IndUS Business Journal

Sundar Pichai predicts AI, cloud computing’s future at Google

Apr 29, 2016 0

New York– Taking a break from the tradition where Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin shared the company’s progress and vision every year, this time it was Indian-origin CEO Sundar Pichai who updated the world with some of Google’s achievements and key highlights.

In a letter posted on official Google blog on Friday, Pichai reiterated “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”.

Sundar Pichai

Sundar Pichai

Touching upon artificial intelligence (AI), powerful computing platforms and cloud, he stressed that mobile phone has become the remote control for daily lives and people are communicating, consuming, educating and entertaining themselves on smartphones “in ways unimaginable just a few years ago”.

“Search — the very core of Google, comes from mobile and an increasing number of them via voice. The company made this easy and via Google Now, user can get information like the weather in your upcoming vacation spot,” he posted.

He also wrote about the launch of Google Photos to make it easier for people to organise their photos and videos, keep them safe and be able to find them when they want to, on whatever device they are using.

Pichai said all this was possible due to the machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“It is what allows you to use your voice to search for information, to translate the web from one language to another, to filter the spam from your inbox, to search for ‘hugs’ in your photos and actually pull up pictures of people hugging,” he noted.

“… to solve many of the problems we encounter in daily life. It is what has allowed us to build products that get better over time, making them increasingly useful and helpful,” he added.

Pichai said Google has been building the best AI team and tools for years and pointed out the recent win that DeepMind’s AlphaGo registered against legendary Go – a complex Chinese board game that is considered the “quintessential unsolved problem” for machine intelligence — player Lee Se-dol.

On the motive of “More great content, in more places”, Pichai wrote that the company’s core mission has improved discovery, creation, and monetisation of content from indexing images, video, and the news, to building platforms like Google Play and YouTube.

The migration to mobile has pushed the company to work hard to deliver great content from creators and developers to users.

“Google Play reaches more than 1 billion Android users. And YouTube is the number-one destination for video — over 1 billion users per month visit the site and ranks among the year’s most downloaded mobile apps,” Pichai pointed out.

Google has worked closely with publishers, developers and others in the ecosystem to help make the mobile web a smoother and faster experience for users by introducing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project to create mobile-optimised content that loads instantly everywhere.

While talking about powerful computing platforms, Pichai said, the reduction in size and cost of processors and sensors allowed the proliferation of smartphones and now Android has more than 1.4 billion 30-day-active devices.

Today’s proliferation of “screens” goes well beyond phones, desktops, and tablets. Already, there are exciting developments as screens extend to your car, like Android Auto, or your wrist, like Android Wear.

“Virtual reality is also showing incredible promise-Google Cardboard has introduced more than five million people to the incredible, immersive and educational possibilities of VR,” he added.

Talking about cloud computing, Pichai said the cloud is more secure, cost effective and provides the ability to easily take advantage of the latest technology advances — be it more automated operations, machine learning or more intelligent office productivity tools.

“We have a broad and growing set of enterprise offerings: Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Google Apps, Chromebooks, Android, image recognition, speech translation, maps, machine learning for customers’ proprietary data sets and more,” he noted.

“Technology is a democratising force, empowering people through information. Google is an information company,” he concluded. (IANS)

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India constructing 20 kilometers of roads daily

Apr 29, 2016 0

New Delhi– Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday said that development of road infrastructure was a priority for the Modi government.

“When the government took over in 2014, highways accounted for only 96,000 km out of 52 lakh km road network in the country. Presently, we have 1,50,000 km of highways. The target is two lakh km of highways in the country,” Gadkari said at the 2nd Indo-US Infrastructure Summit here.

Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari

He said it will help divert 50 percent of the traffic from city to highways.

Gadkari said at present 20 km of roads are being constructed daily in the country.

“Our target is to construct 40 km of roads daily, which will be met in the next three years,” he said.

Gadkari said Rs.3 lakh crore had already been invested in the road sector and the target was Rs.5 lakh crore by next year.

The minister said there were also plans to make 2,000 ports in the country.

