Thursday, June 25, 2009

Will the IT industry miss Nanadan Nilekani?

Infosys Technologies' Co-Chairman Nandan Nilekani was today appointed as Chairman of an Authority with Cabinet minister's rank to steer the ambitious scheme for creating a multi-purpose unique identification database of citizens.

54-year-old Nilekani, the co-founder of the leading IT firm along with N R Narayana Murthy 28 years ago, will head the Unique Identification Database Authority of India (UIDAI) under the aegis of the Planning Commission.

He will have the rank and status of the Cabinet minister, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

The scheme is aimed at providing a unique identity to the targeted population of the flagship schemes to ensure that the benefits reach them, she said.

A visionary and a thinker, Nilekani, who gets an annual compensation of over USD 1.75 lakh and whose net worth is USD 1.3 billion, resigned his membership of Infosys Board of Directors following his appointment.

His colleagues in Infosys top management Mohandas Pai and Kris Gopalakrishnan said his exit from would be a loss to the organisation but a gain to the country.

Announcing his appointment, the PMO said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has invited Nilekani to chair an authority that will create a unique identification database of the country's citizens.

Nilekani, born in Sirsi in Uttara Kannada in northern Karnataka, did his early education in Bangalore and Dharwad before moving to Mumbai to study Electrical Engineering in IIT, Bombay.

The PMO said The functioning of the authority and activities to be performed by the UIA would serve multiple objectives.

The authority shall have the responsibility to lay down plans and policies to implement the unique identification scheme in the country.

It shall own and operate the unique identification number database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis.

Sonia said the Authority shall have responsibility to lay down plans and policies to implement the Unique Identification Scheme (UID), shall own and operate the Unique Identification number database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis," Soni said.

The Authority will identify the targeted groups for various flagship programmes, she added.

The flagship schemes of the UPA include the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Rural Health Mission and Bharat Nirman.

The unique identification number would ensure that any lacuna in these schemes is removed so that the benefits do not reach those they are not meant for.

The Government had earmarked Rs 100 crore in the interim Budget presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament on February 16 to kickstart its ambitious Unique Identification Project.

The government has been working on improving arrangements to ensure that development deliverables reach the intended beneficiaries, Mukherjee had said.

People may not be screaming his name out in offices, but he has his own fan following and enjoys rock star-like fame. Nandan M Nilekani has clearly emerged as the most famous of those who created India's widely idolised IT company - Infosys.

N R Narayana Murthy has probably had more media coverage but as the key people behind Infosys prepare to hand over control to the next generation of business leaders, it is Nilekani who looks all set to enjoy a great solo career.

Nilekani, 54, is already credited with repainting India's image globally and will now head an authority that will create a unique electronic database of the country's citizens - a project that many see as key to plugging loopholes in implementation of welfare schemes.

As chairperson of the country's Unique Identification Authority, Nilekani would enjoy the rank of Cabinet Minister.

The electrical engineer from IIT, Bombay, who is the Co-Chairman of the Board of Directors of Infosys Technologies Limited, was named among Time magazine's world's 100 most influential people of 2009 - an honour he secured in 2006 too.

From March 2002 to June 22, 2007, he served as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director and has previously held the posts of President and Chief Operating Officer of the company that he founded, along with Murthy and others, in 1981.

Economictimes & Agencies

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Can a flying car be a reality?

Is a flying car on its way?

An American company Terrafugia Transition, based near Boston, is set to unveil the dual-purpose car-cum-plane vehicle called 'The Flying Car' as early as 2011. The two-seater vehicle can let you fly if you wish to avoid the congested city traffic.

If you want to drive on the road, just touch the road. The vehicle will fold up its wings in 30 seconds and transform itself into a car.

"The Flying Car" can travel up to 725 kilometres in the air at a speed of more than 115 kilometres per hour.

Fuelled by gasoline, it has front wheel drive on the road and a propeller for flight.

With its wings folded, it can be parked in your ordinary car garage.

Its initial cost is expected to be around $200,000 (nearly Rs.1 crore), says the company which has already orders for 60 vehicles.

The CEO of the company told Canadian TV (CTV) network here that they have successfully test-flown "The Flying Car" as many as 28 times.

The tests have shown that the vehicle can drive, fly and switch from being a plane to a car in just 30 seconds.

"It (testing) has been very successful," Carl Dietrich, co-founder and CEO of Terrafugia, told the television network.

He said: " We have got a very good handling vehicle and our test pilot said that the flights were just remarkably unremarkable - it just flies like a really nice, little airplane."

He said this miracle vehicle will ease problems for pilots who currently face problems like weather which sometimes doesn't allow them to take off or land.

"This vehicle allows a pilot any time, if the weather changes, to divert to the nearest airport, fold up their wings and drive safely under the weather."

Company vice president Richard Gersh told media: "The Transition (the name for "The Flying Car") is not designed to replace the automobile. However, it will solve transportation issues for a variety of circumstances."

