the initiative as well as highlight the importance of clean drinking water.

One of the famous VMate creators, Sharleen, who has over 2M followers, is a former teacher and was able to pursue her passion for dancing. Her fortunes have turned after joining VMate and now she dedicates her whole time in creating VMate videos and have left her job. She also uses her money to do charity around her house to help the needy. Being a part of the event, she said, “This is a fulfilling experience for me. The children did not only enjoy my performance but when I spoke about the importance of self-cleanliness and portable water, they grasped the tips with great enthusiasm. I am glad that my association with VMate has led to such a beautiful experience.”

Another famous VMate creator, Guruchela Magic who is an oral cancer survivor said, “VMate has helped me to come out of low self-esteem due to my disfigured face. The acceptance and popularity that I gained on VMate has helped me to gel with the mainstream society. Today, I felt extremely happy to stand infront of these kids and inspire them to achieve their dreams in life, without focusing too much on any shortcomings.”

Other VMate celebrities like Vikash Kumar (yogi), Kashif Ali Big Boss, Bhavana Srivastava, Ravi Singh, Prathima Dutt Roy, Veer Khalsa bol, Mr. Braj and Sandeep are the one’s who actively participate in social causes and are emerging as socially conscience creators. These creators actively contribute to uplift the spirits of people by uploading inspiring videos under the moral category of VMate.

In India, SOS began its operations in 1964 and so far have touched more than 50,000 lives. With over 32 SOS Children’s Villages across India and a robust base of over a thousand employees, SOS is successfully providing a family-like environment to every child associated with them With VMate’s clean drinking water initiative, the SOS children in Varanasi, UP will continue to have access to clean water. On the other hand, the high-energy performances by VMate creators positively impacted the creative side of the children.

As a platform, VMate empowers its users to make powerful videos with easy-to-use editing tools and special VR stickers. Millions of Indians use VMate to showcase their talent and highlight their life stories in video format. The platform is renowned for frequent roll-outs of exciting social media campaigns with sure-shot rewards and cash prizes for lakhs of participants and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of winning prizes like car, scooty, etc for a few lucky winners. Many VMate creators also earn lakhs through their VMate videos.


India extends $1 mn aid to Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian

Days after the Bahamas faced huge destruction and loss of lives due to Hurricane Dorian, India on Sunday extended “immediate relief” of $1 million to the Caribbean island nation, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

“We are saddened by the large scale destruction caused in the Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian. In solidarity with the friendly people of Bahamas in this difficult moment, the Government of India is extending an immediate disaster relief of $ 1 million,” MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Dorian made a “catastrophic” landfall in the Bahamas on September 1 as a Category 5 hurricane, with winds reaching 295 km/h.

The death toll there is 43 but officials believe that hundreds of bodies were yet to be found in areas flattened by the winds or smashed by storm surges.

UN officials said about 70,000 people on the Grand Bahama and the Abcao Islands were in need of assistance.



Budget extends tax on NRIs for receiving gifts from resident Indians

The expensive gift that you kept for your overseas cousin or friend may attract tax from this year with the Budget 2019-20 proposing to impose withholding tax all such transfers, plugging an earlier loophole that allowed its tax- free treatment.

The Finance Bill 2019 has imposed tax on any sum of money paid or any property situated in India, transferred by a person resident in India to a person outside India, as it would be deemed to accrue or arise in India. The changes will be applied for all such transfers made on or after July 5, 2019.

Currently gifts given by Indian residents to non-resident Indians – apart from the specified list of relatives – would be claimed as non-taxable. This is because the earlier tax put the onus on the recipient of the gift to make the disclosure and pay tax. As a gift to NRIs means that income is accrued abroad, it remained outside the tax net.

But now, all gifts to NRIs will be income accruing in India and would be taxed as per the normal slab rates applicable to resident Indians. This means that the origin of the gift becomes important for tax purpose, instead of the destination of the gift abroad.

The onus will be on the recipient (the NRI in this case) of the gift to disclose such gifts received if they originate in India and then pay a tax on it.

So, if the value of the gift is above Rs 10 lakh, the recipient will have to pay 30 per cent tax. The tax rate would get higher if the value of the gift, be it payment for studies or a house abroad, is more than Rs 2 crore or Rs 5 crore. In such cases, the highest tax rate for super rich, i.e. 35.7 and 42.7 per cent respectively would apply.

For the purpose, gift will constitute shares, property, vouchers, cash etc exceeding Rs 50,000 made to anyone, apart from the specified relatives or blood relations.

While making gifts to NRIs taxable, the Budget has proposed that in a treaty situation, the relevant article of applicable DTAA (double taxation avoidance treaty) shall continue to apply for such gifts as well.

This amendment will take effect from April 1, 2020 and will, apply in relation to the assessment year 2020-21 and subsequent assessment years.

