Infosys execs get objectionable mail; case registered under IT Act

Infosys filed a complaint with the cyber crime police of Bengaluru against a person who allegedly sent defamatory mail to the firm’s chief financial officer, M D Ranganath, and its head of investor relations– Sandeep Mahindroo.

The company said in the complaint that a person identified as Alpesh Patel sent objectionable mails to the senior executives of the firm.

Infosys mentioned in the complaint that the person against whom the complaint was filed has claimed that he has written to the country’s ex-President, Pranab Mukherjee, and US President Donald Trump as well. The accused in the case had allegedly told the US government to stop giving work to Infosys, as the company was spreading terrorism.

 

The cyber crime police has registered a case under section 67 (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act 2008.

The cyber police department is trying to track down the person who sent the mail using the id and the IP address mentioned in the complaint.

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Infosys execs get objectionable mail; case registered under IT Act

US to collect social media data on all immigrants entering country

The Department of Homeland Security will soon begin collecting social media data from all immigrants entering the United States, part of what agency officials call an effort to more effectively screen those coming to the country but privacy advocates see as an unnecessary intrusion that would do little to protect national security.

The department will begin collecting the information on Oct. 18, the same day the Trump administration’s new travel ban on citizens of seven countries and restrictions on those from two others are set to take effect.

Green card holders and naturalized citizens will also have their social media information collected, with the data becoming part of their immigration file. It was unclear whether the monitoring would take place only in the application process or could continue afterward.

 

The department published the new requirement in the Federal Register last week, saying it would collect “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information and search results,” which would be included in an applicant’s immigration file. It said the data would come from “publicly available information obtained from the internet, public records, public institutions, interviewees, commercial data providers.”

The data collection has alarmed privacy groups and lawyers, who expressed concerns on about how the department would use the information. Advocates say they also worry that the monitoring could suck in information on American citizens who communicate over social media with immigrants.

“This would undoubtedly have a chilling effect on the free speech that’s expressed every day on social media,” Faiz Shakir, the national political director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “This collect-it-all approach is ineffective to protect national security and is one more example of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda.”

Efforts to collect social media information are not unique to the Trump administration. During the Obama administration, the department had begun asking visitors to voluntarily provide social media information, and had four pilot screening programs.

After the December 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., counterterrorism officials and lawmakers grew increasingly worried about the use of social media by terrorist groups like the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Many members of Congress, mainly Republicans, began urging the Department of Homeland Security to use data gleaned from visa applicants’ or asylum seekers’ social media accounts as part of the immigration process.

Congressional Democrats also supported the effort to collect social media data on visa applicants.

“We believe these checks, focused on possible connections to terrorist activity, should be incorporated into D.H.S.’s vetting process for visa determinations, and that this policy should be implemented as soon as possible,” Democratic lawmakers said in a letter at the time.

The attackers in San Bernardino, Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, had exchanged private online messages discussing their commitment to jihad and martyrdom, law enforcement officials said. But they did not post any public messages about their plans on Facebook or other social media platforms.

One of the pilot projects, which began in December 2015, screened the social media accounts of applicants for so-called fiancé visas, the program under which Ms. Malik entered the United States.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the part of the Department of Homeland Security that approves citizenship and green cards, has previously used social media as part of the screening process for Syrian refugees, but only when the person was flagged because of a hit in an intelligence database or when questions were raised during an interview with immigration officials.

Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program at New York University, said although it was true that the Obama administration collected social media information, the new monitoring put in place by the Trump administration represented an escalation.

“What is different here is that it appears that they are monitoring people who are already in the United States — green card holders, for example,” she said. “And there is a lack of transparency of how they are using this data, which does heighten the concerns for this group of people.”

US to collect social media data on all immigrants entering country

Markets see largest one-day FII pull-out of Rs 5,300 crore

Foreign investors on Thursday offloaded shares worth Rs 5,328 crore — the largest in a single session — but the markets managed to end with gains, thanks to support from domestic institutions.

