India puts Cartosat, NIUSAT, 29 foreign satellites into orbit

Jun 23, 2017 0

By Venkatachari Jagannathan

Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh–In yet another multiple satellite launch, India on Friday successfully put into orbit its own earth observation satellite Cartosat, nano satellite NIUSAT and 29 foreign satellites from 14 countries.

In the process, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) crossed the double century mark in launching foreign satellites. India started launching foreign satellites in 1999.

The rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle’s (PSLV) main cargo was India’s 712 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation with a design life of five years.

This satellite is similar to the earlier Cartosat-2 series.

The other 30 satellites weighing 243 kg were from 14 countries – Austria, Belgium, Britain, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and the US – as well as one Indian nano satellite, NIUSAT.

The whole mission got over in around 23 minutes.

“The mission is successful. All the satellites are in the orbit,” ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said after the launch.

According to Kumar, the Friday mission had many activities that needs fuel and additional margins and hence one should not look at just the total payload carried by a rocket.

He said the next PSLV launch will be for putting into orbit a navigation satellite as a replacement for IRNSS-1A satellite whose three atomic clocks have failed.

Asked about the other upcoming satellite events, Kumar said two communication satellites-GSAT 17 and GSAT 11 will be launched this year.

“Our plan is to have two launches each of GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) Mark II and Mark III and eight-to-ten launches of PSLV rockets per year,” Kumar said.

He said the PSLV rocket was emerging as a credible satellite launch vehicle in the world and ISRO was trying to build various capabilities in it.

On the GSAT-19 communication satellite launched early this month, Kumar said it had reached its designated orbit and all the payloads had been switched on.

He said that by the end of this month, one more communication satellite will be launched by India.

Kumar said ISRO will continue work on its earth observation, navigation and communication satellites.

According to ISRO officials, the organisation has accelerated the work on developing the semi-cryogenic engine to increase the carrying capacity of heavier rockets geosynchronous satellite launch.

M. Annadurai, Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, said the signals from the satellites launched by the PSLV rocket on Friday were good. He said ISRO’s satellite systems were getting compact.

According to ISRO, the images sent by Cartosat satellite would be useful for cartographic, urban, rural, coastal land use, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and man-made features and various other land information systems and geographical information system applications.

Queried about the strategic use of the images sent by Cartosat, Kumar said the satellite will provide the images and it is for the user agencies to put that to requisite use.

One of the 30 co-passenger satellites is the Indian nano satellite 15 kg NIUSAT belonging to Nooral Islam University, Tamil Nadu.

The satellite will provide multi-spectral imagery for agricultural crop monitoring and disaster management support applications.

Exactly at 9.29 a.m., the PSLV rocket – 44.4 metres tall and weighing 320 tonnes – tore into the morning skies with fierce orange flames at its tail.

Gathering speed every second, the rocket raced towards the sky amidst the cheers of the ISRO officials and the media team at the rocket port here.

The PSLV rocket is a four-stage engine rocket powered by solid and liquid fuel alternatively.

At the rocket mission control room, Indian space scientists were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth’s gravitational pull.

Just over 16 minutes into the flight, the PSLV rocket ejected Cartosat at an altitude of around 510 km. It was followed by NIUSAT and the 29 foreign satellites.

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Indian cabinet approves changes in bilateral agreement with Netherlands

Jun 23, 2017 0

New Delhi– The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved amendment to a bilateral Social Security Agreement (SSA) with Netherlands by incorporating the “country of residence” principle in the said agreement.

India has signed and operationalised SSAs with 18 countries – Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and South Korea.

“The amended SSA between India and the Netherlands, when operational from the third month from the date of notifying the said amendment to the Netherlands by India, will strengthen bilateral ties and continue to favourably impact profitability and competitive position of Indian and Dutch companies with foreign operations in either country by reducing their cost of doing business abroad,” an official statement issued here said.

The SSA, which has been in successful operation since June 2010 and has benefitted Indian expatriates in Netherlands, will also help promote more investment flows between the two countries, it added.