The specified relatives list in terms of Section 56 of the Income Tax Act is fairly wide. It includes brothers and sisters, and their spouses. Gifts to this category will not attract any tax. But acquaintances, friends, and other close family relations would come under the purview of the tax.



Sri Lanka extends Emergency for another month

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, here on Saturday, extended the State of Emergency by another month, considering the security situation following the April Easter Sunday bombings that killed over 250 people and injured hundreds.

Sirisena issued orders to extend the Emergency for another month from Friday midnight, according to a gazette notification.

According to the notification, the Emergency was in effect for public security, preservation of public order and maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the countrymen, the Colombo Page reported.

The President had declared the Emergency on April 22, a day after attacks on three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations. The bombings were claimed by the Islamic State terror group.

Earier on May 22, Sirisena extended the Emergency by a month as security forces continued nationwide raids to hunt down suspects linked to the attacks. He had assured the diplomatic community in Sri Lanka then that it would not be extended.

Sri Lanka’s police and military have arrested over 100 suspects in the crackdown.

The need to extend Emergency regulations has been questioned by some political leaders and activists in the island country, with the Tamil National Alliance voting against the motion when it was presented in Parliament in May.

“We don’t think it’s necessary to have emergency regulations in place now,” TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran told Efe news.

“The regulations are far reaching and draconian in nature. Also, two cases being heard on the regulations in courts. We will be voting against the motion this time as well,” he said.

The Sri Lankan government has initiated several investigations into the Easter Sunday blasts, including by a presidential committee and a parliamentary select committee. The House panel announced on Saturday that both Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and two former law and order Ministers would meet it to give evidence.

The Acting Inspector General of Police ordered on Friday a criminal investigation into lapses by nine top police officers with regard to bombings. Sri Lankan authorities blame local extremist groups National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ) and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim for the attacks.

The country’s Criminal Investigation Department also brought five suspects, arrested in Dubai in connection with the attacks, to the island earlier this month and are being questioned.

The bombings also caused significant damage to Sri Lanka’s tourism sector.



Rahul Gandhi turns 49, Narendra Modi extends wishes

Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday turned 49. Wishes poured in from political leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi tweeted: “Best wishes to Rahul Gandhi on his birthday. May he be blessed with good health and a long life.”

Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also greeted the Congress chief. “I greet Congress President Rahul Gandhi happy birthday.”

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: “Your indomitable courage in face of every adversity, your indelible commitment to principles in face of every onslaught, your simplicity and straight forwardness when being machiavellian is often considered a virtue is what endears you and sets you apart. Happy Birthday Rahul Gandhi.”

Senior leaders, inlcuding former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, and party General Secretary K.C. Venugopal, and supporters reached the party office on Akbar Road here to meet and greet Rahul.

Birthday celebrations were also held in the party headquarters.



First Modi 2.0 Cabinet extends PM Kisan scheme to more farmers

 In a major push to boost rural consumption, the Modi government in its first Cabinet meeting decided to cover all the farmers, irrespective of their land holdings, under PM Kisan scheme that promises to transfer Rs 6,000 in their bank accounts.

The revised scheme envisages to cover 2 crore more farmers with an estimated expenditure of Rs 87,217.50 crore in 2019-20. The previous government had estimated annual expenditure of Rs 75,000 crore in the earlier version of the scheme.

“The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the extension of PM-Kisan Yojana to all farmers. Nearly 14.5 crore farmers would now benefit from the scheme,” said Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, briefing the media about cabinet decisions.

The Union Cabinet also approved a proposal to provide pension cover to crores of farmers. The Centre would spend Rs 10,774.5 crore for a period of three years on this.

The decision is expected to address the farm sector distress that has gripped the rural economy for some time now. One of the key contributors to the GDP growth, the agriculture and allied activities shrank in the financial year 2018-19.

As per the official data released on Friday, the agriculture sector grew at 2.9 per cent in FY-19 as against the growth rate of 5 per cent in the previous year.

A month before the Union Budget, the decision to expand the PM Kisan scheme shows government’s priority accorded to the farm sector. Many policy experts have stated that higher spending in rural areas would boost economy and could be growth driver.

Announced in the Interim Budget last February, the PM Kisan had covered 12 crore farmers in the country promising to transfer Rs 6,000 in equal installments directly into the bank accounts of farmers holding up to 2 hectares of land. The scheme helped the Modi government win over the voters ahead of the general election.

The previous Modi government had promised to double farmers’ income by 2022 by raising farm output and prices. It had raised minimum support price (MSP) of various crops including rice, wheat and pulses.



Trump administration extends nuclear waivers for Iran

US President Donald Trump’s administration is extending waivers that allow countries signed up to the Iran nuclear deal to participate in civil nuclear projects with Tehran, the State Department said.

