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New Delhi, 18th Dec (IANS): The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a Maharashtra government plea challenging a Bombay High Court order staying operation of an ordinance providing for reservation to Marathas and Muslims in education and government jobs.

A bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice A.K.Sikri and Justice R.K.Agrawal, while declining to interfere with the high court's interim order, said that it was still seized of the matter.

The previous Congress government in Maharashtra had issued an ordinance just before the assembly elections providing for 16 percent reservation to Marathas and five percent for Muslims in jobs and education.

However, the high court Nov 14 stayed the operation of the ordinance but retained the five percent reservation for Muslims in education only.

As the court declined to entertain the plea by Maharashtra government, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi urged the court to hear the matter as there was no point in asking the same bench which has already made adverse observations in its interim order staying the ordinance's operation hearing it again.

He said that they would get the same order from the bench that had passed November 14 order.

At this, the apex court said that high court would decide the matter without being influenced by the observations made in the interim order.

The Bombay High Court, while staying the ordinance, said that prima facie Marathsa did not deserve benefits of reservation.

Besides that, the court had said that 16 percent reservation for Marathas in jobs and education and 5 percent for the Muslims breached the ceiling of 50 percent reservation fixed by the apex court constitution bench in 2006.

The previous Congress government in Maharashtra had July 9 issued an ordinance giving reservation to Marathas and Muslims. This was challenged by several people before the high court on various counts including that it was a politically inspired decision taken in an arbitrary manner.

The Maharashtra State Backward Commission had opposed reservation for Marathas holding that they were educationally and economically progressive. However, this view was reversed by a committee headed by a state minister which recommended 16 percent reservations for Marathas both in education and state government jobs.

Bengaluru, 13th Dec (IANS): Indian IT bellwether Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is planning to increase its pay offer to freshers recruited directly or through campus interviews, a senior official said Friday.

"We want to increase the entry-level salary offered to freshers to attract more talented youth and ensure their retention with bright opportunities to move up the value chain," TCS global Human Resources head Ajoyendra Mukherjee told reporters here.

Admitting that the salary offered to new recruits at the entry level has remained static over the years, Mukherjee said the company had started paying city allowance as an additional incentive to all employees, including trainees hired from engineering colleges or directly through online tests and personal interviews offline.

"Though we hire on an average 35,000 freshers annually, the number of applicants seeking jobs in our company is five-six times more (over 200,000) in a year, which makes us the most-sought after IT firm for fresh graduates in the country," Mukherjee asserted.

The $13-billion global software major is on target to hire 55,000 techies this fiscal (2014-15), including 35,000 engineering students from 370 institutions across the country.

The company has already made job offers to 31,000 youth in the first eight months (April-Nov) of this fiscal.

As the largest employer in the Indian IT industry as well as the private sector, TCS has a whopping 313,757 techies, including over 100,000 women employees. About 60 percent account for freshers and 40 percent laterals.

"We have a hike strike-rate (70 percent/24,500) of freshers accepting our offer letters and joining as trainees from campuses, where 99 percent of hiring takes place on day of interviews," Mukherjee claimed.

The company also hires engineers at entry and lateral levels directly or through referrals made by its senior employees or team leaders.

Though the company's human capital base is wider and twice that of peers like Infosys, Wipro and HCL Technologies, the attrition rate was 12.8 percent in second quarter (July-September), resulting in net addition being far less than the gross addition it made during the first six months of this fiscal.

"Our attrition rate is on par with the average rate in the industry, as a number of employees leave for various reasons, including family issues, transfers, different aspirations, in pursuit of higher studies and sabbatical," Mukherjee said.

Clarifying that the company does not believe in 'hire and fire' policy, the executive vice-president said the involuntary exit was 1-1.5 percent of the attrition rate due to non-performance or failure to specialize in a particular domain required for various projects.

"As we are a performance-oriented organisation, we look at the performance of each and every individual and measure how our employees fare through an appraisal process," Mukherjee added.
New Delhi, 11th Dec (IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said he wants major diamond mining companies to sell directly to the Indian diamond industry, which will be beneficial for both parties, and he has made three proposals in this regard to visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"I want major diamond mining companies to sell directly to the Indian diamond industry. it will be good for them and for India," Modi said while addressing the World Diamond Conference.

The conference was organised by Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, India's ministry of commerce and industry; and the World Diamond Mark here.

"I have made three proposals to President Putin. First, I would like (Russian state-run mining company) Alrosa to have direct long term contracts with more Indian companies. I am pleased to know that they are moving in that direction.

"Second, I want Alrosa and others to trade directly on our bourse. We have decided to create a Special Notified Zone, in which major mining companies can import rough diamonds on a consignment basis and re-export unsold ones," Modi said, adding this would benefit Indian diamond industry and create more jobs for the youth.

He also mentioned that while most rough diamonds from Russia come to India, less than 20 percent come directly and are mostly routed through places like Antwerp and Dubai.

Earlier in the day, in a bid to create alternative import sources of rough diamonds for the Indian cutting and polishing industry, Russia's Alrosa mining group has entered into direct selling agreements with 12 diamantaires for supplies worth $2.1 billion over three years.

"Third, I asked President Putin to reform regulations so that Russian jewellery makers can send their rough diamonds to India and re-import polished diamond without paying duty. This will give a boost to our diamond industry. These measures will also boost India-Russia economic ties," Modi added.

He elaborated that India and Russia have outstanding cooperation in a broad range of areas. "We want to focus on transforming our economic relations. We want to make this a key pillar of our relationship."

Mentioning that India is the world's largest centre for cutting and polishing diamonds and the largest importer of uncut diamonds, Modi said the diamond has become a universal symbol of wealth and enduring love but in India is "also a great source of jobs for our people".

"The gem and jewellery sector in India employs nearly 3.5 million people; 1 million of them work in the diamond industry. Few in India would be aware that out of ten polished diamond pieces sold globally, nine have been processed in India. The diamonds sparkle in the world because of the skills of Indian workers," he said.

Surat in Gujarat has emerged as the biggest centre in the world for cutting and polishing diamond.
New Delhi, 9th Dec (IANS): The Indian armed forces are short of 9,845 officers, and the government said Tuesday that it had taken several steps to overcome the situation.

The highest shortage, as of July 1 this year, was in the army: 7,899 officers, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told the Rajya Sabha. This was followed by the navy (1,499 officers) and air force (357).

He said the government had taken a number of measures to encourage youths to join the armed Forces.

These include sustained image projection and publicity to create awareness about military jobs and the advantages of taking up "a challenging and satisfying career", he said in a statement.

The government was also making armed forces jobs attractive, he said.

The government had implemented the recommendation of the Sixth Central Pay Commission with improved pay structure, additional family accommodation for married personnel and better promotion prospects.
New Delhi, 2nd Dec (IANS): Armed forces continue to suffer from shortage of manpower, even as government is making efforts to attract youth, parliament was told Tuesday.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, in response to a question in Rajya Sabha, said according to latest data, there is a shortage of 7,989 officers and 26,928 other ranks in the army, 1,499 officers and 11,631 sailors in the navy and 357 officers and 2,951 airmen in the air force.

The figures do not include the shortage in medical and dental branches.

"Government has taken a number of measures to encourage the youth to join the armed forces, including sustained image projection, participation in career fairs and exhibitions, media campaign etc," Parrikar said.

"Further, government has taken various steps to make armed forces jobs attractive. These include implementation of recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission with improved pay structure, additional family accommodation through Married Accommodation Project (MAP) and improvement in promotion prospects in the armed forces," he said.