Ola pulls ‘sexist’ ad after viewers’ backlash

Ola, which is facing intense competition from its global rival Uber and attempts to restrict its business from several state governments, now has to deal with an angry mob of users online who are expressing disgust over the brand’s blatantly sexist advertisement.

In an ad titled ‘Too expensive to take GF out on a date?’ uploaded on YouTube, Ola tries to bolster the fact that its newly introduced ‘Micro’ service is so cheap, that the hole it burns in your pocket (assuming that you’re an unmarried male) is negligible in comparison to the sinkhole your girlfriend creates.

“Meri girlfriend chalti hai Rs 525 per km, but Ola Micro chalti hai sirf Rs 6 per km,” says the protagonist of the advert, somehow suggesting that Ola’s cheap rates restore the balance in this twisted universe. This blatant use of sexism has now drawn the ire of hundreds of users who’ve taken to Twitter to protest Ola’s distaste.
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Since Ola begun to see resistance it has taken down the video from its YouTube channel, but nothing ever dies on the Internet, so you can watch it on AdZone’s YouTube channel. Protesters on Twitter have begun asking people to boycott Ola’s service, as mark of disagreement with the company’s views.

In response to the flak it has been facing on social media, Ola later responded in a tweet saying,

“Society is becoming more and more sensitive. Earlier these kinds of ads might have gotten away, but today we live in the day and age of social media. Things which are sexist, stereotypical get noticed and brands can’t risk these things. It’s extremely important to be careful for brands to not hurt anyone’s sentiments these days,” said brand consultant Harish Bijoor.

Social media is an important tool to build brands these days, however, it can also erode a brand in a mere matter of hours. Moreover, Bijoor added that the biggest mistake a brand can do is hurt its target audience, which in Ola’s case are millennials who are the most active age group on social networks.

Ola pulls ‘sexist’ ad after viewers’ backlash

On eve of Obama visit, thousands rally in Germany against trade deal

Thousands of opponents of a proposed transatlantic trade deal poured onto German streets today on the eve of a visit by US President Barack Obama.

Obama’s trip — to open an industrial technology fair in the northern city of Hanover and hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders — was intended to lend momentum to flagging efforts to see the world’s biggest trade pact finalised this year.

In an interview with German newspaper Bild ahead of the visit, Obama underscored his belief that the deal will strengthen trade and create jobs.

But the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has run into major opposition, not least in Europe’s top economy Germany, where its foes have raised the spectre of eroding ecological and labour market standards and condemned secrecy shrouding the talks.

A loose coalition of trade unions, environmentalists and consumer protection groups gathered a crowd of about 16,000 in front of Hanover’s opera house ahead of a march through the city centre expected to draw around 50,000.

Amid a heavy police presence, one banner reading “Don’t give TTIP a chance” featured the image of a bull tagged “privatisation” and a cow branded “democracy”.

A mock coffin lay on the ground emblazoned with the words “Democracy killed by money” and “Here lies democracy”.

“We are not demonstrating against Obama but against TTIP,” said the head of one campaign group, Campact, Christoph Bautz.

“TTIP is deeply un-American and anti-European because it endangers our shared value: democracy.”

A similar protest in October in Berlin drew up to 250,000 people, according to organisers, signalling an uphill battle for the deal’s passage.

In a video podcast, Merkel insisted Saturday that TTIP would not ride roughshod over citizens’ rights or interests.

“We don’t want people to have the impression that something is being hushed up here, or that norms are being undermined. The opposite is true,” she said.

In what she called a “win-win situation”, Europe and the United States had the opportunity to agree on environmental and consumer protection principles that, due to the massive size of the market, “could set global standards”.

After talks with Obama yesterday, British Prime Minister David Cameron also insisted TTIP “would add billions to our economies and set the standards for the rest of the world to follow”.

However, US Trade Representative Michael Froman told the German business daily Handelsblatt on Friday that if the negotiators fall short, “there will be real doubts about whether we will ever get this agreement through”.

The Hanover meeting comes just before a 13th round of TTIP negotiations starts Monday in New York.

But scepticism in the face of those arguments is growing in Germany, and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel admitted this week: “It is possible that TTIP will fail.

On eve of Obama visit, thousands rally in Germany against trade deal

Jewellers asked to clear excise dues with June payment

The government on Saturday asked the jewellers to settle the excise dues for March-May along with that of June and get themselves registered with the central excise department by July 1.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had in Budget on February 29 imposed 1 per cent excise duty on non-silver jewellery, which led to widespread protests by jewellers.

The agitation, however, was temporarily called off on April 13 following assurances from the government that there will be no harassment by tax officials.

“Assessee jewellers may make payment of excise duty for months of March, April and May 2016, along with payment of excise duty for June 2016,” the Finance Ministry said.

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has also extended the time limit for taking central excise registration of an establishment by a jeweller up to July 1, 2016.

The jewellers, CBEC said, are liable to pay excise duty with effect from March 1, 2016.

The government has, meanwhile, set up a committee under former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahiri to look into demand of agitating jewellers and also into their grievances with regard to compliance and operating procedures for payment of excise duty.

