Beijing will “not hesitate to start a war” if Taiwan declares independence, China’s defence minister warned his US counterpart on Friday in their first face-to-face talks.
“If anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost,” Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe told US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
The Chinese minister also vowed that Beijing would “smash to smithereens any ‘Taiwan independence’ plot and resolutely uphold the unification of the motherland”, according to the Chinese defence ministry.
He “stressed that Taiwan is China’s Taiwan… Using Taiwan to contain China will never prevail”, the ministry
Austin told his Chinese counterpart during the talks that Beijing must “refrain from further destabilising actions toward Taiwan”, the US Department of Defense said.
China and US are attending the 19th Shangri-La Dialogue here. The dialogue will be held from Friday to Sunday after a two-year suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A US defence official said the actions by the Chinese Army reflect that Beijing may be altering the status quo regarding Taiwan, a democratically controlled island that China claims as its sovereign territory.
“Secretary Austin also raised concerns about … statements by PLA officials that the Taiwan Strait is not international waters. [People’s Republic of China] officials have said that multiple times to the United States over the last several months and that’s deeply concerning,” the official said.
Meanwhile, as per the Chinese media portal Global Times, Wei said that Taiwan island is China’s and the one-China principle is the political basis of China-US ties. China condemns the US’ latest arms sales to the island, Wei added.
During the meeting, Wei told Austin that the Chinese military will not hesitate in crushing any attempt of “Taiwan independence” to defend national unity.
On the other hand, the US said that it is committed to its One China policy and warned that the Chinese military has become increasingly aggressive, unsafe, and unprofessional in the region, a US defense official said after the meeting at the Shangri-La Dialogue.
Upon the recently announced USD 120 million US arms sale to Taiwan, the island’s Defense Ministry said that the new arms sale will cover “spare parts for naval ships and related technical assistance.”
However, the Chinese statement has condemned the arms sale. In a statement, China said, “The US again announced arms sales to Taiwan, which has seriously undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests. China firmly opposes this and strongly condemns it.”
The issue of Taiwan took up the bulk of the meeting between Austin and Wei, the US official said.
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Unprecedented transformation of the HR industry
HR, as one of the most paper-intensive and technologically resistant industries, has undoubtedly undergone an unprecedented transformation. The HR industry has changed course and jumped on the technology bandwagon, from handing out pay slips and pink slips to building teams and organisations. HR and technology were once two words that were never used in the same sentence, but today they have integrated and taken the business world by storm.
HR has undoubtedly undergone an unprecedented transformation as one of the most paper-intensive and technologically resistant industries. The human resources industry has shifted its focus from issuing pay stubs and pink slips to forming teams and organisations. HR and technology were never used in the same sentence until recently, but they have now integrated and taken the business world by storm.
EVOLUTION OF THE HR FUNCTION
As the pandemic drove nations to lockdowns and businesses to disruption, HR was thrust to the frontline to facilitate this wave of changes. From handholding employees, as they took up remote work to embracing new technologies such as AI and automation themselves, the purview of HR widened overnight. The HR department made possible the overnight pivot to remote work, organisation-wide move to the cloud and years’ worth of digital transformation within months. As organisations’ appetite for technology grows, the demand for HR tech is building up simultaneously to catalyse change.
MASTERING REMOTE WORK MANAGEMENT
Today, an organisation’s workforce is dispersed across different geographies owing to remote work arrangements. To enable employees to carry out diverse tasks remotely, HR teams must provide them with facilitating tools and technologies. At the same time, they require the right tools and technologies to carry out HR tasks remotely. On top of that, HR teams need to maintain the organisation’s culture even when people can no longer see each other in person. Technologies such as cloud computing, unified communication tools, performance management software and video conferencing technologies help HR teams master remote work management.
