Amazon invests $400 million more in its Indian arms

Aug 13, 2018 0

Bengaluru– The US-based world’s largest e-tailer Amazon invested an additional $400 million (Rs 2,700 crore) in two of its Indian subsidiaries, said business intelligence platform Paper.vc on Monday.

“Our tally of Amazon’s total investment in its Indian subsidiaries, including this, is $3.6 billion (Rs 25,241 crore),” Paper.vc founder Vivek Durai told IANS from Chennai.

According to documents Amazon filed with the regulators at a meeting on August 6 in Bengaluru, the board of directors of Amazaon Seller Services Ltd approved allotment of 270 crore equity shares of Rs 10 face value for Rs 2,700 crore to the Singapore-based Amazon Corporate Holdings Ltd and an additional 124,753 shares to Amazon.com Incs Ltd without premium.

“The board of directors of Amazon Retail India Ltd on July 31 agreed to allot 10 crore equity shares of Rs 10 face value for Rs 100 crore to its shareholders (Amazon Corporate Holdings and Amazon.com) without premium on rights basis.

Ahead of the retail giant Walmart taking majority stake (77 per cent) in India’s e-tail major Flipkart for $16 billion in May, Amazon invested Rs 2,600 crore in its India operations.

“The Amazon board has consented to allot 260 crore shares of Rs 10 face value aggregating Rs 2,600 crore to the shareholders on rights basis in the ratio of their shareholding,” said Amazon Services Ltd in a filing with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) on May 8.

Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos had earlier committed to invest a whopping $5 billion in India to cash in on the rapid growth in e-commerce business. (IANS)

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I share Trump’s vision of prosperity for India, US: Modi

Aug 13, 2018 0

New Delhi– Amid uncertainties regarding US President Donald Trump’s trade and visa policies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that he shares Trump’s vision of prosperity for India and the US.

“I share with him the vision of prosperity of our peoples through a strong India-US partnership, based on important convergences, inter alia, in combating terrorism and promoting stability and development in the Indo-Pacific,” Modi said.

“I have met President Trump a few times,” Modi said in an interview to the Times of India ahead of this year’s Independence Day. “We have also been in touch through several conversations.”

India and the US, apart from Japan and Australia, are part of a quad that was revived last year to work for peace in the Indo-Pacific, a geostrategically important region.

Modi’s comments come ahead of the India-US 2+2 Dialogue next month in New Delhi involving External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and their US counterparts Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis.

In February, the Trump administration came up with a new visa policy that makes the procedure for issuing H-1B visas tougher.

According to the new policy, the hiring company would have to prove that its H-1B employee at a third-party worksite has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in speciality occupation.

In March, US President Donald Trump slapped import tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium, unfolding the prospect of an all-out global trade war.

In retaliation, India raised customs duty on 29 products, including on iron and steel products imported from the US.

Stating that India and the US were two important engines of growth in the world, Modi said: “The focus of President Trump and our own priority in India on innovation and entrepreneurship has the potential to take this relationship to new heights.”

He stressed that the India-US Strategic Partnership had “deepened in an unprecedented manner in the past few years”.

India and the US share a Global Strategic Partnership based on shared democratic values and increasing convergence of interests on bilateral, regional and global issues. (IANS)

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Microsoft builds digital solution for CBSE to prevent paper leaks

Aug 13, 2018 0

By Gokul Bhagabati

New Delhi– The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which came under heavy criticism this year following the leak of class 10 mathematics paper and class 12 economics paper, has forged a partnership with tech giant Microsoft to prevent such leaks in the future.

The paper leaks triggered nation-wide outrage among students and parents. This set the CBSE, which has 20,299 schools in the country, in action, paving the way for the partnership with Microsoft which developed an encrypted security solution for digital question papers for the board within a period of three months.

“We have developed for CBSE an innovative solution which makes question papers leak-proof until 30 minutes prior to the start of the examinations,” Anil Bhansali, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D) and Corporate Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise, told IANS in a telephonic interaction.

“But if the question papers get leaked after they are allowed to download (just half an hour before the start of the exam) due to some bad actors, the system allows easy traceability as question paper for each centre are watermarked,” Bhansali said.

