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After Donald Trump’s Anti-immigrant policies, Singapore is next to shut down Indian Techies

Inter-racial couples are subject to constant inspection and Singaporean students of Indian descent have complained of being victims of racism.

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Singapore, Wikimedia

April 13, 2017: Not only Trump’s America vouches for Anti-immigrant policies, an Island nation has been clamping down on Indian tech workers as part of its efforts to make sure corporations give locals a fair chance and to address concerns about overpopulation. Singapore having a population of 5.4 million people and a manpower of which nearly 40% constitutes nonresidents,  has been ramping up measures to ensure that firms have a “Singapore core.”

Officials have remarked that immigrant workers tend to be more frequent in certain industries, including food-and-beverage and technology. Although Singapore hasn’t made any declarations singling out Indian workers or firms, India’s IT trade industry body says it’s seen a definite change in the visa regime.

Officials have remarked that immigrant workers tend to be more frequent in certain industries, including food-and-beverage and technology. Although Singapore hasn’t made any declarations singling out Indian workers or firms, India’s IT trade industry body says it’s seen a definite change in the visa regime.

“They realized that the total number of people they have… far exceed the optimal level [the country can accommodate],” Gagan Sabharwal, director of global trade development at Nasscom, told Quartz.

“That’s when they started shutting the tap down by making it more expensive, making it more cumbersome for companies.”

Nasscom, the National Association of Software and Services Companies, has noted a decline in visas over many years but says things have become individually tough since last year.

In the beginning, Sabharwal states, Singapore started raising salaries required for foreign workers every six months or so by more than 10%. However, promptly, he said, local workers began whining that they weren’t getting paid as generously as their foreign counterparts.

The previous month, Singapore raised the minimum salary that a firm has to pay a local worker in order to count them as a full-time local employee while estimating how many foreign workers it is allowed to hire.

Singaporean officials are also reportedly asking for information in relation to work-permit applications for Indian tech workers that the firms believe is contradictory to a 2005 economic cooperation agreement between the two countries.

Quartz reached out to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) with interrogations and will update if they counter.

Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower also necessitates that the companies must provide it with the relevant information on the number of applications submitted by Singaporeans, such as, whether the Singaporeans were interviewed for a vacancy, and the firm’s existing share of Singaporeans in professional, managerial, and executive positions.

In 2016, there were more than 300 applications pending for foreign employment passes after 100 firms came under extra scrutiny for not giving Singaporeans a fair chance.

Work-permit processes have stiffened lately since Singapore affirmed the Fair Consideration Framework, a slew of rules in place since October 2015 to make sure employers really are considering Singaporeans for vacancies. It requires for the company with over 25 workforces to advertise an opening for two weeks before applying for an employment pass for an international worker to fill that space.

“All Indian companies have received communication on fair consideration, which basically means hiring local people,” Nasscom president R. Chandrasekhar told Times of India.

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The total population of Indian techies in Singapore has desiccated to under 10,000, NDTV reported.

“Since about last summer, the approval rates have actually fallen drastically. Most companies are only getting a trickle through,” tells Sabharwal of Nasscom.

Of course, it’s not just Singapore that’s shutting the door on Indian techies, Sabharwal says. The UK, Canada, and the US—the three countries that account for the mainstream of India’s software export revenue—all have made it harder for Indians to drift to each of those locations.

Each of these mentioned places poses a unique problem further than the legal woes: For instance, a resurrection of white supremacist organizations nationwide and xenophobic political rhetoric have fueled hate crimes in the US. While such acts of violence are unheard of in Singapore, nevertheless an unwelcoming sentiment toward Indians has been pervading the Asian country too.

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The city-state—where nearly 10% of the citizens are of Indian heritage and Tamil is an official language—has seen discrimination against prospective home renters of Indian-origin. Inter-racial couples are subject to constant inspection and Singaporean students of Indian descent have complained of being victims of racism. Meanwhile, a new political party, SingFirst, says the city-state needs to focus on “growing our own timber,” when it comes to the workforce, and be less reliant on foreign labor.

Local hiring is also easier said than done, according to Sabharwal, who says it is difficult to find inhabitants to fill positions. He added that companies need to make more of an effort on providing skills training—or be prepared to move operations out.

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Singapore’s home minister, himself of Indian origin, has notified that the city-state must be on guard against populism that could grind ethnic divisions.

The new effort to promote local hiring is also at odds with how Singapore has billed itself over the last half century, as an attractive destination for the globe-trotting highly skilled worker.

– Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter: Nainamishr94

 

 

 

 

 

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Singapore is becoming a popular Overseas Destination among Indians

The cruise operators offer vegetarian meals, local cuisine and special events reflecting the culture and local traditions that appeal to South Asian guests

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Singapore is becoming a popular overseas destination
Cruise ship Costa Victoria at the Singapore Cruise Centre. Wikimedia Commons
  • Singapore has become a popular overseas destination among Indians not for its food or casinos but for its cruise.
  • Fly cruise tourism has become the new trend
  • The cruise operators offer Indian cuisine, Bollywood songs, cultural events, in order to provide a local touch and please the Indian guests

New Delhi, July 30, 2017: The rank of the hawker food or the city-state’s casinos has dropped in the list of the reasons to visit Singapore, as traveling on a cruise is becoming the current favorite activity among Indians.

Singapore is a destination that most Indians have been choosing for their trip abroad, but the case now is that most people wish to go to Singapore, not for all the exciting things they can do there, but to get on a ship.