BRAVING TALENT MARKET CHALLENGES
Remote work mandate meant for the talent market proliferation of job opportunities, wider talent pools and a shift to virtual hiring practices. This resulted in a surge in demand for video interviewing, virtual onboarding and AI-based technologies. In an ever-evolving talent market, a slew of challenges such as the war for talent and the ‘great resignation’ has erupted. As a result, organisations are increasingly investing in automation, AI and data analytics to optimise their hiring processes and enjoy time and cost savings. Additionally, such HR technologies enable recruiters to hire higher-quality candidates faster.
RE-ENVISIONING EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE
As the resignation pile mounts up and the stack of resumes becomes less than a handful, HR teams across the globe are racking their brains in the quest for a cure-all. Technology allows HR teams to rethink their employee experience and reinforce their talent retention strategies. From improving the employee onboarding process to supporting greater work-life balance to elevating employee wellbeing, technology is helping HR to reshape the employee experience. Consequently, investments in tools and technologies such as intelligent chatbots, video conferencing, recommended learning and development, etc., that enhance employee experience are continuously rising.
CONTINUOUS RESKILLING AND UPSKILLING
The global pandemic ushered in a period of great reshuffling, which meant new technologies, tools, innovations and even new jobs. As many jobs, skills and practices become obsolete, HR leaders must upskill and reskill their workforce to take on new responsibilities and challenges. Technologies that enable faster learning paths, interactive and engaging journeys and performance tracking saw an uptick in demand. As digital transformation becomes a permanent fixture on CEO agendas, constant reskilling and upskilling are becoming a priority for HR leaders. As a result, giving rise to persistent demand for new learning and development technologies.
Technology is enabling organisations to inch closer to the future of work and evolve with it. The coming together of HR and technology can catalyse this wave of change. By making the most of this window of opportunity, HR can evolve from an auxiliary authority to an enabling force.
Yogita Tulsiani is the MD & Co-founder of iXceed Solutions, which is a global tech-recruiter provider.
THE BOYS SEASON 3 UNLEASHES UNSEEN LEVELS OF GORE AND PROFANITY
The 2010s are widely regarded as the Marvel decade. But, a more accurate way to describe them is as ‘the superhero decade’.
Amazon Prime Video series ‘The Boys’ is not just one of the best shows about superheroes but it also makes for a great case study in subversion of all the best-known tropes associated with the superhero genre. How many superhero shows out there are focused on exploring how toxic our obsession is with them? ‘The Boys’ does a great job of critiquing the superhero culture as perpetuated by Marvel and DC but never at the cost of entertainment. It is never preachy and always very entertaining and full of whacky ideas. ‘The Boys’ is based on the comic book series of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. In its third season, the series spills even more blood (yes, you read it right!), unleashing hitherto unseen levels of gore, profanity, nudity and sex. Don’t believe me? Consider a scene in the season premiere wherein a superhero shrinks down and climbs inside another person’s body part and mistakenly blows it to smithereens.
The 2010s are widely regarded as the Marvel decade. But, a more accurate way to describe them is as the superhero decade. Interestingly, nobody was so sure about the future of superhero films about 10 years back. Remember, the first leg of the Spider-Man and the X-Men series had ended in 2007 and 2009, respectively. The future looked uncertain for both the franchises. The second leg of the Superman series never really got going after the mixed-bad response to the 2006 film ‘Superman Returns’. What Christopher Nolan achieved with ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008) was seen more as a personal triumph of a director’s vision than a superhero genre breakthrough. It all changed with ‘Iron Man 2’ (2010) which catapulted the Nick Fury-led S.H.I.E.L.D to instant fame—two years after it was first introduced as part of ‘Iron Man’ (2008) during a post-credits scene. Following the release of ‘Iron Man 2,’ the Walt Disney Studios agreed to pay Paramount a whopping amount for the worldwide distribution rights to ‘Iron Man 3’ and ‘The Avengers.’ And the rest, as they say, is history.
