Friday, July 12, 2019

upGrad and IIIT-B Mark 3rd Graduation Ceremony at the IIIT-B Campus

upGrad and IIIT-B mark their 3rd graduation ceremony with 864 Data Science graduates at the IIIT-B campus. This also marks the first graduation ceremony for 189 Machine Learning and AI graduates along with 44 Software Development graduates. The graduates were dominantly from Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Pune. Learners from the graduating batches transitioned into companies like Paytm, Pepperfry, Philips, Network 18, Deloitte, HSBC, etc. with a significant raise. Mayank Kumar, Co-founder & MD; along with Ronnie Screwvala, Co-founder & Chairman, upGrad, graced the event with their presence. Notable educationalists like Prof. S. Sadagopan, Director, IIIT-Bangalore, Tricha Anjali, Associate Professor & Associate Dean (Continuing Professional Education) and Chief Guest, Rishikesha Krishnan, Professor, IIM Bangalore, ex-Director IIM-Indore also graced the ceremony.

Zendesk Expands Amazon Web Services Support to Make Customer Data More Actionable

Zendesk, Inc. announced the Zendesk Events Connector for the newly launched Amazon Web Services (AWS) service Amazon EventBridge. The Zendesk Events Connector allows companies to quickly and easily connect customer experience data to the AWS services that developers already use to improve their understanding of the customer journey.

Modern customers expect their interactions with companies to be easy, personalized and responsive – all of which relies on accessing and understanding customer data. Built on the cloud, the Zendesk Events Connector is an easy, scalable, and secure way to stream near real-time data changes (events) from Zendesk into AWS. This seamless experience is achieved through Amazon EventBridge, a serverless, highly available, and scalable event bus service that allows applications to communicate with each other using events.

“Customer experience teams will no longer be let down by disconnected and siloed systems that don’t share a complete picture of the customer,” said Adrian McDermott, president of products, Zendesk. “We are excited to work with AWS to further the movement towards  companies having open access to all data, in a simple, safe and secure manner.”

This new capability from Zendesk provides companies with a near real-time understanding of customer interactions. With this data and the power of AWS, companies can build better, more innovative customer experiences by enhancing customer information with machine learning (ML), security and compliance tools, or custom analytics and business intelligence through services such as AWS Lambda, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Kinesis, and Amazon SageMaker.

“Customer information shouldn’t only be used to resolve tickets, it should become a part of a company’s competitive advantage,” said Dustin Lawler, VP of Technical Services, Datadog. “By integrating Zendesk into Datadog through the AWS EventBridge, we are able to leverage this important source of data throughout the entire organization in real time.”

In November last year, Zendesk announced Zendesk Sunshine, an open and flexible CRM platform focused on utilizing the power of AWS to seamlessly connect all customer data. The Zendesk Events Connector is part of the larger effort for Zendesk Sunshine to further accelerate the ability to free customer data and allow developers to build out functionality with the tools they love – entirely on open standards with the security, scalability, and reliability of AWS at its core. Zendesk Sunshine has already seen over 1,000 customers enable the platform.

Tata Motors SOUL Announces it’s 2nd Edition of the Iconic Ladakh Drive, Mountain Trail, July 2019

Tata Motors SOUL (SUV Owners United League) announced the commencement of its upcoming  SOUL “Iconic Ladakh Drive, Mountain Trail, Spiti-Ladakh” from 13th to 25th July 2019. As one of the most sought after drive of the calendar, the SOUL members are all set to experience the unparalleled beauty of Pangong Tso & Panamik coupled with an adventurous drive across Khardund La – one of the highest motorable mountain pass located at 17,500+ feet. During the drive, the members will also get a chance to visit the ancient monasteries in Kaza & Nubra Valley. 

Speaking about the Iconic event, Mr. Vivek Srivatsa, Head Marketing, Passenger Vehicles Business Unit, Tata Motors, said, “Since its beginning, the SOUL events have been a unique adventure for its members. The SOUL platform offers specially curated drives & experiences which are known to a very few. This edition in particular has been curated to provide our SOUL members with the toughest and the most challenging escapade as they take on the elements to get to the heart of the valley. With each passing edition, our number of participants has grown exponentially as the SOUL community forms everlasting bonds of Brotherhood. Accompanied by their fellow adventurers and Tata SUVs, this SOUL drive will give members a chance to visit some of the most incredible and uncharted areas in and around Ladakh.”

Flagging off from Chandigarh, 31 participants will travel in a convoy of 10 Tata SUVs, in the Iconic Drive, designed to give the Tata SUV owners an experience of a lifetime. These adventure seekers will get a chance to drive more than 1600 kilometres, along the breath-taking, scintillating landscapes of Himachal Pradesh to the Land of the mystic Lamas – Ladakh, through mesmerizing valleys & lakes of Spiti. Their driving mettle will have to be in top form as they drive on one of the most challenging dirt roads of the region and make bonds for a lifetime.

Tata SUV Owners United League (SOUL) is an Owners community program from Tata Motors that brings together the Tata SUV owners through adventurous drives traversing across some of the most breath-taking landscapes. Since its inception in 2012, the community has grown to close to 13000 proud members. Along with the new SOUL Rewards Program, the SOUL program also provides exclusive offers to customers on Tata

Motors Genuine Accessories, extended warranty and insurance, to further enhance the ownership experience of their Tata SUV.

Accenture Appoints Julie Sweet CEO and Names David Rowland Executive Chairman, Effective Sept. 1, 2019

Accenture’s board of directors announced that Julie Sweet has been appointed chief executive officer. David Rowland, currently interim chief executive officer, has been appointed executive chairman. Marge Magner, currently non-executive chair of the board, will resume her role as lead independent director. These changes are effective Sept. 1, 2019.

Sweet is currently chief executive officer of Accenture’s business in North America, the company’s largest geographic market with revenues of approximately $18 billion for fiscal 2018, serving more than 70% of the Fortune 500. Previously, Sweet was Accenture’s general counsel, secretary and chief compliance officer. As a member of Accenture’s senior leadership team for nearly a decade, she has played an integral role in the company’s business and investment strategy. Prior to joining Accenture, Sweet was a partner for 10 years in the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. Upon assuming the role of chief executive officer, Sweet will join the company’s board of directors.

“Julie is the right person to lead Accenture into the future, given her strong command of our business and proven ability to drive results in our largest market,” said Rowland. “We are on a positive growth trajectory at Accenture and are very well-positioned to continue building on our strong momentum. I am so pleased and proud that Julie will lead our company, and I am excited to work with her — along with our entire senior leadership team — to ensure a seamless transition and on Accenture’s next phase of growth and market leadership.”

Magner said, “Julie has the leadership track record and breadth of business experience we believe are critical to lead Accenture, including the ability to forge major client relationships, a strong focus on leading with innovation, commitment to our people and core values, and a focus on delivering value to shareholders. Speaking on behalf of the board, we look forward to working closely with Julie as chief executive officer.

