IndUS Business Journal

Indian tech skills to the rescue of Wikipedia’s diverse tongues

Aug 6, 2016 0

By Frederick Noronha

Chandigarh– India might seem like the Tower of Babel with its many diverse tongues but modern-day skills of young techies here are helping solve linguistic problems in computing from across the globe.

Three out of six tech specialists of the powerful global Wikipedia site — the sixth-largest website in the world and widely used by most computer users — are from India. Two are from Europe and one from Israel.

“We develop tools, ensure compliance with Web standards and deal with user feedback,” Runa Bhattacharjee, Manager of Wikipedia’s global Language Team, told IANS here on the sidelines of the ongoing Wikiconference India 2016.

Runa Bhattacharjee

Runa Bhattacharjee

According to her, working on the right-to-left written scripts can be the most challenging. “That includes Hebrew, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and some versions of Sindhi,” Bhattacharjee said, adding that Mongolian is actually written from top-to-down but that’s not the way it gets used on the Wikipedia.

Khmer, the language of Cambodia, proved to be tough because it had something like 76 characters while there were challenges with languages like Dzongkha used in Bhutan. The team also mentions challenges with languages like Dhivehi (from the Maldivies) and Javanese.

Kartik Mistry, software engineer with the Language Team working out of Mumbai, was involved with Free Software and Open Source technologies almost a decade ago when he was just out of school.

“Most of the problems we faced 10 years ago in rendering Indian language (and non-English) computing are today mostly solved (due to the progress made by various computing solutions),” Mistry said.

“We have launched web fonts for almost all languages. We also added input methods on the (different language) Wikipedias too,” he added.

Their goal is to find ways how diverse scripts and languages can get into cyberspace — including ones like Ol’Chiki script or the Santhali alphabet, an eastern Indian tribal tongue — whether they have their own Wikipedias or not currently.

The third Indian member of the team is Santhosh Thottingal, Senior Software Engineer (International). Wikipedia also has a number of other Indian names, particularly propping its tech space — Niharika Kohli (in community tech), Prateek Saxena (multimedia), Subbu Sastry and Kunal Mehta (parsing), Nirzar Pangarkar (reading design), Madhumita Viswanathan (analytics) and Yuvaraj Pandian (labs), among others.

Meanwhile, the Language Team introduced their fairly new Translation Tool at the Wikiconference India 2016. It makes it rather easy to copy and translate pages from one language Wikipedia to another even if one is not perfect in both languages, thus reusing useful knowledge from this sharable encyclopedia and also building valuable local content in languages and dialects people value.

One Mumbai hotelier tried his hand at translating Hindi pages into Bhojpuri while others present appreciated the Content Translation tool and highlighted how easy and useful it was, plus its ability to help people translate even if they felt they did not have the skills to do so. (IANS)

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Pakistanis spend $816 million to buy Dubai properties, India remains top buyer

Aug 6, 2016 0

Islamabad– Pakistanis bought property worth three billion United Arab Emirates (UAE) dirhams (around $816 million) in Dubai during the first half of this year, behind Indians and Britons who spent seven billion and four billion dirhams respectively, a Pakistani daily said on Saturday.

In the last two-and-a-half years, Pakistanis have invested over 18 billion dirhams in the Dubai realty market, Dawn online said, quoting the Dubai Land Department reports in the UAE media.

DubaiIn 2015, Indian nationals ranked the highest value foreigners, making property transactions worth 20 billion dirhams ($5.4 billion) from 8,756 investors. Britons came in at second with a total of 10 billion dirhams worth of property transactions from 4,889 investors, while Pakistanis ranked third with 8 billion dirhams from 6,106 investors.

In 2014, Pakistanis were at second position with 5,079 transactions with a total of 7.59-dirham investment. Indians topped the list with purchase of 18.1bn dirhams worth of property on 7,353 transactions, whereas Britons invested 9.32bn dirhams, Dawn reported.

“Our politicians, bureaucrats and some genuine buyers have lifted properties in Dubai instead of local businessmen,” said Abdul Wahab Parekh, the owner of Parekh Estate in Clifton.

“Businessmen have pulled out their money from banks after introduction of 0.3 to 0.6 per cent withholding tax on filers and non-filers on tax returns. They have basically parked their money abroad,” he said.

However, property dealers in the local market paint an uncertain future after the introduction of new valuation rates, saying the real estate market has become inactive.

Parekh believed that after new valuation rates for property, the local businessmen were unlikely to take the plunge and started buying property in Dubai as the prices on that market have been in decline for more than one year.

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Delhi Court issues non-bailable warrant against Vijay Mallya

Aug 6, 2016 0

New Delhi– A Delhi court on Saturday issued a non-bailable warrant (NBW)against Vijay Mallya in a 2012 dud cheque case, saying the liquor baron be produced in court on November 4.

The court observed that coercive steps were required to ensure Mallya’s appearance.

Vijay Mallya (Photo: Twitter)

Vijay Mallya (Photo: Twitter)

Metropolitan Magistrate Sumeet Anand issued the NBW, directing that the Ministry of External Affairs be send it to Mallya as he is reportedly in London.

Earlier, a trial court issued summons to Mallya after a complaint by DIAL, which operates Delhi’s IGI Airport, claiming that a cheque for Rs one crore issued by grounded Kingfisher Airlines (KFA) on February 22, 2012, was returned a month later with a “funds insufficient” remark.

DIAL had filed four cases in June 2012 against Mallya over KFA’s cheques totalling Rs 7.5 crore not being honoured.

The KFA had issued the cheques towards payment for services availed by them at the IGI airport.

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GST to boost long-term growth: World Bank economist

Aug 5, 2016 0

Kolkata– With the Rajya Sabha passing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu on Friday said the new tax regime will usher in long-term economic benefit, though there could also be short-term price jerk or inflation.

“By cutting down on transaction costs and double taxation at different points, it will make India a common market. And this can give a big fillip to India’s growth rate in the long run,” said Basu.

“So the short-run effect — I know people get immediately concerned about what will be the effect on prices. I don’t know what will be the effect (on prices). But that’s a one-time effect. The long-run effect is extremely beneficial,” he said on the sidelines of a programme here.

Kaushik Basu

Kaushik Basu

As for immidiate inflationary effects of GST, the World Bank’s Senior Vice-President said: “I do not have on hand immediate inflation figures. The World Bank doesn’t do those calculations. What I’m stressing is the immediate long-term effect is hugely positive of this kind of reform.”

He said India has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world with about 7.5 per cent growth projection for 2016.

According to Basu, both monetary and fiscal policies have been well executed in the country, fuelled by low oil prices paving the way for growth.

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Pending dues will be given, V.K. Singh assures stranded Indian workers in Jeddah

Aug 5, 2016 0

By Irfan Mohammed

Jeddah– All Indian workers rendered jobless in Saudi Arabia due to the closure of a leading construction company will be able to receive their pending arrears, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh assured the distressed workers on Friday.

The Minister, who visited a workers’ camp in Jeddah on Friday evening, said the workers will be able to receive their pending arrears from the company while in Saudi Arabia or upon their return to India.

He also said that India and Saudi Arabia were both committed to addressing the issue at the earliest and both sides were working very closely to formulate a mechanism under which all issues of the stranded Indian workers will be dealt with.

The Indian government is sincerely committed to the welfare of its workers abroad and that is the reason he is visiting the Saudi Kingdom, Singh told them. He also hailed King Salman’s swift action in this regard.

V.K. SinghSingh visited the workers’ camp located in a posh locality in the port city of Jeddah accompanied by senior Saudi Labour Ministry official Abdullah Al Olayan and Indian Ambassador Ahmed Javed and interacted with the workers.

“The pending wages or other arrears, Iqama (residency visa) validity and switching to other employers and also facilitation of willing return of workers are the main subjects which both countries are working out,” the minister told the workers.

Singh declined to specify the time line to workers, stating that it involves multiple processes. But he assured them that their rights would be protected and safeguarded.

To a question, he said their food supplies would be continued as of now from the same sources, in apparent reference to the Saudi Labour Ministry that is feeding the workers.

The minister told the workers that state governments have to play a crucial role in rehabilitation measures for the returning workers, after some workers drew his attention about their future upon returning home.

Earlier, the workers greeted the minister with slogans of “V.K. Singh Zindabad”, and also when he was leaving. (IANS)

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Supreme Court: Consider life term for milk adulteration with chemicals

Aug 5, 2016 0

New Delhi–The Supreme Court on Friday directed the central government to consider to suitably amending the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and the Indian Penal Code to incorporate penal provisions making adulteration of milk with chemicals – adversely affecting the health of the people – punishable with life imprisonment.

“It is also desirable that Union of India revisits the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 to revise the punishment for adulteration making it more deterrent in cases where the adulterant can have an adverse impact on health,” said the bench of Chief Justice T.S.Thakur, Justice R.Banumathi and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit in their judgment.

T.S.Thakur (Photo courtesy: Times of India)

T.S.Thakur (Photo courtesy: Times of India)

Referring to its orders of December 5, 2013 and that of December 10, 2014, the top court said: “It will be in order, if the Union of India considers making suitable amendments in the penal provisions at par with the provisions contained in the State amendments to the Indian Penal Code” by Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha governments, which have enhanced the punishment for adulteration of food and products to life imprisonment.

The court had by its December 5, 2013 order had said that “similar amendments are to be made in other states as well”.

The December 5, 2013, order was reiterated by the top court when it had on January 30, 2014, directed the central government to consider bringing in suitable amendment in FSS Act, 2006.

Again on December 10, 2014, the top court had said: “We reiterate that the respondent – Union of India shall take up the matter seriously and come up with all possible amendments in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

“It goes without saying that while making necessary amendments in the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the respondent – Union of India – shall also make penal provisions at par with the provisions contained in the Indian Penal Code and the States Amendments made therein.”

On Friday, Justice Banumathi, speaking for the bench, said: “Since in India traditionally infants/children are fed milk, adulteration of milk and its products is a concern and stringent measures need to be taken to combat it. The consumption of adulterated milk and adulterated milk products is hazardous to human health.”

The judgment referred to the “Executive Summary on National Survey on Milk Adulteration, 2011” released by Foods Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) which said that at the national level, 68.4 per cent of milk being sold is adulterated and alleging that the worst performers were Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Mizoram, Jharkhand and Daman and Diu, where adulteration in milk was found up to 100 per cent.

In Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, 88 percent of milk samples were found adulterated.

The top court direction to make milk adulteration, adversely impacting the health of the people, punishable with life imprisonment came on a PIL by a Uttarakhand-based religious seer Swami Achyutanand Tirth who had highlighted the menace of growing sales of adulterated and synthetic milk in different parts of the country.

The Swami had sought direction to the central and the concerned state governments to take immediate effective and serious steps to rule out the sale and circulation of synthetic/adulterated milk and milk products like ghee, mawa, cheese, etc.

Besides directing amending the FSS Act and IPC to provide for stringent and deterrent punishment, the court issued 10 directions addressing different aspect of dealing with the problem and curbing the menace of food adulteration.

This includes putting in place a complaint mechanism to deal with corruption, creating awareness about the nature of risk public is exposed to due to milk and other adulterations and the pro-active role of FSS authorities in high risk areas where there are petty milk producers and the sale of sweets at the time of the festivals. (IANS)

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Jet Airways to add flights on Kathmandu-Delhi and Mumbai sectors

Aug 5, 2016 0

Kathmandu– Indian airline major Jet Airways has announced resumption of normal operations to Nepal, with five daily flights, beginning from October this year.

The airlines said it will fly thrice a day on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector and twice a day on the Kathmandu-Mumbai sector.

The carrier had reduced its flight frequency to Nepal to three daily flights in August last year.

Jet Airways“Nepal is a key strategic market for Jet Airways. The number of students and pilgrims has been increasing from Nepal,” said Colin Neubronner, Senior Vice-President (sales and marketing) of Jet Airways. “We are doing well on the Kathmandu-Delhi sector, so we have decided to increase our flight frequency.”

The carrier is also planning to launch short holiday packages targeting officials of diplomatic missions in Nepal and Nepali expatriates who use Jet’s connecting flights to different parts of the world.