Asked whether the vehicle will be mass produced one day, he said: "That is certainly a possibility, but a number of years away."

He said the vehicle will be able travel on ordinary roads.

"Our depositors represent a wide-cross section in terms of age, interests, and intended use of the vehicle. We have deposits from both experienced pilots and non-pilots who intend to earn their Sport Pilot certificate," said the vice president of Terrafugia.

Set up in 2006, Terrafugia is run by trained aeronautical engineers and MBAs from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


Intel & Nokia to jointly work on mobile devices

Intel Corp announced a technology partnership with Nokia that could potentially give the chip maker the breakthrough it as been looking for into the mobile market.

The companies said on Tuesday they would work together on a new class of mobile computing devices, but would not say when they would come to market or give details on the kind of wireless products they hoped to develop together.

Analysts saw the pact as strategically important for Intel in the long term because it gains the world's top cellphone maker as a potential client. But given the lack of details, analysts said it could take one or two years for products to come to market, and it remained to be seen if they would find favor with consumers,

"Intel at least has its foot in the door. It's an important and strategic customer," said Gartner analyst Jon Erensen, who sees the partnership as a way for Intel to get into the market for advanced phones known as smartphones.

However, he added, "You're probably talking about something like 2011 before you get down to the power consumption and integration (levels) you'd need for that kind of device."

Analysts said the deal gives Intel a chance to take on leading cellphone chip makers Qualcomm Inc and Texas Instruments Inc, a big Nokia supplier.

It could also mean stiffer competition for ARM Holdings Plc, which supplies core cellphone processors to both Texas Instruments and Qualcomm, and whose customers rely in part on software from Wind River Systems Inc.

Intel said earlier this month that it would buy Wind River, whose software speeds up and connects devices made by Samsung Electronics, Apple Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co and Motorola Inc.

Intel, whose microprocessors are found in eight out of 10 personal computers, already works with LG Electronics on mobile devices. The agreement with Finland's Nokia, the world's largest cellphone maker, is a bigger step.

Intel Chief Executive Paul Otellini has said that the handheld, embedded and netbook markets would be as important for the company as the PC market in the near future.


Under the agreement, Intel will buy intellectual property from Nokia related to high-speed wireless technology. They also plan to collaborate on open-source mobile Linux software projects, which some analysts say will compete with Google's Android software in the netbook and mobile Internet device (MID) market.

Intel and Nokia said they aimed to define "a new mobile platform beyond today's smartphones, notebooks and netbooks" for hardware, software and mobile Internet services. They stressed the pact was about their technology collaboration and not about specific products.

Until the companies give more detail about their plans, the news is unlikely to provide much of a boost to share prices, analysts said.

Intel's shares rose 0.83 per cent to $15.81 while Nokia shares fell 0.78 per cent to 10.21 euros.

Intel already sells Atom chips for netbooks - small, no-frills computers
good for Web surfing - and Nokia has said it would look into the possibly of expanding beyond phones to develop netbooks.

The pact may help Nokia compete with rivals such as iPhone from Apple Inc and BlackBerry from Research In Motion, as well as Pre from Palm Inc.

J. Gold Associates analyst Jack Gold wrote in a research note that he expects the first Nokia-Intel devices to be Atom-based and to hit the market in early to mid 2010. Within two to three years, Intel could ship tens of millions of units annually, he said.

Gold wrote on Tuesday that he expects to see Intel enter into more deals and alliances in new markets.


Bull run for IP professionals with 25,000 jobs

Rising awareness and growing competition will hike the Intellectual Property job opportunities in the country creating 25,000 jobs in the coming 2-3 years. Experts say, with the increased awareness about patents and trademarks due to increasing competition among companies and growing cases of infringement of IP rights, the Intellectual Property space in the country is increasing.

"We expect that over 25,000 jobs for Intellectual Property professionals will be created in the next 2-3 years. As there is an increase in the need for IP professionals in law firms, knowledge and legal process outsourcing companies and other corporate houses," said, Atulya Nath, CEO, Global Institute of Intellectual Property.

The lack of awareness of IP as a career option will gradually decrease with the need of professionals in the industry increasing and it will be seen as a lucrative career option, experts define. At present, there is shortage of IP professionals in the country as compared to the world over.

"Enforcement of IP issues is an area which would generate so many jobs in the coming days, as we all are witnessing an increase in the number of cases related with the infringement of intellectual property rights," said Rodney D Ryder, IP Expert, Kochhar & Co.

Over the last decade, IP laws in the country have been in a transition, as the country follows with its obligations under Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs). The IP industry includes patents, trademarks, design, geographical indications and copyrights.

"The role of IP professionals would further increase in the coming days as the issues related with patent, trademarks, design and copyrights are becoming more vital," Ryder added.

The industry is growing at an unseen pace; experts believe it will grow much faster.

