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Newsroom diaries 2016: Freedom 251, the story that made us question technology

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series of newsroom diaries by various members of the Firstpost team. These diaries will provide you with the journalist’s recollections of a particular bit of news coverage in 2016 in which she/he was deeply involved.

I’ve been covering technology for some years now. But on the evening of 16 February this year, news came in of a sub-Rs 500 smartphone to be launched in India. Personally, I considered it to be a con job. It seemed as tricky as a chain-marketing sham to make money from innocent customers. I was rather excited about the upcoming Mobile World Congress, which typically sets the pace for the kind of devices we are to expect through the rest of the year. When someone suggested that this could be a story worth following, I brushed it aside.

Freedom 251. IBNLiveFreedom 251. IBNLive

Freedom 251. IBNLive

The next morning I was proven wrong. And how. On the morning of 17 February, newspapers in the northern parts of India ran full front page ads of the Freedom 251, by Ringing Bells. Colleagues who would otherwise not care as much about what we covered in technology were following up by the minute. I was getting phone calls and messages about this latest sensation. That’s exactly what Freedom 251 was – a sensation.

I had colleagues in office who were interested in buying a dozen handsets. A dozen? I thought to myself. But that’s exactly the kind of hysteria I was witnessing. While the initial joy of discovering a product as cheap as the Freedom 251 was behind us, we knew we had to go deeper. We’d have to break the myth it was. I ridiculed the product. Fundamentally, I was convicted of my idea that India needs devices, but what the Freedom 251 offers somehow doesn’t make it for me. I was criticised on social media for my stand – going against the wave of having an Indian product. I was accused of being critical and pessimistic when the need was to support Indian products. I guess that’s typical of social media conversations these days. Especially in India.

We analysed the product, the specification sheet that the company had put out. Our finding was that it was simply not possible to manufacture a device at that price point. People didn’t want to accept that this simply wasn’t possible. It’s like saying everyone has the possibility of winning a lottery. Mass hysteria begins. Then no one wants to know that the lottery is a hoax. During the days of the initial surge in interest, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook all seemed pale in comparison.

We worked towards getting access to the device. Media in Delhi were invited to a launch event. As I always think, Delhi is important. So yes, media in Delhi tried the device out. And did mention on social media how the device gives mixed reactions. There were a few who said ‘what more do you expect in Rs 251?’ while others said, ‘feels like a scam.’ And sitting in Mumbai, I was getting mixed reactions from my friends in Delhi who had tried the device. But even they were given access to a ‘prototype’ with the logo of another manufacturer. Fine so far. But even that manufacturer distanced themselves from the company – Ringing Bells. I’m glad today there’s no mention of Freedom 251 and that India has finally moved beyond. Moreover, our initial stand of doubting the feasibility stands vindicated.

But what I have with me now are a couple of thousands of emails. All sent with personal details. I’ve been on a deletion spree, but every time I embark on that task, something more important comes along, and I procrastinate the deletion. It’s funny how someone could send me emails with an order of two dozen Freedom 251 handset. I’m not remotely connected to them. I’m glad though that no one sent me money, else they’d be demanding refunds! I’m probably going to spend a few hours around New Years cleaning up my inbox.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 09:40 IST

