Indian tablet market declined 28 percent in Q1 2017: IDC

May 31, 2017 0

New Delhi–The tablet shipments in the consumer segment declined 28 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year, resulting in a sharp 18.6 per cent year-on-year (YoY) drop in total tablet shipments in India, a report said on Wednesday.

According to market research firm International Data Corporation’s (IDC) “Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker” report, 701,000 tablets were shipped in India in the first quarter of 2017 — a marginal drop of 2.2 per cent from 716,000 units in the previous quarter.

“Owing to the growing digital proliferation across industries, commercial segment especially large enterprise, government and education sectors are expected to increase their demand for tablets. This will drive vendors to focus more aggressively in gaining market share in the commercial market to sustain the India tablet market,” said Celso Gomes, Associate Market Analyst, Client Devices, IDC India.

Samsung leads the tablet market with 21.3 per cent share. Samsung shipments increased four per cent quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) primarily due to healthy growth in commercial shipments.

Samsung’s Galaxy J Max continues to be the top selling model for the company driven primarily by consumer segment, followed by Galaxy Tab A.

Datawind secured the second position with 20.7 per cent market share. Lenovo stood third with 20 per cent market share as shipments remained stable over previous quarter, the findings showed.

iBall maintained its fourth place with 4.7 per cent QoQ in the first quarter of 2017. Apple maintained its fifth-place position despite shipments declining by 38.2 per cent compared to previous quarter.

iPad Air 2 remained the top selling model for Apple constituting more than half of its total shipments.Limited shipments of iPad mini, which accounted for over one-third of total shipments last quarter, would result in shrinking of iOS market in India, the report added. (IANS)

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India, Spain sign 7 agreements

May 31, 2017 0

Madrid–India and Spain on Wednesday signed seven agreements, including on cooperation in cyber security and renewable energy, following talks here between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy.

“Partnering for Progress – #IndiaSpain sign seven agreements/MoUs,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay tweeted.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in cyber security.

A second MoU was signed on cooperation in renewable energy.

Three other MoUs were signed on cooperation in organ transplantation, technical cooperation in civil aviation, and between the Foreign Service Institute of India and the Diplomatic Academy of Spain.

Two agreements were also signed on transfer of sentenced persons and waiving of visas for diplomatic passport holders.

Earlier in the day, addressing the media ahead of his talks with Rajoy, Modi said terrorism posed the biggest challenge to the world and the fight against this menace formed a key element of India-Spain ties.

He said his visit to Spain would add fresh momentum to bilateral ties.

Modi arrived here from Germany on Tuesday on the second leg of his six-day, four-nation tour of Europe that will also take him to Russia and France.

This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Spain in nearly 30 years since Rajiv Gandhi paid a trip in 1988. Modi and Rajoy last met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Turkey in November 2015. (IANS)

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Kolkata’s under-water metro tunnel nears completion

May 31, 2017 0

Kolkata–The tunneling work under the Hooghly river for the East West Metro project, the first such under-river project in the country, will take a month-and-a-half to wrap up, officials said here on Wednesday.

The under water tunnelling is technologically comparable to the Eurostar – connecting Paris and London.

The Metro corridor bridges two of the most populous areas, Howrah and Kolkata, and has been planned to drastically cut down on travel cost and time, almost by an hour and a half.

Once it is commissioned in 2019, the track would entail travelling at a depth of over a 10-storied building below the water surface for almost half a kilometer across the 460 metre-wide Hooghly.

The 16.6 km project aims to connect Salt Lake’s Sector V, Kolkata’s IT hub with Howrah Maidan. Out of the total 16.55 km line, 5.8 km is on an elevated corridor while 10.8 km will run underground.

The 520-metre twin tunnels under the river are part of the underground stretch.

Deployed in 2016, a pair of Rs 100-crore tunnel boring machines (TBM), almost two-storey high, were used to bore the twin tunnels, 30 metres beneath the water level, in April this year.