At present, the solution is having its pilot run, but it has passed the first test with flying colours, Microsoft claimed.

As part of their collaboration, CBSE and Microsoft successfully executed in July the first ever pilot of the digital question paper generation and delivery process at 487 centres for compartment examinations for class 10.

How does the system work?

The system allows the Controller of examination to track the entire process using a software solution built on Windows 10 and Office 365.

The overall process is encrypted and a two-factor authentication process is embedded. So examiners will have to identify themselves before they can download the examination papers. They are allowed to download the papers (after authetification) only 30 minutes prior to start of the exams.

“The system allows various authentification process. For example, it can be OTP (one-time password) based or biometric based. It is up to the clients what two authentification process they want to choose,” Bhansali added.

“The authentification can even be Aadhaar-based,” said the Microsoft executive.

The solution leverages features in Office 365 to encrypt and watermark the papers. The watermark has the individual center’s code imprinted on it which allows for localisation and traceability in the eventuality of a paper leak.

A CBSE administrator initiates the distribution of the examination papers, which results in the generation of emails to the respective centres with a link to OneDrive, a file-hosting service operated by Microsoft, where an exam paper, specific to the exam centre can be downloaded.

Apart from securing the system, this digitisation process is expected to save significant amount of time and cost for examination administrators due to online paper generation, automated delivery process and reduction in approval cycles.

“The system that we have developed for CBSE can be easily replicated for other boards or examination administrators. We will be happy to share it with other central or state authorities that conduct examinations for various purposes,” Bhansali told IANS. (IANS)

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PTron partners with US-based mobile accessories distributor

Aug 8, 2018 0

Hyderabad– Domestic mobile accessories brand PTron on Wednesday announced its collaboration with US-based distributor Cellpay to expand its reach globally.

“Cellpay is an established player in the mobile industry and has a strong reach to the retail market. We look forward to working with them to make PTron successful in the US market,” Ameen Khwaja, Founder and CEO of PTron, said in a statement.

The company has also distribution channels and partners in Israel, Indonesia, Italy and Canada.

“We are confident that Cellpay’s rich background in the industry and an exceptional distribution reach will help us strengthen our goal of increased market penetration in the financial year 2018-2019,” Khwaja added.

PTron has recently entered the offline market in India and expanded its distribution channel over 12 states in six months. (IANS)

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UC Berkeley, Quantela to boost smart cities initiative in India

Aug 2, 2018 0

New Delhi– The University of California-Berkeley (UC Berkeley) and global technology company Quantela on Thursday announced their partnership to establish smart city accelerator and innovation centres in India, a move that could boost government’s “100 smart cities” initiative.

The partnership is an opportunity for startups to build and grow in the field of smart cities. It is a platform that provides the required mentorship and guidance to succeed on a comprehensive scale.

UC Berkeley will design the innovation accelerations programmes, teaching, delivery and curriculum. It will also focus on coaching of Lean Startup methods and customer development process for selected startups and assisting and supervising innovation projects from the ideation to validated business models.

“We are extremely glad to partner with Berkeley for the innovation program. Our aim is to create a start-up ecosystem focused on creating solutions to curb the growing urban challenges,” Sridhar Gadhi, Founder and CEO, Quantela said in a statement.

The Accelerator will teach selected startups intensive immersion in innovation developments designed to identify business opportunities (real problems that require real solutions), validate product ideas, engage with potential customers, build scalable business models, and manage team dynamics.

The innovation centre, on the other hand, will help build an ecosystem of smart city partners integrated on one single platform.

The ecosystem will help the cities to expedite the execution of their projects and drive the immediate outcomes in form of smart solutions.

“The government’s initiative to create more than 100 smart cities is unprecedented in the world and provides immense opportunities for tech start-ups. The partnership will help Indian start-ups that operate across the entire technological spectrum such as those from smart IoT to smart mobility and smart power that are critical for smart cities,” added Deepak Bagla, Managing Director and CEO at Invest India.

Invest India is a partner that is helping the Indian startups to get access to this unique opportunity accelerator programme through Startup India hub — a one-stop platform for all stakeholders in the Startup ecosystem. (IANS)

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India welcomes US decision to upgrade trade ties

Jul 31, 2018 0

New Delhi– India on Tuesday welcomed the US’ decision to upgrade trade ties with it, saying it is a logical culmination to India’s designation as a Major Defence Partner of the US.

