Drought, note ban hit Karnataka’s growth

Mar 15, 2017 0

Bengaluru — Severe drought and unexpected note ban by the Centre affected Karnataka’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for fiscal 2016-17, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told the assembly on Wednesday.

“We are facing an adverse situation due to slump in economic activities in the wake of drought for two years and November 8 demonetisation,” he told the lawmakers here.

Presenting the 2017-18 Budget, Siddarmaiah said the GSDP declined to 6.9 per cent in fiscal 2016-17 from 7.3 per cent in fiscal 2015-16, as farm sector grew 1.5 per cent, industry 2.2 per cent as against 4.9 per cent and services 8.5 per cent as against 10.4 per cent a year ago.

“Demonetisation of high-value notes (Rs 500 and Rs 1,000) caused huge distress to the people but the Union government is yet to disclose what has been achieved by it. The cooperative sector serving farmers and rural folk came to a standstill,” the Chief Minister said.

Claiming the note ban betrayed lack of preparedness as the banking system was not geared up to handle it, Siddaramaiah said the goals posts were changed midway and the rules were repeatedly modified.

“While the need for demonetisation is debatable, I think that the Union government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) could have foreseen the exigencies and put in robust systems in place to insulate the common man from the severe hardships,” Siddaramaiah said.

With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) system proposed to be introduced from July 1, the Chief Minister refrained from making any major change in the rate structure.

Siddaramaiah, who presented his 12th budget in a row as Finance Minister and fourth as Chief Minister, however, increased by 6 per cent Additional Excise Duty (AED) on the fifth and 11th slabs and 10 per cent and 16 per cent AED on the remaining 15 slabs.

“As a measure of rationalisation, Value Added Tax (VAT) on liquor, including beer, fenny, liqueur and wine will be removed with effect from April 1. The administrative fee of Rs 2 per litre on export and Re 1 per litre on spirit, excluding ethanol, will be withdrawn,” said the Chief Minister.

Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry tax expert B.T. Monohar clarified that consumers who drink liquor in bars, restaurants or pubs would benefit from the VAT withdrawal as it was applicable when served and not when bought from shops and distributors.

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India working on developing connectivity with Kathmandu: Prabhu

Mar 15, 2017 0

New Delhi — Advocating rail connectivity between countries in South Asia, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday said India was working on developing connectivity with Kathmandu from New Delhi and Kolkata on priority basis.

Prabhu said the government was also exploring possibility of developing connectivity between India, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Speaking on the opening day of the two-day meeting on “Strengthening Railway Transport Connectivity in South and South West Asia”, Prabhu said better rail connectivity would boost economy in the region and would also help in poverty alleviation.

The event, organised by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in coordination with the Organisation for Cooperation between Railways (OSJD) and the Railway Ministry, will explore the way forward to establish rail connectivity from Dhaka to Istanbul.

The minister said international rail transport proposals of ESCAP assume special significance especially the proposal of an Istanbul to Dhaka rail route, also known as the ITI-DKD rail corridor.

“India hosts an important segment of this rail route. The most important feature of this proposal is that while this main rail corridor traverses the length of Southern Asia, it offers multimodal linkages with neighbouring sub regions, particularly catering to the transit requirements of landlocked countries of our neighbourhood,” Prabhu added.

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Arrest of Stayzilla founder to impact start-up system

Mar 15, 2017 0

Chennai — The start-up system in Tamil Nadu will be impacted if civil cases are treated as criminal and officials of corporates are arrested for vendor dues, said officials of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Chennai.

They were in support of online homestay market place Stayzilla founder Yogendra Vasupal, who was arrested here on Tuesday for not settling the dues of an advertising agency.

“This is bad in law and reflects badly on law and order in Tamil Nadu. The case is a civil case-non-payment to vendor,” P. Narayanan, President of TiE Chennai, told reporters here on Wednesday.

He said banks have huge non-performing assets (NPA) and it would be a ridiculous situation if the industrialists were taken to police station.

According to K. Purushothaman, Regional Director of NASSCOM, the start-up eco system in Tamil Nadu would be impacted due to this development.

