Wednesday, 29 April 2015

India, Qatar vow to step up economic ties in non-oil sectors

Iand on Wednesday vowed to take bilateral economic ties to the next level, with a focus on investing in other sectors apart from trading in petroleum.

In a meeting here between  Prime Minister Narendra and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, it was decided that Qatar would invest heavily in this country’sand sectors.

The Emir, on a two-day trip to India, also met the Vice President and the minister for petroleum and natural gas.

During the meeting, the Emir said he “trusted” the Indian economy and Modi’s vision. Qatar has identified certain projects in defence, railways and highways, where the energy-rich country intends to invest substantially, according to Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson, ministry of external affairs.

Qatar is also aiming at massive infrastructure development as it gears up to host the football World Cup in 2022. It has asked India to invest in its infrastructure overhaul.

Both sides signed six agreements. One of the significant ones was on transfer of sentenced persons. Indians convicted in Qatar can be brought here to serve the remaining part of their sentence. Similarly, Qatari citizens convicted in India can be sent home. At present, 96 Indians are lodged across various jails in Qatar.

Another agreement, signed between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Qatari counterpart Khalid Bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, pertained to cooperation in the field of information and communication technology.

The MoU is expected to enhance business opportunities for the Indian IT industry in Qatar. Qatar has embarked on an ambitious programme for overall development as part of their Qatar 2030 vision and has created a dedicated Ministry of Information and Communication Technology for capacity building in ICT.

Qatar is India’s significant partner in the Gulf region meeting 86 per cent of its LNG needs.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, minister for economy and commerce, Qatar said their country has several advantages which makes it an ideal partner for India as far as investment inflows are concerned.

“India and Qatar’s economic ties now extends well beyond and gas,” he said while addressing CII.

Two-way trade between India and Qatar stood at around $16 billion in last financial year.

Infosys to acquire automation technology provider Panaya for $200 mn

In line with the strategy laid out by its Chief Executive and Managing Director Vishal Sikka, on Monday said it would buy Panaya, which provides automation technology, in an all-cash deal of $200 million (about Rs 1,244 crore). The company said it was expecting all the senior management and employees of to join. They would report to Abdul Razack, senior vice-president and head (analytics and big data).

The valuation is six times Panaya’s revenues, Infosys said, adding it was a good buy considering the “tremendous piece of technology” Panaya brought to the table. Subject to customary conditions, the transaction is likely to close before March 31.

This will be the Bengaluru-based information technology services company’s second largest acquisition so far. The largest was of Zurich, Switzerland-headquartered management consulting firm Lodestone for $345 million (Rs 1,930 crore) in September 2012.

“The acquisition of Panaya is a key step in renewing and differentiating our service lines. This will help amplify the potential of our people, freeing us from the drudgery of many repetitive tasks, so we may focus more on the important, strategic challenges faced by our clients,” Sikka said in a statement. “At the same time, Panaya’s proven technology helps dramatically simplify the costs and complexities faced by businesses in managing their enterprise application landscapes,” he added.

Founded in 2006, the California, US-headquartered Panaya provides cloud-based services for large-scale enterprise software management. The company, with a little over 400 active accounts from clients such as GE, Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Apple and Johnson & Johnson, has so far raised about $59 million from private equity players such as Benchmark Capital, Hasso Plattner Ventures, Battery Ventures and Israel Growth Partners. Most of its 156 employees are in Israel.

“I have been a student and admirer of this amazing country [Israel]. It has emerged as the most concentrated area for innovative start-up companies. With this acquisition, we will also have a presence in Israel,” Sikka said during an investor meeting late evening on Monday.
Since assuming charge as the Infosys chief in August last year, Sikka has repeatedly said the company would buy “technologies of tomorrow” in areas such as automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and analytics. During an analyst call in December, Sikka said Infosys had an “active inorganic strategy” to supplement its growth.

The Panaya acquisition is part of the company’s “renew and new” strategy to increase competitiveness and productivity, Infosys said on Monday. As of December 31, Infosys had cash and cash equivalents of Rs 34,773 crore ($5.53 billion).

Unlike its rivals such as Cognizant and HCL Technologies, Infosys is not seen as an aggressive buyer, notwithstanding its huge cash reserves. Since its inception, the company has acquired only five businesses, including two in the business process management (BPM) market — McCamish ($58 million) and Portland Group (A$34 million).
“We are excited about leveraging Infosys’s global reach, service footprint and broad customer base to deliver compelling, simplifying value to clients. I am confident this integrated proposition will uniquely position Infosys as the services leader in the enterprise application services market,” said Panaya Chief Executive Doron Gerstel.

Ministry to expand technology centres at Rs 2,200 cr

The of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) is in the process of upgrading and expanding the network of at a total cost of Rs 2,200 crore, including funding of $200 million, under the (TCSP).