“We welcome the announcement made by US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in the Indo-Pacific Business Forum on July 30, 2018, about the US government’s decision to move India into Tier-1 of the Department of Commerce’s Strategic Trade Authorisation licence exception,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“It is a logical culmination to India’s designation as a Major Defence Partner of the US and a reaffirmation of India’s impeccable record as a responsible member of the concerned multilateral export control regimes,” it stated.

“This step will further facilitate India-US trade and technology collaboration in defence and high technology areas. We look forward to the US side operationalising the decision at an early date.”

India is the only South Asian nation to be put on this list. (IANS)

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Developing ‘ small-displacement motorcycle’ for India: Harley-Davidson

Jul 30, 2018 0

Milawaukee/Mumbai– US-based motorcycle major Harley-Davidson on Monday said that it is developing a “small-displacement motorcycle” for India and other Asia markets.

According to the details of its growth plan through 2022 — More Roads to Harley-Davidson — among other initiatives, the company is developing a “more accessible, small-displacement” 250 cc to 500 cc motorcycle for Asia’s emerging markets through a planned strategic alliance with a manufacturer in Asia.

“This new product and broader distribution is intended to fuel Harley-Davidson’s customer access and growth in India, one of the largest, fastest growing markets in the world, and other Asia markets,” the company said in a statement.

The growth plan envisages new products launches, along with broadening access to its offerings and to improve dealers’ financial strength.

“The bold actions we are announcing today leverage Harley-Davidson’s vast capabilities and competitive firepower – our excellence in product development and manufacturing, the global appeal of the brand and of course, our great dealer network,” Harley-Davidson President and Chief Executive Officer Matt Levatich was quoted as saying in the statement.

“We expect this plan will result in an engaged, expanded Harley-Davidson community with a more diverse rider base, along with industry-leading margins and cash flow.” (IANS)

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Indian students win special award at Microsoft Imagine Cup

Jul 26, 2018 0

Bengaluru– An app to fight fake medicine has helped a team of Indian students from Bengaluru win a special award at the annual Microsoft Imagine Cup world championship held at the tech giant’s headquarters in Redmond, US.

The awards announced on Wednesday saw “Team DrugSafe” from R. V. College of Engineering here win the award under Big Data category.

Microsoft Imagine Cup is a technology competition where students from around the globe team up to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.

Team smartARM from Canada emerged as the world champion of Imagine Cup 2018 with their robotic prosthetic hand that calculates appropriate grip for objects utlilising Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and Computer Vision.

As the top winner, Team smartARM got cash prize of $85,000 and an Azure grant worth $50,000.

They will also have a mentoring session with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the company said in a statement.

Team DrugSafe, which was one of the three student teams representing India at the competition, got a prize money of $15,000.

With DrugSafe, Chidroop I, Pratik Mohapatra, and Srihari HS wish to fight the growing global issue of counterfeit drugs by helping people verify the authenticity of medicines.

The team encountered the issue of fake medicines when one of their friends showed no signs of recovery after weeks of taking a prescribed medication.

Learning that nearly half of all medicines sold in India were fake, they decided to create an app that could authenticate medicines and trace them back to their source.

The app uses a technology called Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to identify minute details in the design and packaging of medicines and compare them to the original manufacturer’s patented and trademarked attributes.

After three levels of checks, discrepancies are flagged to help users identify medicines as counterfeit.

The team designed a simple User Interface (UI) for the app so that it could be used by anyone regardless of age or technical skill and have the widest possible impact.

The team plans to utilise the prize money to seek new partnerships and integrate more Azure services into the app to make it more powerful. (IANS)

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Mumbai firm empowering self-driving cars in US with high-precision HD mapping

Jul 26, 2018 0

By Nishant Arora

New Delhi– Although self-driving cars remain a distant reality for the Indian roads, a Mumbai-headquartered firm has become the first desi company to develop high-precision HD maps for a customer in the United States which is at the forefront of autonomous vehicle technology.