The other members of the Committee include legal expert Rohan Shah, Commerce Ministry Joint Secretary Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, CBEC Joint Secretary in Tax Research Unit Alok Shukla and Gautam Ray.

Representatives from the trade will be shortly appointed to the panel.

The CBEC has also asked all associations or trade and industry to submit their representations before the committee by emailing to ‘highlevelcommittee@gmail.Com’.

The gems and jewellery industry is estimated to have incurred over Rs 1 lakh crore loss due to the 42-day strike beginning March 2. Jewellers have also been protesting against the mandatory quoting of PAN by customers for transactions of Rs 2 lakh and above.

Jewellers asked to clear excise dues with June payment

President recommends bill providing for farmers of arid areas

At a time when many states are reeling under severe drought, President Pranab Mukherjee has recommended consideration of a private member’s bill that provides for protective measures for farmers of arid, desert and drought-prone areas and a welfare fund with an initial corpus of Rs 10,000 crore.

The Farmers of Arid and Desert Areas (Welfare and Other Special Provisions) Bill, 2014 was introduced by senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel in Rajya Sabha in December 2014.

The bill, if enacted, will involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India.

“It is estimated a sum of Rs 20,000 crore may be involved as recurring expenditure per annum. A non-recurring expenditure of Rs 5,000 crore may also be involved from the Consolidated Fund of India. A non-recurring expenditure of Rs 5000 crore may also be involved from the Consolidated Fund of India,” the Financial Memorandum of the Bill says.

Under the rules, a Bill which, if converted into a law and brought into operation would involve expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of India, cannot be passed by Parliament unless the President has recommended to that House its consideration.

In a letter to the Rajya Sabha Secretary General a few days back, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh has stated that the President, having been informed about the subject matter of the particular private member’s bill has recommended its consideration under article 117(3) of the Constitution by the Rajya Sabha.

The Upper House has listed the bill for consideration, which seeks to provide for the establishment of welfare fund for farmers of arid and desert areas with initial corpus of Rs 10,000 crore to be provided by the central government.

President recommends bill providing for farmers of arid areas

Garment workers rage in Bengaluru forces Centre to abort PF changes

The underbelly of India’s Silicon Valley got exposed when over 30,000 poorly paid garment workers took to streets against a move by the Employee Provident Fund Organisation to restrict employees from withdrawing their entire contribution to the provident fund till the age of 58.

The move, aimed at encouraging long term savings for employees, has been put on hold by the Centre after protesting workers turned violent in Bengaluru. Union Minister for Labour Bandaru Dattatreya said in New Delhi that the notification (tightening of PF withdrawal norms) will be kept on hold till July 31 and would discuss with all stakeholders before taking a decision.

Miscreants in Bengaluru burned parked vehicles at a police station and damaged over 50 public transport buses in multiple parts of the city. A police firing left two people hurt, including a college girl, while several workers were injured in lathi charge by policemen to disburse them. Eight policemen were also injured when miscreants attacked them. Traffic crawled in busy areas as protesting workers blocked national highways to Chennai and Mumbai demanding the rollback, fearing for their life savings. Police detained over 100 people for indulging in violence.

Bengaluru is home to Page Industries Ltd, the makers of jockey brand garments and Blackstone owned Gokaldas Exports employs nearly five lakh people in the garments industry, nearly 95% of them women from poor background. Average wages of these workers are around Rs 6,000-Rs 8,000, according to Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC). The city is known for producing high value garments for stores such as Marks and Spencers, Tomy Hilfiger and Van Heusen.

“Half of the garment workers are not covered by PF or ESI. The garment industry has the highest turnover of employees,” said Supriya RoyChowdhury, Professor at the ISEC, who has worked on garment workers issues. ” Majority of the workers are young women. Substantial number of them do not last long and want to take PF money for marriage or children’s education.”

The garment industry workers also had serious health issues forcing many of them out of work, said Dr Kala Sreedhar, a professor at ISEC.

This is in contrast with the high paying technology sector, which employs nearly a million skilled workers building solutions for customers globally. “These strikes and violence affect the image of the city,” said an executive of a technology company who did not want to be named.

Local industry officials say that it is not just the loss of image for the city, but also real business that has been affected due to the workers protest, which began on Monday. Over 10,000 workers had taken to streets against the government move.

“This has created tremendous loss to businesses in Bengaluru. Industries have lost over Rs 30 crore a day . Employees have also lost earning Rs 500 a day because of this strike,” said Tallam R Dwarakanath, president of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI). “There should have been better communication to these workers about the benefit of the PF order.”

He said the garments industry generated 25% of the state’s revenue but did not quantify.

While the city burned due to the flip flop- first a partial rollback saying that money could be withdrawn for dire emergencies and then later put on hold the plan, both the state and the central government were caught unawares by the violence.

Union Minister for Fertilisers Ananth Kumar, a parliamentarian from south Bengaluru, pleaded with protestors saying that their rights would be respected. At the same time, Karnataka home minister Dr G Parameshwar asked protestors not to indulge in violence and assured that the government would take measures to protect workers interest.

