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Former Indian consulate driver Hitender Kumar in Sydney wins unfair dismissal case



Former Indian consulate chauffeur Hitender Kumar Photo: Christopher Pearce

Former Indian consulate chauffeur Hitender Kumar Photo: Christopher Pearce

SYDNEY (Diya TV) — Australia’s Fair Work Commission ordered the Consulate of India on Tuesday to pay his former driver $10,620 in compensation for his unfair dismissal in March last year.

Hitender Kumar, who used to work for $12 per hour as the Consulate’s driver, was questioned by his employer after not using the consular e-tag on a private car while the usual consular car was being serviced. Kumar emailed Australia’s Roads and Maritime Service, which confirmed he was restricted from using the e-tag on a vehicle for which it wasn’t assigned.

When he approached his employer for reimbursement of tolls, he was disciplined for not using the e-tag on the private vehicle.

His claim of unfair dismissal came after Kumar served as a whistleblower of a case which alleged passports were issued to the consulate without proper police checks, that he was underpaid, and that he was expected to use the consular e-tag on an ordinary car.

The acting consul-general tried and failed to have a public reporting of the case in the Fair Work Commission suppressed to ensure the “government of India’s reputation is not adversely affected.”

The commission also heard an account in which Kumar asked for written instructions before hanging a picture of Mahatma Gandhi in the consulate reception area. His refusal had been pitched to the commission as “pedantic defiance,” and done in retaliation in response to being reprimanded for seeking advice about the proper use of the consular e-tag.

Commissioner Ian Cambridge said in his final decision that Kumar’s behavior, as retaliatory or insubordinate as it could be observed, was not enough to justify his termination.

“Upon analysis, the dismissal of the applicant was not for valid reason related to his capacity or conduct,” Cambridge said.

Kumar said he was satisfied after the ruling.

“It was a good decision,” he said. “People should stand up for their rights when someone is doing hanky panky.

“Most people from overseas don’t know their rights and can be unfairly dismissed from their jobs. They should know there are regulatory authorities in Australia to look after their workplace rights.”

While Cambridge found that Kumar’s contacting of the High Commission could be observed as “impolite” to his employer, he also ruled that the conduct was not inappropriate.

“The applicant’s failure to follow unspecified office procedures was not misconduct which would provide valid reason for dismissal,” Cambridge said.

“Following a careful and balanced consideration of the totality of the evidence that was presented in connection with the apparent reasons for the dismissal of the applicant, those reasons, inadequately and erroneously stated, were also without proper foundation.

“In particular, upon careful analysis, there can be no finding made that the applicant deliberately acted in a manner likely to cause embarrassment to the employer when he communicated with the RMS in respect to the e-tag issue.”



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Stock surge continues as Dow hits 20,000 for the first time



NEW YORK (Diya TV) — After weeks of close calls, the Dow Jones made history on Wednesday blowing past a key level for the first time in its history. The Dow climbed 156 points to 20,069, and was joined in the record territory by the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

Dow hits 20000

Dow hits 20000


The stock market milestone leaves the Dow up more than 1,700 points since the election of President Donald Trump last November, and speaks towards the enthusiasm investors have about the prospects for the U.S. economy.

Wall Street is clearly betting that Trump’s plans to slash taxes, ramp up infrastructure spending and cut regulation will make the American economy grow faster. If that happens, without any disruptions to global trade, it could propel corporate profits, the lifeblood of stock prices. However, the jump in stocks is also a reflection of the solid economy Trump inherited from former President Obama. The U.S. has added jobs for a record 75 straight months and the country’s unemployment rate is sitting near a 10-year low.

The milestone shows how much has changed in the U.S. economy over the past eight years. The index crashed to a low of 6,440 in March 2009 as Wall Street was gripping from the feared complete collapse of the American financial system.

While the economic rebound from the Great Recession has been slower than many hoped, the unemployment rate is now at the lowest level since 2007 and corporate profits have climbed to record highs.

Few expected the Dow to rise so much, especially after a Trump victory. In fact, many feared a market crash if Trump upset Hillary Clinton.

Instead, Wall Street embarked on a post-election rally that carried the Dow above both the 19,000 and 20,000 levels. The Trump rally cooled off in recent months and Wall Street hit a bit of a psychological roadblock leading up to the 20,000 level. On January 6, the Dow got incredibly close, rising to 19,999.63 before backing off. Traders on Wall Street had fun with it, with some creating hats that said: “Dow Almost 20,000.”

One reason for the pause: investors want more details on the timing and effectiveness of the stimulus plans rolled out by the new administration.

Bank stocks have been among the biggest winners since the election on Wall Street. JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley have soared more than 20 percent, while Goldman Sachs is up nearly 30%, as investors bet on higher interest rates and less regulation under Trump.

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Berklee Indian Ensemble presents “Arz-E-Niyaz” to honor Mughal Era poetry




BOSTON (Diya TV) — The Berklee Indian Ensemble, paying homage to Ghalib Sahab, who would have turned 219 years old Tuesday, presented its project, a poem titled “Arz-E-Niyaz” in collaboration with award winning vocal virtuoso, Vijay Prakash. The production also included Kathak dance elements from Meera Seshadri.

Arz-E-Niyaz was composed by Sashank Navaladi, a recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music, where the Ensemble are located. The production is set to couplets by Mirza Ghalib, the last great poet of the Mughal Era, and one of the most influential Urdu poets of all time.

Prakash, the collaborator on this project, hails from Karnataka and is one of the world’s most sought-after Indian playback singers. He has multiple hits that have been recorded in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam. The poem is written by the preeminent Urdu and Persian Sufi poet of the 19th century, Mirza Ghalib. Written in the form of eight couplets, ‘arz-e-niyāz-e-ishq’ literally translates to the ‘supplication for the blessings of love.’

The Ensemble have a history of rich and celebrated collaborations with other artists, including A. R. Rahman, Armeen Musa and Shankar Mahadevan.

Launched in 2013, the Berklee India Exchange is an on-campus initiative establishing a platform for cultural conversation about Indian music through artist residencies, musical collaborations and performances, according to the school’s website. Have a look at the new video below:

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