Stayzilla had shut down operations last month.

One of the vendors, a city based advertising agency Jigsaw Advertising, lodged a police complaint against Vasupal for non-payment of dues.

“The due process of law seems to have taken a total backseat. Who would want to battle against bureaucracy on the one hand, corruption on the other hand and total law and order breakdown on the third? Even as we speak, the accused (Vasupal) has not been given a copy of the FIR and is unable to apply for bail today,” Narayanan said.

In a statement issued in Delhi, the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has strongly urged the Tamil Nadu government to release Vasupal and withdraw the FIR against him.

Referring to Vasupal’s statement, IAMAI said there was no personal fraud involved in this case and this was a corporate matter and he had only signed on behalf of Stayzilla.

Therefore, prima facie, it seems that a criminal FIR against him was not tenable.

According to IAMAI, such a criminal case against a signatory of a corporate Pvt Ltd Co for a corporate liability is unprecedented and unheard of.

If this becomes a norm, then the start-up ecosystem in India will suffer and the Indian government’s vision of ‘Start-up, Stand-up’ vision will take an enormous hit.

IAMAI said prima facie Chennai Police had deliberately acted in bad faith by resorting to legal overreach.

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Zoomcar focuses on marketplace model to increase its fleet

Mar 15, 2017 0

Kolkata — Self-drive car rental company Zoomcar is aiming to triple its fleet this year through its marketplace model branded as ZAP and will steadily decrease its own existing cars, a company official said on Wednesday.

“Currently, out of the total fleet size of 3,000 cars across 17 cities in India, we have around 2,000 company-owned cars. We aim to increase the cars under marketplace model to 80 per cent by the end of December,” said company’s CEO and Co-Founder Greg Moran.

The company hoped to increase its fleet to 10,000 by the end of 2017, he said, and added that the company will expand its presence across 30 cities.

“It is not advantageous to own a car which is more than two years old,” Moran said while explaining why the company will hive off its existing company-owned cars and concentrate more on bringing partners on board, which, as per the company, will drive its future business.

According to him, this move will result in its net margin increasing by 30-40 per cent.

“At the city level, we are already profitable, and this (calendar) year, we will be profitable at the company level,” he said at the launch of ZAP model in the city.

The model asks people to buy a new car and enjoy driving it but at the same time, instead of keeping their car idle when not driving, it encourages them to put their car on the company’s platform to earn from renting and easing their EMI payment.

Moran claimed that individual car owners who have bought their vehicle on equated monthly instalment (EMI) can recover 70 per cent of their EMI cost if they are able to rent out their car for 20 days a month on its platform.

He said the company is adequately funded with total &50 million and it had already raised funds from Ford Smart Mobility LLC, Sequoia Capital, Nokia Growth Partners and Cyber Carrier.

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Localytics Acquires Tapglue, Boosting its Operations in Europe

Mar 10, 2017 0

BOSTON–Localytics, a mobile engagement platform, has acquired Berlin-based Tapglue, boosting its operations in Europe with a new office in Berlin, which will be led by the Tapglue team. Additionally, the acquisition signals the merger of two Techstars Boston startup accelerator program graduates (Localytics in 2009, Tapglue in 2016).

“Enterprises must become more insightful and deliver more individualized mobile experiences that target the right user at the right time with the right content,” said Raj Aggarwal, Localytics Co-founder and CEO. “We’re focused on helping enterprises make that stronger connection with their users, and Tapglue has the best team and technology in place to deliver on an important piece of that mission – harnessing the power of social to drive engagement and retention.”

Raj Aggarwal

Tapglue was founded in 2015 by Norman Wiese and Onur Akpolat to easily let developers add a social layer and other engagement features to their apps. The Tapglue platform is now completely open source and available for free to the mobile developer community. Prior to starting Tapglue, Wiese and Akpolat had key positions at Onefootball, one of the World’s largest soccer apps and long-time Localytics customer.

“Our goal has always been to increase our customer’s user retention and engagement,” said Wiese. “Localytics and Tapglue share this important mission and focus on helping enterprises deliver more personalized app experiences. We are proud to join the Localytics team and be able to help more companies get mobile engagement right.”