“It will create many employments and lead to socio-economic growth of the country as waterways are the cheapest mode of transportation,” Gadkari said.

He said ports had earned Rs.4,200 crore in revenue for the first time in the country.

“Port efficiency has increased by 20 percent in the last two years. While the world port growth stands at 0.5 percent, Indian port industry is growing at 4.5 percent,” he added.

Meanwhile, Gadkari said a separate wing under the National Highway Authority of India has been formed for undertaking plantations and beautification of national highways. (IANS)

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Industrialist Vijay Mallya finally speaks, says charges “preposterous”, “I’m in ‘forced exile”

Apr 29, 2016 0

London– Industrialist Vijay Mallya, at the centre of a controversy in India over alleged loan default of Rs.9,000 crore, has termed the charges against him as “preposterous” and said he was in “forced exile” here from which he would like to return to his country.

“I’m absolutely not guilty of any of the preposterous charges of diverting funds from Kingfisher Airlines and buying properties,” Mallya said in an interview to the Financial Times. “I’m in a forced exile, willing to reach reasonable debt settlement.”

Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya

Questioning the amount of Rs.9,000 crore attributed as wilfull debt against him, the 60-year-old industrialist said by taking away his passport or arresting him, the Indian government and banks won’t be able to get any money out of him.

“I definitely would like to return to India. Right now things are flying at me fast and furious. My passport’s been revoked. I don’t know what the government will do next. I’ve always said I will like to reach out to the bankers of Kingfisher and make a settlement,” he said.

“Notwithstanding the legal proceedings, my offer for settlement stands. The filings before the debt recovery tribunal indicate some 500 million pounds. The rest is toward unapplied interest. I’ve never been able to understand where this Rs.900 million figure came from,” he said.

He said he has issued a sworn affidavit to the Supreme Court and the right position will come to light if a proper probe is conducted. “If the government decides to audit the accounts of Kingfisher airlines, they are not going to find anything — because that is the truth.”

Mallya said “extraordinary pressure” was being exerted on him, but he can’t give preference just to banks since there were other creditors as well.

“All I can say is that the manner in which my passport was revoked and then suspended was unprecedented and was done in extraordinary haste. I came to know of the facts by email,” he said, adding the notice of suspension of his passport came on holiday and that his reply was ignored.

He further said if he has proposed a settlement offer to the apex court, it had to be serious.

Mallya said he tried all that was possible to save Kingfisher Airlines, but in vain. “But I have currently businesses in India, and I wish to continue with them. They are doing very well. I’m currently in forced exile.”

As for his lifestyle, often termed as flamboyant, the industrialist said he was a rather simple man. “There is nothing wrong in wearing colourful piece of clothing,” he said.

“I think those who need to know certainly know that I have been the brand ambassador. The king of good times was the label for Kingfisher Airlines. I was, for whatever reason, known as the king of good times — but now obviously, the king of bad times.

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Air India likely to suffer Rs.2,636 crore net loss in 2015-16: Minister

Apr 28, 2016 0

New Delhi–The government on Thursday said that national passenger carrier Air India is likely to suffer a net loss of Rs.2,636 crore during 2015-16.

Air IndiaAccording to the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma, the airline had posted a net loss of Rs.5,859.91 crore during 2014-15.

“With regard to Air India, it is likely to suffer a total net loss of Rs.2,636 crores in 2015-16,” Sharma said in a written reply during question hour in the Lok Sabha.

“It may be stated that Air India has been facing losses in the past few years on account of a multitude of factors.”

The minister cited high interest cost, increase in competition, high airport user charges and adverse impact of exchange rate variation as the main reasons for the national carrier’s losses. (IANS)

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Secure workers’ interest in bankruptcy code: Parliamentary panel

Apr 28, 2016 0

New Delhi–In a bid to protect the interests of workers of a company that has gone bust, the parliamentary panel on the bankruptcy code has said all social security funds due to them must be kept aside in dealing with such cases.

The Joint Committee on Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, chaired by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Bhupender Yadav, has also asked the government in its report, tabled on Thursday, to consider doubling the period of payment of dues in insolvency cases pertaining to the state or central government.