The German-make machines, christened Prerna and Rachna, can bore upto 15 metres a day, excavating up to 500 metre cube of earth a day. One tunnel is east-bound and the other west-bound.

Rachna, the TBM that entered the river bed from Howrah side in April, reached the bank along Kolkata earlier this month.

“We are progressing with a steady regular pace of 11 metres per day and by doing this we can ensure that all the parameters are followed and mining is done in a steady controlled manner.

“We hope the twin tunneling work will be completed in a month and a half,” an official of Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation Ltd., the implementing agency of East-West Metro, told IANS.

The reinforced concrete segmental tunnel linings have a thickness of more than a quarter of a metre and are caulked with a composite gasket of neoprene and hydrophilic rubber to seal the tunnel from ingress of water. Afcons-Transtonnelstroy JV is in-charge of the tunnel building.

“This marvel of modern technology is a resounding first in India as well as a rare venture worldwide. Though the startling scale of this project is self-evident, the Eurostar (connecting Paris and London) offers an apt analogy for the level of technology harnessed by KMRCL,” according to the organisation’s website.

Around 250 people are working round the clock on the project.

The East West Metro project is now estimated to cost nearly Rs 9,000 crore, with its first phase — connecting the IT hub of Salt Lake Sector V with Phoolbagan — expected to be completed by June 2018.

The target date for completion of the second phase, connecting Phoolbagan with Howrah Maidan, is August 2019.

The Metro project — connecting two of the world’s busiest railway stations Sealdah and Howrah — was originally slated to be operational by 2012, but the deadline has got pushed back repeatedly due to land acquisition and other issues.

In line with the Make In India initiative of the central government, the tender for procurement of 84 coaches — 14 cars with six coaches in each — was awarded to the Bharat Earth Movers Ltd in February last year. It would cost Rs 900 crore.

The projected daily passenger load is seven lakh in 2020, 8.10 lakh in 2025 and nine lakh in 2035. The total number of stations is 12 — six elevated and six underground. (IANS)

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Indian GDP to grow faster this fiscal at 7.5 percent: Moody’s

May 31, 2017 0

New Delhi–The Indian economy will grow at 7.5 per cent in the current fiscal, which rate will accelerate to 8 per cent in about four years, US rating agency Moody’s said on Wednesday ahead of the release of GDP figures for 2016-17 later in the day.

“We expect marginally faster growth in India. According to our forecast the economy will grow 7.5 per cent in fiscal year 2017 (2017-18) and 7.7 per cent in fiscal year 2018 (2018-19),” Moody’s Investors Service said in its Global Macro Outlook.

“Overall, we continue to believe that economic growth will gradually accelerate to around 8 per cent over the next three to four years,” it said,

The American agency also said that the negative impact of the November 8 demonetisation of high-value currency on the economy was limited in size and duration.

“The ruling BJP’s victory in the Uttar Pradesh state elections indicates that the government has remained politically popular despite the demonetisation exercise,” the report said.

The government has pushed through major reforms like further liberalising foreign direct investment (FDI) rules in a number of key sectors, the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme for food, fertiliser and kerosene subsidies, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and a National Bankruptcy Code.

“Together, these will help reduce inefficiencies and improve trend growth over the long run,” Moody’s said.

The rating agency, however, cautioned that “persistent banking sector weakness from a high proportion of delinquent loans on bank balance sheets will weigh on growth, if not resolved, by constraining credit for investment-related activity”.

“Private sector investment has remained weak despite progress on reforms, suggesting that some hurdles to investment remain binding in many cases.”

Moody’s said the inflation rate in India has steadily declined to 3 per cent as of April, owing to weaker food price inflation.

“We believe that the inflation rate will rise to around 5 per cent by the end of this year, once the effect of this temporary factor fades,” it said.

With the Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy review due next week, Moody’s expects the RBI to maintain status quo on its key interest rate, given the central bank’s recent shift in policy stance to “neutral”.

Earlier this week, the World Bank estimated that India’s GDP in the current fiscal would grow at 7.2 per cent. For 2016-17, the multilateral lender expected the country’s growth to register a fall to below 7 per cent.