PM Modi among Forbes Top 10 most powerful, Putin tops the list again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been ranked among the top 10 most powerful people in the world by Forbes in a list that has been topped by Russian President Vladimir Putin for a fourth straight year and had US President-elect Donald Trump in the second place. Modi ranks 9th on the Forbes list of 74 of the World’s Most Powerful People.Forbes said India’s prime minister remains hugely popular in his country of 1.3 billion people. “Modi has raised his profile as a global leader in recent years during official visits with Barack Obama and Xi Jinping.He has also emerged as a key figure in the international effort to tackle climate change, as planetary warming will deeply affect millions of his country’s rural and most vulnerable citizens,” Forbes said.It also took note of the unexpected decision made by Modi last month to demonetise India’s two high value currency notes in a bid to reduce money laundering and corruption, creating a nationwide frenzy to quickly swap out the bills.The list has been topped by Putin, who retains the title of the world’s most powerful person for four years running. US President Obama comes in on the 48th spot.”There are nearly 7.4 billion humans on planet Earth, but these 74 men and women make the world turn. Forbes’ annual ranking of the World s Most Powerful People identifies one person out of every 100 million whose actions mean the most,” it said. Forbes said Russia’s 64-year-old president has exerted his country’s influence in nearly every corner of the globe; from the motherland to Syria to the US presidential elections, continuing to “get what he wants”.On the second spot is 70-year-old Trump who will become the first billionaire president of the United States, after upsetting Hillary Clinton in a surprising election victory.The list includes Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani on the 38the spot. Forbes said the 59-year-old oil and gas tycoon sparked a price war in India’s hyper competitive telecom market with the launch of 4G phone service Jio at the annual shareholder meeting of his Reliance Industries in September.”The USD 44.7 billion (revenue) Reliance Industries is locked in a legal battle with the government related to the recovery of costs associated with developing a gas field,” it said, adding that his wife Nita, who sits on Reliance’s board, is a member of the International Olympic Committee.The list also includes Microsoft’s India-born CEO Satya Nadella on the 51st spot, with Forbes saying the 49-year-old has steered the company away from a failing mobile strategy and focused on other lines of business, including cloud computing and augmented reality.The third most powerful person in the world also happens to be the most powerful woman: Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany and the backbone of the European Union.The list includes Xi on the 4th spot, Pope Francis (5), Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (7), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (10), French President Francois Hollande (23), Apple CEO Tim Cook (32), North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (43) and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (57).

Campus placements in full swing at IIT-Bombay?

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to details of​​ campus placements that have taken place at IIT-Bombay till December 9, Intel Technologies, Samsung R&D, Goldman Sachs and Citi Corp Services India Ltd were companies that hired the most number of students for domestic jobs, while Yahoo, NEC and Murata hired the most students for international jobs.Start-ups like Uber, Paytm, and Ola cabs have already hired IIT-B students, and a few other companies are likely to visit the campus in the next few days.According to the placement cell, reputed educational institutions and universities across India will be in the campus for interviews this week.The highest base package amongst the Japanese firms were from Works app at 60 lakhs JPY/annum, Yahoo at 37.52 lakhs JPY per annum, Rakuten at 37.20 lakhs JPY per annum and Toyo Engineering at 35.16 lakhs JPY per annum. The highest base package amongst the US firms were from Uber at USD 1.10 lakhs per annum, Microsoft at USD 1.06 lakhs per annum and Oracle at USD 1 lakh per annum.The highest base package for domestic roles were from Blackstone at Rs 35 lakhs per year, Schlumberger at Rs 28 lakhs, World Quant at Rs 25.20 lakhs and Xerox Research at Rs 22 lakhs.The top five recruiters, in terms of number of offers made, were Intel Technologies with 29 offers, Samsung R&D with 28, Citi Corp with 20, Goldman Sachs with 15 and Qualcomm with 13.In 2015, the top recruiters were Goldman Sachs with 23 offers, Microsoft with 20, Dar Al Handasah Consultants with 19, Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan University with 17 and Citi Corp with 15.Last year, the top recruiters for international jobs were Yahoo and NEC, and for domestic jobs were Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, Citi Corp and Intel Technologies.According to IIT-B, during the current placement season, all profiles are in demand.

