Amazon India to hire 50K temporary workers as lockdown boosts demand

News Network
May 22, 2020

Bengaluru, May 22: Amazon.com Inc’s India unit said it would hire 50,000 temporary workers to meet a surge in online shopping in the country, where customers have been stuck indoors for two months in a lockdown to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

E-commerce firms faced massive disruption in the initial days of the lockdown in India, but a slow easing of the stringent regulations has allowed them to resume large parts of their operations.

"We want to continue helping customers all over India get everything they need so they can continue to practice social distancing," Amazon senior executive Akhil Saxena said in a statement on the company's blog. (bit.ly/2A1Wv7O)

“(The move) will also keep as many people as possible working during this pandemic while providing a safe work environment for them,” said Saxena, Amazon’s VP for customer fulfillment operations in APAC, MENA & Latam.

The temporary hires will work in Amazon’s fulfillment centers and as part of its delivery network, the company said, making the announcement at a time when various other companies in the country have been forced to cut jobs as they try to tide over the health crisis.

Amazon itself has pushed its annual global Prime Day event, traditionally a summer affair, to September, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In India, where the Jeff Bezos-led company faces stiff competition from Walmart Inc’s Flipkart, Amazon earlier said it plans to create 1 million jobs by 2025.

The company also said on Thursday it plans to enter the food delivery business in India, pitting itself against well-established startups such as Swiggy and Zomato.

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News Network
September 16,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 16: Delhi Police on Wednesday filed a chargesheet before a city court under the stringent law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and other sections against 15 persons for larger conspiracy in the North-East Delhi riots case that occurred in February. Special cell of the Delhi Police told the court that it has relied upon CD-R and Whatsapp chats. In its chargesheet running into 10,000 pages, the police has listed 747 witnesses and of them 51 have recorded their statements before the magistrate under CRPC 164.

Even as the Delhi Police filed its most recent chargesheet, a group of activists and academicians on Wednesday demanded immediate release of all those booked under the stringent UAPA in relation with the riots cases.

The joint statement was issued by Syeda Hameed, writer and former member of erstwhile Planning Commission of India, senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, former JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar, CPIML politburo member Kavita Krishnan, journalist Pamela Philipose and former DUTA president Nandita Narain.

"All democratic voices of dissent are being gradually implicated. This includes students, academicians, artists, politicians and activists. We demand an immediate end to this outrageous investigation that is being conducted with prejudice and mala fide intent," the statement stated.

At a press conference earlier in the day, Bhushan said that the group had requested President Ram Nath Kovind to constitute a commission of inquiry.

Recently, the Special Cell also arrested ex-Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid under UAPA. Khalid was sent to ten days police remand for allegedly hatching a conspiracy for riots in North-East Delhi in February. Delhi Police also issued summons to filmmakers Rahul Roy and Saba Dewan in relation to the case.

Pinjra Tod members and JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, JNU student Sharjeel Imam; Jamia Millia Islamia students Asif Iqbal Tanha and Gulfisha Khatoon, former Congress Councillor Ishrat Jahan, Jamia Coordination Committee members Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider, President of Jamia Alumni Association Shifa-Ur-Rehman, suspended AAP Councillor Tahir Hussain and activist Khalid Saifi have also been booked under UAPA in relation to the case.

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News Network
September 14,2020

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Sukhbir Singh Jaunapuria, a BJP MP from Rajasthan, who had claimed that his mud bath ritual and blowing a conch could increase immunity against Covid19, has now tested positive for the coronavirus.

In the past couple of months, the human ears were subjected to many bizarre treatments which supposedly help in preventing one from contracting COVID-19. From consuming cow urine to eating a particular brand of papads, more recently, blowing a conch shell and taking a mud bath -- the list goes on.

 "You will not gain immunity from eating medicines. You will gain immunity naturally. Go out, get wet in the rain, sit in the dirt, work on the farm, blow a conch... and eat 'desi' things. One gains immunity from doing these things," the leader had said in a video posted on his official Facebook page.

He emphasised that immunity can be built through natural means and going outside, and with this, one can prevent themselves from contracting the virus.

Jaunapuria is an MP from Tonk–Sawai Madhopur constituency. He joins Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, who had tested positive days after claiming that Bhabhi Ji papad is an immunity booster against COVID-19.

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News Network
September 18,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 18: India’s economic recovery prospects have gone from bad to worse after the nation emerged as a new global hotspot for the coronavirus pandemic with more than 5 million infections.

Economists and global institutions like the Asian Development Bank have recently cut India’s growth projections from already historic lows as the virus continues to spread. Goldman Sachs Group Inc now estimates a 14.8% contraction in gross domestic product for the year through March 2021, while the ADB is forecasting -9%. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development sees the economy shrinking by 10.2%.

The failure to get infections under control will set back business activity and consumption -- the bedrock of the economy -- which had been slowly picking up after India began easing one of the world’s strictest and biggest lockdowns that started late March. Local virus cases topped the 5 million mark this week, with the death toll surpassed only by the US and Brazil.

“While a second wave of infections is being witnessed globally, India still has not been able to flatten the first wave of infection curve,” said Sunil Kumar Sinha, principal economist at India Ratings and Research Ltd, a unit of Fitch Ratings Ltd. He now sees India’s economy contracting 11.8% in the fiscal year, far worse than his earlier projection of -5.8%.

Goldman Sachs’s latest growth forecast came last week after data showed gross domestic product plunged 23.9% in the April-June quarter from a year ago, the biggest decline since records began in 1996 and the worst performance of major economies tracked by Bloomberg.

While there are some signs that activity picked up following the strict lockdown, a strong recovery looks uncertain.

“By all indications, the recovery is likely to be gradual as efforts toward reopening of the economy are confronted with rising infections,” Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das told a group of industrialists Wednesday.

Lower Potential

The central bank will likely release its own growth forecast on October 1 when the monetary policy committee announces its interest rate decision. In August, the RBI said private spending on discretionary items had taken a knock, especially on transport services, hospitality, recreation and cultural activities.

The plunge in GDP, as well as ongoing stress in the banking sector and among households, will curb India’s medium-term growth potential. Tanvee Gupta Jain, an economist at UBS Group AG in Mumbai, estimates potential growth will slow to 6% from 7.1% year-on-year estimated in 2017.

What Bloomberg’s Economists Say

India went into the Covid-19 pandemic already suffering a downward trend in growth potential. We expect a 10.6% contraction in fiscal 2021, rebound in 2022, and slower path for growth as scars from the virus recession drag on the remaining years of the decade.

Abhishek Gupta, India economist, said in addition to that, corporate profits have collapsed, putting a brake on investments, which in turn, will curb employment and growth in the economy.

India is “likely to see a shallow and delayed recovery in corporate sector profitability over the next several quarters,” said Kaushik Das, chief economist at Deutsche Bank AG in Mumbai, who has downgraded his fiscal year growth forecast to -8% from -6.2%. That will “reduce the incentive and ability for fresh investments, which in turn will be a drag on credit growth and overall real GDP growth,” he said.

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