Trade Union members have called for a meeting on April 26 to decide on the course of action against the government move.

“This was a spontaneous protest by workers. They are worried that their life savings will be lost,” said K R Jayaram, President of the Garment and Textile Workers Union (GATWU).

Garment workers rage in Bengaluru forces Centre to abort PF changes

5 health insurance mistakes you should avoid

People often don’t purchase health insurance, which, with term insurance, should be among the top two covers to have. A recent survey by Future Generali India Insurance of 1,082 people highlights some mistakes people commit.

A look at the findings and remedial action:
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Not purchasing health insurance
The survey found people across age groups don’t like to buy health insurance, though 27 per cent said one person in their family had been diagnosed with a critical illness. Treatment for cancer can cost Rs 5-30 lakh. Medical annual inflation is usually 15 per cent or above. “A medical emergency may well arise when you are young and have not yet built up an adequate corpus. Having health insurance ensures quality health care,” says Arvind Laddha, chief executive, Vantage Insurance Brokers. Thinking health insurance is costly
As many as 52 per cent of the people surveyed had not bought health insurance, citing high premium costs. But for a family of three, where the oldest member is 35, the cost of a Rs 5-lakh cover is Rs 7,577-10,388 (plus service tax). At Rs 20-30 a day, it isn’t exorbitant.

Buy a base mediclaim policy, plus a top-up
Buy a base mediclaim policy, and go for a top-up. For two adults aged 40, who have a base policy of Rs 5 lakh, a top-up of Rs 15 lakh would be Rs 6,588-9,504.

Believing insurers don’t pay claims
As many as 15-35 per cent of respondents across age groups said they hadn’t bought a health cover because they had heard insurance companies don’t pay claims. “Companies turn down claims only if fraudulent or if there was misrepresentation at the time of buying the policy,” says Laddha.

Ensure the information offered at the time of purchase is complete and true. Says Deepak Mendiratta, managing director, HII Insurance Broking Services: “Ask the people at the insurance desk at a neighbourhood hospital which companies accept claims with minimum fuss.”

Not renewing health cover
As many as 19-30 per cent of the people across age groups had owned a policy but did not renew it. According to Manoj Aswani, operating chief, Myinsuranceclub.com, “Mostly people who have never experienced a claim miss out on renewals. Those who have experienced a claim treat it as priority.” Allowing your policy to lapse has many disadvantages. Says Shreeraj Deshpande, head of health insurance, Future General India Insurance, “Renewal allows you to earn credit towards the waiver of time-bound exclusions. It also helps you earn a cumulative bonus for each claim-free year.” All exclusions and waiting periods will apply to you if you buy a new policy.

5 health insurance mistakes you should avoid

Iran ends free oil shipping to India, decides to charge discounted fee

Iran, no longer under sanctions, has ended free shipping of crude oil to India and has terminated a three-year old system of getting paid for half of the oil dues in rupees.

The Persian Gulf nation is now insisting on being paid in Euros for the oil it sells to Indian refiners. It also wants refiners like Essar Oil and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MPRL) to clear nearly $6.5 billion of past dues in Euros, officials said.

Iran had in November 2013 offered free delivery of crude oil to Indian refiners as tough Western sanctions crippled its exports. With shipping lines refusing to transport Iranian crude for fear of being sanctioned, Iran used its shipping line for the delivery and did not charge for transportation.

“National Iranian Oil Company has written to Indian firms saying it will no longer be shipping oil for free,” an official said.

“It will continue to ship the oil in its tankers but will charge a discounted tariff,” he said.

The transportation fee will for now be less than half it takes to ferry oil from Iran.

“May be in future this 50% discount too may go,” he added.

Iran however has continued with its liberal fiscal terms of offering 90-day credit period — ie payment becomes due only after three months of invoice being raised.

With US lifting sanctions in January, Iran has told Indian authorities that the three-year old mechanism of paying 45% of oil import bill in rupees and keeping the remaining 55% pending for payment channels to clear, stands terminated.

The pending payments now total to nearly $6.5 billion, which Iran has agreed to receive in instalments over the next six months, officials said.

“NIOC is raising invoice for oil it is now exporting to Indian refiners in Euros,” he said.

Since February 2013, Indian refiners like Essar Oil and MRPL paid 45% of their import bill in rupees to UCO Bank account of Iranian oil company. The remaining has been accumulating, pending finalisation of a payment mechanism.

With the lifting of sanctions, the payment channels will reopen and Iran is seeking the pending $6.6 billion in Euros. The payments would be done in instalments to prevent a run on the rupee with MRPL likely to be asked to clear its outstanding dues of close to $3 billion first.

Indian Oil Corp, which owes over $580 million to Iran, may be the second in the queue followed by smaller payments by HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd and Hindustan Petroleum Corp.

Essar Oil may be the last to clear its about $3 billion dues.

Officials said Iran has not yet decided on utilisation of the $3 billion which has accumulated in the rupee account with UCO Bank.

It could use the money to make payments for imports of steel and other commodities from India.

Iran ends free oil shipping to India, decides to charge discounted fee