Decoding the basics of economics

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>If I say that I experience diminishing marginal utility as I eat two or three blueberry cheesecakes, I am pretty sure people would label me as crazy, or a show off, but all I am trying to say is that as I eat more cheesecakes, the satisfaction that I get steadily reduces. Now, that doesn’t sound so tough, does it? But Alfred Marshall wanted to sound really smart when he formulated the law, so you know who is to blame. There are so many terms, which need simplification so that you and I can get an idea of what’s happening in the economic world as it impacts everyone of us.1. Inflation:If your parents gave Rs.100 as pocket money for a week, you could have 10 ice candies for Rs. 10 each (100/10=10). A few years later, your pocket money continues to be Rs.100 (sadly) but the ice candy now costs Rs. 20. You could have only five ice candies for the same amount. (100/20=5). This rise in prices is inflation. If inflation keeps rising, products become costlier as the value of money falls.2. Monetary policy: Taking the same example of pocket money worth Rs.100. A few years later when you can afford only five ice candies for Rs.100, your parents realise that inflation has set in, and they might increase your pocket money to Rs.160. Now you can have eight ice candies (160/20=8). Your parents being the financial authorities of the house increased your pocket money. Similarly, the monetary authority of the country increases or decreases the supply of money based on inflation, using the monetary policy.3. Fiscal policy: Every house has a budget. Income earned is spent on food, school, electricity, movies etc. If the household spends more than the budget then they will have to cut the spending for the next month, or in worst case borrow money.Similarly, every country has a budget for every year. If the government spends more than that, then the people will have to pay more to the government, which is done by increasing taxes. Fiscal policy helps government to control spending as well as making tax policies.4. Gross domestic product (GDP): Let’s consider an imaginary nation called Economia. Every year, the citizens of this country spend money on a number of things, which are basically consumer durables like T.V, washing machines, WiFi, eating in restaurants, watching movies in multiplexes, school and college fees, services like beauty salons, doctors, teachers, banking etc. The Economian government spends on education, health and national defense of the country; it also spends on infrastructure like roads and bridges, research projects etc. Industries and businesses expand to earn more profits. Production has to happen within Economia’s geographical boundaries. Economia sells a number of things like food, technology, oil, automobiles etc. to other countries. And let’s not forget an entire population of teachers, doctors, and other professionals who become the proverbial migratory birds (Exports). At the same time it also buys products like clothing, mobile phones etc. and brings services from other countries (Imports). Subtracting Economia’s imports from its exports, consumer spending, industry investment and government spending is the total output of Economia, which is measured by the GDP. GDP could be measured once in 3 months or once in a year. It is one of the important indicators for the growth of the economy.5. Types of market:a) Monopoly: During lunchtime in most schools, food options are limited to vada pav or pav bhaji from the school canteen, as students aren’t allowed outside the school premises. This makes the school canteen a monopoly producer as no one else is allowed to do so. Similarly Apple has monopoly over Mac operating system, or the Indian government has monopoly over the Indian Railways.b) Oligopoly: If you are in the mood for black fizz, you can either have Coke, Pepsi or a Thums Up, with hardly any other options. This is an oligopoly. There exist only a few producers, or sellers in the market. Google, Apple, and Microsoft hold an oligopoly market in the world of technology and innovation.c) Monopolistic competition: If you have planned to eat lunch or dinner at the mall, but can’t choose a restaurant as so many choices are available, you can blame it on the monopolistic competition among restaurants. A market with many sellers or producers is monopolistically competitive. The sellers compete by advertising their product to be unique. Cosmetics, cars, salons etc. fall under this competition.d) Perfect competition: It’s your birthday and you are pampering yourself with an ice-cream from Gelato, and the next day, at your friend’s birthday party, you eat an ice-cream from Natural’s, but what shocks you is that the flavour options and the taste of both the brands are exactly the same. No matter which ice-cream seller you try, all the ice creams taste the same (homogenous). There are no advertisements for any ice-cream as all sellers have the same flavour options. The prices of the differently flavoured ice-creams are also the same. This is an example of a perfectly competitive market where there are many buyers and sellers, the products sold are homogenous and there is no need for advertisement. Each seller has information about the other sellers. This market does not exist in the real world, as it’s close to impossible to make homogenous products, and have the same price in the market.The question is why would economists make concepts so complicated when it can be explained in a simple, lucid manner. It can also cause ambiguity in understanding concepts, an error that can have implications at a global level.

India pre-natal gender testing adverts to be blocked online

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft will block online adverts for pre-natal gender testing tools in India, following an order by the country’s top court.

Microsoft to buy LinkedIn for $26.2 billion

Microsoft Corp agreed to buy LinkedIn Corp for $26.2 billion in its biggest-ever deal, combining the software giant’s fast-growing cloud services business with the world’s largest online network for professionals.

The offer of $196 per share represents a premium of 49.5 percent to LinkedIn’s Friday closing price.



LinkedIn’s shares were jumped 48 percent to $194.28 before the opening bell on Monday. Microsoft’s shares were down 3.3 percent.

“Today is a re-founding moment for LinkedIn,” Reid Hoffman, chairman of LinkedIn’s board, said in a statement.

