work-from-home

Tech majors extend work-from-home to keep pandemic at bay

by | Aug 24, 2020 | Analysis, Productivity, UC & C

Salesforce has joined a growing list of tech majors who have announced extended work-from-home policies for their employees.
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Cloud software major Salesforce has joined the list of companies who’ve extended their work-from-home policies. Salesforce has announced an extension until July 31, 2021. Top technology companies such as Google and Facebook have already extended their work-from-home policies for employees till mid-2021. Other tech majors, such as Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, have announced remote working until January 2021.

“Over the past few months, we have been working diligently to support our employees as they navigate this difficult time. The safety of our employees and communities remains paramount. And while we continue to work on plans to re-open our offices safely, the timing of when we bring employees back will be unique to each office — and we will continue to make those decisions in a way that’s consistent with local government guidelines and the advice of our medical experts and local leadership team,” said Brent Hyder, Chief People Officer of Salesforce in the company’s blog.

The San Francisco headquartered tech-major has also announced to give an additional $250 financial support to each of its employees for buying office supplies. The company had provided similar assistance to its employees earlier this year as well. Earlier this month, consulting major EY had also announced similar financial support of US$200 to each of its employees.

Besides, Salesforce employees who are parents will be entitled to take six additional weeks of paid leave. “In all situations where schools have been closed, and students are learning remotely, parents and guardians will be allowed to work from home, even if that date extends beyond our offices re-opening,” Hyder added.

The last six months have been challenging for a majority of companies and leaders. The uncertainty brought in by the COVID-19 pandemic has made it extremely hard for both employees and employers to focus on work solely. People are dealing with issues such as social distancing, remote working, job-loss, elderly care, and ambiguity around almost everything.

As such, enterprises are finding several ways to motivate their talent and prevent burnout. Financial assistance, work-flexibility, and paid leave are some of the measures that companies are offering to support and attract employees.

The new normal is here to stay

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the companies would offer work-from-home to a very particular set of people on a rotational basis. At that time, In India, the remote-working model was mostly viewed as pointless, with much suspicion from employers. Companies were reluctant to experiment, and employees too were not attuned to an entirely virtual work-environment. However, things changed in a short time. The pandemic has suddenly pushed people to transform their behaviors and compelled them to adopt the new normal quickly.

See also Work-from-home even after Covid-19?

Most of the enterprises and employees have successfully navigated this transition and are looking forward to remote ways of working even after the pandemic subsides. For employers, the new normal is a significant opportunity to save substantial real-estate costs and translate the cost benefits to their employees. For employees, it’s a way to be more productive by reducing travel time while staying connected with their families.

According to a recent study, Technology and the Evolving World of Work by Lenovo, the majority of those surveyed (72 percent) confirmed a shift in their daily work dynamic in the last three months. Employees feel more connected and more productive than ever before as they work from home, but the data shows financial, physical, and emotional downsides for the global workforce.

There is no doubt that the experience of the physical work environment is vital to develop strong teaming and diverse skillsets and hence cannot be completely evaded. To balance that, companies could be mulling to rotate days or weeks of in-office presence for their employees in future, especially in the services sectors.

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Modi moots holistic land-water goals at UNCCD meet

Modi moots holistic land-water goals at UNCCD meet

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the High-Level Segment Meeting of the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), at Expo Mart, Greater Noida. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Amina Jane Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General United Nations; Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary, UNCCD; Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC); Babul Supriyo, MoS, MoEF&CC, and other dignitaries were present at the occasion.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed India’s commitment to addressing all the three main concerns of the Rio Conventions. He also stated that India has hosted global gatherings through the CoP’s for all the three Conventions. “Going forward, India would be happy to propose initiatives for greater South-South cooperation in addressing issues of climate change, biodiversity and land degradation,” he said.

Modi announced, “India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status, from twenty-one million hectares to twenty-six million hectares between now and 2030.” This will be focused on restoring land productivity and ecosystem services of 26 million hectares of most degraded and vulnerable land, with emphasis on the degraded agricultural, forest and other wastelands by adopting a landscape restoration approach.

Modi also announced India’s proposal to setup a global technical support institute for the member countries of the UNCCD for their capacity building and support regarding the Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting Program. “I am happy to state that India would be happy to help other friendly countries develop land restoration strategies through cost effective satellite and space technology,” he said.