The government has called for Expression of Interest from consulting firms in the role of manufacturing technology partners for the TCSP. The EoI has been invited for two assignments - to appoint a manufacturing technology partner for the automotive sector and a manufacturing technology partner for the electronics systems design and manufacturing (ESDM) sector. Eligible firms must submit their applications by March 24, according to a document put out by the ministry.

According to the document, the Office of the Development Commissioner, MSME, under the ministry, is in the process of upgrading and expanding the network of Technology Centres by upgrading existing 18 TCs and establishing 15 new TCs at a total cost of Rs 2,200 crore.

This includes World Bank funding of $200 million under the TCSP. The centres are to be located in various parts of the country, and will cater to the needs of MSMEs by providing them with access to technology, skill development and consultancy services.

The Office of Development Commissioner is planning to hire consulting firms in the role of manufacturing technology partner for the automotive, general and precision manufacturing, ESDM, fragrance and flavours, footwear and leather, and designer and decorative glass sectors.

The hired manufacturing technology partner will also be expected to facilitate improvements in the environmental health and safety standards of the TCs. The aim of the assignment is to enhance the capability and service offerings of TCs such that they become models of manufacturing excellence for MSMEs. The overall magnitude of the effort for the consultant is expected to be in excess of 246 man-months over a six-year period, the ministry document said.

India's first Iris recognition technology launched

Surat-headquartered Pvt. Ltd. (Biomatiques) on Thursday launched India’s first indigenous through their range of Iris scanning products, a statement issued by the company said here.

Biomatiques is the first Indian company to receive the(STQC) for their Iris scanners from the STQC Directorate, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (Deity) under the Union Ministry of of Communications and Information Technology, the statement added.  

The Iris technology, the company statement claimed, is the most trusted form of identity authentication and as affordable as fingerprint technology.

Commenting on the launch of India's first Iris recognition technology, Tamaal Roy, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Biomatiques, said, “Our indigenisation has helped us bring down the cost of Iris authentication to match fingerprint authentication. With our vision of ‘Total Security’, we aim to completely replace fingerprint authentication, which is error-prone. The applications for this technology are varied, and we are expecting this price revolution to change the security mindset across India and the globe. The awarded STQC Department of IT allows connection of our Iris scanners to the Aadhaar database also.”

Iris recognition method, the statement highlighted, is an automated form of biometric identification that uses mathematical pattern-recognition techniques on video images of one or both of the irises of an individual's eyes, whose complex random patterns are unique, stable, and can be seen from some distance.

An iris-recognition algorithm, the company said, can identify up to 250 identification points including rings, furrows and freckles within the iris. Some of these Iris scanners can capture the Iris image from a distance of two metres and authenticate the Iris.  

The company claims that due to its robustness, ease and cost-effectiveness, the technology can used in all areas of identity assurance environments, from border control to access control, from transportation to law, among others.

Roy added, “The cost and security advantage has been the core of our development for over two years. Matching Iris technology costs to the currently available fingerprint recognition technology will cause a revolution in the field of biometric authentication and allow everyone to be more secure without extra cost.”

Established in June 2012, Biomatiques Identification Solutions Pvt. Ltd uses its patented hardware technology and copyrighted Iris recognition software to make versatile and viable solutions

Kellton Tech Contributes to Recommendations Submitted to Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Govt. of India to Boost Digital India Campaign

Besides government agencies like BBNL, USOF and NASSCOM, other participant companies included Ernst & Young, IBM, Microsoft, NIIT Technologies, Siemens, Wipro, etc. to create a road map for Digital India that was submitted to Ravi Shankar Prasad, Hon'ble Cabinet Minister Communications and Information Technology, Govt. of India

Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in association with Ministry of IT & communications, Govt. of India organized Digital India Summit 2015 with the intent of collating the views of the front runners in IT industry to recommend necessary steps to boost Digital India campaign.

A series of panel discussions were organized on various themes where prominent thought leaders from top IT companies participated. Karanjit Singh, CEO and Mahesh Bukka, AVP represented Kellton Tech.

Digital India is an ambitious programme of Government of India for preparing India for knowledge based transformation and for delivering good governance to citizens. One of the key objectives of the Digital India initiative is to ensure 75% e-Governance by 2018. The key recommendations that emerged from the panel discussions were:
  • Ensuring that digital literacy becomes the key enabler for growth
  • Digitizing public services: the target areas would be healthcare, government services and education. 100 % digitisation was recommended for all the sectors
  • Building sustainable and smarter cities for spurting economic growth
  • Realigning rural connectivity for digital India
  • Transforming healthcare and governance through digitization.
  • Setting Wi-Fi hot spots in rural areas
  • Last mile connectivity

Dolby brings its immersive tech to India via more gadgets

Dolby India, the Indian arm of Dolby Laboratories, an American company specialising in audio noise reduction and audio encoding/compression, has said its latest offering the Atmos technology, could soon be introduced on home theatres, as it licenses its technologies to consumer electronics manufacturers. There are mobile phones already in the market with the technology.