“The committee after in depth examination are of the view that provident fund, pension fund and the gratuity fund provide the social safety net to the workmen and employees and hence need to be secured in the event of liquidation of a company or bankruptcy of partnership firm,” the report said.

“The Committee, therefore, feel that all sums due to any workman or employee from the provident fund, the pension fund and the gratuity fund should not be included in the liquidation estate assets and estate of the bankrupt.”

The committee observed that in the case of central government and states, the dues to workers be paid for 24 months.

“To protect the interest of the workmen, the committee are of the view that workmen dues for a period of 12 months as provided in the waterfall under Clauses 53 and 178 may be increased to 24 months preceding the liquidation commencement date.”

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said on Wednesday that the proposed Bankruptcy and Insolvency Code had been cleared by the joint committee and was likely to be discussed during the current session of parliament.

The new code is also among the steps being taken by the government to deal with the problem of mounting bad loans of state-run banks, he said.

The proposed law aims to reduce delays in resolution of insolvency cases and improve recoveries of amount lent to companies. It proposes a timeline of 180 days, extendable by another 90 days, to resolve cases of bankruptcy.

It also provides for the creation of an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Fund and an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India to regulate stakeholders, such as professional, agencies and information utilities.

The draft bill was prepared on the basis of the recommendations from the Bankruptcy Law Reform Committee, headed by former law secretary T.K. Viswanathan. The committee had submitted its report along with a draft bill in November, following which the bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha on December 21 last year. (IANS)

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Parliament passes bill for states’ control over potable alcohol production

Apr 28, 2016 0

New Delhi– Parliament on Thursday passed a bill, which sought to transfer the control over industries producing potable alcohol from the central government to the state governments, with the Rajya Sabha giving its nod to the legislation.

The Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, amending the 1951 act, had already been passed by the Lok Sabha in December last year.

Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the amendment would bring potable alcohol under the jurisdiction of states, and clearly demarcates what is within the powers of the centre and what is within the powers of states.

The 1951 act provides for development and regulation of certain industries including fermentation (which includes production of alcohol), and its first schedule includes all industries that are regulated under the act. The bill amends the schedule to exclude production of alcohol for potable purposes from the ambit of the act.

The Supreme Court in its judgement on January 20, 1997, had demarcated the regulation of production of alcohol between the central and state governments in the case of Bihar Distillery and another vs. Union of India and others.

The court ruled that central government should regulate the production of alcohol for industrial use and states should regulate the production of alcohol for potable purpose (domestic consumption).

The bill conforms to the Supreme Court’s decision.

“This is something which the Supreme Court had broadly indicated in its judgement in 1997,” Sitharaman said.(IANS)

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Satya Nadella, Indra Nooyi, Bhavesh Patel make it to highest-paid CEOs list

Apr 28, 2016 0
Indra Nooyi-Twitter

Indra Nooyi

New Delhi– Indian origin Indra Nooyi, Bhavesh Patel and Satya Nadella made it to the list of 100 highest-paid CEOs in the world compiled by compensation information provider Equilar.

LyondellBasell Industries CEO Patel was placed sixth on the list with a total compensation of $24.5 million while PepsiCo’s India Nooyi was at the eighth position with a pay cheque of $22.2 million.

Nadella, the Microsoft CEO made the cut at 26th position in the 100 highest-paid CEOs list with a total compensation of $18.3 million.

Oracle’s Mark V. Hurd and Safra A. Catz topped the 100 highest paid global CEOs list with a total compensation of $53.2 million each.

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella

Robert A. Iger of Walt Disney ($43.5 million), David M. Cote of Honeywell International ($33.1 million), General Electric’s Jeffrey R. Immelt ($26.4 million), Randall L. Stephenson of AT&T ($22.4 million), Rupert Murdoch of Twenty-First Century Fox ($22.2 million) and James P. Gorman of Morgan Stanley ($22 million) made up the top 10.

Bhavnesh Patel (Photo courtesy: Houston Chronicle)

Bhavnesh Patel (Photo courtesy: Houston Chronicle)

According to Equilar, the median pay was $14.5 million in fiscal 2015 which grew by three percent from the previous year.