Jeff Weiner will remain chief executive of LinkedIn, reporting to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“I have always had a great admiration for LinkedIn,” Nadella said in a video on Microsoft’s website. “I have been talking with Reid and Jeff for a while … I have been thinking about this for a long time.”

The deal is expected to close in 2016, the companies said in a joint statement.

Microsoft said it would issue new debt to fund the deal.

After the deal, LinkedIn will become part of Microsoft’s productivity and business processes unit.

Exclusive: Big data breaches found at major email services – expert | Reuters

FRANKFURT Hundreds of millions of hacked user names and passwords for email accounts and other websites are being traded in Russia’s criminal underworld, a security expert told Reuters.

The discovery of 272.3 million stolen accounts included a majority of users of Mail.ru (MAILRq.L), Russia’s most popular email service, and smaller fractions of Google (GOOGL.O), Yahoo (YHOO.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) email users, said Alex Holden, founder and chief information security officer of Hold Security.

It is one of the biggest stashes of stolen credentials to be uncovered since cyber attacks hit major U.S. banks and retailers two years ago.

Holden was previously instrumental in uncovering some of the world’s biggest known data breaches, affecting tens of millions of users at Adobe Systems (ADBE.O), JPMorgan (JPM.N) and Target (TGT.N) and exposing them to subsequent cyber crimes.

The latest discovery came after Hold Security researchers found a young Russian hacker bragging in an online forum that he had collected and was ready to give away a far larger number of stolen credentials that ended up totalling 1.17 billion records.

After eliminating duplicates, Holden said, the cache contained nearly 57 million Mail.ru accounts – a big chunk of the 64 million monthly active email users Mail.ru said it had at the end of last year. It also included tens of millions of credentials for the world’s three big email providers, Gmail, Microsoft and Yahoo, plus hundreds of thousands of accounts at German and Chinese email providers.

“This information is potent. It is floating around in the underground and this person has shown he’s willing to give the data away to people who are nice to him,” said Holden, the former chief security officer at U.S. brokerage R.W. Baird. “These credentials can be abused multiple times,” he said.


Mysteriously, the hacker asked just 50 roubles – less than $1 – for the entire trove, but gave up the dataset after Hold researchers agreed to post favourable comments about him in hacker forums, Holden said. He said his company’s policy is to refuse to pay for stolen data.

Such large-scale data breaches can be used to engineer further break-ins or phishing attacks by reaching the universe of contacts tied to each compromised account, multiplying the risks of financial theft or reputational damage across the web.

Hackers know users cling to favourite passwords, resisting admonitions to change credentials regularly and make them more complex. It’s why attackers reuse old passwords found on one account to try to break into other accounts of the same user.

After being informed of the potential breach of email credentials, Mail.ru said in a statement emailed to Reuters: “We are now checking, whether any combinations of usernames/passwords match users’ e-mails and are still active.

“As soon as we have enough information we will warn the users who might have been affected,” Mail.ru said in the email, adding that Mail.ru’s initial checks found no live combinations of user names and passwords which match existing emails.

A Microsoft spokesman said stolen online credentials was an unfortunate reality. “Microsoft has security measures in place to detect account compromise and requires additional information to verify the account owner and help them regain sole access.”

Yahoo and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

Yahoo Mail credentials numbered 40 million, or 15 percent of the 272 million unique IDs discovered. Meanwhile, 33 million, or 12 percent, were Microsoft Hotmail accounts and 9 percent, or nearly 24 million, were Gmail, according to Holden.

Thousands of other stolen username/password combinations appear to belong to employees of some of the largest U.S. banking, manufacturing and retail companies, he said.

Stolen online account credentials are to blame for 22 percent of big data breaches, according to a recent survey of 325 computer professionals by the Cloud Security Alliance.

In 2014, Holden, a Ukrainian-American who specialises in Eastern European cyber crime threats, uncovered a cache of 1.2 billion unique credentials that marked the world’s biggest-ever recovery of stolen accounts.

His firm studies cyber threats playing out in the forums and chatrooms that make up the criminal underground, speaking to hackers in their native languages while developing profiles of individual criminals.

Holden said efforts to identify the hacker spreading the current trove of data or the source or sources of the stolen accounts would have exposed the investigative methods of his researchers. Because the hacker vacuumed up data from many sources, researchers have dubbed him “The Collector”.