Dolby Atmos is a surround sound or a 3D technology from Dolby Laboratories. The Dolby Atmos system places speakers above the audience. In case of a mobile device, hardware encoder takes Atmos-certified content and recreates the object-oriented soundscape with one's headphones.

"Dolby recently launched the Lenovo A7000, the world's first smartphone powered by Dolby Atmos," said Ashim Mathur, director marketing, Dolby Technology India.

Dolby Atmos, he added, creates a mobile headphone experience with moving audio - sound that flows all around you. "When you put on your headphones, the sounds of people, places, things, and music seem to move all around you; so you feel like you're inside the action."

Dolby Atmos for mobile devices works over normal stereo earbuds or headphones. It delivers the best experience for Dolby Atmos content, but the latest version also improves the sound of music, games and television shows in any format on a device, the company has said.

The Lenovo A7000 has received an overwhelming consumer response with the phones going off Flipkart within a few seconds of it being listed there.

The company however declined to comment if it is talking to any Indian handset makers to offer the technology.

Dolby, better known for its technology that brings a real-life feel into the movie hall, has brought in its latest Dolby Atmos technology to Bengaluru by introducing it on a single-screen theatre in the city. It costs about Rs 13 lakh to install a processor for the technology for a single screen.

Mukunda Theatre which has introduced the technology said it had invested over Rs 31 lakh for this purpose.

It is being seen as a technology that could reverse fortunes the fortunes of the single-screen theatres that have been dying a rapid death in the recent past. While about 100 of them have shut shops, almost 100 others that survive today could see a better future with investment in technologies that would help give the audience a better movie experience, according to Dolby India.

The first Atmos-enabled screen was launched in India in December 2012

Adapt or perish, global tech buyers like Cargill, Target Corp tell Indian IT companies

The world's largest buyers of technology such as CargillTarget Corp and Lowe's have advice for India's biggest software firms: Adapt new technology and transform fast or become irrelevant.
At an exclusive session with ET, the technology heads of several global companies said Indian IT firms need to overhaul their businesses and strengthen in areas such as digital, analytics and cloud, particularly as many of the clients are building their own capabilities in advanced computing.
"If you see, areas such as digitisation are largely not being outsourced right now," said Arindam Sen, senior vice president at Schneider Electric India.
Companies globally are channeling efforts into developing in-house expertise in areas such as analytics and cloud computing to stay ahead of their competition, also because large IT firms haven't been nimble enough to build capabilities in emerging technology more efficiently.
"Over a period of time, over 8-10 years, GICs (global in-house centres of companies) have built leadership maturity, credibility within the organization and high level of business value... it is this that has changed the game," said Nitin Seth, country head at Fidelity Worldwide Investment.
American retailer Target, for example, outsourced projects to large Indian software firms such as TCS and Infosys for nearly a decade. Now, the 113-year-old firm is building more technology capability at its captive centre in India than ever before.
Last year, the Minneapolis-based company launched a corporate accelerator program to tap into India's emerging startup ecosystem for talent and technology solutions that it hopes will help it survive the battle against new-age competitors such as Walmart and Amazon.
"For Indian tech vendors, rather than coming to us and saying this is what we can do, they should come to us and say these are your business problems and we have these solutions for you. Also, Indian IT firms should not view captives as threats, but should view them more as partners," said Narayan Ram, managing director of Lowe's India, the domestic arm of the American home improvement chain.
"The big question is are vendors ready to change and evolve? The answer to that question will determine what happens next," said Navneet Kapoor, managing director of Target India. "I think we are facing the highest levels of disruption in our history. If we don't change and adapt, we won't be around a few years from now."
Traditional Indian software services firms are struggling to make the transition towards newer business models that are very different from the classic 'pyramid model', where revenue growth was directly linked to manpower addition. Whereas over the years, companies' in-house technology centres have evolved to more than just vendor-management centres.
"What we tell our people in Bengaluru is 'don't think like we think' — because that's why we've brought them in, because we're looking to make improvements and changes that you've never thought of before," said Kathy Fortmann, business unit president of US agricultural conglomerate Cargill.
Fred Giron, vice president and research director at Forrester Research, said companies want IT firms to function more like consultants and advisers.

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LG G4: LG launches its new flagship smartphone with leather back

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Ola: the App Driving India’s Taxi Industry

Ola Marketing Communications Director Anand Subramanian discusses India’s most popular taxi app, how it works and their expansion plans.

The cloud opens up

The IT industry the world over is in the throes of dramatic change — one in which emerging digital technologies are all set to upset the old order. The Indian IT industry, obviously, is no exception.