Provisional data from stock exchanges showed foreign institutional investors (FIIs) extended their selling streak for a ninth straight day. Foreign funds pulled out Rs 9,900 crore during the period.

Interestingly, net buying by domestic institutional investors (DIIs) showed a sharp spurt of Rs 5,196 crore. The market buzz suggested state-owned Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and some large mutual funds (MFs) went aggressive.

 

“In the past seven sessions, the markets came down sharply. It is likely the Centre nudged LIC and other deep-pocket investors to buy aggressively, to stabilise the market,” said a broker.

The trading volume in the cash segment of several stocks was higher than normal. Typically, a large FII or DII buying or selling figure, as seen on Thursday, happens when there is a large block deal in a blue-chip stock. In the recent past, FIIs pulled out over Rs 5,000 crore in a session only twice, in 2013 and 2015. On both occasions, it was on account of block deals.

“The across-the-board surge in volumes and lack of any big block deals suggested some big-ticket FIIs offloaded their positions. Interestingly, there was enough counter-buying support; otherwise, the markets would have tanked,” said an official on the trading desk of a brokerage.

Market players said more clarity would emerge on the huge sell-off once the markets regulator releases final data on Friday. In a hectic day of trade, amid expiry of September series derivatives contracts, the BSE’s benchmark Sensex managed to recover from early losses to close 123 points or 0.4 per cent higher, at 31,282.5. The index managed to end its seven-day losing streak, during which it lost close to four per cent.

ALSO READ: India the worst major market in September

Market players said it was not surprising to see LIC stepping up buying. LIC is known to be a contra-player in the market. In other words, it buys when the markets enter correction mode and books profit in an upswing. So far this year, the insurance giant is said to have been a net-seller, amid a sharp 20 per cent rise in the benchmark indices. On a month-to-date basis, FIIs have pulled out around Rs 12,500 from domestic stocks, while MFs have been strong buyers of Rs 17,450 crore. Daily buying and selling numbers for insurance companies are not published separately.

Markets see largest one-day FII pull-out of Rs 5,300 crore

Mid, small-caps outrun Sensex in H1FY18

Shares of mid-and-small cap companies have fared better as compared to their large-cap peers in first half (April to September) of the current financial year 2017-18 (FY18). The S&P BSE Small-cap index rallied 12%, while S&P BSE Midcap index surged 10% as compared to 6% rise in the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex.

Around 18 stocks from the S&P BSE Smallcap index appreciated over 100% in past six months, while 69 rallied between 50% – 99%. The list includes Indiabulls Real Estate, Indiabulls Ventures, HEG, Graphite India, Avanti Feeds, Adani Transmission, Future Consumer and Tinplate Company. Only three stocks – Future Retail, Avenue Supermarts (D-Mart) and Bajaj Finance – from the large-cap rallied more than 50% during the said period.

Strong inflow by the domestic mutual funds (MFs) and improved financial performance led to the rally in these stocks, analysts say. MFs have pumped in net amount of Rs 70,460 crore in equities in H1FY18, which is five-times higher as compared to the same period last year.

 

“Mid-and small-caps have benefitted from the gush of liquidity flowing in to the markets – both from domestic and foreign players. That apart, there was an expectation that there will be a formalisation of economy post demonetisation and goods and services tax (GST) bill implementation, which in turn will augur well for these two segments,” explains Vinay Khattar, associate director and head of research at Edelweiss.

Outlook

Going ahead, analysts say, geopolitical events (US and North Korea), global central bank policies, oil prices, impact of goods and services tax (GST) on corporate earnings, rupee performance and measures to rev up the economic growth are some of the factors that will dictate market trend.

Gautam Chhaochharia, head of India research at UBS Securities in a co-authored report with Sanjena Dadawala says the risk-reward for the Indian markets remains unattractive and that the markets are pricing in too much (economic) growth too soon. Their base-case for the Nifty50 index by December 2017-end is 9,000 (down nearly 8% from current levels), while the upside scenario is 10,000.