“At the same time, we are delighted that we will continue to benefit from David’s experience in his active role as executive chair. He has been an exemplary leader as interim chief executive officer during this time of transition, with a steadfast commitment to driving Accenture’s business and building on our strong momentum. We are grateful for his leadership and stewardship. With Julie as chief executive officer and David as executive chair, Accenture has a powerful advantage in the marketplace.”

As executive chair, Rowland will continue to play a key role and be actively involved in Accenture’s business. He will chair the board of directors, act as an advisor to Sweet and be involved in Accenture’s long-term business strategy. He will also continue to represent Accenture with clients around the world and with key external groups.

“I am truly honored to lead our extraordinary company as Accenture’s chief executive officer,” said Sweet. “I look forward to continuing to work closely with our exceptional senior leadership team, along with David, as our executive chairman, and our entire board of directors. Accenture has the most talented people and group of leaders in our industry. Together, we will capture the next waves of growth for Accenture by remaining laser-focused on serving our clients, creating significant value for our shareholders and providing the best career experiences for our people.”

Accenture confirmed that there is no change to the business outlook for the fourth quarter and full fiscal year 2019 that the company provided as part of its third-quarter fiscal 2019 earnings announcement on June 27, 2019.

Julie Sweet

Julie Sweet, 51, is currently chief executive officer of Accenture in North America, the company’s largest geographic market, representing almost 50% of Accenture’s global revenues. As a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee for nearly a decade, Sweet has played an integral role in the company’s business and investment strategy. Sweet was Accenture’s general counsel, secretary and chief compliance officer for five years, serving as principal counsel to senior leadership and the board of directors, and was actively involved in executing the company’s M&A strategy and many of its largest and most complex commercial transactions.

Outside of Accenture, Sweet is a leader on topics including innovation, technology’s impact on business, and inclusion and diversity. To address the critical skills gap in America and to create an inclusive innovation economy, she is working with leaders in business, education and government to create a national professional apprenticeship movement.

Sweet serves on the board of directors of Catalyst and is a member of the TechNet Executive Council. She is also a member of the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executive officers of major U.S. corporations formed to promote pro-business public policy, and previously served on its board of directors and as chair of the Technology Committee.

Prior to joining Accenture in 2010, Sweet was a partner for 10 years in the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Claremont McKenna College and a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School.

David Rowland

David Rowland, 58, was named interim chief executive officer of Accenture on Jan. 10, 2019. Throughout his 36-year career with the company, Rowland has held significant leadership roles and played a major role in shaping Accenture’s growth strategy. Prior to his appointment as interim chief executive officer, he served as Accenture’s chief financial officer since July 2013. Rowland is a longstanding member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee, and served on the board and as Audit Committee chair for Avanade, a joint venture of Accenture and Microsoft. Prior to being named chief financial officer, Rowland served for more than six years as Accenture’s senior vice president of Finance and chaired Accenture’s Operations Council.

Renault Announces Nationwide “Monsoon Camp” Across Indian Market

Renault India, the number one European automotive brand in India, in continuance of its commitment to enhance customer satisfaction with a superlative brand ownership experience, has announced the commencement of a nationwide after-sales service initiative, 'Renault Monsoon Camp' till July 14, 2019 at all Renault Service facilities across India.

The week-long Monsoon camp will offer a comprehensive check-up for all Renault cars across 450+ service touchpoints. Trained and well-qualified service technicians would provide utmost care and expert attention that is needed for the vehicles. As per the guidelines stipulated by Renault India, the seven-day Monsoon camp will include a detailed examination of all key functions of the car to ensure necessary actions can be taken for optimal performance of the vehicle.

Renault India will also offer exclusive benefits to its customer under the Monsoon camp. Renault customers can avail up to 50% discount on select accessories, 10% discount offers on select parts, 15% discount on labour charges and other value-added services. Renault India will also provide 10% discount on ‘Renault Secure’ which offers Extended Warranty and Roadside Assistance. The company will also offer an exclusive plan on ‘Renault Assured’ to facilitate the customers with insurance renewal solutions.

In addition to the check-up facilities and free car top wash, Renault India will provide a host of other value-added benefits like special discounts on tyres (select brands) and 5% discount on engine oil replacement. Also, MyRenault app registered users will get additional 5% discount on select parts & accessories during this period. Several fun-filled activities will be organized for customers with assured gifts, making it a memorable and cherishing experience for them.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Ratnadeep Opens its First Super Retail Outlet in Indira Nagar; Plans to Open 6 More Outlets in the City

Ratnadeep opened their 1st store in Bengaluru, at Indira Nagar. The store was inaugurated by Sandeep Agrawal, MD and the film actor Kajal Aggarwal. The Hyderabad-based brand is unique and special in the supermarket store format as they have better advantage in terms of product navigation and customer friendly visual representation of the products on display. They currently have 54 operational stores and many more in the pipeline.

The store offers superlative customer convenience and a pleasant shopping experience to Bangaloreans. The imported fruits, vegetables and products stocked in the regular segment come with the assurance of best quality and price ‘‘The imported assortment, Stock Keeping Units and quality merchandise are an added advantage with easy availability and proven authenticity of different brands compared with what is available in the general market and other stores’’ said Sandeep Agarwal Managing Director, Ratnadeep Supermarket.

By the end of 2020, they aim to establish an addition of 10 – 12 stores in Bengaluru along with 25 stores in the twin cities. Talking about the growth of Ratnadeep, Sandeep Agrawal said, ‘‘In 3 years only, Ratnadeep has opened 30 stores and aims to have a total of 100 stores nation-wide by 2020. The company will be employing over 4000 people out of which 60% of their employees will be women. Ratnadeep is expecting to reach a 1000cr turnover with a CAGR of 30% by the end of 2020.’’

MSI Announces Attractive Discount Schemes on and Up to Rs 25,000 on Gaming and Laptops

Finding a good laptop that fits into the configuration and features’ checklist and doesn’t burn a hole in the pocket can be quite a task. Be it the gamers, who are looking for speed and quick cooling fixes or the creators looking to complete that perfect portrait; the Gaming and Prestige series laptops by MSI are the one-stop solution.

MSI, the world leading gaming brand and the most trusted name in gaming and e-Sports industry, has announced attractive discounts on its laptop portfolio as part of Amazon Prime Days Sale & Flipkart’s Big Shopping Day Sale.

‘We are pleased to be a part of one of the most anticipated sale days of the biggest e-commerce platforms in the country. This participation is one of our key steps as we look forward to open more stores in India and tie-up with more retailers to make our latest products available and accessible for the Indian consumers. As MSI’s brand value and dedication leverage the most innovative products for its customers, we look forward to create one of the most trusted brands in India looking at its immense potential and rapid growth in the gaming sector’, commented Mr. Green Lin, Regional Marketing Manager, MSI.