Under the new Social Security (Country of Residence) Act, the amount of benefit or allowance paid to a qualified beneficiary (read as Dutch national) is adjusted to the cost of living of the country where the beneficiary is currently residing. (IANS)

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GST impact: Customers benefit as retailers get busy clearing stocks

Jun 22, 2017 0

By Porisma P. Gogoi

New Delhi–With less than 10 days to go for the biggest indirect tax reform to take effect, retailers are rushing to clear their stocks by offering huge discounts ranging from around 30 per cent to 60 per cent.

Retailers said the “clearance sale” was being undertaken to liquidate their old stocks since they were unlikely to get input credit on the products once the new Goods and Services (GST) regime kicks in. Also, GST rates, compared to the existing VAT, would be higher.

“Instead of paying that extra amount to the government, which is a loss, we have put up a sale to liquidate these stocks,” Ashish Gupta, Managing Partner at Vijay Sales, told IANS.

Vijay Sales is an electronics goods retailer with many stores in the national capital.

“We are looking at July to be a lean month now. The migration to GST will be happening and because of the price increase, there will be a setback for at least some time to come,” he added.

Players in the field of apparels are also following the same path.

“There are going to be different tax brackets. For apparels, it is five per cent for products below Rs 999 and 12 per cent above that range. We are working towards adjusting to the GST. It will be a teasing stage initially,” said Farida Mahabat, Marketing Head of fashion retail store Splash India.

The GST Council has levied tax on textiles, such as yarn and fabric cotton at the lower slab of 5 per cent, apparels up to Rs 1,000 per piece at 5 per cent while costlier readymade garments would attract 12 per cent rate.

“It will take around a month for everybody to actually understand how the GST system is going to work. Once things settle, we will get an idea of the price increase,” she added.

According to Harkirat Singh, Managing Director of Woodland: “The percentage in our category has come as 18 per cent, since our shoes are normally in the price range of Rs 2,000 and above. If we compare 18 per cent to the taxation before, that is VAT (value added tax) — which averages at about 12 per cent all over the country — the GST rate would be higher.”

Woodland is offering discounts up to 40 per cent. “But since the GST has other parts as well, where you get input credits, the difference won’t be too much. It might increase by approximately one per cent or so, which will be absorbed by the company,” Singh said.

The GST tax rate on footwear costing more than Rs 500 has been fixed by the council at 18 per cent. At present, footwear less than Rs 500 is taxed at 9.5 per cent.

Gupta added: “The prices of goods will increase because, first, the brands will increase their prices. Secondly, the discounts offered now will not be given at that time. So obviously, there is a huge rush of customers right now.”

Singh, however, said there won’t be too much of a difference. “The prices are not really going to change. It’s only the customer’s perception that the prices will go up later,” Singh asserted. (IANS)

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Government will take corrective steps on telecom stress: Minister

Jun 22, 2017 0

New Delhi– Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said “corrective steps” would be taken by the government to ensure orderly growth of the telecom sector, after he met representatives of telcom companies here on Thursday.

“The necessary corrective steps will be taken by the government for ensuring orderly growth in the sector in terms of services to the common man, including in rural areas,” the minister told reporters after the two-hour meeting.

He said an inter-ministerial group (IMG) is examining systematic issues affecting viability and repayment capacity in telecom sector and the panel would soon furnish its recommendations for resolution of stressed assets.

“The telecom service providers discussed the financial stress they are facing. They already had meeting with the IMG. The IMG has been formed to examine the systematic issues affecting viability and repayment capacity in telecom sector and furnish recommendations for resolution of stressed assets at the earliest. The report will come out soon,” the minister said.

Apart from officials of Department of Telecommunication, representatives of the Department of Financial Services and State Bank of India were also present at the meeting.

Representatives of telecom companies Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Jio, Tata Teleservices, Telenor India and Reliance Communications met the minister and Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan besides other government officials in the ministry.

Among industrialists, Anil Ambani of Reliance Communications, Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel and Mahendra Nahata of Reliance Jio were present.