Illustration: Ajay Mohanty Illustration: Ajay Mohanty “The market is again pricing in too much growth too soon in hopes of an H2 demand recovery. Consumers may be in the same boat as markets: sentiment is improving, but the actual underlying trends are not. In our view, the risk-reward for Indian markets remains unattractive,” they say.

On the domestic front, the government has been under pressure to revive the economy following surprisingly weak gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5.7% year-on-year in the June quarter, which was below 6.1% recorded in the previous quarter and 7.9% registered in the same period last year.

In September, the rupee hit its lowest level in five months, slipping below the 65 mark to the US dollar amidst concerns that fiscal deficit will widen after the government said it was considering measures to boost growth. The key thing to watch, going ahead, is the quality of government spending or expenditure mix (investment vs. consumption), analysts say.

“If the spending is geared towards boosting investment or enhancing competitiveness then it will likely have more durable long-term positive impact and help mitigate concerns about India’s long term fiscal sustainability,” says a note from HSBC.

Consumer discretionary, financials, industrials and materials are the key overweight sectors for HSBC, while information technology (IT), consumer staples, telecom, healthcare and energy are among its key underweights.

Mid, small-caps outrun Sensex in H1FY18

No gain: India, Pak still locked in a cycle of bloody exchanges 1 yr after surgical strike

A year has passed since the much vaunted ‘surgical strikes’ across the line of control, in the wake of the Uri debacle, in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed before the four attackers could be neutralized. Divergent claims have been made regarding the impact of the strikes beyond the initial claims of “significant casualties, caused to terrorists and those providing support to them.” Unconfirmed reports indicate that at least 50 terrorists and two Pakistan Army handlers were killed in these strikes; there were no Indian casualties.

 

No strategic or tactical initiative can be correctly assessed for its success or failure unless its original and intended objectives are clearly known. In November 2016, the government had informed the Lok Sabha that the strikes were conducted to target “launch pads along the Line of Control(LoC)”, where terrorists had “positioned themselves to carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and in various metros in other States. The operations were focused on ensuring that these terrorists do not succeed in their motive to cause destruction and endanger the lives of our citizens.”

At least part of this reasoning was specious. Few attacks in “metro cities of other states” have been the result of infiltration across the Line of Control, with the exception of occasional ‘overflow’ incidents in Punjab. The principal targets of terrorists from the launch pads in Pakistan occupied Kashmir lie within J&K. The pre-emptive and preventive impact of the surgical strikes – if it is to be assessed objectively – must be evaluated in terms of the trends in Pakistan-backed terrorist activity principally in this state.

No available index suggests that the surgical strikes had any enduring impact on these trends. Indeed, terrorism-linked fatalities in J&K have spiked significantly, with at least 332 fatalities recorded by the South Asia Terrorism Portal database (till September 27, 2017), since the strikes, including 53 civilians, 80 Security Force (SF) personnel and 199 terrorists. In the 12 months preceding the surgical strikes, total fatalities stood at 245, including 10 civilians, 78 SF personnel and 157 terrorists. While SF fatalities have risen marginally, there was a 27 per cent rise in terrorist fatalities and a more than five-fold increase in civilian fatalities.

Violations of the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) of 2003 and exchanges of fire across the Line of Control and International Border have, moreover, escalated dramatically. At least 673 incidents of CFA violation by Pakistani Forces have been reported since the surgical strikes, till September 27, 2017. The total number of CFA violations by Pakistan in 2016 was 449, of which, 315 occurred after the surgical strike. At least 57 Indians (33 SFs personnel and 24 civilians) have died as a result of CFA violations since the surgical strikes. By contrast, the fatalities in nearly eight years between 2009 and September 29, 2016, totaled 77 Indians (41 SFs personnel and 36 civilians).

Protecting “the lives of our citizens” is certainly one objective that has not been met.

Every violation by Pakistan, repeated statements by Indian political and military leaders suggest, provokes a disproportionate response from India. No reliable data relating to frequency and quantum of retaliatory fire from India, and the casualties inflicted on the other side, is available. What is clear is that both sides are now locked into a cycle of escalating and bloody exchanges, with no evidence of any visible strategic gain to either, and no way to back off without losing face.