Ten days ago, Milwaukee-based Hold Security began informing organisations affected by the latest data breaches. The company’s policy is to return data it recovers at little or no cost to firms found to have been breached.

“This is stolen data, which is not ours to sell,” said Holden.

(This version of the story has been refiled to make amends to attribution of comments by Mail.ru in paragraphs 11-12.)

(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

CSE Chief Sunita Narain hits out at Richard Verma for ‘leaving’ her out of Time’s Influential List congratulatory message

The CSE chief and environmentalist Sunita Narain, who was listed among six other Indians in the Time Magazine’s list of 100 most influential people, called out on the US Ambassador to India Richard Verma when he did not include her in the congratulatory message.Richard Verma on Friday posted a tweet congratulating six of the seven Indians on the Times list including RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, tennis player Sania Mirza, Microsoft CEO Sundar Pichai, actress Priyanka Chopra and Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. However, the situation soon became uncomfortable when the seventh person named on the list, Sunita Narain asked Verma if he had left her out of the message due to her critical views against the US government on climate change.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Verma tweeted:Sunita Narain replied to Verma’s post with a tweet:The Center for Science and Environment (CSE) in a report titled ‘Captain America’ had taken a critical stance against the US government and its consumerist tendencies.Verma soon replied to Narain’s post saying that his post did not intend to contain the complete list. He tweeted:

Facebook’s next frontier: chatbots | Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it has opened up its Messenger app to developers to create “chatbots,” hoping that by simulating one-on-one conversations between users and companies it will expand its reach in customer service and enterprise transactions.

Chatbots are automated programs that help users communicate with businesses and carry out tasks such as online purchases. While chatbots have existed in some form for years, they have recently become a hot topic in the tech business as advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning make them far more capable and potentially able to assume a key role in the way customers communicate with businesses.

Facebook launched chatbots on Tuesday with a handful of partners, including Shopify, an ecommerce site, and cable TV news network CNN.

The chatbots are part of Facebook’s effort to build out its Messenger instant messaging app as the go-to place for customers to contact businesses – a strategy that threatens traditional call centers and may cut personnel costs for some businesses.

“You’ll never have to call 1-800-Flowers again,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco.

Though messaging platforms including Kik, Slack and Telegram already have chatbots, Facebook is seen having several distinct advantages.

For one, Facebook commands a vast trove of data on the estimated 1.6 billion people who use the main service and the 900 million who use Messenger. That allows developers to create chatbots that can personalize tasks, such as making an airline booking or a restaurant reservation.

“From the enterprise or developer perspective, access to those 1.6 billion people is very exciting,” said Lauren Kunze, principal at Pandorabots, which has been building and deploying chatbots for companies since 2002.

“People like a personalized experience and when the chatbot can remember personal details and follow up,” she said.

CNN’s bot, for example, can learn users’ news preferences and recommend articles and summaries accordingly. For a shopping site, users could input price ranges and other preferences before receiving suggestions from the bot.

Tech companies will have to approach chatbots more carefully, however, after an experimental Microsoft Corp bot, called Tay, unleashed a barrage of racist and sexist tweets after being manipulated by Twitter users last month. The company quickly pulled Tay from the Internet.


Facebook has been steadily adding features to Messenger since it was spun off as a separate app in 2014.

Last year, it partnered with Uber [UBER.UL] and Lyft so that users can order a car without having to go through the ride-sharing apps. It also recently partnered with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines so that customers can receive flight updates and booking confirmations through Messenger.

Chatbots could eventually automate such interactions and eliminate customer service calls.

“You’re offloading the pain of navigating those phone systems,” said Chris Fohlin, director of client strategy at consulting agency Engine Digital.

Last year, Facebook partnered with online shopping sites Zulily and Everlane to send customer receipts and order updates through Messenger. It now sees 1 billion messages sent between users and businesses every month, said Seth Rosenberg, Messenger’s product manager. That prompted the company to begin experimenting with chatbots.

“Our goal is to make personalization available at scale for businesses,” Seth Rosenberg, Messenger’s product manager, said in an interview. “It’s giving them ways to deeply engage with their consumers as everything becomes more competitive.”

By making Messenger the go-to place for business-to-person interactions, Facebook hopes people will spend even more time using the app and increasingly rely on it for day-to-day tasks.

Facebook’s chatbots could also threaten businesses’ individual apps. Although there are millions of apps, users spend nearly 90 percent of their time on five apps, according to research firm Forrester. In the United States, two of those apps are typically Facebook and Messenger.

(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; editing by Jonathan Weber, G Crosse and Meredith Mazzilli)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Is Telangana the new California of east? Apple, Amazon, Google and others line up mega investment plans

Hyderabad: Google (search) on your iPhone whether a product is available on Amazon while you are on the move in an Uber taxi. Your nimble fingers would most likely have some tech connect with the most happening Southern City of India, Hyderabad. The uber cool and upwardly mobile people across the globe would surely have been cloud-connected with the city.

Inmates attend a training session for a business process outsourcing (BPO) centre located at the Cherlapally Central Jail on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Hyderabad December 14, 2010. The jail authorities have so far selected 50 inmates on the basis of their educational qualifications and typing speed for the BPO unit, superintendent of Cherlapally Central Jail Gaddam Jayavardhan said. Telephone and internet facilities are not provided inside the outsourcing centre and the prisoners will be dealing in data entry and other functions of BPO with the help of a private organization, Jayavardhan added. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder (INDIA - Tags: CRIME LAW EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)Inmates attend a training session for a business process outsourcing (BPO) centre located at the Cherlapally Central Jail on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Hyderabad December 14, 2010. The jail authorities have so far selected 50 inmates on the basis of their educational qualifications and typing speed for the BPO unit, superintendent of Cherlapally Central Jail Gaddam Jayavardhan said. Telephone and internet facilities are not provided inside the outsourcing centre and the prisoners will be dealing in data entry and other functions of BPO with the help of a private organization, Jayavardhan added. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder (INDIA - Tags: CRIME LAW EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

Inmates attend a training session for a business process outsourcing (BPO) centre located at the Cherlapally Central Jail on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Hyderabad December 14, 2010. Reuters

Is Telangana the new California in the making? Apple, Amazon, Google, and Uber have queued up to have their second largest development centres, outside the United States of America, in Hyderabad. All within a radius of 10 km.

The city is set to witness a different level of vibrancy with these marquee companies making it the second home. Already, it is home for biggies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Qualcomm.

A beaming K T Rama Rao, Minister for IT of the Government of Telangana, sums it up saying: “Hyderabad is the biggest bang for the buck for all those investing here.”

A ballpark estimate of investments flowing into Hyderabad from various industries is out at close to $3-4 billion, with an estimated employment opportunity for 25,000 people and 1.25 lakh indirectly.

Hyderabad has innate advantages in terms of geographical location and availability of talent pool. KTR ascribes the decision of these global majors for choosing Hyderabad to the “best industrial policy, proactive policies, and a decisive government.”

“This stands testimony to our proactive policy. Hyderabad is the destination for growth. We are a state that is growing very rapidly. IT exports have posted a YoY growth by 16 percent against a national CAGR of 13 percent,” KTR told Firstpost.

Apart from these four, Airbus is proposing to set up a helicopter-manufacturing unit at an estimated investment of Rs 2,500 crore to generate employment for close to 4,500 people. The aircraft maker wanted the Telangana Government to allot 40 acres of land to which the state has shown three different sites close to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport and asked the company to choose that suits the best to its needs.

A delegation of Airbus recently called on Chief Secretary of Telangana Government Rajiv Sharma and submitted proposals. The company wanted to collaborate either with Tatas or Mahindras in India and it proposed to manufacture 100 choppers a year.

Swedish Home furnishings giant IKEA is setting up its India’s first store in Hyderabad. It has purchased land and work is going on at a brisk pace. It has bought 13 acres at a cost of close to Rs 20 crore an acre near the IT Hub.

Uber opened its Centre of Excellence on 26 February this year. This will have teams of more than 500 customer service specialists to 24/7 assistance to riders and driver partners. “Uber has already hired close to 30 percent of the total team strength and has started support operations from its Center of Excellence in Hyderabad,” an official spokesperson of Uber told Firstpost.

The Center of Excellence will provide support via multiple channels–email, phone and social media to ensure seamless experience before, during and after the ride. The team of specialists will also be proficient in multiple local languages to address support issues from across the country.