The upcoming Amazon Prime Days Sale is one the most anticipated two days for prime members.  For the third time in a row, to give its customers an experience and choices of its virtual collection, Amazon is offering users to experience the products they plan to purchase in VR ahead of Prime Day 2019. Customers in Delhi NCR, Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad, and Kolkata are able to see products in virtual reality already and can make their respective purchases on the days of the sale.

With a wide variety of laptops to choose from, MSI offers a true value for its product.

Muthoot M George Foundation Launches Muthoot Vivaha Sammanam

Muthoot Finance Ltd., India's largest gold loan company through its Corporate Social Responsibility arm Muthoot M George Foundation launches Muthoot Vivaha Sammanam.

Under the project, Muthoot Vivaha Sammanam, the company will provide financial assistance of Rs. 1 lakh each to 20 girls from Bangalore and suburbs, getting married between August and December, 2019. Daughters of financially deprived widows, getting married are eligible for the grant. Also, the household monthly income should be less than Rs.10,000.

Speaking about the grants, Mr. George M.Alexander, Exceutive Director of  The Muthoot Group said, “Marriage expenses in India is a major challenge for economically weak households, supporting such families with financial assistance through Muthoot M. George Foundation, is our way of giving back to the society.”

These grants can be availed by the mother of the eligible girls by filling an application with a letter from Local Councilor/Panchayat member/MLA recommendation certifying the case. Marriage invitation or letter indicating the date of marriage with any other document proving the genuineness of the application should also be attached.

Muthoot Vivahasammanam is ONE OF THE IMPORTANT   CSR ACTIVITY  of  The Muthoot Group providing financial aid for marriage assistance. The project was started in Kerala. The scheme has already been implemented in Kottayam, Idukki, Pathanamthitta ,Alappuzha, Thrissur, Ernakulam ,Kollam and Trivandrum districts. In FY 2018-19 the company spent a total of Rs.1,13,84,000/- as marriage assistance.

The application envelope should be clearly marked ‘Application for Marriage Gift’. The applications are to be sent at: Zonal Office, Muthoot Finance Ltd., Bangalore North Regional Office, UCF Centre, 84/3, First Floor, III block, HBR layout, Hennur Main Road, Lingarajapuram, St. Thomas Town Post, Bangalore 560 084.

Top 10 States have 83% Penetration of Outstanding Portfolio: Equifax-SIDBI Study

“Microfinance Plus”, a quarterly publication by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and Equifax revealed growth in overall volume in loan disbursement by 20% in FY18. From the overall industry’s gross loan portfolio, 83% was contributed by top 10 states, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu being the highest by contributing 35% of the top 10 states.

Key highlights:

•          As of March 31, 2019, MFIs provide micro credit to over 6.40 crores clients
•          The microfinance portfolio represents a growth of 40% over FY18. NBFC-MFIs account 37% of total portfolio having the largest share of portfolio in micro-credit followed by banks.
•          40% NBFC-MFIs have the highest number of unique live customers; loan disbursement saw 20% growth from FY18 to FY19 while an average ticket size per loan has increased by 13% Year-on-Year (Y-o-Y) to reach Rs. 31,623.
•          Portfolio outstanding as of March 31, 2019 grew by 40% while NBFC-MFIs witnessed the highest growth at 49% across sectors.
•          25% of portfolio outstanding was comprised by top 30 districts out of 619.
•          Puducherry has the highest concentration of active MFI borrowers by population at 14% followed by Tripura at 11% and Tamil Nadu at 9%

On the launch, Mohammad Mustafa, IAS, Chairman & Managing Director, SIDBI said, “The second volume of Microfinance Pulse is continuation of strong collaboration between SIDBI and Equifax to bring the latest Microfinance sector trends to industry and policy makers alike. The growth in the overall microfinance portfolio is encouraging.”

KM Nanaiah, Managing Director, Equifax Credit Information services Ltd. and Country Leader, Equifax India and MEA said, “Microfinance is systemically important to Indian financial services industry. It is interesting to see penetration trends across states with top 10 states having 83% market share of outstanding portfolio. We are glad to partner with SIDBI for a report that looks into the future prospects in the microfinance sector.”

The SIDBI-Equifax quarterly study revealed 20% growth of volume in loan disbursements.  Highest number of loans as of FY19 are disbursed in 20,000-30,000 ticket size category followed by 30,000-40,000 ticket size category whereas ticket size category of 50,000-60,000 saw the highest increase by 67% from FY18 to FY19.

“Microfinance pulse” also states geographical concentration that reported 83% growth in disbursed amount of top 10 states by the microfinance industry’s gross loan portfolio. West Bengal and Tamil Nadu contribute 34.7% of the top 10 states. Amongst the top states, West Bengal, Tami Nadu, Bihar, and Karnataka are having portfolio of more than 15,000 crore, indicating a highly concentrated market.

Microfinance Pulse aims to provide insights on trends in the Indian Microfinance industry – from disbursements to delinquencies to top growing states and top loan categories.

Barracuda Launches Cloud Security Guardian for Microsoft Azure

Barracuda, a leading provider of cloud-enabled security solutions, today announced the general availability of Cloud Security Guardian for Microsoft Azure. This agentless Software-as-a-Service solution provides end-to-end visibility into the security posture of public cloud workloads, ensures continuous compliance, and automates remediation of security incidents.

Cloud Security Guardian is another example of Barracuda’s significant emphasis on their build-with motion with Microsoft. It leverages Microsoft’s Security Graph API to provide security scores and alerts to identify and prevent security policy violations that can often turn into threats. Cloud Security Guardian also integrates with Microsoft’s Azure Firewall.

Why Cloud Security Guardian

According to Gartner analysis, by 2020, 80 percent of cloud breaches will be due to customer misconfiguration, mismanaged credentials, or insider theft, and not cloud provider vulnerabilities. To address this problem, organizations need a solution that watches over security and compliance, so developers can focus on building applications.

“Cloud Security Guardian for Microsoft Azure bridges the requirements of two worlds — that of the CISO or security expert and that of the cloud developer — to enable organizations to rapidly develop and deploy new cloud products and workloads in Azure while remaining confident their infrastructure is secure,” said Fleming Shi, Chief Technology Officer at Barracuda.

How Cloud Security Guardian Works

Cloud Security Guardian is pre-loaded with security policies built on CIS Benchmarks, and it is certified by CIS. Among its key features are an interactive map of an organization’s cloud ecosystems, simplified drill-downs and relationship identifiers, and automated remediation for security policy violations.

Cloud Security Guardian differs from other security compliance solutions because it can automatically deploy, configure, and operationalize CloudGen Firewalls and CloudGen WAFs when it assesses a security need — therefore, enhancing the security framework.

These orchestration and security management capabilities also extend to Microsoft’s Azure Firewall, which Cloud Security Guardian can deploy and configure when it encounters security situations that require it.

What organizations are saying about Cloud Security Guardian

“Cloud Security Guardian’s Cloud Security Profile Management product is certified by CIS, and we’re pleased to work with Barracuda on an initiative that helps organizations implement and stay current on the recognized best practices for securing IT systems and data in the public cloud,” said Michelle Peterson, Product Owner, CIS Benchmarks.