The acquisition also helps Localytics expand its reach in the European market. In 2013, Localytics established a London office to better serve demand amongst European customers. Since then, the company has seen significant growth and has expanded its European customer base to include Axel Springer, Daily Telegraph and La Liga. With the addition of a new Berlin office and a talented local team, Localytics will be well positioned to capitalize on the fast-growing opportunity in Europe.

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Air India expected to earn more revenue in 2016-17: Sinha

Mar 9, 2017 0

New Delhi–The central government on Thursday said that national passenger carrier Air India is expected to earn more revenue in financial year 2016-17 as compared to 2015-16.

According to Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, the airline is expected to report a rise of 9.7 per cent in its total revenue for 2016-17.

“In fact, the company is expecting to have a total revenue of Rs 22,521 crore as compared to the figure of Rs 20,526.11 crore in FY 2015-16, which is an improvement of around 9.7 per cent over the previous year,” Sinha said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

Jayant Sinha

“The main reason for this increase in revenues is an improvement in capacity utilisation in terms of revenue passenger kilometers (RPKMs) by 6.8 per cent and an increase in passenger carriages by 6.2 per cent when compared to the previous year 2015-16.”

The minister pointed out that even passenger load factor is expected to increase by 1.2 per cent in absolute terms.

On April 12, 2012, the flag carrier got a new lease of life when the government approved a Rs 30,000 crore turnaround (TAP) and financial restructuring plans (FRP) spanning up to the year 2021.

The mega financial package came with stringent riders like maintaining high on-time performance and healthy load factors.

Sinha elaborated that since the implementation of Air India’s Turnaround Plan, there has been a constant improvement in the airline’s operational as well as financial performance.

The minister added that as part of the turnaround strategy, the airline has also initiated a number of steps to cut costs and losses.

Last month, Sinha informed the Rajya Sabha that Air India is also expected to post an “improved” operating profit margin in 2016-17 from Rs 105 crore reported in 2015-16.

The operating profit or earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) is the difference between gross profits and operating expenses before deduction of interest and taxes.

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Mohamad Ali-Led Carbonite Acquires Double-Take Software for $65 Million

Feb 1, 2017 0

BOSTON– Carbonite, Inc., a leading provider of data protection solutions for small and midsize businesses that is led by Mohamad Ali, announced that it has acquired Double-Take Software, an affiliate of Vision Solutions, Inc. and Clearlake Capital.

The acquisition enhances Carbonite’s existing suite of data protection solutions for small and midsize businesses (SMB) with high availability technology that significantly minimizes downtime.

Mohamad Ali (Photo: Linedin)

The aggregate purchase price for Double-Take Software was $65.25 million, comprised of $59.75 million in cash and $5.5 million in Carbonite common stock, representing approximately 332,000 shares. Of the $59.75 million in cash, $20.55 million was funded with cash on hand and $39.2 million was funded through a revolving credit facility at Silicon Valley Bank. The transaction closed on January 31, 2017. Barclays acted as financial advisor to the company.

“Carbonite data protection solutions are designed to meet the real needs of businesses today, from the midsized company with a global footprint to the single small office,” said Ali, President and CEO of Carbonite. “Our current solutions support scenarios ranging from simple file restore to failover, and with the addition of Double-Take HA, we can now extend those scenarios to active recovery in near real-time, significantly minimizing any downtime and the associated loss of productivity and revenue.”

Added Phil Goodwin, Research Director at IDC: “Persistent and emerging IT threats, such as hardware or software failures, cyberattacks and malware, continue to expose businesses to data loss and downtime. We estimate that businesses can lose hundreds of thousands of dollars due to unplanned downtime. IT organizations need the ability to protect and recover data instantly, rather than in hours or days, to avoid irreparable business damages.”

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Global essay campaign on demonetisation

Jan 29, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Seeking to gather opinion and analyses on demonetisation and disruption-related issues from media and communication professionals from across the world, a global essay campaign has been launched by the Public Relations Council of India (PRCI).