Is anything wrong with India’s famed IT sector? That’s not a bad question to ask if you have been recently tracking the results of top IT companies, who. one after one without exception, have turned in sub-par results, disappointing everyone and the markets. TCS, Infosys, Wipro and HCL all fell short of analyst expectations, not for the first time in recent quarters.
A volatile currency and weak business environment in sectors such as retail and oil have been mentioned as the culprits. Of course, there is no denying that they have played a huge part. But, amid all this, it has been easy to temporarily forget the huge shift taking place in the underlying plot, a story that is far more important. The Indian IT industry, obviously, is no exception.
The emerging technologies are largely what go by the acronym SMAC, short for social, mobile, analytics and cloud. At its core is the cloud, which is essentially about making available computing resources to customers using the Internet.
Cloud is disrupting the enterprise software and hardware industry by being easy to scale up, and also cost-effective. As cloud firm says in its Web site, “Where in the past, people would run applications or programs from software downloaded on a physical computer or server in their building, cloud computing allows people access the same kinds of applications through the Internet.” It is a completely new and compelling way of consuming IT services. And, that is exactly the problem for Indian IT services companies!
As a serial IT services entrepreneur puts it, ``In a cloud environment, hardware is provided as platform as a service. This reduces the infrastructure maintenance needs, and, hence, infrastructure services will reduce.”
He says, “The software development itself has lot more robust and cheaper platforms with huge mobile capability.” In an increasingly iffy world growth phase, with pressure to reduce cost while being agile, it isn’t tough to figure out why cloud works.
That’s why, with demand generally down, mid-range clients in the U.S. who don’t have huge legacy systems to maintain, are starting to prefer cloud-based systems.
Market intelligence firm ISG recently reported global sourcing slowing down in the first quarter of 2015. Its report said commercial outsourcing contract with an annual value of $5 million or more fell 18 per cent, “well below the average of $6 billion in first quarters since 2006, and one of the slowest first quarters in the last decade.”
Further, it foresaw “an explosion of new technologies and delivery models that will spur competition and falling prices not seen since the early 2000s.” Pricing has already been impacted, its analyst was quoted in that report as saying, because of technologies such as automation, robotics and cloud. This, the analyst said, “is creating substantial opportunity but also substantial risk.”
So, what caused India’s IT industry to be more than a $100 billion annual exporter is just about two decades will not necessarily help it navigate the digital world. The serial entrepreneur points to a huge difference in the development model itself: “The factory-based model for application development is dying.” Instead, he says, “a new model is developing which is heavy on front-end interface development, which is largely customer premises-oriented, and the back-end is predominantly connecting middleware for multiple systems.” The middleware is a sort of tissue that connects different types of systems.
IT companies wanting to succeed in the emerging digital game have to get used to new ways of doing things. This includes delivering on-demand software – so revenues can’t be assumed to neatly fit the quarterly cycles. It could be unpredictable. But, more than that, they would need talent that has high technology skills, which means they can’t be playing a cost-arbitrage game that involves recruiting a lot of people.
Peter Scumacher, Chief Executive of Germany-headquartered Value Leadership Group, says, “While Indian IT services firms like to think of themselves as being tech-savvy, customers are looking for the Indian firms to develop a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the business implications.” So, he says, “Indian IT services firms need to figure out how they are going to position themselves in this changing landscape, and what the unique value is that they can deliver to their customers.”
Gartner’s Research VP & Invest Analyst Sandra Notardonato says, “Incremental spending in IT services is around digital business. We are seeing it in consulting and other discretionary areas such as implementation and application development. This should be more an opportunity for the India-based companies that have the service offering to address.”
There might be some anxiety over how in the interim period margins might take a beating, what with deal sizes reducing. But in the long-run, there is still a huge opportunity, as a report by BNP Paribas toward the end of last year pointed out.
The report mentioned a few reasons why India’s IT industry could succeed in the new era. One reason is that there is still more time to adapt. Also, client relationships matter even more in a disruptive market. But, more importantly, IT biggies are serious about their SMAC strategies. They are no way going to dismiss start-ups – Infosys and Wipro each have a $100 million fund to invest in start-ups. Tatas have the Innovation Labs. They are also getting serious about automation. Infosys just recently bought automation and machine learning company Panaya for $200 million. They won’t mind a few quarters of sub-par results but they can’t afford to miss the long-term picture.