“During our SOC-2 certification, Cloud Security Guardian has been key to identifying any security non-conformance and limiting the additional investment we would have had to make to review all these policies manually,” said Shalomi Levin, Chief Technology Officer at Perception Point, whose threat detection platform runs in the cloud. “Cloud Security Guardian simplifies the whole process.” 

Subex and Rhino Niger Networks Sign Partnership to Offer Telecom Analytics Solutions in Africa

Subex, a leading telecom analytics solution provider, announced a strategic partnership with Rhino Niger Networks to cater to the digital transformation demands within the African markets. This partnership comes at a time when governments across the continent have announced their plans and aspirations to go digital.

Rhino Niger Networks offers digital services covering assurance, fraud prevention, network data governance amongst others. The primary goal of this partnership will be to leverage on Subex’s technical expertise coupled with Rhino’s local presence and understanding of the Nigerian and African market at large. The collaboration will act as a catalyst to drive the adoption and application of digital products and solutions, as well as enhance customer experiences.

Shankar Roddam, Chief Operating Office, Subex added, “Africa is unique by virtue of its diversity, culture and economic challenges. Driving a digitalization initiative in a diverse continent requires a combination of strong technology, robust domain and very good understanding of the nuances of rolling out large scale initiatives.

In line with this, Subex is delighted to be partnering with Rhino Niger Networks. This partnership is based on leveraging complementing competencies and will enable Subex to further strengthen its presence in Nigeria and other African markets. Subex currently holds the highest market share in Africa for our core portfolio. Our expertise in the area of Digital Trust coupled with Rhino Niger Networks understanding of the market and their extensive reach will go a long way in enabling the digital transformation agenda. Our collaboration has already started bearing positive results in terms of a number of key wins and we are confident of greater success in the near future.”

Commenting on the partnership, Russell Osi, Chief Technical Officer, Rhino Niger Networks said: “We are very excited to be working with Subex, who are world class leaders in the telecom industry. Both companies offer complementary operations and share similar values. This partnership underscores our dedication to provide innovative in-class digital capabilities for regulators and other stakeholders in the telecommunications sector in Nigeria.”

FIA Global Forays into Mutual Funds Distribution Segment by Launching Unique Quant and AI Based “FINVESTA”

FIA Global, a leading fintech company in digital payment & distribution systems for last mile financial inclusion in Indian and Nepal, announced its unique quant and AI based advisory & distribution mutual funds platform for the masses,”FINVESTA”.

Targeting low income households, it recommends personalized goal-based investment solutions based on the risk profile and real-life goals of the customer. Unlike other mutual funds distribution platforms, FINVESTA has an embedded intelligent advisory platform, along with profiling engine which packages goal-based solutions by leveraging the technical & fundamental analysis of 3000 growth mutual funds. The completely paperless enrolment process by the application for registering mutual funds makes it very convenient for the masses to invest in a complex product with just a few clicks.

Commenting on launch, Seema Prem, CEO of FIA Technological Services Ltd. (FIA Global) said, “FIA Global since its inception is committed to provide end to end digital solutions to unbanked & underbanked segment of the population. With the launch of FINVESTA, we endeavor to provide easy and accessible platform to people who are not able to invest in sophisticated mutual fund products. Currently, underbanked or FI segment are only saving money in low interest earning products, with this application we believe a person can even generate an average return of 15% on his/her investment for longer term goals leveraging high performing funds.”

We also endeavour to make mutual funds more accessible to every Indian and are targeting 1 mn households by 2020” She added.

As of now, FIA Global through its extensive distribution network in India and Nepal, catering to more than 20 million customers, will be extending the services to underbanked and FI Segment. In future they are also looking to tie up with various industries and segments.

With a digital payment network spanning 622 districts in the country, FIA Tech provides banking and financial services at the door step of customers in underserved low-income households and minorities in India and Nepal. Profitable since inception, company has seen increased adoption of financial services across its range of products – basic banking services, mutual funds advisory and loan sourcing.

Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Unveils “Kaushal Yuva Samwaad”

 Commemorating World Youth Skills Day on July 15, 2019 and celebrating 4th Anniversary of the Skill India Mission, the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship has announced launch of “Kaushal Yuva Samwaad” (A Youth Dialogue).  To be organized between 8th and 10th July 2019, Kaushal Yuva Samwaad is aimed at creating an open dialogue with the youth across all skill training centres to hear their views, ideas, opportunities and recommendations which could help the Ministry in scaling the existing programs and improve overall efficiency of its projects.

Kaushal Yuva Samwaad is being organized across all Skill India training centres, namely, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKK), Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Polytechnics, Institutes under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Jan Shikshan Sansthans, DDU-GKY Centres and other fee-based training centres across the country.  As per the mandate, each training centre must invite a minimum of 20 candidates to participate in the dialogue.  Post the dialogue, the recommendations from the Kaushal Yuva Samwaad are to be submitted to the Ministry via a portal

Announcing the launch of Kaushal Yuva Samwaad, Dr. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship said, “Over the last 5 years, the Government has been able to successfully create the foundation for skill development in the country. We have more than one crore youth joining the mission annually. It is equally imperative for us to understand the perspective of our youth who are our biggest target group. Kaushal Yuva Samvaad will be the platform to discuss potential issues and solutions from the candidates' perspective and will give us the perspective to match aspirations of the youth with the offerings of Skill India.”

Selected candidates will be invited to participate in an open dialogue with the Ministers of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship on July 15, 2019 at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi.  Kaushal Yuva Samwaad aims to create a dialogue between the youth and the Ministry.  It is intended to identify and rectify the gaps so that all skill development programs are aligned to the current demands and help in creating a skilled workforce for the future.

To raise awareness about the importance of investing in youth skills development, the United Nations General Assembly commemorates July 15th every year, as World Youth Skills Day (WYSD). This UN designated day seeks to generate greater awareness of and discussion on the importance of technical, vocational education, and training and development of marketable skills relevant to both local and global economies.

The National Skill Development Mission (Skill India Mission), launched on July 15, 2015 under the esteemed guidance of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has been steadily making progress.  Nearly One Crore youth are being presently imparted skills training annually under various programs of the Government through Skill India Mission. The mission also envisages convergence, coordination and harmonization of the fragmented skilling efforts of various Ministries in Government of India and other key stakeholders like State Government, Industry, Training ecosystem etc. through the instruments of Common norms, implementation of National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF), data integrations through the Skill India Portal and quality assurance through the SMART (Skill Management and Accreditation of Training Centre) portal.  India is a young nation and a skilled workforce will be able to cater to not only the market demand within the country but also the global market.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

34% Rise in Residential Unit Launches in Bengaluru in H1 2019; Sales Increase by 9% (YoY): Knight Frank Report

Knight Frank India has launched the 11thedition of its flagship half-yearly report - India Real Estate. The report presents a comprehensive analysis of the residential and office market performance across eight citiesfor the period January – June 2019 (H1 2019). The report findings establish that the number of residential launches in Bengaluru increased by 34% in H1 2019 to 20,894 from 15,556 in H1 2018. The housing units sold increasedby 9%YoY in H1 2019 to 28,225.