Acknowledging the importance of the role of water, Narendra Modi called upon the leadership of UNCCD to conceive a global water action agenda which is central to the Land Degradation Neutrality strategy. “When we address degraded lands, we also address water scarcity. Augmenting water supply, enhancing water recharge, slowing down water run-off and retaining moisture in the soil are all parts of a holistic land and water strategy,” he noted.

The Prime Minister also advocated for the need to eradicate the menace of single use plastic. He said, “My Government has announced that India will put an end to single use plastic in the coming years. I believe the time has come for even the world to say good-bye to single use plastic.”

Prakash Javadekar in his opening remarks lauded the Prime Minister’s efforts towards green activities, “Prime Minister played a leading role in Paris Summit; he has been the guiding force behind India’s ambitious program of achieving 175 GW of renewable energy production.”

The Environment Minister pointed out that the COP14 has emerged as a global platform to discuss matters of great importance concerning the environment. “More than 190 Countries, 100 Ministers and 8000 participants from all across the globe came together to discuss and work on promotion of land restoration and climate resilience at UNCCD COP14,” he noted.

The Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves also spoke at length on climate change and desertification. He also acknowledged the Prime Minister for his concerted efforts in addressing these issues. “We all should stand united to resolve the Climate Change issue and make UNCCD COP14 path breaking. I acknowledge the role of Government of India & initiatives of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for environment.”

Noting the five summits to be held in New York soon, Ibrahim Thiaw, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said, “the agreements we reach here about how to restore, protect and manage our land on a massive scale and how to trigger a seismic shift in private sector partnerships to make it happen can immediately help ramp up the ambition of action plans for everyone involved.”

Over the past week, various deliberations were conducted on restoration of degraded land, the Environment Minister in a Press Conference later today also announced that the Delhi declaration will be announced tomorrow which will be accountable for the actions by various countries, “The draft Delhi declaration is almost ready, discussions throughout last week was very productive; this is one area where there is more unanimity than divergence of views.”

Cabinet gives nod to raise ethanol procurement prices

Cabinet gives nod to raise ethanol procurement prices

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for the following, including fixing higher ethanol price derived from different raw materials under the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme for the forthcoming sugar season 2019–20. The ethanol supply year is from 1 December 2019 to 30 November 2020.

  1. The price of ethanol from C heavy molasses route be increased from Rs 43.46 per lit to Rs 43.75 per liter.
  2. The price of ethanol from B heavy molasses route be increased from Rs 52.43 per lit to Rs 54.27 per liter.
  3. The price of ethanol from sugarcane juice/sugar/sugar syrup route be fixed at Rs 59.48 per liter.

Additionally, GST and transportation charges will also be payable. OMCs have been advised to fix realistic transportation charges so that long distance transportation of ethanol is not disincentivized.

OMCs are advised to continue according priority of ethanol from 1) sugarcane juice/sugar/sugar syrup, 2) B heavy molasses 3) C heavy molasses and 4) Damaged Food grains/other sources, in that order.

All distilleries will be able to take benefit of the scheme and large number of them are expected to supply ethanol for the EBP programme. Remunerative price to ethanol suppliers will help in reduction of cane farmer’s arrears, in the process contributing to minimizing difficulty of sugarcane farmers.

Ethanol availability for EBP Programme is expected to increase significantly due to higher price being offered for procurement of ethanol from all the sugarcane based routes, subsuming “partial sugarcane juice route” and “100% sugarcane juice route” under “sugarcane juice route” and for the first time allowing sugar and sugar syrup for ethanol production. Increased ethanol blending in petrol has many benefits including reduction in import dependency, support to agricultural sector, more environment friendly fuel, lesser pollution, and additional income to farmers.

Background:
Government has been implementing Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme wherein OMCs sell petrol blended with ethanol up to 10%. This program has been extended to whole of India except Union Territories of Andaman Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands with effect from 1 April 2019 to promote the use of alternative and environment friendly fuels. This intervention also seeks to reduce import dependence for energy requirements and give boost to agriculture sector.

Government has notified administered price of ethanol since 2014. For the first time during 2018, differential price of ethanol based on raw material utilized for ethanol production was announced by the government. These decisions have significantly improved the supply of ethanol thereby ethanol procurement by Public Sector OMCs has increased from 38 crore liter in ethanol supply year 2013–14 to over 200 crore liter in 2018–19.

