Giving Employees Choice of Work From Home or Work From Office

Hailed as a major step towards bringing in the employees back to office, big IT companies like TCS, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant, HCL are opening their offices after the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing workers to work from office, as well as giving an option to work from home. Most IT companies have gained record income over the past few quarters, with evolution of new technologies, paired with work from home for almost the entire workforce. Hence, the IT companies prefer including the option of work from home for employees, rather than lose them.

April onwards, the offices of TCS, Wipro, Infosys and other major IT companies operating in India are likely to function with some employees apart from managers returning to office. In almost every case, the employees can continue working from home, or may start working from the nearest office. While the employees are divided over the work from home or office issue, the above hybrid model of work is expected to appease both parties and is a win-win situation for all.

Most IT companies are not looking at an option where 100% of its employees will be working from office 5 days a week. Neither would they like to shut down their offices for good. The future of work, as they deemed, is likely to give more flexibility to location and schedule of work for employees for managing the work-life balance better. It is also not possible to accommodate inside offices, the record number of freshers hired off late, as the IT industry is looking to expand rapidly, creating more job opportunities.

TCS is looking forward to a 25/25 model of work, where only 25% of its employees will work from office at the time, and the rest remotely working. Wipro is likely to continue with the hybrid model of either work from home or work from office. Infosys is looking at a two-day work from office and three day work from home policy. The rest of the IT companies are expected to follow either of the models of work, though some are looking at newer strategies like 4-day work, or flexible hours work, to attract skilled laborers from other companies. Whatever the new “normal” is, the future of work is far from the traditional 6×8 work schedule in offices, that gives employees less time with their families, and stops them from learning new skills, which are the needs of the hour.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Evacuation of Indians from Ukraine Amidst War

As Russia and Ukraine went into war against each other, thousands of Indians remain stranded in Ukrainian cities which are under shelling from Russian forces. Students form the bulk of the Indians living in Ukraine, who are pursuing higher studies from universities in that country. To ensure their safe return to India, before a war breaks out, Tata Group owned Air India operated special flights to Kyiv. However, most critics have termed it as too little too late.

On the eve of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the first special Air India flight from Kyiv flew from Kyiv and reached Delhi the next morning. The first batch consisted of 240 passengers, mostly students, who had to pay a hefty fee to return to their country. The flight left Kyiv on 22nd February and landed in New Delhi in the early hours of 23rd February. A Ukraine International Airlines flight also reached safely on Thursday morning, 24th February, with 182 Indian citizens, mostly students. More Air India special flights were scheduled on 24th, 26th February and 6th March. But as Ukraine closed their airspace on 24th February, the scheduled Air India flight had to return from midway. More than 20,000 Indians are still stranded in Ukraine, waiting for their chance to catch a flight back home..

As there is no way to return home by air from Ukraine, thousands of Indians set on foot or local transport to reach Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Hungary, the countries which share land border with Ukraine. Air India now focuses on bringing back stranded Indians from these countries. The second Air India evacuation flight with 250 Indians touched Delhi on Sunday, Feb 27, from the Romanian capital, Bucharest. The third Air India evacuation flight reached Mumbai the same day with 219 Indians from Budapest, the capital of Hungary. However, more than 400 students have lined up at the Ukraine-Poland border, in freezing conditions, unable to cross-over to Poland. Though border authorities allowed Ukrainians to cross-over, most Indians were barred from entering Poland.

More flights are expected to follow in coming days from neighbouring countries of Ukraine, to bring back Indians fleeing Ukraine. Though the Indian Government is proud to evacuate 2000 Indians from Ukraine, a lot more is to be done, as more than 18,000 Indians are still stranded in Ukraine, most in cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv on the main area of clashes. Overall, as many critics say, the evacuation effort by India is yet to be up to the mark.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Philippines approves the deal of BrahMos missile

The endorsement of the deal of the Philippines for the BrahMos missile brings improvement and power for both of the nations. For India, it is the start of arms sales inside ASEAN and could prompt more agreements with other Southeast Asian countries. Concerning the Philippines, which aims to modernize its obsolete equipment, the said acquisition of the powerful Indian-Russian Brahmos supersonic missile will fortify its naval forces capacity to defend its cases in the  South China Sea.

Ergo, what caused the Philippines to support the arrangement? To begin with, the BrahMos is a short-Range, ramJet-powered, single warhead, supersonic anti-ship/land-attack cruise missile created and fabricated by India and Russia. The capacity of the frame of the work to be coordinated with land, air, and ocean stages give the framework the genuinely necessary adaptability in current warfare.

BrahMos rocket flies at a speed of 2.8 Mach or very nearly multiple times the speed of sound. As indicated by Strategic Affairs, “the BrahMos is a unique missile as it can be deployed on land, sea, and underwater against different types of targets on land and sea.”