In H1 2019, Bengaluru's office space leasing touched a new benchmark of 0.77 mnsq m (8.27 mnsqft), a marked spike of 26% over H1 2018. This surpasses all previous half yearly record growth in leasing volume witnessed in Bengaluru’s office market. The city recorded a 107% increase in the number of new office space completions to0.71mnsq m (7.6mnsqft) in H1 2019 from 0.3mnsq m (3.7 mnsqft)in H1 2018.


·         In H1 2019, a total of 20,894 new residential units were launched in Bengaluru registering a 34% upsurge over the year-ago period. Of the total launches in H1 2019, South Bengaluru remained the most favoured belt garnering 40% share of the total pie.

·         As the northern belt witnesses increased leasing of office space and infusion of new office stock, supply in the primary residential market is also increasing in tandem. In H1 2019, North Bengaluru accounted for 28% of overall launches compared to only a 12% share in H1 2018.

·         From 25,803 units in H1 2018 to 28,225 units in H1 2019, sales have increased by 9% YoY. In H1 2019, sales volumeswere robust in the first quarter (June –March) of 2019. However, the sales momentum slowed down in the April–June quarter.South Bengaluru noted the maximum proportion of overall sales with a 42% share with locations such as Kanakpura Road, Electronic City and Sarjapur garnering good sales velocity.

·         New launches in the less than INR 2.5 million category were noted at 18% in H1 2019. Compared to the year-ago period, when this ticket size accounted for only 4% of total new launches, this is a substantial increase in both unit and percentage terms.

·         Ready-to-move in inventory, the right price tag and rationalisation of the GST levy for under-construction properties led to a 14% decrease in the unsold inventory at a city level.

·         The quartersto-sell (QTS) for the city has trimmed down to 8.6 from 10.7 from the year-ago period.

·         North Bengaluru accounted for 26% of the overall sales volume in H1 2019 while East Bengaluru accounted for 23% share.

·         In H1 2019, the weighted average pricing of residential products has largely remained stagnant at INR 51,893 per sq m (INR 4,821 per sq ft), which is only a 2% YoY uptick over H1 2018.

Shantanu Mazumder, Senior Branch Director, Bengaluru said “Ready-to-move-in inventory, the right price tag and rationalisation of GST levied for under-construction properties are the primary reasons for the residential market to bounce back. Steady sales volume has been instrumental in reduction of unsold inventory successively over the past 1.5 years and the same trend continued in H1 2019. The enhanced interest deduction upto INR 3.5 lakhs for purchase of an affordable house valued uptp INR 45 lakhs should provide a boost to the demand from middle class homebuyers for smaller ticket sizes in northern and southern peripheral locations of Bengaluru, mainly along the upcoming metro corridors.”


·         During H1 2019, Bengaluru retained its premier position as India's healthiest office market accounting for 31% of total office space leasing across the top eight cities.

·         In H1 2019, Bengaluru's office space leasing touched a new benchmark of 0.77 mnsq m (8.27 mnsqft), a marked spike of 26% over H1 2018.

·         Of the total office space leased in H1 2019, Outer Ring Road accounted for 30% share, the highest of the total pie However, due to low vacancy levels, the leasing share of this micro-market has reduced and the demand spillover is being absorbed by other micro-markets.

·         The Peripheral Business District (PBD) East constituted 21% of total office space leasing in the H1 2019 period.  From an 11% share in city leasing in H1 2018, the share of this micro-market has increased substantially due to resurgence of occupier demand in this belt as the metro construction work progresses. Tenants are flocking to lock long-term leases in PBD East to take the advantage of lower rentals while they still can as once the Metro will become operational, office rents are expected to increase.

·         Apart from Outer Ring Road and PBD East, the Suburban Business District (SBD) accounted for a whopping 20% of overall leasing in H1 2019. On a YoY basis, leasing in SBD has increased by a massive 86%.

·         Information Technology and Information Technology Enabled Services (IT/ITeS) and co-working are two major occupier segments that led to a large leasing volume in SBD compared to the previous periods.

·         The IT/ITeS sector retained its foremost spot accounting for 48% of the overall leasing volume in H1 2019. On a YoY basis, this is a 60% increase over the H1 2018 period.

·         Co-working constituted for a 20% share in overall leasing in H1 2019. In a bid to augment existing co-working infrastructure, many co-working operators are leasing multiple spaces in Bengaluru’s prime business hubs to cater to multinational corporations’ (MNCs) mixed portfolio strategies of fixed and flexible workspaces.

·         The co-working sector garneredleasing of 0.15 mnsq m (1.69 mnsqft) in H1 2019.

·         Manufacturing and Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) accounted for 8% and 6% share, respectively. Other Services sector accounted for a cumulative 38% share in overall leasing volume.

·         Office space vacancy continues to maintain status quo and was pegged at 4.1% at the end of the H1 2019 period.

·         The weighted average transacted rentals for Bengaluru surged by 14% YoY and were noted at nearly INR 856/sq m/month (INR 79.6/sq ft/month) during this period.

Shantanu Mazumder, Senior Branch Director, Bengaluru said “The H1 2019 period has been a very significant one for new supply infusion in Bengaluru as the city witnessed the highest ever volume of new completions since the past nine years. The remarkable performance of Bengaluru's office sector bodes well for upcoming periods and with a huge supply pipeline with expected completions in the next three years, the strong momentum of office space leasing should continue. PBD East is a micro-market to watch out for as upcoming metro completion has led occupiers to reconsider expansion in this belt and office space consumption in locations around Whitefield and Brookfield has been increasing steadily.”

TECNO Forays into the E-Commerce Space with its Flagship Offering ‘PHANTOM 9’

TECNO Mobile, the global premium smartphone brand today announced its plan to enter the E-commerce space with the launch of Global Flagship ‘PHANTOM 9’ to be available on Flipkart. During the Global partner summit which was held at Andaz Aerocity, the event also marked the live signing ceremony of ‘renewed multi-year Global partnership’ between Premium mobile phone brand, TECNO Mobile, and the Premier League’s Manchester City. The representatives of both the brands also celebrated the Kick-off ceremony of 60-day ‘TECNO Race to Manchester City’ challenge begins today on 10th July 2019 and ends on 7th September 2019.

In the event today, the brand revealed their philosophy of ‘Expect More’ and emphasized on India being their priority market by underlining the brand’s commitment to provide masses with access to advance technology at attractive price-points, allowing them to reach beyond their current limitations and uncover a world of possibilities.

