New Delhi: Telecom giant Airtel got embroiled in a controversy after a subscriber sought to interact with a Hindu customer service representative, a demand which the company said it never accepted.
As it faced online criticism for allegedly not standing up to bigotry, Airtel said it does not differentiate between customers, employees and partners on the basis of caste or religion. It all started with Lucknow-based Pooja Singh, an Airtel direct-to-home (DTH) customer, taking to the Twitter yesterday to lodge a complaint of poor service.
A customer care executive from Bharti Airtel India replied to her saying the company would take a closer look into her complaint and get back shortly. The customer care executive appeared to be a Muslim from his name, Shoaib, which prompted Singh to demand a “Hindu representative” as she had “no faith in his work ethics”.
“Dear Shohaib, as you’re a Muslim and I have no faith in your working ethics because Kuran may have a different version for customer service, thus requesting you to assign a Hindu representative for my request. Thanks (sic),” wrote Pooja, whose Twitter handle declares her as a management professional, a “Proud Indian” and a “Proud Hindu”.
Following this, Gaganjot, another executive, contacted her expressing the intent to assist her, which the company attributed to automated system assigning any new customer complains/requests to the next available service executive.
Asked why it agreed to Singh’s request for change of representative, Airtel said: “This is incorrect and baseless and Airtel did not agree to any such thing.”
An Airtel spokesperson said: “At Airtel, we do not differentiate between customers or our employees/ partners on the basis of caste or religion. If a customer contacts us again for an ongoing service issue then the first available service executive responds in the interest of time. We request everyone not to misinterpret and give it unnecessary religious colour. The said customer has been responded to.”
After the change of service representative drew criticism, Airtel had yesterday responded to Singh saying, “we absolutely do not differentiate between customers, employees and partners on the basis of caste or religion. We would urge you to do the same”.
It said: “Both Shoaib and Gaganjot are part of our customer resolution team. If any customer contacts us for an ongoing service issue then the first available service executive responds in the interest of time.”
The move had however drawn criticism from many. Historian Irfan Habib said that he “can’t believe this is for real and some of us have degenerated to this dangerous level”. Former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah said he would change his mobile operator and dump Airtel DTH and broadband.
“Dear @Airtel_Presence this conversation is genuine (I’ve seen the timeline myself). I refuse to pay another penny to a company that condones such blatant bigotry. I’m beginning the process of porting my number to another service provider & cancelling my DTH & Broadband,” he tweeted.
Singh, whose followers seems to have grown from over 10,500 to 13,000 since the controversy broke yesterday, received support from some, which she retweeted. “I am overwhelmed with the kind of support I got from you all and really thankful to you from bottom of my heart. What I said was my personal choice as per my past experience and it was not a publicity stunt by anyway,” she said in a statement posted on her Twitter account on Tuesday.
She also received a lot of hate tweets for her bigotry. To this, she responded: “I simply made a request to change representative from Muslim to Hindu as my experience in past was not good and that’s my right as well. After that, the kind of abuse I’m facing are beyond imagination and that in itself proves that I was right at very first place.”
Income Tax return processing time to reduce from 63 days to just 1 day
Mumbai:The Union Cabinet approved an integrated income-tax e-filing and centralised processing centre (CPC) portal, which will reduce the return processing time from 63 days to just one day. The new portal is also expected to process the refunds within one day of filing of tax returns, in huge relief for taxpayers. However, one will have to wait for 18 months to see its launch.
“Earlier, taxpayers would face troubles because of delay in refund processing and the CBDT used to spend a lot of money every year as interest on pending refunds, which will be history now,” Union minister Piyush Goyal told reporters after the Cabinet meeting here.
Last month, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman Sushil Chandra had said a simplified return form and process would be put in place soon in which the department would process the self-declaration made by the taxpayer. The new Rs 4,241-crore project will incorporate these changes.
“This is a laudable initiative and will go a long way to ease tax compliance, and enhanced experience for taxpayers. However, the real success of this will be measured when it brings ease to a common man and is accompanied by changes in the culture of the tax authorities at the operational level,” said Neeru Ahuja, partner, Deloitte India.
Currently, the e-filing portal and the CPC work separately. While e-filing is being managed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the CPC is run by Infosys.
In the bids invited by the government, Infosys emerged as the lowest bidder and it would develop the ITR-CPC 2.0 project in 18 months from now, Goyal said.
Under the new system, Infosys will handle end-to-end solution — from e-filing to return assessment to refund processing. The CBDT and Infosys would work in a revenue-sharing model, sources in the know said.
Goyal said ramping up scrutiny was not the mandate of the new portal. Currently, about 0.3 per cent of the I-T returns are scrutinised, he said. The system intends to resolve taxpayer grievances as well as tax demands from the CBDT faster and equitably, he said.
“The decision will ensure horizontal equity by processing returns filed by all categories of taxpayers across the country in a consistent, uniform, rule driven, identity blind manner. This will assure fairness in tax treatment to every taxpayer irrespective of their status,” a government release said.
But even under the new ecosystem, only those applications which are clean would have the chance of getting processed in a day, sources said.
About 23 crore I-T returns have been processed, along with Rs 2.62 trillion worth of refunds, till September 2018 cumulatively. Of this, refunds worth Rs 1.83 trillion have been processed in 2018-19, said Goyal.
Lenders considering resolution plan for Jet Airways: SBI
Mumbai: State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday said lenders are considering a resolution plan for Jet Airways to ensure long-term viability of the debt-laden company.
The SBI statement comes a day after the crisis-hit airline said discussions were “progressing well” with stakeholders on a comprehensive resolution plan that also contemplates equity infusion and consequent changes in its board of directors.
There are rising concerns over financial health of Jet Airways, whose shares have also taken a beating at stock exchanges.
“We would like to state that lenders are considering a restructuring plan under the RBI framework for resolution of stressed assets that would ensure a long-term viability of the company,” SBI said in a statement.
It said the restructuring plan for the cash-strapped airline would need approval from boards of lenders.
“Any such plan would be subject to approval of boards of the lenders and subject to adherence and clearance, if required, from the RBI and/or Sebi (takeover code, ICDR regulations.) and Ministry of Civil Aviation and in compliance with all regulatory prescriptions,” the statement said.
Shares of the airline are trading 4.24 per cent lower at Rs 259.50 apiece on BSE.
NGT slams Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore as per its 2018 order
New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) slammed German auto major Volkswagen for not depositing Rs 100 crore in accordance with its November 16, 2018 order and directed it to submit the amount within 24 hours.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel took strong exception to the non-compliance of its order by the automobile giant and asked it to give an undertaking that it will submit the amount by 5 PM Friday.
“Why have you not complied with our order when there is no stay. We will not give you any further time,” the bench, also comprising Justice S P Wangdi, said while asking Volkswagen to submit an affidavit of compliance after deposit.
The tribunal deferred the matter for hearing after it was informed that the Supreme Court is also seized of the issue.
On November 16 last year, the tribunal had said that the use of ”cheat device” by Volkswagen in diesel cars in India leads to inference of environmental damage and had asked the German auto major to deposit an interim amount of Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).