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India’s first all women crew to sail the ocean

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By Anjali Ojha

Lt. Commander Vartika Joshi, who is set to lead India’s first all women crew to sail the oceans, says that a boat or the sea doesn’t differentiate between a man and a woman and there are no shortcuts to the physical and mental fitness required to sail the open seas.

Lt. Commander Joshi, along with a crew of five women, will soon go globe-trotting. Their adventure is likely to start in 2017. The team stood out at the just-concluded International Fleet Review (IFR) where the crew was on INSV Mhadei, a sail training boat of the Indian Navy on which they are currently training.

“We are training every day for the sailing and it requires a hard level of physical activity. You have to be physically and mentally very strong and there is no shortcut to it,” Lt. Commander Joshi told IANS in an interview.

“It does not matter whether you are a man or a woman, you have to do what you are required to do,” said the sailor, who is a naval architect by training.

The crew is being trained by Commander Dilip Donde, the first Indian sailor to circumnavigate solo across the globe on INSV Mhadei.

Commander Donde, in the same tone, said a sailor is a sailor, irrespective of gender.

“The sea does not differentiate between a man and a woman. A sailor is a sailor,” Commander Donde told IANS.

Asked about his guru mantra to the team, the commander said: “Never let your guard down… You have to be on your toes all the time.”

Riding the open seas in a sailing boat is not an easy feat to pull off.

The crew needs to be aware of every inch of the boat, which they may need to repair themselves in case of damage. Weather in the open sea also remains unpredictable, and smaller boats face more challenges.

Lt. Commander Joshi was confident.

“This is certainly Mission Possible. We have been taking a special training on circumnavigation since (last) April. The course included navigation, equipment, managing a crisis or distress situation and communication courses,” she explained.

The team sailed to Visakhapatnam for the IFR from Goa, and is now on its way back to continue the training.

The boat on which the journey will finally be undertaken is at present under construction in Goa, and the crew has to familiarize itself with every inch of the vessel.

Apart from Lt. Commander Joshi, the team includes Lt. Pratibha Jamwal and Lt. P Swathi in the core group, besides Lt. Vijaya Devi and Sub Lt. Payal Gupta. A sixth member is yet to be named.

INSV Mhadei had been used by Commander Abhilash Tomy for his own solo, unassisted, non-stop circumnavigation under sail. (IANS) (pic courtesy: shyamgopan.wordpress.com)

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India Continues Engaging With USA Over H-1B Passport Issue

India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

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As Trump proposes changes in H1-B visa, India continues to engage with US

India is continuing to engage with the US over the H-1B visa, largely availed of by Indian IT companies, after the Trump administration proposed changes to the programme, a senior official said on Thursday.

“It is a very important topic for us and that is the reason why we have time and again at various levels, we have taken up this matter with the US side,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in response to queries by journalists here.

Kumar said that most recently, the issue was raised during the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Meeting held here last month that was attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

On Wednesday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) plans to come out with its new proposal by January 2019.

India n Passport
It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages Flickr

The DHS said it was also proposing to remove from its regulations certain H-4 spouses of H-1B non-immigrants as a class of aliens eligible for employment authorisation.

The move to end the rule could have an impact on more than 70,000 H-4 visa holders, who have work permits.

The H-4 visas are issued by the USCIS to immediate family members (spouse and children under 21 years of age) of the holders of H-1B visa.

The DHS said it will propose to revise the definition of speciality occupation to increase focus on obtaining the best and the brightest foreign nationals via the H-1B programme.

It will also “revise the definition” of employment and employer-employee relationship to “better protect” US workers and wages, the DHS said.

Donald Trump, India
President Donald Trump speaks about immigration alongside family members affected by crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, at the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, June 22, 2018, in Washington, VOA

In his remarks on Thursday, Kumar said that India is closely engaged with the US administration as well as the US Congress on this matter.

Stating that there are certain bills which have been introduced, he, however, said that “it is important to note that none of these bills have been passed so far”.

“When we have engaged with the US, we have emphasised that our partnership which we have in the digital sphere have been mutually beneficial,” the spokesperson said.

Also Read: USA And Other Countries Pledge To Eradicate Illegal Wildlife Trade

“We have highlighted the role which has been played by the highly skilled Indian professionals who have actually contributed to the growth and development of the US economy,” he stated.

“And also they have helped the US to maintain a competitive edge in the world towards innovation and science and technology.” (IANS)