Initially, the company chiefs met Sinha separately. The government had set up the inter-ministerial group which has been holding hearings with all the stakeholders. The group members have already met the main telecom companies, including MTNL and BSNL.

The task of the inter-ministerial group is to examine systemic issues affecting viability and repayment capacity of the telecom sector and furnish recommendations for resolution of stressed assets. It is expected to submit its recommendations within three months.

The group, comprising officials from the finance and telecom ministries, was set up after top banks expressed concern about financial stress in the industry. (IANS)

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Smashbox founder excited for India expansion

Jun 20, 2017 0

Mumbai–Davis Factor, founder of Smashbox — a Los Angeles based cosmetic brand that was launched in India earlier this week, says he is excited to bring the experience of his make-up brand to India.

The cosmetics brand opened its first counter in Sephora in the Palladium Mall here om June 16.

“Namaste India! I’m so excited for you to experience everything Smashbox is — energetic, trendy, creative and colour obsessed. From LA to Mumbai, let’s get this colour story started!” Davis Factor, founder, Smashbox Cosmetics, said in a statement.

The make-up brand is available in Sephora outlets in Mumbai and New Delhi. It will make its digital presence on Nykaa in August.

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India’s unemployment rate falling, says Labor Minister

Jun 18, 2017 0

New Delhi–Amid the raging debate on jobless growth in India, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya said on Saturday that the rate of unemployment is going down in India.

Talking to reporters here, Dattatreya said his ministry would soon share with the public the data on unemployment.

The minister’s remarks came even as the NDA government faced severe criticism for promoting “jobless growth”, after a Labour Bureau quarterly survey showed that only 1,35,000 jobs were added by certain sectors in a quarter in 2015.

Another survey by the Labour Bureau said that unemployment in India was at a five-year high of five per cent of the workforce who are 15 years and above.

Dattatreya said that while employment was being generated through a slew of initiatives taken by the government, including Make in India, Skill India and Digital India missions, the problem was with the collection of data.

“To capture data more accurately, we need to do it through some new initiatives,” he said.

Facing criticism for not creating enough jobs, the government set up a task force in May to produce authoritative annual nationwide employment data based on household surveys.

Labour Secretary M. Sathiyavathy, who is part of the task force headed by NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, said the quarterly reports coming out of the Labour Bureau were unreliable for measuring employment as the sample size was “very small”.

“It is an enterprise-based survey covering about 10,600 enterprises across only eight sectors, she said.

“The biggest challenge is that the Labour Bureau survey covers only those enterprises which employ more than 10 people.

“In India, 98.5 per cent of the enterprises have less than ten employees. So we are, in effect, not covering 98.5 per cent of the enterprises in the country,” Sathiyavathy told reporters.

She said there was a need to expand this survey to ensure that it reflected the actual ground reality.

“So, the idea of the task force is to focus on these issues and ensure that we come up with some methodologies wherein we come out with a survey or any other way of data analytics where real situation on the ground is reflected.”

According to her, the task force would give its recommendations by next week. (IANS)

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14 companies to set up units at Telangana Medical Devices Park

Jun 18, 2017 0

Hyderabad– As many as 14 companies have come forward to set up their units at the Medical Devices Park which was launched at Sultanpur in Sangareddy district of Telangana near here on Saturday.

Telangana’s Minister for Industries K.T. Rama Rao, who launched the park along with Irrigation Minister T. Harish Rao, said these companies would invest Rs 425 crore and create direct employment for 4,000 persons and indirect employment for 8,000.

The ministers handed over the documents of the land that was allotted to the 14 industries, which include Apollo Hospitals and information technology services firm Cyient Limited.

Coming up over 250 acres, the park will have a dedicated ecosystem for MedTech innovation and manufacturing.

Officials said this would be the largest facility in India for medical devices and electronics and will focus on medical innovations, R&D and manufacturing.

Rama Rao also announced that they will have a MoU with China Medical City located at Taizhou and another Medical Devices Park located in Gwangju in South Korea to exchange knowledge with them.

The facility would further strengthen Hyderabad’s leading position as in life sciences and pharma industry. Rama Rao pointed out that Hyderabad is also known as medical tourism destination across Africa, Middle East and other countries.

