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Vijay Shekhar Sharma, India’s new ‘Cashless Billionaire’ emerges amidst demonitization

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of e-wallet company Paytm and one of the most successful Internet billionaires in India, interacts with his colleagues in his office in Noida, a suburb of New Delhi. (Rama Lakshmi/The Washington Post)

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his surprise decision to demonetize 86 percent of the country’s cash in the circulation, Vijay Shekhar Sharma attended a soiree hosted by Forbes in Mumbai.

Midway through the red carpet event, Sharma turned on his phone, which had exploded with calls and text messages from his office at Paytm, India’s largest e-wallet business.

The aftermath of the government’s decision, which was made to combat black money and corruption, was felt in the days that followed. Banks scrambled to replace the banned currency, Rs. 500 and 1,000 notes which represented 86 percent of India’s total cash in circulation. Indians stood in cues for hours, sometimes waiting for nothing at all when banks ran out of currency notes.

Overnight, Sharma’s Paytm, which allows users to pay bills online, became the default payment app for millions. The number of users jumped from 125 million to 185 million in just three months.

Sharma, the company’s founder, emerged as the undisputed “king of demonetization.”

However, Sharma’s celebrity status existed long before his Nov. 8 rise to power. He fields selfie picture requests at nearly every airport and hotel he steps foot into. Sharma has also been spotted spending time with the likes of Bill Gates, and is a case study for Harvard Business School students. His $8 billion company is the country’s official cricket team sponsor, a coveted tag for India’s billionaires.

“After my engineering degree, I could have easily got a job in America like so many people, but I dreamt very early of creating a Silicon Valley right here,” he told The Washington Post. 

India is home to the third most internet users in the world, about 350 million, after the United States and China. Out of this India has created a new generation of internet millionaires heading successful e-commerce and tech start-ups.

His ambitious new payment bank will benefit the unbanked poor when it launches in April, he said. “I want to be the wealth manager for the auto-rickshaw driver dude.” His office has Che Guevara posters alongside Om signs. He drives a blue BMW, but when he travels, he does not just want the best flight option, he wants the cheapest.

“I have not forgotten the value of hard-earned money,” he said.

Sharma founded Paytm in 2011 but got his big break when the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and an affiliate invested in it. Since 2015, Alibaba has invested more than $800 million in Sharma’s ventures, which include an e-wallet, a payment bank and an e-retail site. He now employs 17,000 people in 400 cites.

Information from the Washington Post contributed to this report.

Business

Harvard to host 17th annual India Conference this February

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Diya TV) — For the 17th year in a row, the graduate students at Harvard University will host an India Conference. It will take place during the weekend of February 15-16, 2020. Two days of exciting discussions through panels, mixers and networking will fill the halls of the Harvard Business School and Kennedy School of Government.

The theme for this year’s conference is Foresight 20/20 – a look at what to expect from India in 2020 and beyond. As one of the largest student led conferences in the USA, the Harvard India conference attracts the biggest headliners from every field – from politics, business, entertainment & the arts. And this year is no different.

India Conference
India Conference at Harvard

With more than 100 speakers and 1000 attendees, the conference promises to have something for everyone. This year’s biggest draw from the entertainment genre is veteran Bollywood actor and self proclaimed ambassador to India, Anupam Kher. Kher has a long standing list of accolades within the film industry. In addition to his acting roles, he has been a producer, director and teacher at his own acting school. Most recently he played the role of Dr. Vijay Kapur on NBC’s primetime drama ‘New Amsterdam‘.

Some other notable speakers this year include founder of the India Today Group, Aroon Purie, Indian Olympic athelete Dutee Chand, comedian and actor, Vir Das, partner at Softbanks’ Vision Fund Lydia Jett & politician and India’s ruling party (BJP)’s sherpa to the G20, Suresh Prabhu.

The harsh winter in Harvard doesn’t seem slow down or dull these brilliant minds in any way. The India Conference at Harvard continues to retain its standing as the conference of choice for deliberating issues ranging from technology, media, politics and eduction to creating solutions for India’s path towards global leadership. The event features brainstorming sessions and sincere discussions on the very real and large scale problems that are uniquely Indian.

Diya TV is a media sponsor to the event and will be on-site covering conference. To receive a 20% discount use code RDAY20 here and to know more about the conference or speakers, head to the IndiaConference.com

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Indian Ambassador, Shringla speaks to U.S. Congress about Kashmir

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AMB. Shringla speaks to congress about Kashmir | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV)  — Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Harsh Shringla met with members of Congress at a private roundtable briefing, hosted by Southern California Congressman Brad Sherman. Sherman, who has been a supporter of India, took to Twitter recently to share his concerns about Kashmir and said serious questions about Kashmir were asked at the briefing.

President Trump is being urged to fix the H1-B visa process and do away with country-specific limits, with the latest effort for reform being spearheaded by 60 U.S. business school deans and CEO’s.

In an earthquake, seconds matter. So on the anniversary of the deadly 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that rocked Northern California, state officials announced the launch of America’s first statewide earthquake early warning system.

Tabla Maestro Zakir Hussain will be coming to Boston next month to perform at the Berklee India Exchange, where he will also be conferred with an honorary doctorate by the esteemed music school. A Zakir Hussain Scholarship at Berklee is also being established.

And we have incredible video of three kids from India rescuing their dog from a snake that’s equal parts courageous and nuts.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Federal Court rules Trump must turn over tax returns | Diya TV News

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Trump Tax Returns

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — A federal judge ruled President Trump must turn over eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors, striking down the President’s argument that a sitting president cannot be criminally investigated. The ruling was quickly appealed and this case could end up in the Supreme Court to answer the constitutional question of whether presidents can be charged with a crime.

Meanwhile, the President celebrated a victory by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, as a federal appellate court upheld most of the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality. It also ruled the FCC cannot preempt state net neutrality laws, meaning the rules of the road in states like California remain in place.

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee announced their Asia-Pacific and Non-Proliferation Subcommittee will be holding a hearing asking State Department officials and human rights activists to chime in on Human Rights in Kashmir, the Tamils of Sri Lanka, Muslims in Assam and the human rights situation in Pakistan, which includes the Sindh Province.

Lockheed Martin announced they will build F-16 wings exclusively in India, helping in integrating Indian industry into the $165 billion fighter aircraft market.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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