E-Commerce Has Given Book Industry a Boost, Says Amazon India

E-commerce has given the book industry a substantial boost by bringing books closer to readers, said an online retail portal that has been actively reaching out to an audience that demands Hindi translations of popular English books and classical Hindi novels.
"In the last six months, we have more than doubled the number of books we sell through our platform. Our experience has shown that customers keep buying books on our portal owing to vast selection, hundreds of genuine reader reviews and easy delivery at their doorsteps," Samir Kumar, director, category management, AmazonIndia, told IANS in an email interview.
After understanding what the readers want, the online portal realised the challenges regional publishers face in distribution and marketing the books to a larger audience. Hence, to bridge the gap, they decided to broaden their category of books in Hindi and other Indian languages - and the gamble has paid off handsomely.
"Regional books used to face significant challenges in reaching their customers due to the highly fragmented publishing industry and its inability to reach all points of sales even within the states where they are published," Kumar said.
"E-commerce has played a key role in bridging this gap, taking books to their readers irrespective of their location and language. Due to the wide range of languages in India and the high levels of inter-state mobility, several readers were unable to buy books published in their mother tongue or language of their choice," he added, saying they are delivering across 19,000 pincodes in India.
One of the shinning examples of how well this online retail portal is faring comes from the amount of "pre-order" bookings it has managed to seal from publishers who are willing to first sell books by a prominent writers in this virtual space.
The latest example is Amish Tripathi's "Scion of Ikshvaku" which is available for pre-order in both Hindi and English.
"We are very excited at being the partner of choice for several brands who have launched their latest offering exclusively on our marketplace. This response from brands and sellers stands proof of the value that they see in associating with us," said Kumar, adding they have over 24,000 titles available in Hindi.
According to Kumar, around 80 percent of their top 20 bestselling Hindi books are translated versions of books originally written in English.
This contains a mix of international bestselling authors such as Rhonda Byrne and Dale Carnegie, and popular Indian authors such as Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi. Some of the most popular translated Hindi books are the "Shiva Trilogy" (Amish Tripathi), "Rahasya and Jaadu" (Rhonda Byrne), "Lokvyavahar" (Dale Carnegie) and "Chanakya Mantra" (Ashwin Sanghi).
Among popular classics, "Madhushala" by Harivansh Rai Bachchan and books by Premchand and Amrita Pritam also witness a high degree of interest from online shoppers.
"Our vision for India is to build a destination where customers can find, discover and buy anything that they desire online. We endeavour to do build that by giving customers more of what they want vast selection available at competitive prices, fast and reliable delivery, and a trusted and convenient experience," he concluded.

World's largest open source health information technology project tackles Ebola

An accurate, up to the minute, accessible medical record system is fundamental to effective treatment and tracking of the Ebola virus. But how to create this type of system in the rudimentary, overwhelmed Ebola care centers of West Africa where paper records or computers—even if they were available—couldn't be carried in and out of treatment areas?
As Ebola surged in resource-constrained Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea in the fall of 2014, the ingenious concept of a tablet computer usable by individuals in bulky protective gear and encased in polycarbonate enabling simple and repeated disinfection was developed and implemented by Google and Doctors Without Borders teams, solving the hardware part of the problem.
But what software to use on the specialized tablets and on the server where critical information is stored? Enter the OpenMRS community, who drives the world's largest open source project to develop  for resource-constrained environments.
"An effective, longitudinal  is an essential requirement for Ebola treatment and these records can't be carried in and out of infected areas. A networked electronic medical record is essential—and OpenMRS offers a cost-effective, well-tested system that has been deployed in multiple sites in dozens of countries in a sustainable way," said OpenMRS co-founder and project leader Paul Biondich, M.D., a Regenstrief Institute investigator and Indiana University School of Medicine associate professor of pediatrics.
"Commercial electronic medical record systems aren't equipped to handle the problems encountered in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. One size doesn't fit all. You need customizable software that can be matched to the task at hand. The OpenMRS platform provides a foundation on which to build an effective system to meet the urgent needs of public health officials as well as the daunting demands of treating and managing large numbers of Ebola patients in primitive conditions."
In October, the OpenMRS community put out the call to action to respond to the outbreak, and volunteers from around the world responded. Several projects were launched to assist organizations providing care on the ground, including the Google-Doctors Without Borders partnership. Their engineers, working with OpenMRS volunteers around the world, customized the functionality and user interface of OpenMRS to be used on these specialized tablets.
The solutions developed for the projects included standardized terminology related to Ebola, order entry for medications and intravenous fluids, lab test ordering and reporting, tracking lab samples from the community and alerting clinicians to the results, and observations of intensive care management, as well as tools for contact tracing and community outreach.
"OpenMRS, which is a free and open source software project focused on building an  platform, is powered by individuals and organizations with a wide variety of user experiences. This collaborative community reduces barriers so people can innovate and build on the OpenMRS platform in ways that are sensitive to a specific environment. This is exactly what they did for those working within the unbelievable constraints of treating Ebola in West Africa," said Dr. Biondich.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Building Digital India from the grassroots