Rama Rao, who is son of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, said the facility would promote innovation. “We have also started working on a prototyping lab, which will help in bringing down the cost of medical care in the country,” he added. (IANS)

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Indian industry prepared for GST rollout from July 1

Jun 18, 2017 0

New Delhi– As the GST Council meets here to finalise issues before the Goods and Services Tax is implemented from July 1, industry lobby CII said on Sunday that Indian industry is ready for the rollout of the pan-India indirect tax regime.

“GST is the most significant indirect tax reform introduced in the country since Independence,” Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said in a statement here. The GST will replace the existing myriad central and state levies on goods and services.

“GST has been finalised after a collaborative and consultative approach and we look forward to its introduction,” he added.

The agenda of the GST Council meeting here currently underway includes discussion on postponing the requirement for filing returns under the GST as the IT infrastructure required for it is not yet ready.

CII said it is organising over 100 workshops across the country to enable enterprises to comply with the new regulations. The workshops are expected to reach out to around 5,000 enterprises. A helpline has been established where participants can request for clarifications, it said.

An awareness campaign has also been launched to inform industry about the processes related to GST, the statement added. (IANS)

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India needs legal infrastructure to lead in artificial intelligence

Jun 15, 2017 0

New Delhi–In order to become a frontrunner in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), India should take the lead in establishing a legal infrastructure on its application, a study said here on Thursday.

According to a recent Assocham-PwC joint study titled “Leveraging artificial intelligence and robotics for sustainable growth”, an early public sector interest could trigger a spurt of activity in the AI field in India, instead of waiting for technology to reach a level where regulatory intervention becomes necessary.

The study said a range of applications for AI techniques in large-scale public endeavours like “Make in India”, “Skill India” and others could range from crop insurance schemes, tax fraud detection, detecting subsidy leakage and security strategy.

“If investments are made in the two initiatives without due cognisance of how Industry 4.0 (the next industrial revolution driven by robotic automation) may evolve with respect to demand for workforce size and skill sets, there is a possibility of ending up with capital-intensive infrastructures and assets that fall short of being optimised for automated operations and a large workforce skilled in areas growing beyond the need for manual intervention only,” it added.

Information technology (IT), manufacturing, agriculture and forestry are certain sectors that are expected to experience shrinkage of employment demand as robotic systems and machine learning algorithms take up several tasks, the study said.

Highlighting how AI can be effectively used in execution of government schemes, the study pointed out that “deep learning”, a part of AI, can be employed to tackle prevalent issues.

“It is essentially a process that can be used for pattern recognition, image analysis and natural language processing (NLP) by modelling high-level abstractions in data which can then be compared with various other recognised contents in a conceptual way rather than using just a rule-based method,” it said.

The study added that in comparison to the West and frontrunners of AI adoption in Asia, such as China and Korea, the culture and infrastructure needed to develop a base for the adoption of AI in mainstream applications in India is in need of an impetus.

“As such it is imperative in India to foster a culture of innovation and research beyond the organisation as is common in global technology giants,” it added. (IANS)

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Indian millennials feel AI can bring global peace

Jun 7, 2017 0

New Delhi–When it comes to achieving global peace and addressing social causes via technology, Indian millennials look forward to embracing artificial intelligence (AI) that can help find better solutions, a survey revealed on Wednesday.

According to the regional online survey by mobile operator Telenor Group that assessed the attitudes of Asia’s millennials towards technology and social impact, Indian millennials believe artificial intelligence (AI) will help governments and entreprises develop platforms to achieve peace.

“When asked about the technology that has the largest potential to give rise to peace, 36 per cent of India’s respondents placed their bets on AI, followed by the Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual reality (VR),” Telenor said in a statement.

Across all six markets (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand) surveyed, AI, IoT and VR ranked consistently in the top three.

“These results suggests the vast potential seen in future technologies by the Internet generation,” the statement added.

The survey also found that India’s millennials are most passionate about providing opportunities for children to get an education, followed by employment to youth. (IANS)

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