Soon, Hollywood was raining superheroes. As Marvel was putting together The Avengers, DC Comics started planning their Justice League lineup. Before we knew it, Marvel’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014) also came alive. The X-Men franchise too got a new lease of life with ‘X-Men: First Class’ (2011). Next year, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ was released with a fresh cast and storyline. Subsequently, Zack Snyder delivered ‘Man of Steel’ (2013)—the first film of DC’s Superman reboot that was followed by the 2016 offering ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ In 2015, Marvel came out with ‘Ant-Man’ which was followed by ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ in 2018. In 2016, ‘Deadpool’ went on to become the highest-grossing R-rated film at the time. It was followed by ‘Deadpool 2’ (2018). Soon the battle for female superhero supremacy started as DC came out with the hugely successful ‘Wonder Woman’ in 2017 and Marvel responded with an even bigger success in the form of ‘Captain Marvel’ (2019). 2018 also witnessed another superhero film Venom based on a character that appeared in ‘Spider-Man 3’ (2007). All this proves why the 2010s are regarded as the superhero decade.
When the Amazon Prime Video series ‘The Boys’ premiered in July 2019, it took superhero film enthusiasts by storm. For, it offered something rarely seen in the genre: superheroes, popular as celebrities, influential as politicians, and revered as Gods, abusing their powers instead of using them for good. The Boys follows the eponymous team of vigilantes as they try to expose the Seven, Vought International’s premier superhero team led by the egotistical and megalomaniacal Homelander (menacingly portrayed by Antony Starr; the character is considered to be analogous to DC›s Superman). The Seven, among others, also features Queen Maeve (essayed by Dominique McElligott with equal parts brain and brawn; the character is considered to be analogous to DC›s Wonder Woman). The Boys, on the other hand, are led by Billy Butcher (brilliantly played by the uber-cool Karl Urban), a former CIA operative who despises all individuals with superpowers.
Following the success of the first season of ‘The Boys,’ the second season proved to be bigger and grander at so many levels. Firstly, the stakes were much higher. We had a few new characters with some incredible superpowers. On one hand, we had the enigmatic Stormfront, gifted with the unique ability to manipulate electricity along with many other powers. Although she joined the Seven as its newest member, her real intentions as well as her actual origins remained unknown (she was later revealed to be the first supe in the world who was once closely associated with the Nazi Party). Then, there was a mysterious new character gifted with the power to get anyone’s head to explode at will (who is shockingly revealed to be none other than Congresswomen Victoria Neuman). The second season of ‘The Boys’ also presented Black Noir in a new light. A-Train and The Deep again had solid character arcs this season. The character of Vought CEO Stan Edgar (chillingly essayed by Giancarlo Esposito) also came to the fore. The various arcs involving Homelander, Billy Butcher, Queen Maeve, Starlight, Hughie, Frenchie, Mother’s Milk, and Kimiko also got explored well.
In the new season also, we are presented with a very interesting mix of the old and the new characters. After his wife Becca’s death, Butcher is more obsessed than ever with killing Homelander (an increasingly menacing and creepy-looking Antony Starr). When Queen Maeve tells him about a past supe known as ‘Soldier Boy,’ Butcher leads an investigation to uncover the truth about his mysterious death. Maeve also gives him a few vials of a new serum developed by Vought that gives normal people superpowers for 24 hours. Given his intense hatred for all things supe, will he be able to wield it in order to take the fight to expose Vought?
‘The Boys’ has thus far lived up to its promise of being an irreverent, unapologetically sharp-witted, and no-holds-barred flip on the superhero genre. The third season takes us to ever darker places and the end doesn’t seem nigh.