The PRCI, the premier organisation of PR, advertising, media and HR professionals and academicians, in association with the Mumbai Press Club, has embarked on the project as a prelude to its 11th Global Communication Conclave to be held at Bengaluru on March 3-5 on the theme of disruption.

“All communications professionals such as journalists, PR, advertising, HR professionals and academicians connected with mass communication institutes are welcome to join the drive. The essays will be carried in a compendium, powered by Concept PR, and released at the Global Conclave on March 3, 2017,” said PRCI Chairman-emeritus and chief mentor M.B. Jayaram.

PRCI National President and Executive Director of Concept PR B.N. Kumar explained: “The choice of topics for the drive for Indian communication professionals are: Demonetisation: Pain or Gain; Ecological Crisis — It’s forever?; Swachh Bharat — Fad or reality?; Financial inclusion – On right track?”

For international communications professionals, the choices are: Disruption — A global Phenomenon? and India — Expectations from an emerging Global Super Power.

The essays could be in 600 to 1,200 words and the organisers have asked the writers to avoid slander, abusive language and partisan comments. The editorial decision of the jury will be final and binding on all participants.

The deadline for receiving the entries at PRCI is February 10, 2017, and they could be mailed at: mailbnk@gmail.com

PRCI and the Mumbai Press Club hope that the compendium will serve as a good reference material for communications professionals as well as mass communications and management students. (IANS)

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai criticizes Trump’s immigration order

Jan 28, 2017 0

San Francisco–Google’s India-born Chief Executive Sundar Pichai on Saturday critcised US President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending the entry of people from Muslim-majority countries to the United States and stressed its negative influence on US attractiveness for foreign talent.

Pichai suggested that the ban could affect at least 187 Google employees as the Internet search giant ordered its travelling staff to return to the United States.

“We’re upset about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Pichai as saying in an e-mail to staff.

“It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues,” he added.

On Friday, Trump signed an executive order blocking from entering the United States all Syrian refugees until the adequate changes are made to the Refugee Admission Program (USRAP) and suspending the entry for all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

“Our first order of business is to help Googlers who are affected,” he assured his staff, urging them to reach out to Google’s global security team if they were abroad and needed help.

Sundar Pichai

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also expressed his concern over the order. “We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat,” he wrote on his Facebook page on Friday.

Immigrants make up much of the workforce in Silicon Valley, including many executive roles, and the tech industry has long advocated for more open immigration laws in the US, saying they need more skilled foreigners to fill technical jobs, the WSJ added.

Earlier on Saturday, thousands of academics, including 11 Nobel Laureates, signed a petition against the immigration ban calling it discriminatory and detrimental to the country’s national interests.

Trump’s order means that thousands of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries may not be allowed to board flights bound for the US — even if they hold “green card” (permanent residents’ permit).

Trump said the measure would “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US”. But rights groups said there is no link between Syrian refugees in the US and terrorism.

According to the BBC, there were already reports of travellers from the countries targeted being turned away as they tried to board flights to the US.

Some Republicans welcomed Trump’s announcement, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, who said it was “time to re-evaluate and strengthen the visa vetting process”.

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Trump’s executive order prompts Google to recall staff from traveling

Jan 28, 2017 0

Washington– Google has recalled its travelling staff members back to the US after an executive order from President Donald Trump restricting entry for nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries, the media reported.

Syrian refugees are banned from entry until further notice. Visas for nationals of six countries, including Iran and Iraq, will not be issued for the next three months.

Google said it is concerned about the order and any measures which could block great talent from the US, reported the BBC on Saturday.

President Donald Trump

Trump’s order means that thousands of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya may not be allowed to board flights bound for the US – even if they hold “green card” (permanent residents’ permit).

Trump said the measure would “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US”. But rights groups said there is no link between Syrian refugees in the US and terrorism, according to the report.

According to the BBC, there were already reports of travellers from the countries targeted being turned away as they tried to board flights to the US.

Some Republicans welcomed Trump’s announcement, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, who said it was “time to re-evaluate and strengthen the visa vetting process”. (IANS)

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