In its earlier projection of GDP growth for the last fiscal, the Indian Central Statistics Office (CSO) has said the economy will grow at 7.1 per cent. During the third quarter ended December, India’s GDP grew at 7 per cent. (IANS)

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Don’t block Chinese electric car firms, India urged

May 31, 2017 0

Beijing– Saying China can help New Delhi electrify all vehicles by 2032, a Chinese journalist on Wednesday said it will be in the Indian people’s interests if Chinese firms set up plants in India.

“Any efforts to raise trade protectionism barriers would be counter-productive,” said Hu Weijia of the state-run Global Times.

In a commentary titled “India should not block Chinese firms from catering to demand for electric cars”, Hu said New Delhi’s ambition to promote the use of electric vehicles would probably lead to another wave of investment.

India is now a major investment destination for Chinese smartphone vendors.

In the past three years, Chinese smartphone brands have stepped up their investment in India, one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world, Hu said in the Global Times.

“Now it seems the scenario is likely to be repeated in the electric car sector,” he said.

In recent years, some Chinese electric car makers have used competitive prices and successful branding strategies to expand rapidly within China, now one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for electric vehicles.

“Chinese electric cars have a comparative price advantage, which will be conducive for making inroads in the Indian market.

“The future competition between Chinese electric car makers and their Western counterparts may follow a similar road map in India.

“If New Delhi wants to push the use of electric vehicles in a bid to improve the country’s energy structure and curb pollution, Chinese electric car makers should be allowed to play a bigger role.

“Without China’s help, India’s ambition to electrify all vehicles by 2032 will be hard to achieve.”

India, Hu said, should allow Chinese companies to bring in competition and challenges for Indian electric car makers.

“It would be in the interests of Indian people for Chinese firms to set up plants in the country and employ local workers.”(IANS)

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India’ growth to slow down to 6.8 percent in 2016-17

May 30, 2017 0

New Delhi–A modest slowdown is likely in India’s growth with the GDP expected to fall to 6.8 per cent in 2016-17 as a result of temporary disruption caused by the government’s demonetisation initiative, the World Bank said on Monday.

“India’s economy was slowing down in early 2016-17, until the favourable monsoon started lifting the economy, but the recovery was temporarily disrupted by the government’s demonetisation initiative. As a result, a modest slowdown is expected in the GDP growth in 2016-2017 to 6.8 per cent,” World Bank said in its bi-annual India Development Update released here.

“Demonetisation caused an immediate cash crunch, and activity in cash reliant sectors was affected. GDP growth slowed to 7.0 per cent year-on-year during the third quarter of 2016-2017 from 7.3 per cent in the first quarter,” it said.

While limited data is available, demonetisation may have had a disproportionate impact on poorer households, which are more likely to work in construction and informal retail, the report noted.

“Greater data availability, especially on labour markets, is needed to better gauge the social impact of policies in the future,” it said.

“Despite this, there was a relatively modest slowdown in the economy.”

The report attributes it to coping mechanisms, including greater usage of digital transactions, higher rural incomes, and robust public consumption. The pick-up in rural wages in November and December, 2016, and the growth of agricultural output suggests the positive impact of the monsoons substantially dampened the disruption from demonetisation.

The report said that demonetisation has the potential to accelerate the formalisation of the economy in the long-term leading to higher tax collections and greater digital financial inclusion.

It also said that the country’s growth is expected to recover in 2017-2018 to 7.2 per cent and is projected to gradually increase to 7.7 per cent in 2019-2020.

The World Bank also noted that India remained the fastest growing economy in the world with strong economic fundamentals and ongoing reform momentum.

“India remains the fastest growing economy in the world and it will get a big boost from its approach to GST which will reduce the cost of doing business for firms, reduce logistics costs of moving goods across states, while ensuring no loss in equity,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.

The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) could also be a complementary reform that will support formalisation, as firms have a strong incentive to register with GST to obtain input tax credits, the report said.