LEGACY WASTE CONTINUES TO BRING EMBARRASSMENT TO HARYANA
Finding the working of authorities unsatisfactory in Haryana, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Haryana government to clear legacy waste in several districts which continues to bring the state embarrassment along with health hazards. In wake of the prevailing scenario, bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed the state government to constitute a committee to ensure removal of waste from the concerned sites but even after the issuance of a certain set of guidelines, the things remains unchanged which is a matter of serious concern requiring the state government to come up with requisite steps.Thus, the disposal of the legacy waste (old waste) seems an uphill task for Haryana as the State Government has requested the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for exemption in time limit, stating that due to some reasons, timely disposal of the waste couldn’t take place. The NGT has made it clear several times that breach of norms with regard to Solid Waste Management Rules 2016 and non-compliance is most likely subject to penalty. While pertaining to the issue, Kamal Gupta, who holds the portfolio of Urban Local Body Minister said that the process for the disposal of the garbage has been initiated but it is likely to take time as the same requires a sizable chunk of resources.In this regard, according to a report submitted to the NGO by the state government , 40 lakh metric tonnes waste has been processed so far which is 52 percent of the pending waste. According to reports of last year, a total of 71.68 lakh metric tonnes of legacy waste was lying at several dumping sites in municipalities in Haryana.
Opposition roars over law and order issue during budget session
On the first day of Bhagwant Mann Government’s first budget session, tributes were paid to many late personalitieas including Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala. After 13 minutes, the proceedings of the house were adjourned till 2 pm.
Congress MLA Pratap Singh Bajwa brought an adjournment motion on law and order which was rejected by the speaker. Congress leader Pratap Bajwa raised question on law and order and asked how law and order situation could be ignored by the ruling government. There was a ruckus in the House demanding a discussion on law and order. Raja Warring of Congress, Ashwani Sharma of BJP, and Akali members agitated against the government. Congress members staged a walkout.All the opposition members who reached the Well started shouting slogans against the Speaker. The speaker appealed to all the members to sit. During this, Bajwa said that his life is in danger, the CM has also told that his life is in danger, and the video has gone viral. Why is there no debate in the House on such a serious issue?
The speaker said to keep their point during the discussion on the address. After this, all Congress members including BJP and SAD staged a walkout from the house. The discussion on the Governor’s address has begun in the House. MLA Aman Arora said that most of the promises were fulfilled in three months.
On the first day of the budget session of the 16th Punjab Legislative Assembly, the House paid tributes to former ministers Hardeepinder Singh Badal and Jathedar Tota Singh, besides former MLAs Sukhdev Singh Sukhladhi and Shingara Ram Sahungara. The House also paid tribute to freedom fighters Tara Singh, Swaran Singh, Karora Singh, and Sukhraj Singh Sandhanwalia, who played an important role in freeing the country from the clutches of British imperialism.
The House also paid tribute to mountaineer Gurcharan Singh Bhangu Arjuna Awardee, who successfully scaled the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, in 1965.
Tributes were also paid to the great athlete Hari Chand Arjuna Awardee, who brought laurels to the country in the field of athletics. Tributes were also paid to famous Punjabi singer Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu (Sidhu Moosewala), who made a name for himself in the field of music and entertainment.
J-K GOVT ORDERS PREMATURE RETIREMENT OF 9 EMPLOYEES
The Jammu and Kashmir administration ordered the premature retirement of nine employees of the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUDD) on the charges of corruption under Article 226(2) of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil services Regulations, Departmental Committees of J-K confirmed on Friday.
The charges against the said nine officers were confirmed by the Departmental Committees and were upheld by the designated review committee under Article 226(2), which includes misappropriation of funds, falsification of records and raising fake bills, allowing illegal constructions, committing financial irregularities and making illegal appointments during their tenure in various Urban Local Bodies (ULBS). Earlier also, many officials faced probes by the Anti-Corruption Bureau and were also suspended. Article 226(2) of the J-K Civil Services Regulations, 1956 allows the government employees to be retired in “public interest” upon completing the 22 years of qualifying service or attaining 48 years of age.