The terrorists operating within J&K have, of course, come under extraordinary pressure in the post-surgical strikes phase; but the operational intensification against them was initiated shortly after the Burhan Wani killing on July 8, 2016, and the stone pelting campaign that ensued. SFs had been stymied by a continuous dilution of their mandate in the preceding years, after terrorism-linked fatalities in the State fell to a low of 117 in 2012, and a crescendo for the withdrawal of the Army and Central Forces, and of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, made effective operations increasingly difficult. Worse, a polarizing politics poisoned the environment, creating widening opportunities for extremist mobilization and Pakistani mischief. SFs have now been given a clear mandate to target and neutralize the terrorists, with intelligence-driven operations successfully taking out much of the top leadership in the State. Operational spaces for the terrorists have been dramatically contracted, information flows from the public are improving, and the extremists are finding few places to hide. Crucially, the over-ground separatist leadership has also been brought under pressure by investigative agencies that have finally been given the authority to implement the law on money laundering, terrorist financing and the vastly disproportionate wealth these facilitators have accumulated through their malfeasance. None of this, however, has an integral link to the surgical strikes.

The bare truth is that the surgical strikes were a revenge attack for the humiliation the Army suffered at Uri. They fell into a well-established tradition of retaliation, which was not publicized in the past. In this case, they were milked for political advantage, but they were no different in their strategic impact from earlier cross border strikes. All these are mere incidents – of greater or lesser magnitude – within a long chain of actions by SFs in the protracted war against Pakistan. Their impact can be no more than transient unless a sustained strategy of attrition against Pakistan is implemented over the years and decades.

The author is Executive director of the Institute for Conflict Management and South Asia Terrorism Portal

No gain: India, Pak still locked in a cycle of bloody exchanges 1 yr after surgical strike

MARKETS LIVE: Sensex up over 150 pts, Nifty above 9,800; auto, realty gain

Benchmark indices rose for a second straight session as sentiment improved after the government stuck to its budgeted market borrowing for the year, easing concerns New Delhi would widen its fiscal deficit target.

Meanwhile, the rupee also strengthened to as much as 65.28 per dollar, but was still down over 2% for the month against the dollar, its biggest monthly decline since November 2016.

Dalal Street has been under pressure this month on foreign fund outflows amid worries that the government may widen its fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of gross domestic product for the year ending in March 2018 to boost an economy that grew at a slower pace than expected.

Globally, Asian shares regained some poise after a tough week in which the gathering risk of a US rate rise lifted Treasury yields toward nine-year highs and left the dollar on track for its best week so far this year.

MARKETS LIVE: Sensex up over 150 pts, Nifty above 9,800; auto, realty gain

22 killed, 30 injured in stampede near Mumbai’s Elphinstone Station

At least 22 people have been killed and 30 injured in a stampede on foot overbridge linking Elphinstone Road and Parel suburban stations in Mumbai, according to ANI.

The cause of the stampede was being probed. Emergency relief and medical teams were rushed to the station.

 

“Of the injured 20 people have serious injuries, rest have minor injuries. Can’t comment more right now,” said Niket Kaushik, GRP Commissioner.

The tragedy took place amid rain in the city around 10.40 am when the foot overbridge was heavily crowded, a police official said. Railway PRO Anil Saxena said, “It seems all started when someone slipped because of the wet floor.”

Police suspect a short-circuit with a loud sound near the FOB led to panic and people started running, resulting in the stampede.

Three persons were brought dead to the KEM Hospital in Parel. Besides, around 20 persons were injured and rushed to various hospitals, an official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s disaster control room said.

Officials of the railway, police and fire brigade rushed to the site to carry out the rescue operations.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal is likely to visit Mumbai’s Elphinstone railway station soon.

22 killed, 30 injured in stampede near Mumbai’s Elphinstone Station