Established in 1995, Genesys International Corporation Ltd has completed an extensive HD mapping of road and street network for an autonomous driving project in North America that will enable residents to access self-driving taxis at their doorstep.

Core to the autonomous vehicle technology, HD self-navigation maps enable, aid and guide autonomous cars to self-drive and navigate.

The HD map has high-precision navigational geometry and 360 degree panoramic imagery leading to a unique “fingerprint” of every stretch of the road.

“We cannot disclose the customer name as we are bound by non-disclosure. Through our technical expertise, we were able to support our customer to quickly verify the assumptions on large-scale areas,” Kuldeep Moholkar, CEO-Designate, Genesys International Corporation Ltd, told IANS.

“Once we completed initial data deliveries, we were able to scale up to the customer’s requirements. This has now given us the confidence to undertake HD map creation for large volume of work involving counties, states and even entire countries,” Moholkar emphasised.

The HD maps are created from Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) source data which consists of billions of pixels — commonly referred to as a point Cloud.

These billions of data points are curated to extract the features to create a machine-readable image of the road as well as the entire surrounding environment.

LiDAR sensors calculate how far a given object is, by measuring how long it takes for a pulse of infrared laser light to reach a car and bounce back.

Currently, Google’ Waymo and global cab-hailing service Uber rely on the LiDAR technology but not Elon Musk’s Tesla that uses high-end computer vision technology via cameras.

HD maps aid the autonomous vehicle in real time decision-making capability, by localising the earth spatially and letting the vehicle know the position of its exact location, thus guiding the vehicle to align to the road, when to drive, where to head and when to stop.

The HD map content is currently being rigorously tested on autonomous cars for real world readiness and large scale deployment. Once successfully passed, the autonomous car fleet will start using the HD maps data for self-navigation within the community in the US,” Moholkar explained.

Genesys has nearly 2,000 professionals with expertise in Geographical Information System (GIS) and Geospatial Engineering domain.

The company is working in the fields of remote sensing, LiDAR, aerial survey, photogrammetry and GIS-based e-governance solutions.

Based in the financial capital, Genesys also operates production and software development centres in Dehradun and Jaipur.

“We are in discussions with auto-makers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and various product/services companies in the autonomous vehicle eco-system to partner and provide value-based services.

“We are also close to signing a formal MoU with another technology company for supporting their autonomous vehicle initiative. We will talk about that subsequently,” Moholkar told IANS.

Considering the existing infrastructure, driving culture and the breadth of our geography, lamented Moholkar, the idea of an autonomous vehicle being fully functional on the Indian roads looks a little distance away at the moment.

“Having said so, Genesys and many Indian technology companies are investing heavily to build competence in this space via LiDAR technology, deep learning and Machine Learning (ML),” the Genesys executive said.

Hundreds of technology startups are currently engaged in creating products and services related to autonomous vehicles in the country.

“The resultant technology stack can be potentially used to build and implement our very own indigenous autonomous cars which will operate within a small geographical area such as corporate campuses, universities, airport lounges and large industrial premises, etc,” Moholkar noted. (IANS)

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TCS adds 200 new employees in US’ Arkansas

May 15, 2018 0

Mumbai/Little Rock (United States)– Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) on Tuesday said it has added more than 200 new employees in the US state of Arkansas, as part of its deal with insurer Transamerica.

The IT giant will occupy several floors of the 1400 Centerview building in downtown Little Rock, as part of the agreement with Transamerica to rapidly enhance its digital capabilities, simplify the service of more than 10 million policies into an integrated modern platform and drive growth opportunities.

“TCS is thrilled to welcome more than 200 additional Arkansans to our workforce as we continue to invest in local talent and U.S. facilities, helping American companies like Transamerica digitally transform and adapt to rapidly evolving customer demands,” said its President and Global Head – Banking, Financial Services and Insurance Platforms, Suresh Muthuswami.

The Little Rock office is a new US business centre for the global IT major, adding to its existing office in Bentonville, Arkansas, which hosts more than 150 employees.

“We look forward to partnering with city, state and local organizations to deepen our business and community impact across Arkansas,” he said.

The company has invested nearly US $3 billion in the US over the past three years and claimed that it has been among the top two IT services job creators in the US. (IANS)

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