Amit Jain, president, Uber India,said: “We are excited to unveil Uber’s centre of excellence in Hyderabad that will be the heart of customer response for our India operations. The government of Telangana has shown great vision in supporting innovative technology companies and continues to remain an ideal location to do business.”

Apple, one of the world’s richest corporate houses, will establish its world’s next largest technology development centre outside the USA in Hyderabad at a cost of $25 million – close to Rs 175 crore. Though it has considered many cities, including those in Eastern Europe, it has zeroed in on Hyderabad and one of the focus areas for this new centre would be to develop Apple maps. This centre is likely to provide direct employment to 4,500 techies in 250,000 sq. ft in Tishman Speyer’s Waverock building in the City’s IT hub.

Chief Executive of Apple, Timothy Cook had said in a shareholders conference: “The population in India is in some ways some of the best in the world. There’s a huge amount of young people moving up the ranks and the consumer will rise up there.”

Basking the afterglow of signing agreements with world’s biggest corporate houses, Jayesh Ranjan, IT Secretary of the Government of Telangana, told Firstpost: “Apple considered many cities not just in India but also in other geographies like Eastern Europe before finalising on Hyderabad to locate its technology development centre for Apple Maps. This is a very strong endorsement of the value proposition that Hyderabad offers to a marquee company like Apple.

“With this addition, the 4 most valuable companies of the world (Apple, Microsoft, Google & Facebook) will all have their largest development centers outside of the US in Hyderabad. If we add Amazon, the 8th most valuable company of the world, which too is developing its largest development centre outside the US in Hyderabad, we have the enviable distinction of having 4 of the top 4 and 5 of the top 10.”

Google proposed an investment of Rs 1,000 crore staggered in four years to establish its South Asia’s biggest development centre in two million square feet facility in Hyderabad. Google CEO Sunder Pichai announced in December last that the company would set up its largest campus outside the USA in Hyderabad. KTR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with David Radcliffe, global head of facilities and workplaces of Google, in May last year. This will provide an employment for 6,000 people in a 7.2-acre facility in Gachibowli in the City.
The company has already announced that it’s “street view” project in India will begin with Hyderabad.

World’s eighth largest corporate, Amazon, too doesn’t want to lag behind. The company, which had already set up its Asia’s largest warehouse (280,000 sq. ft) on the outskirts of Hyderabad, too will have its biggest development centre outside the US here in the City of Pearls. A large chunk of its $2 billion investment is likely to flow into Hyderabad, for the State Government has allotted a 10-acre site for building close to three million square-foot facility that houses a work force of 13,500 people, while the existing headcount of Amazon in Hyderabad is 1,000.

Groundbreaking for this facility is likely to happen in a few days.

Wish there is a day when Zuckerberg, Satya Nadella, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sunder Pichai, Jeff Bejos, and Tim Cook do a human-chain on the highstreets of Hyderabad.

TIME 100: Narendra Modi, Sania Mirza, Priyanka Chopra among probables for most influential people

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, tennis star Sania Mirza and actor Priyanka Chopra are among the probable contenders named by Time magazine for its annual list of the most influential people in the world. Time will announce its ‘TIME 100’, the annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people next month.While its editors will determine the ultimate honorees, the publication has asked readers to vote from among 127 “world leaders, great minds in science and technology, outstanding figures in the arts and other icons of the moment” on who they think deserve recognition.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Time said “Modi remains a powerful voice on the world stage,” and while he saw his domestic agenda “sidetracked by political squabbles” in 2015, his country still leads the world in economic growth.Modi was named among Time’s 100 most influential people in the world last year and President Barack Obama had written a profile for him for the magazine.On Mirza, Time said India’s best female tennis player secured the number one ranking in the world for women’s doubles “while helping to redefine the role of female athletes in her home country.”Time said Chopra, one of the highest paid actors in Bollywood, has “caught Hollywood’s attention” for her role in the drama series ‘Quantico’ and “will continue to do so in the Baywatch remake”.Indian-born CEOs of the world’s top technology companies Google and Microsoft are also among the list of 127 probables for the annual honour.Time said Google CEO Sundar Pichai, co-founder Larry Page’s “right hand”, now oversees core businesses such as Android and Youtube for the tech giant.Under Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, the publication said, Windows 10 launched “successfully”, the cloud business is “booming” and new technologies like the Hololens have industry analysts “excited”.Also on the list is Indian-origin actor Aziz Ansari.The list also includes SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, singer Rihanna, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Pope Francis, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

Infosys to offer healthcare analytics on Microsoft cloud

Bengaluru: Software major Infosys on Tuesday announced tying up with Microsoft to offer healthcare analytics, using the latter’s cloud platform.