In 1965, Gordon Moore made a prediction that would set the pace for our modern digital revolution. From careful observation of an emerging trend, Moore extrapolated that computing would dramatically increase in power, and decrease in relative cost, at an exponential pace.
By Sudhir Chowdhary
The insight, known as Moore’s Law, became the golden rule for the electronics industry, and a springboard for innovation. As a co-founder, Gordon paved the path for Intel to make the ever faster, smaller, more affordable transistors that drive our modern tools and toys.
Cut to present. Intel recently celebrated 50 years of Moore’s Law. It remains Intel’s driving force that will enable an emerging generation of inventors, entrepreneurs and leaders to reimagine the future. Moore’s Law doesn’t just drive technological change; it also creates huge economic value and drives social advancement. In sync with this sentiment, Intel and the department of science and technology (DST) have launched a unique ‘Innovate for Digital India’ Challenge, which will focus on the creation of products to increase technology adoption in India that will eventually result in the creation of a local technology system.
“Innovation is part of Intel’s DNA,” said Debjani Ghosh, vice-president, Sales and Marketing Group and managing director, Intel South Asia. “The Intel-DST platform will combine Intel’s history of game-changing innovation and world-class technology with the government’s bold Digital India vision and the immense entrepreneurship talent in the country to create a sustainable tech ecosystem that is innovating for India. Through this challenge, we aim to bring to market tangible products and solutions that will help make Digital India a reality.”
Without doubt, the time is ripe for a Digital India. But to make meaningful progress, the only option is to penetrate urban as well as rural India with innovative solutions at low cost. And, this is precisely for what the Intel-DST platform has been put into place. Intel officials informed that the new initiative will be open to aspiring and existing entrepreneurs, innovators, academia, designers, engineers and makers from diverse backgrounds.
Participants will be provided mentoring by industry stalwarts and Intel experts, assistance in terms of technical know-how, access to product kits and infrastructure, and commercialisation opportunities. They will also be provided market linkages and access to funds at various stages to help make their ideas into a reality.
Total grants are worth R1.5 crore; top three teams will get access to seed fund of R20 lakh each. “With this challenge, we expect to see breakthrough ideas and indigenous innovations that will solve some of India’s key challenges,” said RS Sharma, secretary, department of electronics and IT.
The Innovate for Digital India Challenge, running from April 2015 to January 2016, has been designed with DST, with support from the department of electronics and information technology, and will be managed by IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship.
The initiative aims to encourage the creation of intuitive, easy-to-use solutions that can increase access to critical services imperative for development. Eventually the best ideas will get help for commercialisation leading to the creation of a local technology ecosystem furthering the government’s Make in India vision.
The challenge will focus on innovation in two broad areas. The first is innovation to create the ideal citizen’s device platform, including biometric sensing capabilities, peripherals using other sensors, intuitive user interface, gesture recognition, multi-lingual support and voice support. The second area is innovation to deliver eKranti/MyGov application to accelerate delivery of e-governance services on a mobile platform.
Intel has been fostering innovation for more than two decades in India from school level to higher education, including Ph.D Fellowships. More than 180 Indian school students have participated in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair to date, with 18 Indian winners, who have minor planets named after them. The Intel Higher Education Programme bridges the gap between academia and industry standards to promote innovation and entrepreneurship and has reached more than 235,000 students and 4,500 faculty members across 550 institutions to date.
Last year, Intel India announced the Intel Ph.D Sponsorship Programme to boost quality research and enhance Ph.D programmes across the country.

Indian IT in FY15: What went wrong with TCS, Wipro & others as they struggled to grow revenues?

MUMBAI|BENGALURU: Natarajan Chandrasekaran is usually an epitome of quiet confidence and steely resolve.

But on April 16, for the first time in years, the 51-year-old chief executive of Tata Consultancy Services was at a loss to explain India's largest software firm's quarterly performance and was unusually defensive while taking questions from journalists.

Chandrasekaran's tone was reflective of the broader mood of India's $146-billion information technology industry, which en .. 

M.Tech. (Sponsored) Admission at NIT, Goa

Goa: Applications are invited by The Assistant Registrar, National Institute of Technology, Goa for admission into M.Tech. (Sponsored) Programmes in the following Departments for the academic year 2015-16

Computer Science and Engineering (CSE)
Computer Science and Engineering
Electronic and Communication Engineering (ECE)
Electrical and Electronics Engineering (EEE)
Power Electronics and Power System

Bachelor's degree in {Engineering /Technology or equivalent in an appropriate area with at least 60% marks or 6.5 in CGPA on a 10 point scale.
Reservation for OBC/SC/ST/PH candidates as per Govt, of India norms. Applicants claiming reservation under OBC/SC/ST/PH are required to produce a valid certificate as in the Govt, prescribed format. The certificate should have been issued on or after 01.01.2015.
Applicants from Academic Institutions/Industries/Research Organizations etc. arc only need to apply in this category. They must have a minimum two-year full time continuous service in the sponsoring organization. They have to attach duly completed Form-I (Sponsorship and NOC) along with the application. They arc advised to come with experience certificate and other relevant documents such as pay-slip. appointment order and Identity card with which they can convince the selection committee about their length of service in the sponsoring organization.
The percentage of marks requirement for sponsored candidates may be relaxed up to 55% or 6.0 CGPA if documentary evidence of proven research and professional experience (publications, unpublished works) in the appropriate field arc submitted.