As many eight women CEOs made it to the list. “Median compensation for these eight women was $20 million in 2015, while average pay was $22.7 million,” said Equilar.

California-based privately held Equilar generates information on executi

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Indian Business Briefs

Apr 28, 2016 0

Report: India Becomes Top FDI Destination in 2015

India has become the top destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) by attracting $63 billion worth of FDI projects in 2015, says fDi Intelligence, a division of The Financial Times.

Power Minister Goyal Attracts Global Investors

Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy, visited the U.S. recently to participate in the launch of the International Solar Alliance programs. Attracting global investors, including private equity giants such as Blackstone and Warburg Pincus, Goyal highlighted the initiatives taken by the Government to make India more business friendly.

Indian Ambassador Arun Singh (file photo)

Indian Ambassador Arun Singh (file photo)

Atlantic Council Launches India-U.S. Trade Initiative

Top U.S. think tank, the Atlantic Council, has launched an India-U.S. trade initiative aimed to strengthen economic ties. On this occasion, India’s Ambassador to the U.S. Arun K. Singh said, “India and the United States enjoy a robust and thriving trade relationship which holds tremendous potential for the future in a number of sectors including renewable energy, infrastructure, smart cities, IT services, digital economy, and defense.”

India Beats 2015-16 Solar Energy Target by 1.5x

India has surpassed its solar energy target for 2015-16 more than one and a half times, commissioning 3,018 MW during the year vs. the 2,000 MW target. At the end of 2015-16, country’s cumulative solar capacity stands at 6,753 MW, up from 3,744 MW a year ago. Rajasthan state remains No.1 in overall installed capacity at 1,264 MW.

Big Companies Bet Big on India’s ‘Smart Cities’

Global firms such as Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei and Cisco are betting big on India’s “smart cities” project, which is estimated to be an up to $50 billion business opportunity over five years. Players like Ericsson and Huawei have started working on some of the projects in the country, while Cisco is involved in more than 25 cities, including the Government’s 20 official smart cities shortlist.

 India Signs Paris Climate Pact

India signed the historic Paris climate agreement along with more than 170 nations, bringing together developing and developed nations to begin work on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar signed the agreement in the UN General Assembly.

Govt. Increases Highway Construction Target by 2.5x

Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari has fixed a 2.5 times increase in the target for award and construction of National Highways for the year 2016-17. The Minister has set a target of 15,500 miles of National Highways to be awarded in 2016- 17 up from 6,200 miles awarded in 2015-16.

 Roadmap to a $10 Trillion Indian Economy by 2032

NITI Aayog – National Institution for Transforming India  – has laid out a roadmap to help Asia’s third-largest economy cross the $10 trillion mark by 2032.  NITI Ayog has listed seven key areas, including infrastructure, skill development, ease of doing busing business etc., where the government needs to focus to ensure 10% growth.

Ministry of Commerce & Industry Launches ‘Twitter Seva’

To be more responsive to the populace, the Minister of State for Commerce & Industry (I/C) Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has launched a “Twitter Seva.” Through this Twitter Seva, queries on matters relating to the Department of Commerce and the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion will be answered. Those with questions can use the hashtag #mociseva.

Govt: Automatic Approval Likely for More Sectors

Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das said India plans to further liberlize rules for overseas investors as the Govt. looks to reduce the need for number of approvals. He also said investors appreciate the accelerated pace of decision making and are positive about India.

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India among leading markets for digital marketing globally: Adobe

Apr 28, 2016 0

By Sourabh Kulesh

Mumbai– India is one of the leading countries for Adobe’s revenue generation in digital marketing globally, a senior executive of Adobe Systems India Pvt Ltd said here on Wednesday, adding that the Asia Pacific region is the fastest growing market for the company and stands among the top 10 markets in the world.

“If you look at the total revenue of Adobe last year, it was $4.896 billion and Asia Pacific contributed nearly 18-21 percent of the entire revenue,” Umang Bedi, managing director (south Asia), Adobe, told IANS ahead of “Adobe Symposium 2016” to be hosted here on Thursday.