The US will extend waivers that allow the remaining parties to the 2015 deal to conduct research and do non-proliferation work at three sites in Iran without fear of facing sanctions, according to the Department on Friday.

However, the waivers will be reduced from 180 days to 90, and State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that “assistance to expand Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant beyond the existing reactor unit could be sanctionable”, CNN reported

Bushehr is one of the three facilities exempted from sanctions along with Arak and Fordow.

The waivers will allow modifications that ensure that the Arak reactor produces less plutonium, that the underground Fordow nuclear site can continue to be converted into a research facility, and that Iran can still buy the fuel it needs to run the reactor at Bushehr and produce electricity.

The US will also revoke two waivers that allowed Iran to ship its excess heavy water for storage and swap its enriched uranium for natural uranium, according to Ortagus.

“The decisions today enhance our ability to constrain Iran’s nuclear program while pursuing maximum economic pressure,” Brian Hook, the State Department special representative on Iran, told CNN on Friday.

The waivers will also, for the time being, avoid a clash with allies and partners who remain in the nuclear deal. Had the waivers ended completely, countries such as China, France, Russia, Germany and the UK as well as the European Union (EU) would have faced the stark choice of either violating the terms of the nuclear deal — giving Tehran another reason to walk away — or face US sanctions.

The provisions allowing for civil nuclear cooperation in the deal are meant to reduce the proliferation risks of Tehran’s nuclear program.

“We are permitting the temporary continuation of certain ongoing non-proliferation projects that constrain Iran’s nuclear activities and that help maintain the nuclear status quo in Iran until we reach a comprehensive deal that resolves Iran’s proliferation threats,” the State Department said.

Friday’s development comes after the administration’s decision to end waivers that allowed countries, including India, to import Iranian oil on May 2.




Raveena Tandon extends help for education of martyrs’ children

Actress Raveena Tandon says her Foundation will look into the education of martyrs’ children.

Raveena spoke on the sidelines of the Nykaa-Femina Beauty Awards 2019 here on Tuesday.

According to reports, Raveena, who is known for her philanthropic work and her association with various noble causes, had decided to contribute for martyrs’ girl child education.

Talking about it, she said: “These are moments when everyone should come forward and contribute whatever it might be — whether it’s a big or small amount. It goes a long way and yes, I have taken over the responsibility of educating the girl children, but I am not limiting it to girl children.

“It was written like that somewhere but it’s not girl child, but the children of the martyrs. It’s not only of the Pulwama attack, it is basically for all our jawans and all are martyrs. My Foundation will take care of education and give out scholarships as well.”

In the wake of the terror attack in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, the All Indian Cine Workers Association (AICWA) announced a total ban on Pakistani actors and artistes working in the Indian film industry.

Reacting to the decision, Raveena said: “I definitely stand by their decision because this is not the time of cultural exchange because all of us are very hurt and upset. Honestly, earlier, I never used to appreciate decision of banning of Pakistani artists working in India. We have heard that many actors from Pakistan came here for work but after going back to their own country, they talk about India disrespectfully.”

Raveena said the Pakistan government must arrest those who are responsible for the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF troopers lost their lives.

“I think everybody is not the same. In that country, there are innocent people who are not playing politics but there is a limit to what even we can do. Right now, cultural exchange seems impossible until and unless they don’t really climb down on what we are wanting… they should stand by us at this time and arrest those who are responsible for this horrible act.”





Jute mills fail to submit undertakings on statutory dues, centre extends deadline

With jute millers not furnishing undertakings on payment of statutory dues to workers and prompt payment for raw jute supplies within the stipulated date citing ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Textiles, the Jute Commissioner has extended the deadline to February 20.

The office of the Jute Commissioner has, however, said the “unusual delay” on the part of the jute millers to submit the undertakings has been “taken very seriously”.

The jute industry is predominantly dependent on the government, which annually purchases jute bags worth over Rs 6,500 crore for packing foodgrain and sugar. Some 3.7 lakh workers and several lakh farm families are dependent for their livelihood on the jute sector.

Following the approval of Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), the Ministry of Textiles had issued an order stipulating that 100 per cent foodgrain and 20 per cent of sugar is required to be compulsorily packed in jute packaging material.

And, to ensure that persons engaged in production of raw jute and jute packaging material derive beenfit from the mandatory packaging, the jute millers were asked to submit the undertaking to the Office of the Jute Commissioner by January 25.

“One month has already elapsed since the intimation to the all jute mills was made. The unusual delay by the mills in submitting an undertaking as per an order conveying the decisions of CCEA has been taken very seriously,” an official told IANS.

The failure or delay or any hesitation on the part of the mills in submitting the undertaking has “the potential to raise question on the business practices” adopted by them and it may raise apprehensions that mills have defaulted on payment on account of raw jute purchase, payment of wages and statutory dues to jute workers,” the official said, citing a letter sent to jute mills except those who submitted the same.

Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani recently said here that the centre was committed to the welfare of jute farmers and workers.

According to Irani, the centre has made it mandatory that any packaging order that the industry receives from the central government is conditional on payments being made to farmers and workers and ensuring their welfare.

If the mills fail to fulfil their commitments, penal measures including deduction in the quantity ordered in the following months and debarment from government orders in future could be considered, according to a document IANS has accessed.

“We are in discussions with the Ministry of Textiles. Millers did not submit the undertaking on the statutory dues. All our issues have been brought to the notice of the ministry,” Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) Chairman Manish Poddar told IANS.

Without divulging the details of the parleys, Poddar said the industry is hoping that “a solution would be brought forward”.

He said the industry has “never supported” any provision of statutory dues with regard to payments to workers.

However, a government official said the undertaking was sought for implementing the CCEA’s decision.

“The process of submitting an undertaking by jute mills is in line with the exercise for implementing the CCEA decision for ensuring payment of statutory dues to jute workers and prompt payment on procurement of raw jute,” the official said, adding that they have been asked to submit this by February 20.

According to sources, mills procure raw jute from traders, suppliers and financiers, who buy it by paying cash to farmers or middlemen. The traders then supply it to different jute mills on different payment arrangements with the interest varying from 18 per cent to 36 per cent per annum.





Court extends Chidambarams’ interim protection from arrest

A Delhi court on Monday extended former Minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram’s interim protection from arrest till March 8 in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are probing how Karti Chidambaram got clearance from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006 when his father was the Union Finance Minister.

The ED on October 25, 2018 filed a chargesheet naming Chidambaram and a few others. The CBI had on July 19, 2018 filed another chargesheet against 18 persons in the case.



Court extends Deepak Talwar’s Enforcement Directorate custody

A Delhi court on Tuesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to quiz corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar for two more days in a money laundering case.

Special Judge Bharat Parashar extended Talwar’s ED custody after the probe agency told him that he is required to be confronted with two people in connection with the case.

Talwar was presented before the court on expiry of his ED custody.

Talwar was deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on January 30. He was presented before a court on January 31 which sent him to seven days ED custody.

The ED said Rs 200 crore was allegedly received in one of the bank accounts of a company of Talwar in Singapore and that he is being probed for his suspected role in the irregular seat sharing on Air India’s profitable routes with some international airlines.

Talwar had fled to Dubai after the Indian agencies started probing his role in concealing the income of over Rs 1,000 crore as well as facilitating aviation contracts during the UPA regime.

He is accused of brokering aviation sector deals, getting government approval for foreign companies, and securing favours for clients due to his ties with UPA functionaries.



Google extends Assistant’s ‘Interpreter’ mode to Home speakers, more devices

Google has extended the “Interpreter” mode on its Assistant to Home speakers and other third-party devices.

The “Interpreter” mode will help users have real-time conversations with compatible devices and also translates them into other languages.

“For now, you must use English, French, German, Italian, Japanese or Spanish to start the interpreter mode. After you’ve started interpreter mode, you can ask Google Assistant to translate between more languages,” the company wrote in a blog-post on Tuesday.

The feature supports 26 international languages including Hindi, English, Arabic, Korean and Portuguese among others.

Users can ask Assistant to “turn on interpreter mode” to invoke the feature on compatible devices and choose which languages they desire to use.

“When you hear the tone, start speaking in either language. You don’t have to alternate between languages for the interpreter mode to work,” the port said.

Using the interpreter mode on a Smart Display would allow users to both see and hear the translated conversation. They can also swipe from left to right to stop the interpreter mode.

Google first demonstrated the feature at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2019 in Las Vegas.

The mode first arrived on the Google Home Hub and is expected to be made available on more third-party devices from Lenovo, LG and JBL over the next few months.



Kanimozhi extends support to Mamata’s sit-in on Monday

Tamil Nadu MP Kanimozhi on Monday extended her support to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s sit-in protest over the CBI’s attempt to question the Kolkata Police chief in connection with a ponzi scheme scam.

In a tweet, Kanimozhi said: “Anyone who cares for Democracy, Federalism and Constitution must stand with Ms @MamataOfficial.”

Banerjee started her protest on Sunday night in Kolkata’s Dharamtala area after Central Bureau of Investigation officers showed up near the residence of Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar.

The Trinamool Congress supremo has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah of attempting a coup to destabilise her state, saying there is a “constitutional break-down”.

On Sunday night, DMK President Stalin also extended his support to Banerjee.

“The independence of every institution has been compromised under this fascist BJP Government. I stand with @MamataOfficial Didi in her fight to protect the federal structure of this country and to save democracy,” he said in a tweet.

Kanimozhi extends support to Mamata's sit-in