Globally, TECNO portfolio consist of three key series: ‘SPARK’ is with AI bright camera (great camera features especially in low light environment) for youth, ‘CAMON’ the popular camera-centric series with outstanding selfie camera features and ‘PHANTOM’ being the brand’s flagship series. TECNO ‘Phantom 9’ is the right balance of ‘Style’ and ‘Performance’. It is designed for today’s tech savvy millennials, who do not want to compromise on style along with advanced features without putting a hole in their pockets. PHANTOM 9 has many ‘Firsts’ to its credit. It is the first smartphone to have an in-display Fingerprint sensor under 15K segment. It is also the first smartphone to come with Dual Front Flashlight along with a dot notch screen on a smartphone. First to come out with Aurora inspired styling.

Mr. Marco Ma, Chief Operating Officer TRANSSION India sharing his vision & perspective towards the Indian market, said, “India is a top priority market for us as a part of overall expansion plans for South Asia region. In H2, our key focus will be to expand the global portfolio in India. Out of which ‘Phantom’ has been our flagship product globally by virtue of its innovative features that validate our R&D prowess. We will introduce some of our other global series soon.  Additionally, we will also be developing ‘India-first’ product portfolio basis local consumer insights.”

Talking about the Flipkart partnership he said, “We are expanding our presence in India and want to reach out to all our consumers across the length and breadth of the country. Our partnership with Flipkart will be instrumental in making TECNO range of smartphones available PAN India.”

To celebrate the launch of TECNO on Flipkart Mr. Aditya Soni, Senior Director - Mobiles at Flipkart said, "Flipkart is focused on bringing the best in class propositions from the strongest brands in the world to our customers. The mid premium segment in India demands superior features at aggressive price points and the launch of the new Phantom series, has the potential to be a great fit for consumers. The 3-year association which Flipkart and TECNO will enter into will result in a superior product and service offering for Indian consumers."

Speaking at the celebration event, Damian Willoughby, Senior Vice President of Partnerships at City Football Group, said: “Manchester City prides itself on partnering with some of the world’s leading organizations, so we are thrilled to be announcing the renewal of our established partnership with TECNO Mobile. During the past three years, we have collaborated on a number of exciting initiatives that has engaged, connected and entertained our global fan base, particularly in India. TECNO have consistently demonstrated their love of football, creating some unique experiences for fans and this is evidenced with more than 20,000 people signing up to the TECNO Race to Manchester City. This country specific initiative is a fantastic example of two partners working together in a creative way and we’re delighted to be continuing this successful partnership.”

Some key highlights of PHANTOM 9 include

Introduces in-display fingerprint sensor
PHANTOM 9 becomes the first smartphone under 15k segment to offer in-display fingerprint sensor. It incorporates photosensitive fingerprint technology and uses lens under the screen for faster and safer screen unlocking.

Go limitless with the AI triple rear camera
The PHANTOM 9 comes packed with a premium triple rear camera setup available today in smartphones. It is an integration of a 16MP primary camera with large f/1.8 aperture, 2MP depth-sensing lens perfectly suited for real portraits and the icing on the cake is an additional 8MP 120° Ultra-Wide Lens, which has a special feature of microspur supports focusing on objects within 2.5 cm. It also come equipped with Google Lens features, for smart identification of objects automatically popping up all the relevant information for your easiest reach.

Shun limits, beat low lighting with AI selfie camera
If selfies tickle your fancy, this is surely your go-to gadget. The front camera of PHANTOM 9 is equipped with 32MP High resolution selfie camera which uses the second generation of camera technology 4-in-1 pixel which ensures high-definition resolution. The Hair Crack Dual Flashlight ensures brighter, more stunning selfies irrespective of any scene, especially low light ones.

Enjoy an unmatched, full-fledged view
Streaming video is a delightful experience on PHANTOM 9, with its 6.4-inch screen and19.5:9 Dot Notch display. Enriched with a FHD+ AMOLED, 600 Nits brightness and 91.47% screen to body ratio, it gives more screen space that allows users to see more. In landscape mode, watching movies, TV shows, and games becomes much more engaging. In short, multi-task like a pro, even on-the-go! 
Adorned with beautiful design
It will not be wrong to say that PHANTOM 9 is the most good-looking smartphone in the segment. The 3D back cover outlines the magnificent interplay of nano-holographic lines of light & rain jazzing up the auroras with a mystifying S-pattern. The device is definitely slender with 7.75 mm and ultra-lighter at just 164 gm weight. The optimized body arc curvature at 40 degrees, fluidic design at corners and smoother edges are pre-designed to feel easy and smooth in the hand.

Keep clicking and never mind space with great storage options
So if storage has been placing a ban on your addiction to click, it’s about time you shun the inhibitions. Go out more than ever and click all that you like with PHANTOM 9. Powered by a 2.3GHz Octa-Core Helio P35 processor, based on 12nm technology coupled with 6GB RAM and 128GB of internal storage, the performance of this exclusive device is incredibly reliable. The 12nm technology help is making the smartphone faster and power efficient. Use up all that storage you think you need because the phone also comes with a further expandable memory by up to 256GB via a dedicated microSD card slot.

Binge in on unplugged photography; Don’t worry battery back-up & charge
The PHANTOM 9 is packed with a 3500mAh battery so as to ensure your handset does not quite run out of charge while you indulge in some unplugged photographic experiences.

Own it at a price that’s absolute value for your money
The TECNO PHANTOM 9 priced at INR 14999 will be available via Flipkart India starting July’17. All TECNO smartphones come with an exceptional promise of “111” under which a consumer is entitled to a 1-time screen replacement for six months, 100 days’ free replacement, and 1-month extended warranty.

Smart Cities Risk Curtailing Potential by Prioritising Technology Over People

Real estate sector can play key role in making smart cities work for their residents, says new research from JLL

·         India’s Smart City Mission faces hurdles similar to other such global missions
·         The Mission will benefit hugely under the NDA Government’s second term
·         A human-centric approach to develop smart cities, innovative financial solutions to attract private sector and elimination of bureaucratic bottlenecks will lead to Mission’s success

Smart city initiatives in the Asia Pacific will not reach their potential if they focus on delivering cutting-edge technologies without paying enough attention to the needs and experiences of citizens, according to new research, Smart Cities Success: Connecting people, proptech and real estate, released by leading real estate consultant JLL today. And a wider collaboration among various stakeholders such as government agencies, technology vendors and users, is desired to drive these Missions successfully, the report said.

The research also highlighted the opportunity for a more human-centric approach to smart city development, which promotes inclusiveness, efficiency, sustainability and transparency. It said that as the real estate industry catches up in technology, it could bridge the gap between smart city solutions and the physical spaces where people work, live, and play.

“Cities are unleashing technologies such as the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence to solve some of the pressing problems of urbanisation – whether it’s traffic or waste disposal or public safety. This has the potential to change the way we live and work, as well as how we interact with the buildings and infrastructure in our cities. These innovations hold particular promise in the Asia Pacific where city populations are growing rapidly,” said Ramesh Nair, CEO & Country Head, JLL India.

