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India says terrorists can’t be backed for political convenience

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Zhengzhou (China): India on Tuesday said political convenience can no longer be an alibi for backing terrorism and called for closer coordination between the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to fight the scourge.

“International terrorism has emerged as the most serious threat to our peaceful and pluralistic societies,” Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said while addressing the meeting of heads of government of the SCO grouping in this Chinese city.

“Closer coordination between SCO member states and zero tolerance towards terrorism will go a long way to addressing this menace. Political convenience can no longer provide an alibi for backing terrorist groups ideologically, financially or through material support,” he said.

The SCO is an intergovernmental organisation founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, by six countries — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Among other things, the SCO aims to enhance regional security through the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) and build connectivity.

India and Pakistan were given the full membership of the organisation at its plenary held in the Russian city of Ufa in July this year.

“One of our most important goals remains a stable and peaceful Afghanistan free of external interference,” Singh said in Tuesday’s meeting also attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“This is absolutely essential to advance peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”

Singh also said India looked forward to the speedy completion of its full membership “so that we can involve ourselves fully in SCO’s programmes and activities at the earliest”.

According to him, there was enormous scope to push forward SCO’s economic and developmental agenda.

“India’s fast-growing market provides an immense economic opportunity, especially for the relatively smaller economies of Central Asia. India’s energy requirements can be met by new and more ambitious energy projects within the SCO bringing on board the interests of energy exporting, transit and importing nations,” the minister said.

He said India, on its part, could bring to the region its strengths in financial management, especially micro-finance, pharmaceuticals, services such as information technology and healthcare, as well as capacity building.

“The SCO should create a facilitating environment for trade and investment. We should bring down barriers to trade and enhance links between our businesses, especially our small and medium enterprises.

“We can also work together on issues of food security and agriculture,” he said.

He said that though the past few years have witnessed a steady growth of new modes of connectivity in the region, progress in this regard was still limited.

“As we move ahead, we should invest in improving regional transportation and communication networks through mutual consultation and sharing of benefits,” he said.

“On this basis, we can create new networks of physical and digital connectivity that extends from Russia’s northern regions to the shores of Indian Ocean. The International North-South Transportation Corridor is an important step in that direction.”

Singh said, “a young and dynamic India, constituting one-sixth of humanity, which is growing at nearly 8 percent per year is joining the SCO to usher in a new phase of friendship with our partners”.(IANS)

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Uber India Rolls Out Driver Reward Programme “Uber Plus”

Uber India has planned free doctor access and micro loans for drivers

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Uber has rolled out a reward programme for drivers in India. Wikimedia Commons

Global ride-hailing major Uber on Wednesday rolled out a driver rewards programme called “Uber Plus” in India that will let drivers earn points for rides so that they can win free doctor consultations, concessions on education modules, access to micro loans, faster airport pick ups and savings on vehicle maintenance costs.

These points will be earned by the driver partners in 13 cities over a fixed period of every three months and can be then accumulated to unlock higher rating tiers such as blue, gold, platinum and diamond which, in turn, will let them access better rewards, informed the company.

“Under the programme, the Uber drivers get access to four tiers. To unlock these awards, they need to maintain a certain threshold rating and keep a low cancellation rate to unlock access to these benefits,” Prabhjeet Singh, Head of Cities, Uber India and South Asia, told IANS.

Uber Plus
Under this programme, Uber drivers get access to four tiers. Pixabay

“We have always worked towards prioritising their welfare and making them feel valued, respected and appreciated. ‘Uber Plus’ is an effort in that direction and will enable our driver partners to access greater benefits during their everyday journeys,” he added.

The rewards and offers are only available to drivers who use the Uber driver app, are participating in Uber Plus and meet applicable criteria.

Asked if this initiative will help in bringing down the number of cancellations, Singh replied: “We encourage ri ders to flag such cases if the driver cancels because the mode of payment is not cash, etc. That will help us take strict action against such drivers.

“We want to encourage behaviour which helps improve the marketplace reliability. Less the cancellation, the chances of the trip getting completed goes up and, overall, the network efficiency increases.”

An initial pilot phase was carried out in Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh and Mumbai and now, Uber Plus is being rolled out across 10 new cities, including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kochi, Guwahati and Jaipur.

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“We also want to reward drivers who have lower cancellations,” said Uber.

Under the driver programme, Uber has partnered with “Ayushman Bharat” to provide access to free healthcare to its drivers, wherein they have access to free healthcare of up to Rs 500,000 in empanelled hospitals. (IANS)