“GST is on track for implementation in the second quarter of the fiscal year, and is expected to yield substantial growth dividends from higher efficiencies and raise more revenues in the long term.

“Timely and smooth implementation of landmark reforms such as the GST and a new code to deal with bankruptcies, as well as decisive action to resolve the non-performing assets (NPAs) challenge of public sector banks, is crucial to enhance the economy’s potential growth,” the report said.

“Private investment growth continues to face several impediments in the form of excess capacity, regulatory and policy challenges, and corporate debt overhang. However, the recent push to increase infrastructure spending and to accelerate structural reforms will eventually drive a sustained rebound of private investments,” said Frederico Gil Sander, Senior Country Economist and the main author of the India Development Update.

While agriculture growth delivered in 2016-2017, the report notes that investment growth remains subdued, partly because of banking sector stress.

The report also highlights the low and falling participation of women in the labour market. “For India to achieve higher growth, it needs to create safe, flexible and well paying jobs for a large number of women who are currently not in the labour market.”

Currently, India has one of the lowest female participation rates in the world, ranking 120th among 131 countries, with less than a third or only 27 percent of women who are 15 years or older working or actively looking for a job.

“This is a cause for concern since higher labour earnings are the primary driver of poverty reduction,” Ahmad added.

“It is often argued that declining female participation is due to rising incomes that allow more women to stay at home. The evidence, however, shows that fewer jobs in agriculture have not been replaced by alternative jobs considered suitable for women.”

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Microsoft hosts its first Accessibility Summit in India

May 30, 2017 0

Hyderabad– Tech giant Microsoft on Tuesday hosted its first “Accessibility Summit” here to enhance technology access for people with disabilities.

The summit featured unique technology-based projects that empower people with disabilities. These included innovations from non-profit organisations, assistive technologies developed by Microsoft partners as well as Microsoft solutions.

“The summit is a significant step forward in advancing our efforts towards sensitising stakeholders and partners on the need for the business and social value of accessibility,” said Madhu Khatri, Associate General Counsel and Accessibility Lead, Microsoft India, in a statement.

The event brought together leaders from the government, filmmakers, entrepreneurs and budding technologists to present their views and best practices around accessibility and technology’s potential in aiding inclusion.

“The Microsoft ‘Accessibility Summit’ provides an ideal platform to bring together policymakers and influencers to understand the policy environment and chart a direction for making life, experiences and opportunities accessible to all,” noted Jayesh Ranjan, IT Secretary, Telangana government.

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Indian millennials selling, buying maximum pre-owned mobile device: Study

May 25, 2017 0

New Delhi–Nearly 75 per cent of pre-owned mobile phone buyers and 55 per cent of pre-owned mobile phone sellers on leading consumer-to-consumer marketplace OLX are millennials in the age group of 19-29 years, a new study said on Wednesday.

According to the study by OLX, the desire to aupgrade is the primary reason for selling mobile phones for 68 per cent of the households in India.

This is followed by 27 per cent respondents who cited ‘boredom’ as the main reason for selling mobile phones, the study pointed out.

“With high penetration and frequent updates, consumers often upgrade to new models within months. This results in good-quality and fairly new pre-owned phones entering the market within months of their launch,” Amarjit Singh Batra, CEO of OLX India, said in a statement.

“Along with the consumers we are also seeing interest from leading mobile brands, leveraging our platform to reach out to users looking to upgrade. Mobile phone is our biggest category in terms of listings and is growing at 45 per cent year-on-year,” Batra added.

Nearly 10 million mobile phones and mobile accessories were listed on OLX in financial year 2016-17.

The study noted that people get 25 per cent higher value when they sell devices online as compared to offline selling and 47 per cent higher than that through exchange.

The last financial year also saw Chinese brands witnessing a spike in listings on OLX, with the listing share of market leaders as well as Indian manufactures declining.

“During financial year 2016-17, the listing share of Chinese brand Xiaomi climbed from 4.2 per cent to 12.8 per cent on OLX,” the report said.