The analytical solutions will also help providers improve operational effectiveness and financial performance. Reuters

The analytical solutions will also help providers improve operational effectiveness and financial performance. Reuters

“We have developed healthcare analytics solutions to augment the current processes and make them more efficient using Microsoft Cortana Analytics suite,” the city-based outsourcing firm said in a statement.

The healthcare industry is undergoing a paradigm shift due to consumerisation and increasing costs, it said, adding that with the advent of advanced analytics and cloud technologies, it is possible to process, store and analyse large volumes of data sets at a lower cost, yielding huge benefits to healthcare processes.

The processes are presently managed by custom solutions or through CRM (customer relationship management) platforms like Microsoft Dynamics.

“Our analytics solutions will enable healthcare professionals to unlock the potential of datasets. Insights generated from this will help track population health trends, advance clinical effectiveness and enhance patient satisfaction,” the statement said.

The solutions will also help providers improve operational effectiveness and financial and administrative performance. These solutions use the common healthcare reference architecture that is built on Microsoft technology.

“Our tie-up with Microsoft will provide managed care organisations with tools to improve clinical and operational effectiveness at a reasonable cost. It will also provide healthcare call centres with contextualised customer support and self-service options to consumers and healthcare workers,” said Infosys healthcare global head Manish Tandon.

“Our collaboration with Infosys will enable novel healthcare solutions that make smarter decisions, improve customer service, and uncover new possibilities to transform patient care faster than ever before,” said Microsoft data group vice-president Joseph Sirosh.


Maharashtra government will provide conducive atmosphere for innovation: Devendra Fadnavis

Assuring that the state government would provide a conducive atmosphere for innovation in the state, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said that the best of the talent in the country coupled with innovation can result in faster development.He was speaking at ‘Maharashtra Innovates: Next Step’ during the Make in India Week at the Bandra-Kurla Complex. Industries minister Subhash Desai, minister of state for finance Deepak Kesarkar, chief secretary Swadheen Kshatriya, joint chairman of the state innovation council Dr RA Mashelkar, National Innovation Foundation representative Anil Gupta, and member secretary of state innovation council Dr Rajendra Jagdale were present.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fadnavis said the state government would provide an atmosphere comparable to the Silicon Valley and Singapore so that innovation flourishes. Expressing the need for creating an Indian Microsoft and Indian Google, Mashelkar said, “The term IT is information technology, but, for me, IT stands for Indian Talent. India has been a leader in innovations and research… There is a need to develop state-of-the-art technologies at affordable rates.”

Welder’s IITian son lands Rs 1.02 crore job from Microsoft

In an inspiring tale of triumph against adversities, a final-year student of IIT Kharagpur, who is the son of a welder in Bihar, has bagged a job with US-based Microsoft with an annual starting salary of Rs 1.02 crore.21-year-old Vatsalya Singh Chauhan, who bagged the dream job, hails from Khagariya village in the eastern state where his father runs a small welding workshop.IIT Kharagpur Director Partha Pratim Chakraborty in his Facebook page yesterday congratulated Vatsalya.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vatsalya says he had overcome a poor performance in 2009 at a coaching institute here to clear the IIT entrance exam with an All-India Rank of 382.”I was offered Rs 1.02 crore per annum salary package by Microsoft and I will be joining in October this year,” he said.He credits his success to two teachers who mentored and motivated him to pull himself together when he had decided to give up and return home.Vatsalya’s father, Chandra Kant Singh Chauhan, said he is elated at his son’s success and wants him to bring pride to his country.”My 20-year-long devotion has yielded result and my dream has come true. My son is now going out of India and I want that he should work for the country to glorify the nation’s name abroad,” he said.Chandra Kant, who has two more sons and three daughters said he has now sent one of his daughters to Kota to prepare for medical entrance exam.

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