Consistent surplus of sugar production is depressing sugar price. Consequently, sugarcane farmer’s dues have increased due to lower capability of sugar industry to pay the farmers. Government has taken many decisions for reduction of cane farmer’s dues.

With a view to limit sugar production in the country and to increase domestic production of ethanol, Government has taken multiple steps including, allowing diversion of B heavy molasses and sugarcane juice for ethanol production. As the ex-mill price of sugar and conversion cost have undergone changes, there is a need to revise the ex-mill price of ethanol derived from different sugarcane based raw materials. There is also a demand from the industry to include sugar and sugar syrup for ethanol production to help in solving the problem of inventory and liquidity with the sugar mills.

Rohit Sharma, WWF joins hands for ‘Rhino Week’

Rohit Sharma, WWF joins hands for ‘Rhino Week’

Star Indian batsman Rohit Sharma is launching Rohit4Rhinos campaign, in partnership with WWF India and Animal Planet, to help build awareness for the need to conserve the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros or the Indian Rhino. In a campaign launching on Animal Planet to commemorate World Rhino Day on 22 September, Rohit pledges to do his bit to save the “vulnerable” species from extinction.

Rohit Sharma joined WWF India as its Brand Ambassador for Rhino Conservation in 2018. With leading wildlife channel, Animal Planet, now joining the cause, the team has set out to create awareness and sensitize India about the species and the need for its conservation. Animal Planet will run a series of path breaking programs during ‘Rhino Week’ to sensitize people about these gentle giants. A special page, www.rohit4rhinos.org is also being created to strengthen the campaign, through which viewers can pledge their support to the cause.

The state animal of Assam, the Indian rhinoceros faces several threats, including poaching, habitat loss and mass mortality from in-breeding and disease. (Pix: Shutterstock License)

Talking about Rhino conservation campaign, Rohit Sharma, said, “It is our duty as co-inhabitants of this planet to try and protect other species that walk this planet, alongside us. The future is in our hands and we should do whatever we can to ensure that our children are able to enjoy the rich biodiversity this world has to offer. I hope that this campaign will inspire others to come forward and join Animal Planet, WWF India and I in this endeavor to save the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros.”

“Discovery has long been committed to telling the stories and protecting the creatures that make our planet extraordinary. We remain steadfast to leverage the brand strength of India’s leading wildlife channel Animal Planet to galvanize people power for the cause of endangered species, said, Megha Tata, Managing Director – South Asia, Discovery. “We are confident that Rohit’s strong support for the cause of Rhino conservation will help more people to join us for the cause of saving these gentle giants.”

“WWF India would like to thank Rohit Sharma for being the voice of conservation and for his continuous support in raising awareness about the greater one-horned rhinos. Decades old stories of rhino conservation success in India need to be told and we believe that the campaign #Rohit4Rhinos being implemented in partnership with WWF India and Animal Planet will also be able to bring attention to the challenges that conservationists face in protecting the species,” said, Dr. Dipankar Ghose, Director, Species and Landscapes, WWF India.

Of the estimated 3,500 Indian rhinos left in the world, 82% are found in India. Once found abundantly across the Indus, Ganges and the Brahmaputra river basins, the animal is now found only in select pockets in Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. The state animal of Assam, the Indian rhinoceros faces several threats, including poaching, habitat loss and mass mortality from in-breeding and disease.

With five decades of work in the conservation space, WWF India has been working extensively on rhino conservation across key landscapes where the animal is found in the country.

Rhino Week on Animal Planet
Starting 16 September as a part of the World Rhino Day celebration, Animal Planet will offer a week-long Rhino special programming including ‘Into The Wild: India’, ‘Tales From Rhino Land’, ‘Battleground: Rhino Wars’ every day at 8 PM. On World Rhino Day on 22 September, the channel will premiere globally acclaimed documentary ‘Flying Rhinos’- An ambitious project focusing on translocation of rhinos to a safe new home in a secret location. Heading the project are Jed and Bom – the rhino protectors.

The rhino, which was once seen as a strong and indomitable creature, is today listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species. Hunting and poaching of rhinos led to the rhino population of India dwindling to less than 200 in the 1990s.
WWF India is engaged in wildlife and nature conservation in the country and works to sensitize people by creating awareness through capacity building and enviro-legal activism.