Rahul Maini, an Indian architect, and his parents embarked on their first trip abroad in May, and with the similar purpose.

Around 100,000 Indians sailed from Singapore last year, making India the biggest market for cruises departing from the Southeast Asian nation, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. Singapore has become a dynamic entry point for Indian cruise ship passengers.

“We chose to go on a cruise because we could visit three countries in one short trip,” said Maini. The family spent about $7,700, which Maini described as expensive but worth the cost, mentioned the NDTV report.

ALSO READ: India Seeks Recognition of Ayurveda in Singapore As Traditional Medicine

The expenditure is part of the 777.3 billion rupees ($12 billion) that Euromonitor International has predicted to be the amount that the middle-class Indians will shell out on overseas leisure travel this year. The research company further said that the market is expanding about 10 percent annually and is expected to eclipse 1 trillion rupees by 2020.

The Changi Airport Group, which manages Singapore’s international airport have stated that India is growing the fastest among the city-state’s top 10 inbound passenger markets. Even though the Middle East and France are the most preferred overseas destinations for Indians, Singapore is on the verge of registering a 59 percent jump in arrivals from India from 2015 to 2020, according to Euromonitor.

India has even outperformed china by 3 percentage points this year, as the number of arrivals from the country increased 15 percent in the first five months of this year in comparison with the year earlier. A lot of tourists come particularly to join a cruise.

Fly-Cruise Tourism

Fly cruise tourism has also become a trend among Indian tourists.

The number of Indian passengers on Royal Caribbean ships jumped 149 percent so far this year, compared with the same period last year. This includes the peak summer school holiday period that runs in India from May to June, said Sean Treacy, the company’s Asia Pacific managing director.

“Singapore is a regional-hub port which is near many attractive Southeast Asian cruise destinations in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam,” Treacy said. “Voyages from Singapore offer Indian tourists the convenience of visiting multiple destinations across different countries on a single trip while unpacking only once,” he said.

ALSO READ: Singapore Tourism Board planning to attract Tamil Movie producers to shoot their Movies in that Country

The number of cruise passengers from India leaving via Singapore has been increasing by least 10 percent a year annually, said Michael Goh, senior vice president of international sales for Genting Cruise Lines.

“Perceptions of cruising among Indian travelers are fast-changing,” Goh said.

Local Touch

Royal Caribbean is adding more cruises for India’s summer school holidays, Treacy said.

The cruise operators offer vegetarian meals, local cuisine and special events reflecting the culture and local traditions that appeal to South Asian guests.

“More Bollywood music may be played at the pool or disco parties, and more jewelry gift sets, which are popular with Indians, may be procured for sailings that host a higher number of them on board,” Royal Caribbean’s Treacy said.

Mani’s overseas holiday has given him a travel bug. “Singapore was good, but the cruise was better,” Maini said, who’s now saving for a cruise from Barcelona.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter: goel_samiksha

 

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)

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India’s Textile and Fashion Heritage now part of Google project

Google's project 'We Wear Culture' is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

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Google's new art project 'We wear Culture' digitizes fashion, Wikimedia
  • Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India
  • It intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures
  • Its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago

June 15, 2017: To a certain extent, a culture is defined by what is worn by its people. In a country as diverse as India, vast and varied spectrum of cultures and clothes is one of the specialties. Google’s latest virtual exhibition project now provides us the opportunity to explore and know more about it.

Google’s project ‘We Wear Culture’ is collaborating with 183 renowned cultural institutions from all around the world including India and its objective is to let people explore history of clothes dating as early as 3,000 years ago, from the ancient Silk Road to the unmatched elegance of the Indian Saree,  from the courtly fashion of Versailles, to the Victorian ballgowns with intricate thread work.

According to Amit Sood, director of Google Arts and Culture,”We invite everyone to browse the exhibition on their phones or laptops and learn about the stories behind what you wear. You might be surprised to find out that your Saree, jeans or the black dress in your wardrobe have a centuries-old story. What you wear is true culture and more often than not a piece of art.”

Culture is defined by what is worn by its people. Click To Tweet

The company also mentioned that noteworthy collections from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) and varied weaves from across India, from Gharchola to Patola to Temple to Ikat sarees will be included in the online project, as it intends to trace the story and importance of Indian textiles from ancient sculptures.

ALSO READ: New Google Project Digitizes World’s Top Fashion Archives.

According to PTI reports, the world fashion exhibit also includes designs from north-eastern India including the weaves of tribes such as the Nagas, Meitis. it will showcase the traditional attire from Meghalaya called ‘Dhara’ or ‘Nara’ worn by the Khasi women as well.

As a part of the exhibit, Sewa Hansiba Museum has brought the unique colorful and rich embroidery arts, applique and mirror work from different communities such as the Ahir, Rabari, Chaudhury Patel and many others from the western part of India online.

The exhibition conducted by Salar Jung Museum brings to light the Sherwani and its journey of becoming the royal fashion statement of the Nizams from 19th century Hyderabad. Fashion and textiles enthusiasts can revisit Colonial Indian attires with Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum. Over 400 online exhibitions and stories sharing a total of 50,000 photos, videos and other documents on world fashion are open to exploration as well.

The ‘We wear Culture’ initiative highlights significant events in the growth of the world fashion industry; the icons, the movements, the game changers and the trendsetters like Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, Audrey Hepburn and many more.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang