IndUS Business Journal

‘Godless’ Android malware spreading fast

Jun 23, 2016 0

New Delhi–A family of mobile malware called “Godless” has affected over 850,000 Android devices worldwide with almost half of these devices in India alone, a new report said on Thursday.

droidBased on the data collected from cyber security firm Trend Micro’s “Mobile App Reputation Service”, malicious apps related to “Godless” are found in prominent app stores, including Google Play.

“Godless” hides inside an app and exploits the root of the operating system (OS) on your phone. This creates admin access to a device, allowing unauthorised apps to be installed.

“It contains various exploits to ensure it can root a device and it can even install spyware,” the report warned.

By having multiple exploits to use, ‘Godless’ can target virtually any Android device running on Android 5.1 (Lollipop) or earlier.

Almost 90 per cent of Android devices globally currently run on affected versions, the company claimed.

Once the malware has finished its rooting, it can be tricky to uninstall.

“When downloading apps, users should always review the developer. Unknown developers with very little or no background information may be the source of these malicious apps.Users should also have secure mobile security that can mitigate mobile malware,” said Nilesh Jain, Country Manager, (India and SAARC), Trend Micro. (IANS)

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Textiles package will help create jobs: Sitharaman

Jun 23, 2016 0

New Delhi– The government’s latest package of incentives for the textiles industry will give an “extra push” to the sector, help create more jobs and boost exports, union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday.

“It (textiles) is a sector where India has gained a lot of advantage. It has a great potential for job creation,” Sitharaman told reporters here on the sidelines of an event on national standards.

Nirmala Sitharaman

Nirmala Sitharaman

The union cabinet on Wednesday approved a special package for the textile sector which aims at a three-year target of creating 10 million more jobs, $30 billion additional exports and $11 billion fresh investment in the sector.

This “extra push” was required to be given to the sector due to various global developments, Sitharaman added.

Asked about the impact on India of Britain’s possible exit from European Union through the “Brexit” referendum being held on Thursday, Sitharaman said that the government is “watching the situation”.

“We will be observing the developments. It is too early for me to comment,” she said.

In this connection, the minister said the dates for resuming talks on the stalled India-EU free trade agreement had possibly got linked to the Brexit issue.

“We are waiting for the dates. It is my doubt that because they are waiting for the outcome of Brexit, they have not yet given the dates as yet. The moment they give the dates, we will be keenly wanting to continue the talks to reach the conclusion at the earliest,” she said.

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SAP Labs launches start-up accelerator in India

Jun 23, 2016 0

Bengaluru– Enterprise application software behemoth SAP Labs India on Thursday launched accelerator program SAP Start-up Studio, aimed at providing mentoring, infrastructure and technology support to early-stage start-ups.

“India is home to the fastest growing ecosystem of start-ups and one of the most fertile grounds for new businesses. The aim of SAP Start-up Studio is to support Indian start-ups with a complete ecosystem,” said SAP Labs India Managing Director Dilip Khandelwal in a statement.

Dilip Khandelwal

Dilip Khandelwal

Marking the German global Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) giant’s establishment of a dedicated program to driver entrepreneurship in India, the SAP Start-up Studio has selected its first set of seven early-stage start-ups.

Cloud computing based healthcare platform CloudKare, reverse logistics solutions start-up Blubirch, digital chat-based artificial intelligence provider Niki.ai, e-commerce start-ups Sellerworkx and Moglix, energy management solutions start-up Ecolibrium Energy and enterprise productivity start-up Stratawiz Technologies are the selected ventures.

The 75-seat incubator located in SAP Labs India Whitefield campus will focus on the domains of Internet of Things, Big Data and Cloud among others.

The one year incubation period may also extend beyond the specified time, along with access to SAP’s ecosystem of customers and partners.

SAP has also expressed its interest in taking an equity position and referring a start-up to SAP’s merger and acquisition team for the next stage of growth if required.

“India is now known as one of the most beneficial markets for start-ups. SAP Start-up Studio will serve as a catalyst to further accelerate the growth of start-ups,” said SAP SE Executive Board Member Bernd Leukert in the statement.

Across the globe, SAP enables nearly 3,10,000 companies to operate efficiently with its applications and services by bringing together boardrooms, warehouses and several other departments.

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Swamy twists facts, gets it wrong on Arvind Subramanian

Jun 23, 2016 0

By Govindraj Ethiraj

Nothing in India’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian’s statement made at US Congressional hearings in 2013 and 2014 suggest he is anti-India or batting for the other side. At worse, the testimonies are a healthy critique of the economy in 2013 and at best, they have a fairly strong India stance, on issues that bear repeating.

Subramanian Swamy

Subramanian Swamy

Subramanian has been accused by a BJP Rajya Sabha Member of Parliement (MP) Subramanian Swamy, who said, “There was this American Congress Committee for pharmaceutical purposes and they held a hearing to figure out India’s opinion on the matter. There he said in a statement that India was not working according to America in this matter and for that, they should be taught a lesson in WTO. How can we can such a person an advisor here?,”

His next tweets:

“Who said to US Cong on 13/3/13 the US should act against India to defend US Pharmaceuticals interests? Arvind Subramanian MoF.”

“Was AS deposing before US Cong Committee against India as a US citizen or Indian? Does any PT know?”

Actually, Subramanian gave two testimonies, one in March 2013 and the other in March 2014. In the first one, he was speaking in the context of US-India trade relations and in the second, on US-India Intellectual Property Rights. On both occasions, he was Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

It appears that Swamy has cherry picked from both testimonies and used the tone of the first, which is a little more harsh in the context of India’s economy at that point, to highlight an issue from the second, which is to do with intellectual property.

First, let us look at the 2013 testimony.

The testimony before the Ways and Means Committee of the US Congress highlights the data on India’s rapid GDP growth, at about 6.5 per cent for over three decades and close to 9 per cent in the previous decade.

The testimony views India from the point of US business and points out that the dynamism has expanded opportunities for american business. US exports to India increased 700 per cent in the previous decade and US foreign direct investment (FDI) increased from $200 million to $6 billion.

Subramanian then points to the severe turbulence in the economy (this is in early 2013 and referring to the period before that) and talks of growth slowing from 9 per cent to 4.5 per cent. The other macroeconomic “vulnerabilities” such as high fiscal deficit (9 per cent of GDP), stubbornly-elevated inflation (double-digit) and deteriorating external balance (over 4 per cent of GDP).

He then adds that the government had undertaken, since late 2012, major domestic economic reforms including opening up FDI to foreign financial investors. “Indeed, since the global financial crisis, few countries have opened up to foreign capital to the extent India has,” he says.

He also adds that, reflecting a domestic bipartisan consensus, there has been no macroeconomic reversals of opening to foreign trade and capital. “These reforms have come against the backdrop of longer-term trend of surging Indian trade and FDI, with enormous benefits for foreign and American business,” says Subramanian.

He highlights challenges facing US and all foreign businesses — weak and uncertain regulatory tax environment that affects the civil nuclear industry, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and more broadly the operation of foreign multinationals in India.

He talks of India increasing resource to localisation, in banking, telecommunications, retail and solar panels — among others — favouring domestic providers of inputs and equipment over foreign providers.

Interestingly, he concludes this part by saying broad trade and macroeconomic policies towards foreigners are moving in the right direction but sectoral policies have experienced setbacks.

Now, on trade conflicts, he says the US should address frictions especially where Indian policies are demonstrably protectionist through multilateral (WTO) dispute settlement procedures.

“The US should not be reticent in this regard. India has an excellent record of compliance with WTO rulings against it. And one of India’s most sweeping trade reforms occurred after a US-initiated WTO dispute panel found that India’s broad quantitative restrictions on consumer goods violated WTO rules.”

So Arvind Subramanian is not just giving what the most logical piece of trade advise is, in the context, but actually making a strong case for India’s ability to respect its trade obligations.

Now, the 2014 testimony, written ahead of the May 2014 elections is even more sharply pro-India view though it is no less objective than the first. The criticism that Subramanian expresses about the state of affairs in 2013 was expressed by almost every commentator and business person in India at that point.

It can, of course, be argued that Subramanian saw the writing on the Indian election wall in 2014 and was angling for precisely the position that he now holds. But that surely can’t be held against him.

In the 2014 testimony, he argued very strongly that the United States Trade Representative (USTR) should desist from designating India as a priority foreign country.

This would mean placing India in the same category as Ukraine (for dumping unlicensed CDs in Europe) as the only post-WTO countries to be accorded priority foreign country designation and this, Subramanium argued, would spark adverse reactions in India and around the world and raise serious questions about the institutions and processes of US economic diplomacy.

A priority foreign country is that which denies “adequate and effective” protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) or “fair and equitable market access” to US persons relying upon IPR protection under the Trade Act.

Subramanian pointed out that on May 16, a fortnight after the release of the USTR’s Special 301 report, a new government would take office in India, “Intent on reviving the investment climate for domestic and foreign business, and keen on restoring US-India trade and economic relations.”

He makes a strong case for the two countries that have common strategic and economic interest — substantial and long term — to work out matters bilaterally. Subramanian elaborates on many points on the possible way forward for India to resolve intellectual property tensions in the pharmaceutical area.

Importantly, when suggesting the way forward to the US, Subramanian says that there must be a quid pro quo from the US side on patents. “First, the US could acknowledge the positive developments in India related to due process… the US might also consider offering carrots and not just deploying sticks.”

Subramanian also reiterates what he said in his 2013 testimony about India taking its WTO obligations seriously and having a good track record of implementing WTO dispute settlement rulings. He then says the US should temper some of its demands on IPR issue.

Finally, the United States could also consider giving appropriate incentives to its companies to enter into R&D collaborations with Indian companies.

While details of the two testimonies are not so important in addressing the immediate issue here, which is Swamy’s evidently unresearched attack, it is interesting nevertheless to look back three years on how India’s economy was faring and perceived then.

More importantly, the fact that there was — as still is — a fundamental belief in India’s sound, economic long-term fundamentals and the sheer opportunity the country offers. A view shared by most, world over.

(Govindraj Ethiraj is the founder-editor of Boom, an independent digital journalism initiative. The views expressed are personal.)

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Modi crosses Rubicon on military ties with US: CPI-M

Jun 23, 2016 0

New Delhi– The Narendra Modi government has crossed the Rubicon in forging close military cooperation ties with the US, the CPI-M has said.

“This is going to have serious repercussions for India’s sovereignty and independent strategic decision making capacity,” an editorial in the party journal “People’s Democracy” said.

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Indian Prime Minister Mody

Commenting on the sweeping liberalized norms for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), it said the Modi government was making desperate efforts to attract FDI by encouraging foreign capital to take over existing productive assets “and by compromising on vital sectors affecting national sovereignty like defence.

“These policies are going to have a ruinous effect on the people and the country,” the Communist Party of India-Marxist said.

India has announced 100 per cent FDI in the defence sector, retail food trade, civil aviation, cable networks, DTH and other telecom services.

Apart from this, 74 percent FDI through the automatic route would now be allowed to facilitate takeover of existing Indian pharmaceutical companies.

FDI in the private security agencies has been increased from 49 to 74 percent. The provision for local sourcing for single brand retail trading has also been relaxed.

“These measures should be seen as part of the aggressive push for neo-liberal policies combined with the imperatives of becoming a junior strategic partner of the US,” the CPI-M said.

It said that despite relaxing FDI norms in the defence sector two years ago, there had been no investment from foreign firms.

It said the real issue was not investment of funds but the technology to manufacture in India.

“No multinational arms company will part with their technology and they fear loss of control of such technology if they locate to India.

“Unless India becomes a total ally and trusted partner of the US like Israel, there will be no scope for any joint production and technological development.”

The CPI-M said India must stop being dependent on costly arms imports which have made the country the biggest arms importer in the world.

“This can be accomplished only by building self-reliance in advanced military technology and defence production capacities.

“If India can develop space and nuclear technology, there is no reason why it cannot do so in military technology.

“The latest change in FDI norms show India is now ready to settle for second best and not the `state-of-art’ technology in its desperate quest for foreign arms companies setting up enterprises in India.”

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Aircel deal ‘very shortly’: Reliance Communications

Jun 23, 2016 0

Mumbai–Reliance Communications on Thursday said its proposed deal for the merger with another telecom operator Aircel will be announced soon.

The talks in this regard, according to the company, are being held between Maxis Communications Berhad and Sindya Securities and Investments Private, the shareholders of Aircel.

The company said it expected to “sign a binding, definitive documentation and announce the proposed transaction for the combination of the Indian wireless business of Reliance Communications and Aircel very shortly”.

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High-end smartphone market set to grow in India this year: Report

Jun 23, 2016 0

Gurgaon– The high-end smartphone market is expected to grow 19 per cent in 2016 from 15 per cent in the previous year as more and more customers are upgrading to premium devices from top brands like Samsung, Apple and OnePlus, a report said on Thursday.

While Samsung and Apple will continue to be strong players, new brands such as Gionee, Huawei, Vivo and Lenovo will make some commendable inroads, said the report released by the market research firm CyberMedia Research (CMR).

Smart Phone-Panasonic P75“As we see smartphones becoming the necessity in India, the significance of high-end smartphones only amplifies for the reason that this many users would like to go for an upgrade from mid-level smartphone to a higher order smartphone,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Lead Analyst (Telecoms) CMR, in a statement.

According to the report, out of 163 smartphone brands, only 19 brands shipped smartphones in the high-end price band (Rs 20,000 or above price point) in 2015.

In contrast, in the sub-20,000 level, 46 brands shipped smartphones and 153 brands shipped handsets in less than Rs 10,000 band.

Samsung and Apple increased their market share in 2015 (in the above Rs 20,000 price band) to 44 per cent and 27.3 per cent, respectively.

In contrast, Sony, HTC and LG have lost the market share during the period.

OnePlus was the only emerging brand to make it to the list of top five in the same price point in 2015. (IANS)

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Valvani, charged with insider trading, commits suicide

Jun 22, 2016 0

Washington– Sanjay Valvani, an Indian-origin hedge fund manager charged with insider trading last week, has been found dead at his home in an apparent case of suicide, a media report said on Wednesday.

Valvani, 44, who worked as a portfolio manager with hedge-fund firm Visium Asset Management LP, was accused of trading on confidential information about generic-drug approvals, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Sanjay Valvani (Photo coustesy: Duke University)

Sanjay Valvani (Photo coustesy: Duke University)

He was found dead on Tuesday by his wife in the bedroom of their Brooklyn home with a slash wound on his neck.

A knife and a suicide note near his body was discovered by police officers, a New York Police Department spokesperson was quoted as saying.

“This is a horrible tragedy that is difficult to comprehend. Valvani was a loving father, husband, son and brother and committed friend, colleague and mentor,” Barry Berke and Eric Tirschwell, Valvani’s attorneys, said in a statement.

“We hope for the sake of his family and his memory that it will not be forgotten that the charges against him were only unproven accusations and he had always maintained his innocence,” they said.

Valvani is survived by his wife, Harjot Sandhu, a former teacher and reading specialist.

Valvani was accused of having fraudulently made $25 million by getting advanced information about the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals of generic drug applications.

He passed on the information to another portfolio manager who made his own illegal trades. Valvani was charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy and was freed on $5 million bond secured by his home.

“Visium Asset Management put Valvani on extended leave after learning he was being investigated,” the officials were quoted as saying.

Valvani worked at Visium since its 2005 inception. He started out as a sell-side associate at Salomon Smith Barney and joined as an analyst at Balyasny Asset Management in 2003.

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Removing foreign investment cap will generate employment: Agriculture minister

Jun 22, 2016 0

New Delhi–Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh welcomed the government’s decision to remove “controlled condition” for 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in animal husbandry sector and said this will lead to inflow of foreign investments and generate employment.

“This will further lead to creation of infrastructure, transfer of technology and creation of employment along with skill development,” Singh said in a Facebook chat on Wednesday.

Radha Mohan SinghHowever, to a question on shortage of veterinary doctors in the country, the minister clarified that “the animal production and health is state subject”.

Allowing FDI in animal husbandry, the government has already announced that FDI will be allowed (including in breeding of dogs), pisciculture, aquaculture and apiculture up to 100 per cent under automatic route under controlled conditions.

“It has been decided to do away with this requirement of ‘controlled conditions’ for FDI in these activities,” the official announcement said.

The agriculture minister said the states “are tying to provide jobs to the veterinary doctors as far as possible as per the requirement” and added that for its part, the Ministry of Agriculture, that caters to animal husbandry sector, “supports the state governments through different development schemes like animal production, animal health and education to improve the veterinary service in the state”.

But the minister informed the citizens on the social networking site that the central government is proposing to amend the Indian Veterinary Council Act, 1984, essentially to address the new challenges in the field of veterinary education.

“A proposal to amend the IVC Act, 1984 is under consideration so as to meet the modern challenges in the field of veterinary education,” he wrote, however, clarifying that basically the recruitment and deployment of veterinary doctors “falls within the purview of the respective state governments”. (IANS)

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India clears norms for largest telecom spectrum auction, approved price $85 billion

Jun 22, 2016 0

New Delhi– India’s cabinet on Wednesday cleared the base price for the country’s largest spectrum auction to date, expected to fetch around $85 billion at the approved reserve price, address the menace of mobile phone call drops and give a push to 4G data communications.

The approval was given at a meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But a decision on spectrum usage charges, which has evoked strong opinions from stakeholders, has been deferred and the matter referred again to the telecom watchdog.

“This will be the largest auction to date,” union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a press briefing later. He said since the recommendations on spectrum usage charges from the Attorney General’s office and the Telecom Commission came later, it was felt that the matter be referred to the watchdog once again.

There was no word on when specifically the auction will be conducted.

Ravi Shankar Prasad

Ravi Shankar Prasad

“The appetite for India’s telecom sector is very big,” Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who also briefed the media, said when asked if such a large auction will evoke the kind of interest which the government is hoping for.

More than 2,300 MHz of airwaves will be on the block for telecom operators in seven bands — 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz. Based on their pan-India reserve price, the mop-up can be as much as $83 billion against $17-billion the last time.

The previous round had seen 470.75 MHz on the block.

Officials said norms for the latest round of auctions will allow operators to buy spectrum at par with international holding values and end the spectrum shortage. The availability of such a large quantity of spectrum will give a fillip for Digital India, they added.

It is learnt from official sources that the reserve prices of various bands, as approved by the cabinet, remain the same as that recommended by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

The telecom watchdog had recommended a pan-India reserve price of Rs 2,873 crore for 1,800 MHz, Rs 3,341 crore for 900 MHz, Rs 5,819 crore for 800 MHz, Rs 3,746 crore for 2,100 MHz, Rs 11,485 crore for 700 MHz, and Rs 817 crore each for 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz bands.

As regards spectrum usage charge, the recommendation of the regulator was 1 per cent of revenues for 2,500 MHz and 3 per cent for all the other bands.

“We are thankful to the government for making available the huge quantum of spectrum. This is the first time so much of new bands are going for auctions. Earlier, it was mostly renewal,” Rajan S. Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators’ Association of India, told IANS.

“The industry now holds 2,772 MHz of spectrum and with this auction the government will make more spectrum across all bands,” Mathews added.

The issue is regarding pricing of 700 MHz, Mathews said, adding that from the price point of view it is unaffordable to almost all the players.

“We don’t see much appetite for that band. Bidding in 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz will be exciting, but for 2,500 MHz it will be not so exciting. As both 800 and 900 MHz are non-contiguous in nature, hence it is as it is not very exciting.”

In the previous round of auctions, conducted in March, as much as Rs 109,874 crore worth of bids were received from the 115 rounds spread over 19 days. In all 470.75 MHz was put to auction against 390 MHz in November 2012 and 426 MHz in February 2014.

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