UN body meet to combat desertification

UN body meet to combat desertification

The 12-day 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) begins today at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida. Briefing media persons, Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Prakash Javadekar in presence of Executive Secretary, UNCCD, Ibrahim Thiaw; MoS, MoEF&CC, Babul Supriyo and other dignitaries, expressed how mass awareness and public participation is the need of the hour. “Be it climate change or desertification, human actions have a role in disturbing the balance of nature. Now people have realized and therefore we are saying that if human actions have caused some damage, positive human action will undo that and make a better world for future generations.”

India will achieve sustainable land management & land restoration by 2030, Javadekar tweeted.

Pointing to an unprecedented global campaign to save productive land, Javadekar said 122 countries, among them Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Russia and South Africa, which are among the largest and most populous nations on Earth, “have agreed to make the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving land degradation neutrality a national target.” Javadekar also mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the high-level segment meeting on 9h September, 2019.

If human actions have created the problems of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss, it is human efforts that will undo the damage and improve the habitats. We meet here in #UNCOP14 now to ensure that this happens, Javadekar tweeted.

There is an unprecedented global campaign to save productive land. 122 countries, including largest and most populous countries Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Russia, and South Africa have agreed to make Sustainable Development Goal of achieving land degradation neutrality a national target, he said in another tweet.

Talking about the importance of such large-scale conferences, Javadekar said, “Coming together at a world platform like this to share good stories and experiences will help the world. We can leapfrog for a good start in each country. Therefore, this UNCCD is very important and we expect some good outcomes which will be notified in Delhi Declaration. Delhi Declaration will form the future course of action.”

Echoing these sentiments, Ibrahim drew attention to the warnings sounded by recent scientific assessments and the growing public alarm at the frequency of weather-related disasters such as drought, forest fires, flash floods and soil loss, but urged delegates to be mindful of the opportunities for change that are opening up, and take action.

Ibrahim, thanked the Government of India for hosting the International Conference. “We are very fortunate to be here in India. This is undoubtedly going to be the largest COP ever organized by the UNCCD, said Ibrahim.

An estimated 7,200 participants that include ministers and representatives of governments, non-government and intergovernmental organizations, scientists, women and youth from the 197 Parties are expected. They will take around 30 decisions with actions that aim to strengthen land-use policies worldwide and address emerging threats, such as forced migration, sand and dust storms, and droughts.

The UNCCD is an international agreement on good land stewardship. It helps people, communities and countries to create wealth, grow economies and secure enough food and water and energy, by ensuring land users have an enabling environment for sustainable land management. Through partnerships, the Convention’s 197 Parties set up robust systems to manage drought promptly and effectively. Good land stewardship based on a sound policy and science helps integrate and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, builds resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss.

Fisheries key to sustainable food security: V-P

Fisheries key to sustainable food security: V-P

The Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu has said that environmentally friendly aquaculture can serve as a vehicle for rural development, food and nutritional security for the rural masses, considering the substantial contribution aquaculture makes towards socio-economic development in terms of income and employment.

Naidu was inaugurating the 5th Aqua Aquaria India 2019, India’s International Aquaculture Show, organized by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), in Hyderabad today.

“Sustainability and conservation must be the twin pillars on which we build our fisheries sector,” the Vice President said. (Tweeted by @VPSecretariat)

Highlighting the government’s resolve to double farmers’ income by 2022, the Vice President underscored the necessity of ensuring that the economic benefits from fisheries reach the primary producers, the fishermen and fish farmers. “We must reduce the role of middlemen, provide crop insurances, enhance access to credit, develop cold chains and good upcountry market linkages, provide infrastructure for post-harvest storage, handling and value addition,” he added.

Cautioning that reckless exploitation of limited resources, especially endangered marine species must be strictly prevented, the Vice President stressed that the promotion, regulation and monitoring of responsible fishing practices, through robust fisheries management and governance frameworks are essential for the sustainability of fisheries resources in both coastal areas and high seas.

The Vice President said that the burning concerns of marine and fresh water pollution caused by discarded plastics and harmful chemicals must be addressed on priority basis. Referring to the looming threats of global warming and climate change, he called for a coordinated response to tackle these issues. “Sustainability and conservation must be the twin pillars on which we build our fisheries sector,” he exhorted.

Speaking of India’s enormous potential in the fisheries sector, the Vice President stated that India is the second largest fish producer in the world with a production of 13.70 million metric tons of fish during 2018–19.

