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India’s Former ‘King of Good Times’ Vijay Mallya Arrested in London

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Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya in 2012. British police arrested him on Tuesday, as part of extradition proceedings that could lead to him being sent back to India, which he fled more than a year ago under an avalanche of unpaid bills and accusations of fraud. Credit: Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Vijay Mallya spent a lifetime building a reputation as India’s professed King of Good Times, a grandiloquent tycoon with ties to alcohol, an airline and a Formula 1 racing team. But his freewheeling lifestyle was brought to a screeching halt last year when he fled India under an avalanche of unpaid bills and accusations of fraud.

The cap of his stunning fall from grace was magnified Tuesday when British authorities in London arrested him as part of proceedings that could lead to his extradition to India.

Mallya came to symbolize many of the heights, and excesses, of Indian business in the decades of economic growth that followed the country’s deregulation in the early 1990s. He ultimately became a target of authorities, partly because his public displays of wealth came even as his company fell behind on salary payments to staff. Often compared to British entrepreneur Richard Branson, the 61-year-old Mallya turned what was once a small family business into a sprawling conglomerate. He now owns the United Breweries Group, which makes Kingfisher beer and distributes a wide variety of products, including alcohol, chemicals and fertilizer. He also has a stake in India’s only Formula One car racing team, Force India.

His 60th birthday bash was one for the ages — held at his villa in the coastal Indian state of Goa, it included acts from the singer Enrique Iglesias, as well as appearances from Bollywood stars and top Indian businessmen.

“I work hard, and I play hard, too,” Mallya once said.

However, his outsize ambitions proved to be his ultimate demise.

In 2003, Mallya established an airline, with plans to expand internationally and shift from an all-economy-class model to add a luxurious business class. He made a splash at the Paris Air Show in 2007 with a $7 billion order for 50 Airbus planes. On Mallya’s airline, even short-haul flights would have meal service, and curbside valets. Its flight attendants wore the bright red uniforms, mirroring those worn by staff members on Branson’s Virgin Atlantic.

Kingfisher Airlines struggled to gain ground in a competitive domestic market, and as time passed, the company was left with a fleet of aging and inefficient planes. By 2012, after persuading lenders to restructure its debt, it ceased operations in the face of high fuel prices and a global slowdown.

The airline carried debts north of $1 billion, as well as other bills, including back pay to former employees. Because Mallya himself, and the United Breweries Group, had backed some of the loans, creditors chased them for repayment. As the dispute went through the courts, banks tried to seize his assets. Indian authorities raided his homes and offices in Mumbai, Bangalore and Goa in 2015.

He fled India for Britain in March 2016, the Indian government revoked his passport the following month, a moved that was prefaced by the issuing of an arrest warrant. India sent Britain an official request for Mallya’s extradition on Feb. 8.

Tuesday, Metropolitan Police in London said its extradition unit had arrested Mallya “on behalf of the Indian authorities in relation to accusations of fraud.”

Mallya appeared in a London court and was released on bail, according to Dinesh K. Patnaik, India’s deputy high commissioner in London. Mallya is scheduled to appear for another hearing next month. “The willingness of the U.K. government in bringing him to justice is something we are appreciative of,” Patnaik said.

According to the British Home Office, arrest warrants are issued in response to extradition requests only if such requests are certified by officials and then sent to a court for the warrant to be issued. If the judge at Mallya’s extradition hearing approves the request for him to be sent back to India, then it is sent to Britain’s home secretary for final approval.

Mallya dismissed the news as “media hype,” but he confirmed on Twitter that an extradition hearing began on Tuesday.

He has previously disputed accusations that he fled India to avoid bad debts, saying on Twitter that he travels “to and from India frequently.”

“I did not flee from India and neither am I an absconder,” he added. “Rubbish.”

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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