“India’s Smart Cities Mission needs a similar approach,” he added.

India has a US$30 billion Smart Cities Mission. Launched in 2015 to improve sustainability, provide affordable housing and tackle other issues to ensure a “citizen-friendly” environment across 100 cities, it was hailed as a bold and necessary step to cope with India’s rapid urbanisation. After four years of drive and some 5000 projects later, there have been significant breakthroughs.

“Under the second term of the current government, the Mission is sure to get a significant push in terms of investments and project level developments. This would lead to the overall success of the Mission,” Nair said.

“We believe precincts built on a combination of technology and human experience are sure to operate more efficiently for occupiers and can deliver a premium for investors due to lower operating costs and better yields,” added Nair.

However, challenges relating to regulatory hurdles may prove deterrents to growth, the report added. Bureaucracy is one key stumbling block. Given that cities are large and complex, smart city initiatives can succeed only if governments are open to experimentation and willing to invest time and resources in learning from missteps, it said.

The report added, in India, there are challenges like limited availability and sharing of government data, measures that can support smart city solutions. Capacity building remains a big hurdle due to change-averse mindsets and a dearth of technical training and a lack of skill-building. “Additionally, co-ordination among various stakeholders is hindered by the presence of multiple government bodies that have overlapping jurisdictions, programmes and resources,” Nair added.

Moreover, special purpose vehicle created to “plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, monitor and evaluate the Smart City development projects” is often at odds to the local government, leading to poor governance, significant tension at ground level and hampering implementation, the report added.

“Hence, better co-ordination among all stakeholders will ensure that funds are properly used to get projects off the ground, Nair added. Thus, a collaborative approach will help the Mission.

“Our research shows that real estate is a crucial element in the future of smart cities and our clients are asking us how they can ensure the buildings they occupy or invest in are future-ready. Here, government bodies and the private sector, which represent a diverse set of teams, can collaborate and address the challenges in a meaningful manner,” Nair added.

JLL’s report ‘Smart Cities Success: Connecting people, proptech and real estate’ was written in partnership with Charles Reed Anderson & Associates, a global expert in IoT, smart cities and proptech.

Gartner Says Global IT Spending Projected to Grow 0.6% in 2019

Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.74 trillion in 2019, an increase of 0.6% from 2018, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc. This is slightly down from the previous quarter’s forecast of 1.1% growth.

“Despite uncertainty fueled by recession rumors, Brexit, trade wars and tariffs, we expect IT spending to remain flat in 2019,” said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. “While there is great variation in growth rates at the country level, virtually all countries tracked by Gartner will see growth in 2019. Despite the ongoing tariff war, North America IT spending is forecast to grow 3.7% in 2019 and IT spending in China is expected to grow 2.8%.”

“Although an economic downturn is not the likely scenario for either 2019 or 2020, the risk is currently high enough to warrant preparation and planning. Technology general managers and product managers should plan out product mix and operational models that will optimally position product portfolios in a downturn should one occur,” said Mr. Lovelock.

The enterprise software market will experience the strongest growth in 2019, reaching $457 billion, up 9% from $419 billion in 2018 (see Table 1). CIOs are continuing to rebalance their technology portfolios, shifting investments from on-premises to off-premises capabilities.

As cloud becomes increasingly mainstream over the next few years, it will influence ever-greater portions of enterprise IT decisions, in particular system infrastructure. Prior to 2018, more of the cloud opportunity had been in application software and business process outsourcing. Over this forecast period it will expand to cover additional application software segments, including office suites, content services and collaboration services. “Spending in old technology segments, like data center, will only continue to be dropped,” said Mr. Lovelock.

Globally, consumer spending as a percentage of total spend is dropping every year in every region due to saturation and commoditization, especially with PC, laptops and tablet devices. Cloud applications allow these devices to have an extended life, with less powerful equipment needed to run new software. This is why the devices market will experience the strongest decline in 2019, down 4.3% to $682 billion in 2019.

“There are hardly any ‘new’ buyers in the devices market, meaning that the market is now being driven by replacements and upgrades,” said Mr. Lovelock. “Add in their extended lifetimes along with the introduction of smart home technologies and IoT, and consumer technology spending only continues to drop.”

Hardware and Systems Startups from Third Batch of Intel India Maker Lab Showcase AI, ML and IoT-Based Products

Furthering its commitment towards accelerating hardware innovation and entrepreneurship in India, Intel India recently hosted the 2nd edition of Plugin Startups Demo Day as part of the Intel India Maker Lab program in Bengaluru. At the event, 11 startups showcased innovative products and solutions developed by them as part of Plugin, a collaborative incubation program between Intel India, Department of Science and Technology (DST) – Government of India and Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) – Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay.

As part of the initiative this year, these startups worked on their prototypes by leveraging key tools & platforms, funding, mentorship and ecosystem connect from Intel India Maker Lab in Bengaluru and SINE IIT-Bombay to develop products and solutions. Through the use of exponential technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, IoT (Internet of Things), Cloud and Edge computing, the current batch of startups developed innovative products and solutions that can advance digitalization by solving some real life problems in key industries like healthcare, manufacturing, retail and transportation.

Out of the 11 startups, 5 startups have revenue generating products, 3 are doing customer trials, another 3 are in the final product stage of product development. The Plugin Startups Demo Day offered them a platform to showcase their products and solutions to the industry, including potential investors and hardware startup accelerators.

Speaking on the occasion, Nivruti Rai, Country Head Intel India and VP Data Center Group, Intel Corp, said, “Intel India is deeply committed towards advancing innovation and entrepreneurship in the hardware and systems space that maximizes the use of data-centric technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud and Edge computing to develop exciting products and solutions. This paves the way for India to become a product innovation hub for the world.  Underlining this commitment, the third batch of startups from Intel India Maker Lab have developed exciting products for both local and global markets. Many of these products are already in the market, generating revenue and other products look equally promising; we hope to see them achieve greater heights soon. In this effort, we deeply value our collaboration with DST and SINE, IIT-Bombay.”

Dr Anita Gupta, Associate Head, NSTEDB (National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board), DST, Government of India, said, “Furthering its commitment towards creating an enabling ecosystem for innovative startups with a focus on hardware systems and products, DST initiated the Plugin program, a partnership with Intel and SINE, IIT-Bombay to promote startups to develop new products that deliver remarkable innovations. Through the program, we encourage startups that have real solutions to problems of the society, to shape their idea into commercially scalable products. It’s very encouraging to see very innovative products and solutions from the second batch of the Plugin startups from segments like healthcare, manufacturing, retail and transportation. We are proud to collaborate with Intel India and SINE, IIT Bombay for Plugin as together they bring a lot of value along with technical & industry expertise to the program.”

Intel India Maker Lab

Since its inception in January 2016, the Intel India Maker Lab, a first-of-its-kind incubation program for hardware and systems startups in India, has supported 60+ startups by offering infrastructure, technology, mentorship and business connect support for their products in the areas of manufacturing, retail, healthcare, agriculture, BFSI, and e-governance, across AI, cloud, IoT, and client compute.