Such employees are retired with a three-month notice or three months of pay. However, they retain their pensionary benefits. The nine employees of Housing and Urban Development Department who face premature retirement include Mehraj-ud-din Buja, I/C Senior Building Officer, Srinagar Municipal Corporation who as Head Assistant Revenue Section, Srinagar Municipal Corporation, was arrested by Vigilance Organization Kashmir in a trap case; Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Malik, who during his posting as in charge of EO Municipal Council Anantnag was involved in misappropriation, irregularities in financial transactions, illegal constructions, gross negligence and misconduct; Shabir Ahmad Wani, Assistant Sanitation Officer, MC Shopian, who during his posting as in-charge CEO Municipal Council Anantnag was involved in misappropriation, illegal constructions, irregularities in financial transactions, gross negligence, and misconduct; Zakir All, Sanitary Supervisor, MC Doda; Abdul Latief, Head Assistant, MC Banihal; and Sukesh Kumar, Senior Assistant, MC Doda who was involved in financial mismanagement by the drawal of fictitious bills against the non-existing Safalwallas.
The other three employees of the Housing and Urban Development Department ousted for alleged corruption were Gowhar All Tugoo, I/C Secretary, Directorate of Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir, who was involved in cases regarding the illegal appointments and financial irregularities made during his tenure at MC, Sopore; Shagufta Fazil, Secretary, Directorate of Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir who was found involved in embezzlement and unauthorized withdrawal of TA and 7th Pay Commission arrears; and Thakur Dass, Electrician, Municipal Committee Reasi involved in the huge case of embezzlement of funds and financial mismanagement.
REMNANTS OF PINDA GANG IN POLICE NET, 13 SHOOTERS AMONG 19 HELD
After a three-week-long operation, the Jalandhar Rural Police have successfully busted an extortion and arms smuggling racket affiliated to the Pinda Gang with the arrest of all the 13 gang members, all are trained shooters and six others involved in harboring and providing logistic support, said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Swapan Sharma here on Friday.A close aide of gangster Vicky Gounder, Palwinder Singh alias Pinda, whose role has also emerged in the Nabha Jail break, is said to be the kingpin of the gang and was apparently handling the gang with help of Paramjit alias Pamma, a native of Shahkot, Jalandhar and currently residing in Greece.The 13 arrested shooters have been identified as Sunil Masih alias Jeuna, Ravinder alias Ravi, Pradeep Singh, Manjinder alias Shavi, and Sukhman Singh @ Subha, all of Lohian, Jalandhar; Sandeep alias Dilli, Major Singh, Aprail Singh alias Shera, Balwinder alias Guddha and Salinder Singh, all of Nakodar, Jalandhar; Satpal alias Satta of Makhu, Ferozepur; Devinderpal Singh alias Deepu and Satwant Singh alias Jagga of Shahkot, Jalandhar.
All these arrested persons are history-sheeters and have been facing criminal cases of heinous crimes including murder, attempt to murder, extortion, and arms smuggling.
While six other persons who were arrested for harboring and providing logistic support have been identified as Amarjeet alias Amar of Dharamkot, Balbir Masih, Erik and Badal, trio residents of Lohian, Harwinder Singh of Shahkot, and Bachittar Singh of Kapurthala.
The police have also recovered nine weapons including seven .32 bore pistols, Three .315 bore pistols, one .315 bore gun, and one .12 bore gun, and two vehicles including Toyota Innova and Mahindra XUV 500, besides, foreign currency amounting to Rs 8 lakhs from their possession.The SSP said that Paramjit alias Pamma used to finance the gang and used to send foreign currency via Hawala to Amarjit alias Amar, who further used to distribute among the gang members to carry out various criminal activities.
He said that the gang is active for the last six years and has been involved in organized extortion, armed highway robbery, land mafia and weapon smuggling from Madhya Pradesh. “With the arrest of this group, the police have also been able to crack three blind cases of including murder, extortion, and Highway Armed Robbery occurred in Jalandhar and Bathinda,” said Swapan Sharma, while adding that of total 19 arrested persons, at least 12 were wanted by the Police in eight criminal cases.
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