How to Apply:
Downloadable application form with other relevant papers is available in the website:

The filled in application form must be accompanied with an Application Fee of Rs.500/- (for General/OBC) OR Rs. 300/- (for SC/ST) in the form of crossed Demand Draft in favour of "Director NIT Goa", payable at Ponda, Goa, otherwise, the application form will not be considered.

Filled in application should reach The Assistant Registrar. National Institute of Technology Goa, Farmagudi, Ponda, Goa 403 401 on or before 30.05.2015.

Important Dates:
Last date of receipt of duly filled in application form at NIT Goa 30.05.2015
Date of interview at NIT Goa To be announced
Date of announcement of results To be announced
Starting of classes 27.07.2015

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Countries to ride on India’s Open Government Data Platform

Government of India has released its National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP). In what ways will this policy be of help in realising the potential of the vast amounts of data that is owned by the government?
There has been growing demand from academics, researchers, tech-community, policy makers and thinkers that the data generated by various organisations and institutions in the country should be made openly available so that the information can be extracted and used for public benefit. Also, Right to Information Act, 2005, says that public authority shall provide information suo motu to the public through various means including the internet. Therefore the NDSAP was developed by the Government of India. National Informatics Centre (NIC) is mandated to create a platform for enabling data sharing. So we developed the as a platform where all the government organisations can share data.
What steps are you taking to ensure that the platform for providing data is robust?
At NIC we have set-up a special group for driving the Open Data initiative. We are taking a four-pronged approach—setting up the mechanism, defining the guidelines and standards, creating the platform, training and spreading awareness. We have requested all the departments to nominate a data controller, who will drive the open data initiative in their respective departments by taking the decision on what data is to be published in open format at what point of time. Today we have more than 96 data controllers, most of them are senior officers in the rank of Joint Secretary, DG, DDG. Some departments have established the NDSAP Cell, comprising of domain experts, to assist the data controllers. To ensure the robustness of the platform and easy availability of the data, we have ensured that the platform is generic enough to allow different departments to publish with ease. We have defined the standard for vocabulary and data. Initially, we were getting the data in a packaged form, now even the raw data is being incorporated. Also, in government there can be frequent postings, so we have created an easy to understand template for the officers.
In what ways has the Open Government Data (OGD) platform evolved over the years? What new innovations are you adding to it?
When we began, the data was a new thing. Information was available from government departments, but in a packaged form. We conducted series of workshops to explain to the officers about the type of the data and the potential of the data. We have also created a task force, which provides suggestions and helps departments in understanding the nuances of data science. Open Government Data (OGD) platform is a completely open source based platform. As I said earlier, it is a very generic platform, any department can login and submit the data instantly.
To take the initiative to a new level, we have now started building connectors and APIs, which will help us in getting data from organisations where massive amounts of data is being generated regularly. In fact, the AGMARKNET portal is already distributing daily market information on various commodities in open data format. With the help of APIs, we are ensuring the sustainability of the data. Even in the absence of data controller, we get data through APIs. The truth is that the citizen wants to have real-time access to accurate data; they are interested in data that has a direct effect on their life. For instance, a farmer will be more interested in knowing about the Mandi prices within the 5 Kms vicinity. Hence we have created APIs and apps that can provide such specific information.
How has the global open data community responded to India’s OGD platform? Has there been any replication of OGD platform outside India?
India has played leadership role in developing OGD platform with USA, which started open data portal (, has partnered with us. We have created a set of basic tools required to build open data portals in a plug and play mode. Our open government data platform code is also available in open source such as GitHub for global implementation. Some countries are developing their open data portal with the help of our platform. This platform has been acclaimed world over as it does not make use of any commercial application. Eventually most of the open data initiatives in developing countries will ride on the technology developed by India.
Government of India has launched programmes like Digital India and Smart Cities that will lead to the generation of massive amounts of data. Does the Open Data Platform have the capability of managing such large amounts of data?
It is indeed true that the amount of data — structured and unstructured — that is being generated is accelerating at a very high pace.  The government of India’s digital initiative is aimed at digital inclusion of all the people across the country. The question, whether we can handle such large amount of data or not, is not important. Obviously, we can. The important things is to ensure that the country benefits from the data. People must be able to use the data for driving productivity. This can only happen when we provide the open data in format that is easily accessible. Capacity and manpower are being improved with time. When we started, we were only getting packaged data, we didn’t have APIs, but today we can get raw data through APIs. We are getting daily update for Mandi prices, and much else.
What specific steps are being taken to create more awareness about the data science?
We are trying to build an ecosystem consisting of all the data controllers and the community at large. We conduct frequent workshops for them. They share their experience, challenges and contributions. As our portal has very good user interface, we get good participation from the community of data users. From them we also receive feedback on their expectations from the initiative. On the portal, we have created a citizen engagement platform from where we receive lot of queries. We encourage our users to tell us about the data that they would like to have on this platform.
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Intel-DST announce ‘Innovate for Digital India’ contest