 In addition, experts consider the Brahmos acquisition to be an incentive for cash choice for developing nations with restricted money for defense Spending.

Furthermore, the Brahmos shows its high valued quality, and the Philippines trusted it. On December 31, 2021, the defense secretary of the Philippines, Delfin, Lorenzana said on his Facebook post that he recently signed the “ notice of award.” He said in his brief post, “negotiated with the Government of India, it includes the delivery of three batteries, training for operators and maintainers as well as the necessary Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) package.”

The acquisition and the agreement of the $375 million deal benefited both nations to boost India’s effort to become a significant exporter of defense hardware and, for the Philippines, to strengthen its naval defense in the South China Sea.

Written by – Lalaguna, Aloha Mae L

Guwahati-Bikaner Express Accident

Guwahati-Bikaner Express was going from Bikaner to Guwahati when it met the fatal accident at Maynaguri in West Bengal. Till now, the accident claimed the lives of 9 people. 36 passengers are injured of which 6 are in critical condition. The passengers with critical injuries have been shifted to Jalpaiguri and Siliguri. The railway line is yet to be cleared, and most trains are now running through an alternate route.

At 5 pm on 13th January 2022, 8 coaches of Guwahati-Bikaner Express derailed from the tracks. Initial reports suggest technical failure of the locomotive was behind the cause of the derailment. Experts have found out that one of the traction motors of the locomotive failed and gave way which caused the WAP-4 locomotive to derail along with 8 other coaches immediately behind it. According to the loco pilot, he immediately applied emergency brakes which caused the speedy rakes behind to smash against one another. The ICF coaches have a tendency to climb over one another during an accident and it happened with one of the coaches. The obsolete nature of the WAP-4 locomotive, which is no longer produced by Indian Railways is also questioned. The rusty nature of old tracks and sleepers in that area have also come under discussion.

The villagers came to the rescue operations after hearing loud noise during the accident. Till now, all passengers have been rescued and all bodies have been recovered. The injured are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. The Railway Minister of India visited the site on the morning of 14th January 2022 and announced a compensation of 5 lakhs for the deceased, 1 lakh for the critically injured and 25000 for the ones with minor injuries. An investigation by the Indian Railways is now underway, though people doubt if it would result in any positive outcome.

The number of accidents in recent years has greatly decreased. Technical failures and mistakes by the men in operation have been reduced to 0 in recent 2-3 years. Also, no major accidents have taken place due to trespassing after the Amritsar incident. It is after a long time a railway accident occurred, and it is a big accident. The latest derailment proved that we still have a long way to go to ensure our railways reach the accident-free level as in developed countries.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Privatisation of Railway Stations – Bane or Boon?

Of late, we are seeing world-class stations coming up on Indian Railways. Gandhinagar Railway station in Gujarat and Habibganj Railway Station in Madhya Pradesh are two examples of privatisation of railway stations. These two stations are being re-developed to world-class airport style stations with all modern facilities. The work on both the stations are nearing completion, and will be opened for public use very soon. More railway stations, New Delhi, Bijwasan and Chandigarh are expected to follow the lines of Gandhinagar and Habibganj.

Indian Railways Station Development Corporation or IRSDC is looking after maintenance, modernisation as well as privatisation of railway stations in India. IRSDC is favouring the PPP model as it can relieve the Railways from funding with a huge capital needed to build up a station, which the Railways lacks at present. Under the PPP or Public-Private-Partnership model, the railways will lease the station and land to a private company, which will build up, operate, and take the profit out of it for a while, and hand over the station back to Indian Railways after a fixed period of time. The fixed period of time has been fixed at 99 years as of now.

The lease period, the fixed period in which the private company will operate the station, was previously 45 years. After not getting good response from private companies, the Railways decided to increase the lease period to the present 99 years. However, except for a few, this proposal also did not attract private players much, and hence except a few, the Railways are planning to go back to the old EPC or engineering procurement, construction model. In this model, Railways will fund the cost of redevelopment which will be done by a private company, and will be handed back to the Railways once construction is complete.

As long as ticket fares remain constant, along with basic hygiene and maintenance, there is no complaint on privatisation of stations. But now ticket prices of redeveloped, or to-be-redeveloped stations are going to increase. Despite the success of redevelopment of Gandhinagar and Habibganj Railway stations, the importance of such redevelopment is no match of that in Sir Visvesvaraya terminal in Byappanahalli, Bengaluru, or Manduadih railway station in Varanasi, now called Banaras railway station. The last two stations were renovated by Indian Railways on its own. More such examples can be Dharwad railway station in Karnataka, Santragachhi in West Bengal, or Ayodhya Junction in UP. We now have to see whether the private stations can stood up with time with so many modern aesthetic stations coming up in Indian Railways, or they fell into disrepair, as had happened with Delhi Airport Metro Line or Gurgaon metro.

Written by – Himadri Paul