Reasoning that the rising world population is putting further pressure on the available food resources, the Vice President said that there was an urgent need to boost fish production to ensure food security to our billion-strong population.

Referring to the slogan given by the former Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan and Jai Vigyan,’ Naidu said that we must salute the soldiers for guarding our borders, we must salute the farmer for producing food for us and we must salute the Scientists for making India scientifically advanced.

Endorsing the call given by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi for Fit India, the Vice President said that it is the need of the hour and has to become a national movement. Intake of food rich in proteins, such as fish, is crucial for good health, he added.

Naidu said that with a long coastline of over 8,000 km and exploitable fisheries resources of 3.9 million metric tons, India is blessed with vast aquatic resources with a rich diversity of fish fauna for sustainable utilization. He added that India’s vast and diverse aquatic resources offered an excellent opportunity for expansion of aquaculture.

The Vice President also pointed out that globally, aquaculture is being looked upon as the best alternative to boost fish production, as the production from the traditional and marine fisheries have been stagnating.
Expressing concern that India exploits only a fraction of the aquaculture potential that is available to it, he said that there is room for both horizontal and vertical expansion in the fisheries sector. He also spoke about the immense potential India has in the field of mariculture.

Referring to the need for diversifying aquaculture, Naidu said that cage culture in floating or fixed cages and pen culture would help us meet this objective. The Vice President suggested that our future outlook must focus not on increasing our fishing efforts in the seas, but on judicious use of the declining fishery resources by reducing losses and focusing on value addition.

Stating that fisheries and aquaculture are multidisciplinary subjects where scientists and technologists have to work as teams, Naidu said that initiatives like Aqua Aquaria must not only serve as platforms for sharing knowledge and information on new technologies but also strive to take this knowledge to the common people, fish farmers and primary producers.

Referring to the role played by modern technology in enhancing production and productivity, the Vice President said that greater R&D support with strong linkages between research and development agencies was the need of the hour.

He congratulated MPEDA for organizing the 3-day exposition and expressed hope that such events would help giving a renewed impetus to the sector by infusing new ideas and advanced technology.
The Vice President inaugurated the MPEDA-RGCA Exhibition and the Business to Business Exhibition and went around the same.

The Minister for Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Marketing, Andhra Pradesh, Mopidevi Venkata Ramana Rao; the Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Telangana, T Srinivasa Yadav; the Chairman, MPEDA, KS Srinivas and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.

Mahindra’s Plant a Tree campaign engages 4.5M

Mahindra’s Plant a Tree campaign engages 4.5M

Mahindra Group has said its three-month long citizens’ movement campaign #CelebrateDifferently has culminated with engagement (likes, shares and comments on the hashtag) from 4.5 million citizens. Under the Mahindra Hariyali initiative, Mahindra Group will now plant equivalent number of trees over the next four years to #RiseAgainstClimateChange.

Planting trees, including improving forest management, conservation, and regeneration, will help offset India’s annual greenhouse gas emissions, as well as providing a host of wider environmental and socio-economic benefits. As per research, more than 90% of young people agree that humans are responsible for climate change. 48.8% believe climate change is a more serious issue than war or inequality, Mahindra said in a release. Being the largest demographic group in India, millennials want to curb the effects of global warming and live a sustainable life. With millennials as the key catalyst of the initiative, #CelebrateDifferently was also conceptualized to encourage citizens to include tree plantation as part of their key celebrations. Alternately, individuals who are not able to do so, could simply like, share or comment on #CelebrateDifferently and Mahindra Hariyali committed to plant a tree on their behalf, the release added.

Sharing his thoughts on the success of the campaign, Ruzbeh Irani, President Group Communications and Ethics & Chief Brand Officer, Mahindra Group, stated, “The idea behind our citizen movement initiative was to collectively work towards giving back more than we take from our planet. Driven primarily by the millennials, our campaign has received an overwhelming response from citizens. Although campaign is concluded, we sincerely hope that #CelebrateDifferently continues to be a way of life for every citizen hereon.”

Mahindra said Citizens could continue to #CelebrateDifferently by planting with the help if NGOs such as, Grow Trees, etc. Grow Trees can help them give back to the environment by planting a tree in their name, which they can track.

As a part of the ongoing effort towards environment conservation, Mahindra Group aims to become net carbon neutral by 2040. Twenty companies of the Mahindra Group have committed to science-based targets that are in line with the decarbonization required to keep global temperature increase below 2°C.

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