"We estimate around 4,000 people are working in different areas of IP and should double in the next 2-3 years. IP, particularly trademarks and patents are considered vital in growth strategy of businesses and this can be seen from the increase in the number of patent and trademark filings in the recent years and the increase in litigation related to IP matters," said Bhaskar Bagchi, India Head, CPA Global.

In sectors like pharmaceutical and IT where there are large, diverse and complex trademark and patent portfolios, the need for IP professionals is greater, experts said.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Self rechargeable battery from Nokia soon

Nokia is in the process of developing a battery which can recharge itself when the phone has been kept on the standby mode. This technology will end the worries of the people, as the standby mode is always referred as a curse to the planet, reports the Guardian.

"A new prototype charging system from the company is able to power itself on nothing more than ambient radio waves- the weak TV, radio and mobile phone signals that permanently surround us. The power harvested is small but it is almost enough to power a mobile in standby mode indefinitely without ever needing to plug it into the mains," said Markku Rouvala, one of the researchers who have developed the device at the Nokia Research Centre in Cambridge, U.K.

The Oyster cards used by the commuters in London are of the same phenomenon, powering themselves from radio waves emitted by the reader devices as they are swiped. And similarly old crystal radio sets and more recently modern radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which are increasingly used in shipping and as antitheft devices, are powered wholly by radio waves.

"The Nokia's prototype instead of harvesting tiny amounts of power (a few microwatts) from dedicated transmitters, it is able to collect relatively large amounts of discarded power around a thousand times more, even from miles away. Individually the energy available in each of these signals is miniscule. But by harvesting radio waves across a wide range of frequencies it all adds up," said Rouvala.

Similar kind of wireless transfer of energy was first demonstrated by Nikola Tesla in 1893, who was so taken up with the idea that he had attempted to build an intercontinental transmission tower to send power through wireless across the Atlantic. The antenna and the receiver circuit of Nokia are designed to pick up a wide range of frequencies - from 500 megahertz to 10 gigahertz - and convert the electromagnetic waves into an electrical current, as the second circuit is designed to feed this current to the battery to recharge it.

This will ensure that these circuits use less power than the amount that is being received,. Till now, the researchers have been able to harvest up to five milliwatts. Nokia's short-term goal is to get in excess of 20 milliwatts, which is enough power to keep a phone in standby mode indefinitely without having to recharge it. But this would not be enough to actually use the phone to make or receive a call. The hope is to be able to get as much as 50 milliwatts, which would be sufficient to slowly recharge the battery.

"Radio frequency power falls off exponentially with distance," said Steve Beeby, an expert in harvesting ambient energy at the University of Southampton. "It would be a remarkable achievement," Beeby added.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

IT, ITeS industry growth may fall to 5-year low, says IDC

Indian IT and IT-enabled services industry is expected to grow at 10.8 per cent in 2009, the lowest in the last five years, due to the global economic meltdown, a report said.

But in next four years, it would grow at 13.9 per cent to touch revenue of USD 110 billion, the report by analyst firm IDC India has said.

"In the backdrop of one of the worst ever global financial and economic meltdown, it is estimated that in 2009, the overall India IT/ITeS industry is expected to grow at 10.8 per cent, which is the lowest in the last five years.

"Going forward, the overall IT/ITeS industry is expected to grow at 13.9 per cent (CAGR 2008-2013) to touch over USD 110 billion in 2013," IDC India Country Manager Kapil Dev Singh said in the report.

The total revenue for the Indian IT industry in 2008 stood at over USD 57 billion in 2008.

"The ongoing global slowdown will definitely have its impact on the Indian IT sector. Despite that the industry is still expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.4 per cent by 2013," IDC India Country Manager Kapil Dev Singh said.

The domestic IT and IT-enabled services (ITeS) revenue is slated to touch about Rs 2,06,398 crore by 2013 from Rs 99,254 crore in 2008, growing at a CAGR of Rs 15.8 per cent, the study said.


Will Indian outsourcing benefit from downturn?

The turmoil in the financial market is likely to spell good news for the Indian outsourcing companies, as the downturn will compel multinationals to seek further economies for sustenance in these tough times, Wipro Technologies founder Azim Premji has said.

In an interview to the Sunday Times, Premji insisted that "the Indian outsourcing giants will benefit from this downturn, as all multinationals seek further economies."

Premji's statement comes at a time when the United States President Barack Obama has proposed changes in tax laws to curb outsourcing.

Obama proposing change in tax laws of that country had reportedly said, it's a tax code that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, than if you create one in Buffalo, New York.

Premji also voiced its concern about the "creeping tide of protectionism" in the West and said that "If we get into protectionism, then the West is going to get a wave of protectionism in response, and that is going to turn back the clock 20 years".

Premji further warned that it will be America and Europe that will suffer, because they will be excluded from the only growth markets left, in Asia, Africa and China.


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