Also, the average price of each mobile phone on OLX is Rs 9,000, as compared to Rs 10,000 that was the average selling price of new smartphones sold in India in the first quarter of 2017.

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Telecom department closely watching impact of 18 percent GST on the sector: Minister

May 25, 2017 0

New Delhi– The telecom department is closely watching the impact of the proposed 18 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) on the industry, Communications Minister Manoj Sinha said here on Thursday.

“The sector was already paying 15 per cent tax. So there will be a difference of 3 per cent. We are looking at it. The telecom operators are planning to meet the GST Council,” Sinha told reporters.

He was addressing media on the completion of the present National Democratic Alliance government’s three years and various achievements of the telecom department.

The government’s decision to put 18 per cent tax rates on the industry will impact the industry as well as the consumers, feel various industry stakeholders.

Listing the various achievements of the government in the last three years, Sinha said the telecom department’s image has improved considerably in the last three years and the department is getting various investment proposals.

Speaking about the call drop issue, Sinha said: “Call drop is a big issue, We are constantly monitoring it. 2.5 lakh BTS (base transceiver station) are put up in less than one year to address this issue.”

“The DoT has launched Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) in December 2017. The results obtained through the IVRS platform show that the call drops reported by subscribers have dropped from 64 per cent in December 2016 to 57 per cent at the end of March 2017, a drop of nearly 7 per cent in three months,” he added.

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Indian techies forming union to protect jobs amid layoffs

May 24, 2017 0

By Fakir Balaji

Bengaluru–Hundreds of Indian techies working as software engineers or providing back office services to global firms are setting up a pan-India trade union to protect their jobs amid layoffs by many IT firms, including Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and Cognizant, said a functionary of a employees forum on Tuesday.

“We have already filed an application with the Tamil Nadu Labour Department to register our Forum as an all-India trade union to protect our interests, especially jobs, as many IT firms are terminating employees at a short notice without adequate compensation,” Forum for IT Employees (FITE) Joint Secretary Aruna Giri told IANS from Chennai on phone.

Admitting that thousands of IT employees across the country benefitted from well-paid jobs and perks over the years when the going was good, Giri alleged that the IT firms were no longer what they were in the past, as they have started to fire more than hire.

“The need for a common platform is not just to protect our jobs, but guard our rights as citizens under the law of the land. For various reasons, including the nature of the industry, which provides more services than goods, even employees within a company could not come together to raise their voice or protest exploitation by profit-driven employers, promoters, founders and managements,” she said.

Expressing concern over the manner in which many IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS) firms were giving pink slips to even lateral employees owing to disruptive technologies and sluggish business growth, Giri said the employers should think twice before asking their employees to either resign or face termination at a short period.

“Unlike employees in other formal sectors, like manufacturing and labour workforce in commodity plantations, we do not have trade unions or outside support to address our grievances or concerns. Sudden loss of jobs leads to uncertainty and worry, as our families, including children and parents are dependent on us,” she said.

Without naming IT firms, their promoters or managements, Giri said contrary to the statutory labour laws, hundreds of techies, including those with 10-20 years of experience, were being sent home with 2-3 month salary compensation instead of 11 months and other benefits.

“We (FITE office bearers) are getting 50-100 calls daily from our colleagues in the industry working in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune that they were being asked to leave or look out for another job, as they were no longer required due to technology shift, lack of required skills and slow growth,” she said.

As a trade union can be formed even with 100 members, the Forum has submitted about 120 names to the Labour Department to register it as a formal trade body and mediate with employers in the overall interests of the $150-billion IT industry, its eco-system and related sectors.

“Once our union is registered in the next two months and allowed to take up issues with the employers of IT firms, we are confident of getting thousands of techies as members to fight for our rights and others, affected by cost-cutting measures of profit-motive companies,” added Giri.

The Forum has about 1,200 online members and 120 active members, with chapters in nine cities, where majority of IT and ITeS firms are located.

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