Indian army soldiers fight fire from highly polluted lake

Indian firefighters try to douse a fire at Bellandur Lake in Bangalore on January 20, 2017. Bellandur Lake which is among the highly polluted lakes in the city caught fire due to suspected effluents. (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Indian army soldiers fight fire from highly polluted lake

BANGALORE: Thousands of Indian troops battled for hours a huge fire emanating from a highly polluted lake, causing panic among thousands of people in the southern city of Bangalore, the army said Saturday.
Nearly 5,000 soldiers swung into action on Friday after the fire threatened a military area with huge clouds of smoke billowing from the lake filled with sewage, chemical effluents and construction debris and choked with water hyacinth, an army statement said.
The army said the efforts prevented the fire from engulfing civilian areas of Banagalore, one of India’s key information technology hubs.
Fire engines and water bowsers from nearby civilian areas also assisted in controlling the fire. A huge smoke was still rising from the area on Saturday morning with firefighters trying to douse it completely.
In 2015, a toxic froth spilled over to some of Bangalore’s streets due to extreme levels of pollution in the Bellandur Lake. Tests found extremely high amounts of phosphorous and other inorganic chemical compounds in the lake.
Authorities have been trying to repair a barrier that was supposed to keep sewage from flowing into the lake, depleting its oxygen.
Another Bangalore lake caught fire in May last year when garbage was set ablaze on its bed.


With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

Routine day at Dubai International Airport. AN photo
Updated 23 May 2018
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With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

  • The ruler of Dubai changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies
  • The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals

NEW DELHI: Indians are likely to “flood” the UAE once its recently announced residency visa rules for students and highly qualified professionals come into place, experts said Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and the prime minister of the UAE, announced on Sunday a 10-year visa for investors, scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as their families.
 As part of the changes, students will get five-year visas and “exceptional” graduates will be eligible for a 10-year visa.  Students currently have to apply to renew their visa each year.
The ruler of Dubai also changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies. So far companies have been required to have a local partner who would hold the majority stake.
 The changes are expected to kick in during the third quarter of this year.
 “The UAE has always welcomed, and always will, innovators and business leaders,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted as he announced the new rules.
 The UAE, with its proximity to India, high salaries and low taxes, has always been a magnet for Indians. It is home to about 2.6 million Indians who make up roughly 30 percent of the country’s population, according to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. These numbers are expected to shoot up once the new rules apply.
 “Indians are always looking at new work opportunities anywhere in the world,” said Aradhana Mahna, managing director of Manya Education, a study abroad solutions provider in Delhi.  While the US and the UK have historically been avenues for Indian students looking to study abroad, the number of students applying to those countries have undergone a “sharp decline” since the election of US President Donald Trump — who made protectionist comments during his campaign days and since taking office — and since the UK decided to split with the European Union, Mahna said.
 “Dubai is close to home and that has always made it a preferred destination for Indians. Especially now with the US going down, it will be flooded by Indians,” she added.
Mukesh Bhasin, partner at Career Connect, an executive search firm that focuses on banking, financial services and the insurance sector (BFSI), agreed that the new rules would go a long way in attracting Indian talent.
 “The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals,” he said. “The encouraging visa regime will lead to a lot of interest from Indian BFSI professionals toward Middle East opportunities given the already-existing tax benefits and international-quality lifestyle.”
 Since the collapse in 2008 of Lehman Brothers, most developed markets, including neighboring Singapore and Hong Kong, have cut back on the number of people they are hiring from abroad for their domestic operations. This includes a slowdown in foreign transfers for Indian employees of multinational banks, said Bhasin.