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Volkswagen told to pay $4.3-billion fine in emissions cheating case

A US federal court charged six former executives of the German automaker with fraud in connection with the 2015 matter.

A federal court in Washington indicted six Volkswagen executives and imposed a penalty of $4.3 billion (Rs 28,000 crore approximately) on the company on Wednesday in connection with the 2015 emissions cheating scandal. This is the highest fine imposed by the government on any automaker, reported Associated Press. In 2014, Toyota was levied a $1.2-billion (Rs 7,000 crore approximately) penalty in a safety issues case.

Besides, Volkswagen has agreed to appoint an independent monitor to supervise control measures over the next three years. The government said that although Volkswagen had publicly admitted to the fraud on September 18 last year, its employees continued to delete computer files and other proof. “Volkswagen obfuscated, they denied and they ultimately lied,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Company employees have been asked to cooperate with ongoing investigations. The United States Justice Department said at least 40 Volkswagen employees were involved in destroying evidence of the fraud. More employees could be arrested in the coming days.

The six employees indicted include a former head of development of the Volkswagen brand and the head of engine development. While Oliver Schmidt, one of the six convicts, was arrested in Florida, last week, the others are likely in Germany, reported The New York Times.

The company has terminated several top executives after the scandal came to the fore, reported Washington Post. However, a company spokesperson refused to comment on the employment status of the six indicted employees.

The German automaker had fitted as many as six lakh cars in US with a software to fool emissions tests. Investigators said that the cars emitted more than 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide.

Emissions discrepancies in Volkswagen cars were first identified in 2014 during a research conducted by West Virginia University. The case came to light in August 2015 when a company employee defied supervisors and informed US regulators about the software.

Wednesday’s verdict brings Volkswagen’s total fines to around $20 billion (Rs 1,33,000 crore approximately), reported Washington Post. In June last year, Volkswagen had reached a deal with US regulators to pay up to $14.7 billion (nearly Rs 9.98 lakh crore) and compensate owners of vehicles affected by its diesel emissions cheating scandal.

The German automaker had said it would either repair or buy back polluting vehicles and pay each owner $10,000 (approximately Rs 6.8 lakh). The deal set aside $10 billion to repair or buy back around 4,75,000 polluting Volkswagen vehicles and to compensate each owner with an additional payment of between $5,100 (approximately Rs 3.5 lakh) and $10,000.

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Harvard Business School’s HBX brings the future of business education to India with online programs

HBX is not only offering courses online, but also connecting students to the power of its network.

The classic design of the physical Harvard Business School (HBS) classroom was once a big innovation – precisely designed teaching amphitheaters laid out for every student to participate from his or her seat with a “pit” in the center of the room from which professors orchestrate discussions analyzing business cases like a symphony lead. When it came to designing the online experience of HBX—the school’s digital learning initiative—HBS faculty worked tirelessly to blend these tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of new technology. With real-world problem solving, active learning, and social learning as its foundation, HBX offers immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive online learning platform.

Reimagining digital education, breaking the virtual learning mold

Typically, online courses follow a one-way broadcast mode – lectures are video recorded and reading material is shared – and students learn alone and are individually tested. Moving away from the passive learning model, HBX has developed an online platform that leverages the HBS ‘case-based pedagogy’ and audio-visual and interaction tools to make learning engaging.

HBX courses are rarely taught through theory. Instead, students learn through real-world problem-solving. Students start by grappling with a business problem – with real world data and the complexity in which a business leader would have to make a decision – and learn the theory inductively. Thus even as mathematical theories are applied to business situations, students come away with a greater sense of clarity and perspective, whether it is reading a financial report, understanding why a brand’s approach to a random sample population study may or may not work, or how pricing works.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

“Learning about concepts through real-life cases was my favorite part of the program. The cases really helped transform abstract concepts into observable situations one could learn from. Furthermore, it really helped me understand how to identify situations in which I could use the tools that HBX equipped me with,” says Anindita Ravikumar, a past HBX participant. India’s premier B-school IIM-Ahmedabad has borrowed the very same pedagogy from Harvard. Learning in this manner is far more engaging, relatable, and memorable.

Most lessons start with a short 2-3 minute video of a manager talking about the business problem at hand. Students are then asked to respond on how they would handle the issue. Questions can be in the form of either a poll or reflections. Everyone’s answers are then visible to the ‘classroom’. In the words of Professor Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX, “This turns out to be a really important distinction. The answers are being updated in real-time. You can see the distribution of answers, but you can also see what any other individual has answered, which means that you’re not anonymous.” Students have real profiles and get to know their ‘classmates’ and learn from each other.

HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort
HBX Interface | Students can view profiles of other students in their cohort

Professor Anand also says, “We have what we call the three-minute rule. Roughly every three minutes, you are doing something different on the platform. Everyone is on the edge of their seats. Anyone could be called on to participate at any time. It’s a very lean forward mode of learning”. Students get ‘cold-called’ – a concept borrowed from the classroom – where every now and then individuals will be unexpectedly prompted to answer a question on the platform and their response will be shared with other members of the cohort. It keeps students engaged and encourages preparedness. While HBX courses are self-paced, participants are encouraged to get through a certain amount of content each week, which helps keep the cohort together and enables the social elements of the learning experience.

More than digital learning

The HBS campus experience is valued by alumni not just for the academic experience but also for the diverse network of peers they meet. HBX programs similarly encourage student interactions and opportunities for in-person networking. All HBXers who successfully complete their programs and are awarded a credential or certificate from HBX and Harvard Business School are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty and business executives, and also experience the HBS campus near Cambridge.

HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand
HBXers at ConneXt, with Prof. Bharat Anand

Programs offered today

HBX offers a range of programs that appeal to different audiences.

To help college students and recent graduates prepare for the business world, HBX CORe (Credential of Readiness) integrates business essentials such as analytics, economics, and financial accounting. HBX CORe is also great for those interested in an MBA looking to strengthen their application and brush up their skills to be prepared for day one. For working professionals, HBX CORe and additional courses like Disruptive Strategy, Leading with Finance, and Negotiation Mastery, can help deepen understanding of essential business concepts in order to add value to their organizations and advance their careers.

Course durations range from 6 to 17 weeks depending on the program. All interested candidates must submit a free, 10-15 minute application that is reviewed by the HBX admissions team by the deadlines noted on the HBX website.

For more information, please review the HBX website.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HBX and not by the Scroll editorial team.