In an attempt to boost domestic technology product creation, Intel and Department of Science and Technology has announced ‘Innovate for Digital India’ challenge. “With the challenge of transforming India into a knowledge economy, we expect to see breakthrough ideas and ingenious innovations that will solve some of India’s key challenges,” said Ram Sewak Sharma, Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Ministry of Communications and InformationTechnology, Government of India.
The initiative is supported by DeitY and and will be anchored by IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship. “A partnership with corporate is always desirable for promoting entrepreneurship. We basically dealwith academic institutions. Most of our incubators are institution based. The academicians don’t know how to do business. Government also cannot help much and yet we are trying to promote entrepreneurship. So, a partner like Intel will help in providing necessary guidance,” said H K Mittal, Member Secretary, National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB).

“India has dropped 10 points from last year in Global Innovation Index and is now ranked at 76. To increase technology adoption in the country, it is important to focus on creation of products and boost entrepreneurship,” said Debjani Ghosh, vice president, Sales and Marketing Group and managing director, Intel South Asia.
The contest will be running from April 2015 to January 2016 and is open to academia, aspiring entrepreneurs and startups. The initiative will offer total grants worth Rs 1.5 crores which includes 20 prototyping grants of up to Rs 2 lakh each, a maximum of 10 product development grants of up to Rs 5 lakh each and three seed funding or equity investment of up to Rs 20 lakh each.
“Over the past nine months, more than 9 lakh citizens have participated on development discussions on The problem areas discussed on the citizen platform now has 33 categories like health, education, NRI and tribal issues. While innovative ideas are plenty, we now need local technological solutions,” said Gaurav Dwivedi, CEO,
The challenge aims to encourage the creation of intuitive, easy to use products catering to financial services, healthcare, education, and e-governance. More details can be found at

Information technology pioneer honoured

One of the pioneers of India's success as the information technology hub of the world, Infosys Limited founder N R Narayana Murthy, received KEEN4 Technocrat Lifetime Achievement Award last night in a ceremony held at the Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam.
It was organised by Kerala Engineers Forum (KEEN4), a fraternity of Indian engineers employed in Bahrain which is affiliated to Bahrain Society of Engineers.
The Economist ranked Mr Murthy among the 10 most admired global business leaders in 2005 and he topped the Economic Times list of India's most powerful chief executives in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
He co-founded tech services giant Infosys along with six colleagues in 1981 and went on to become one of India's most influential advocates for healthcare and rural development.
The global software major established Infosys Foundation in 1996 to help underprivileged communities in India, focusing on healthcare, education and rural development.
Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Essam Khalaf was the chief guest and the keynote speaker was Indian Ambassador Dr Mohan Kumar.
The ceremony was followed by a performance by renowned Ghazal maestro Pandit Ramesh Narayan

Sad to see the tragedy at Nepal. Was hit by tremors again, today.

Technology helps families, friends locate loved ones in quake-hit Nepal, India

NEW DELHI: At a time when Nepal and parts of India have been convulsed by a devastating earthquake, modern web technology is turning out to be a boon as distressed family members are able to locate their loved ones. 

Social networking website Facebook, and Google's Person Finder have helped locate the whereabouts of those stranded in quake-hit areas. 

For instance, members of one Himmatramka family residing in Birgunj in Nepal marked themselves safe on Facebook. "Our relatives back in India were worried about our safety. So, we marked ourselves safe to inform them," said Nitesh Himmatramka. 

People from parts of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have also used this app mentioning that they are safe. 

Facebook's safety tool, 'Safety App', is being used to find those in the affected areas. Launched in October last, the app is used to generate alerts to Facebook friends of those trapped in the affected areas who, in turn, confirm that they are safe. 

"Safety Check is our way of helping our community during natural disasters and gives you an easy and simple way to say you're safe and check on all your friends and family in one place," Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg had said in a post. 

The idea to launch such an app came after the 2011 Tsunami in Japan, which had caused massive devastation in the country as millions of people had little clue about the whereabouts of their kin for weeks. 

Facebook asks the person in affected area to update their safety status thus, generating a notification to friends on the social network about his or her safety, he added. 

This feature lets one check the number of people who are safe and those affected by the calamity along with providing information about location where the person is trapped. 

Person Finder helps the affected individuals post their safety statuses by using this tool, which acts as a database of missing persons and helps their family members trace them. 

It comes with two options--"I'm looking for someone and "I have information about someone". 

The technology gathers information from the families and affected individuals, enabling them to upload information and locate their kin. The technology is available in English and Nepali. 

A 7.9-magnitude earthquake jolted Nepal yesterday followed by several aftershocks and left a trail of death and destruction, flattening houses and buildings, including the iconic Dharhara tower and the landmark Darbar Square in the heart of the capital. 

Death toll in the quake has climbed to 1,807 while the number of injured has gone up to 4,721.