The carrier also said it will launch flexible and transparent fare structure on August 17.

The scheme, which is being introduced for the first time in India, will provide guests with more choices and freedom when booking flights and allow them to customise their journey according to their needs.

“As of now, we have one airfare system. And we are breaking airfares in various categories,” said Neubronner, adding that price ranges will be wider to cater to different classes of passengers.

Jet started its operations in Nepal in 2004. In terms of passenger carriage, Jet Airways slipped to the second spot in 2015 — down 18.86 per cent from the previous year.

The carrier flew 311,666 passengers last year. However, it stood at the top spot in terms of bringing tourists to Nepal. (IANS)

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HCL emerges as a leader in data center outsourcing

Aug 5, 2016 0
Ashish Gupta

Ashish Gupta

Noida– Global IT service firm HCL Technologies on Friday announced that it has been recognised as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report 2016 for “Data Center Outsourcing and Infrastructure Utility Services”.

The Gartner’s report evaluated the abilities of 17 service providers to deliver data centre managed services across Europe, including Data Center Outsourcing (DCO) and Infrastructure Utility Services (IUS).

“The recognition is a testament to our position at the cutting edge of the European data centre and infrastructure services market,” said Ashish Gupta, Corporate Vice President and Head of EMEA, HCL Technologies in a statement.

HCL changed from its position as a ‘Challenger’ in last year’s Magic Quadrant to become a ‘Leader’ in the 2016 report. (IANS)

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Indian government pegs inflation target at 4 percent for five years

Aug 5, 2016 0

New Delhi– The central government on Friday notified a 4 per cent inflation target, plus or minus 2 per cent, for the next five years under the monetary policy framework agreement with the Reserve Bank of India.

A notification tabled in the Lok Sabha fixed inflation target at 4 percent with upper tolerance level of 6 percent, while the lower limit could be fixed at 2 percent.

Raghuram Ranjan

Raghuram Ranjan

“In view of the powers conferred by Section 45ZA of the RBI Act, 1934, the central government, in consultation with the bank (RBI), hereby notifies the inflation target beginning from the date of publication of this notification and ending on March 31, 2021,” the notification said.

The announcement is seen as an important strategy of the inflation-fight policy pioneered by the outgoing RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.

The government and the RBI had in early 2015 entered into a monetary policy framework agreement, under which RBI would set the policy interest rates and aim to bring inflation below 6 per cent by January 2016.

Against this backdrop, the central government had also amended the RBI Act through Finance Act, 2016. However, the inflation target was not mentioned.

The government has also started the process of setting up a Monetary Policy Committee. The MPC would be mandated to set the interest rate — a practice now being done by the RBI.

The interest rates would be based on inflation target set up by the government and also agreed upon by the RBI.

However, according to media reports, some experts including former RBI Governor D. Subbarao have disfavoured fixing inflation target given the challenge to ensure financial stability.

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200 Dubai taxis to carry Kerala tourism ads

Aug 5, 2016 0
V. Venu-Kerala Secreatry

V. Venu, Principal Secretary

Thiruvananthapuram– In a novel advertising outreach effort, Kerala Tourism plans to launch a campaign in Dubai to attract more visitors to “God’s Own Country”. At least 200 taxis in the Gulf emirate city will carry the message ‘A Faraway Land Four Hours Away’.

The advertisement will focus on the high connectivity, popular destinations, backwaters and ayurvedic therapies of Kerala. This campaign is in line with earlier branding efforts in London taxis and Mumbai metro, which were a huge success, said an official.

“Apart from the favourable climate, the relative proximity and excellent air connectivity between Kerala and the cities of the Middle East make it easier to attract holiday-makers to the state,” said V. Venu, Principal Secretary (Tourism).

This comes at a time when the Middle East outbound tourist market — the world’s fastest growing segment — has increased by nine per cent.

Kerala had received more than 1,00,000 visitors from the region in 2015, with some 20,506 tourists from the UAE alone and 51,149 from Saudi Arabia while Oman accounted for 18,763 visitors.

Arab tourists are also the biggest spenders. (IANS)

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