The proliferation of content across platforms and data has become a significant part in a customer’s life, said Bedi, adding that brands today are being forced to take up personalised, relevant and useful experiences to deliver value to the customers.

There is a new trend of ‘cross-device co-op’ to better identify consumers as they move across devices. This not only keeps track of the activities as they move from one device to another but also provide users a better and consistent experience.

“Another trend I am witnessing is the video. Video is the new voice. Not just streaming which is just a part of the whole concept but video has use cases for education, healthcare and every other industry in India,” Bedi noted.

Bedi pointed out that in the near future, artificial intelligence (AI) would become a big trend in this space.

“I am seeing this massive trend of Internet of Things (IoT) with our customers (where devices talk to devices). Although augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are still some time away but I see both of them becoming a big trend in the future,” Bedi pointed out.

When asked how the world of direct and digital marketing are coming together, he said the online and offline marketing lines are blurring now.

“All commerce is e-commerce and Adobe talked about it a year ago. You could research online and buy online or vice-versa. Offline companies are going online and firms which were pure e-commerce companies are now setting up stores. Adobe is here to create the same experience online and offline,” Bedi explained.

“Omni channel is here to stay. Experience is the new brand, customer journey is the new product, data is the voice of the customer and content is how you respond to it across this customer journey,” he added.

According to him, Adobe is the largest company and does digital marketing for over 10,000 brands across the globe.

“In terms of scale, on the Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) platform, we are measuring 41 trillion transactions per year, 45 percent of which are mobile. Adobe is serving an unmatched scale of 4.1 trillion rich media requests,” he told IANS.

Bedi also spoke about projects Adobe has completed or still working with the Indian government.

“We have done projects under the national e-governance programme (NEGP). We power Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ website, the passport service and e-businesses, among others. We are also working with the ministry of tourism across states,” he said.

“We are now focused around ‘Digital India’. We are seeing opportunities in marquee projects like ‘Smart Cities’ and prime minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) project that will bring 200 governments services on one platform,” Bedi added. (IANS)

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Norway’s Telenor takes $368 million write-down on India operations

Apr 28, 2016 0

New Delhi– Norwegian telecom giant Telenor has cut the valuation of its India operations by nearly $375 million and said its operations in the country were under pressure, even as it looks forward to acquiring spectrum in the upcoming auctions at reasonable rates.

“As communicated before, long term presence in India is dependent on our ability to secure additional spectrum.

“With the current portfolio of spectrum we have not been able to compete in the growing data market,” said Telenor global chief executive Sigve Brekke while announcing financial results (January-March quarter) of the company in Norway.

He said India had a good quarter and added 1.5 million new subscribers, which took up its subscriber base in the country to 44 million in total. It was a 15 percent subscribers growth year-on-year.

“Also despite pressure on data now replacing voice revenues we were able to grow revenue at 7 percent. However, the operation is under pressure. So the average revenue per unit is down 8 percent,” he added.

Owing to a write-off and impairment, the company also cut the valuation of its India operations by 3 billion kroner or $368 million.

Talking about the upcoming telecom spectrum auction in India, Brekke said: “We are looking at the upcoming auction. That’s why we are looking at potential spectrum trading opportunities.”

Telecom companies in India are already unhappy over the high reserve price recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for the upcoming auction being offered in as many as seven bands.

In the Delhi circle, TRAI has recommended Rs.1,595 crore for 700 MHz band, Rs.848 crore for 800 MHz, Rs.673 crore for 900 MHz, Rs.399 crore for 1,800 MHz, Rs.554 crore for 2,100 MHz, and Rs.143 crore for 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz.

Going by the recommended price the mop-up is expected to be as much as $83 billion or Rs.560,000 crore payable over the term of the contract – bigger than the $17 billion of the previous round.

Brekke said the revenue market share of the company is 6.5 percent in the six circles it operates.

The company has operations in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh East and West, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

“Overall 6.5 percent brings us to number 4 position in the six circles where we operate. The three big ones are way ahead but now we have a clear number 4 position.” (IANS)

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