Society for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (SINE), IIT Bombay

Society for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (SINE) is the business incubator at IIT Bombay and supports technology startups that are based on products or intellectual property. It has been supporting startups since 2004 and has so far supported more than 100 startups. Majority of SINE supported startups have become revenue generating, with several having reached INR 50-100 cr. in revenue, and many startups have raised multiple rounds of funding.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Staqu Unveils PINE, AI-Powered Open-Source Intelligence Platform for Law Enforcement Agencies

Marching strong on its agenda of enabling AI-enabled smart policing and intelligence services for law enforcement and corporate agencies, Staqu unveiled PINE, an open-source intelligence platform. With PINE, the Gurgaon-based AI start-up is leveraging OSINT (open source intelligence), one of the most impactful techniques used by different intelligence agencies around the world to access the relevant and focused information from open source data and utilise it to perform various kind of proactive analysis on people, organisations or regions.

Policing is one of the most mission-critical use-case that PINE will address. Crime in India, right from terrorism to human trafficking, robbery etc., is repetitive and follows a pattern. This trail of nefarious activities create humungous data, which, when analysed adequately, can give rise to predictive analysis. However, such big data analysis has its own challenges as data is not structured as a text and combines image and speech with text.

As an AI-powered open source intelligence technology, PINE accumulates data from different sources and perform language agnostic text analysis, more precisely natural language processing (NLP). PINE considers the semantically similar keywords while performing the news search. In addition, PINE also transliterates and translates the given English keywords in different Indian languages along with its context to sieve through all the news portals in real-time and populate the most relevant queries on PINE publishing platform. The news updates happen in real-time, aggregated from different sources predefined, in this scenario, by police. Furthermore, PINE also has the capability to extract the breaking news from predefined LIVE TV news channels and create the database for police intelligence which can later be used to alert or in-search purpose.

Commenting on the launch, Atul Rai, Co-Founder & CEO of Staqu, said, “At Staqu, we aspire to solve the real-world problems by leveraging advanced technologies like artificial intelligence. To the same end, we are glad to launch PINE, an AI-powered open-source intelligence platform that utilises NLP, image analysis and more, to provide the most contextual information. While law enforcement agencies pursuing predictive policing are the prime takers of this platform, PINE can also be leveraged by corporates and more to better gauge a region, person or organisation of interest. We are affirmative that PINE will be actively utilised for streamlining information search and retrieval.”

With PINE, law enforcement agencies and corporates need not depend on ‘tag-search’ to access information about their person or region of interest. Providing deeper and complete search, the AI-powered platform collects Context-Based Information, taking into account different ways in which a person or region is addressed, for instance via name, designation, common terms, local dialects etc. PINE combines NLP with image-based search and goes through big data sets of information available on social media, TV, texts etc. to return the most precise results.

In addition to contextual search, PINE performs Relationship Analysis between different entities, area or person of interest. For instance, a news regarding Al Qaeda will have a relationship with Osama Bin Laden and terrorism. The analysis is then coupled with Hotspot Analysis to know where the ‘subject’ is active. With Time Series Analysis, furthermore, PINE compares the happenings at different locations and establishes relationships and patterns between seemingly disparate events.

PINE allows law enforcement and corporate agencies have the opportunity to streamline security and information collection. It simplifies retrieving all the relevant and contextual information regarding an entity of interest, be it an organisation, person, or region. 

Car that Responds to Your Moods; New Jaguar Land Rover Tech Helps Reduce Stress


●        Jaguar Land Rover is developing new AI technology to better understand changes in the driver’s mood while behind the wheel 
●        Cabin settings will be altered in response to the driver’s facial expressions to help tackle stress
●        Reports suggest 74 per cent of people admit to feeling stressed or overwhelmed every day
●        New mood-detection system is one of a suite of technologies Jaguar Land Rover is exploring as part of its ‘tranquil sanctuary’ vision to improve the overall driving experience

Jaguar Land Rover is researching new artificial intelligence (AI) technology to understand our state of mind while driving – and adjust cabin settings to improve driver wellbeing.

The technology uses a driver-facing camera and biometric sensing to monitor and evaluate the driver’s mood and adapt a host of cabin features, including the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, media and ambient lighting. The settings will be altered in response to the driver’s facial expressions to help tackle stress. Reports suggest 74 per cent of us admit to feeling stressed or overwhelmed every day*.

The mood-detection system will use the latest AI techniques to continually adapt to nuances in the driver’s facial expressions and implement appropriate settings automatically. In time the system will learn a driver’s preference and make increasingly tailored adjustments.

Personalisation settings could include changing the ambient lighting to calming colours if the system detects the driver is under stress, selecting a favourite playlist if signs of weariness are identified, and lowering the temperature in response to yawning or other signs of tiring.

Jaguar Land Rover is also trialling similar technology for rear passengers, with a camera mounted in the headrest. If the system detects signs of tiredness, it could dim the lights, tint the windows and raise the temperature in the back, to help an occupant get to sleep.

Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Medical Officer, said: “As we move towards a self-driving future, the emphasis for us remains as much on the driver as it ever has.

“By taking a holistic approach to the individual driver, and implementing much of what we’ve learnt from the advances in research around personal wellbeing over the last 10 or 15 years, we can make sure our customers remain comfortable, engaged and alert behind the wheel in all driving scenarios, even monotonous motorway journeys.”

The new mood–detection system is one of a suite of technologies that Jaguar Land Rover is exploring as part of its ‘tranquil sanctuary’ vision to improve the driving experience. Designed to create a sanctuary inside each of its luxury vehicles, the manufacturer is trialling a wide range of driver and passenger wellbeing features, to ensure occupants are as comfortable as possible whilst ensuring the driver remains mindful, alert and in control.

Mood-detection software is the next-generation of Jaguar Land Rover’s existing driver tracking technology. The Driver Condition Monitor, which is capable of detecting if a driver is starting to feel drowsy and will give an early warning to take a break, is available on all Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.

Ather Energy Expands to Chennai City: Launches Ather 450 in its Second Market in India

After a successful run in Bengaluru, Ather Energy officially began accepting pre-orders from consumers for its Ather 450 in Chennai. This is the second city the company is entering after its commercial launch in June 2018.  Ather’s flagship scooter has seen great traction from owners and reviewers and has changed the market's expectation of two wheelers.

Last weekend, Ather offered early access test rides to its followers in Chennai and showcased the 450 prior to its official launch. The event was focused on the Ather community that the company has built and had fifty Bengaluru owners travel to Chennai to share their ownership journey. This pre-launch event saw resounding response and the Ather 450 has already sold out till November in Chennai. The company is now opening pre-orders for its second limited batch of deliveries.

The on-road price of the Ather 450 is INR. 131,683 and Ather 340 will be priced at INR.119,091 in Chennai. The price includes the regulation 2 helmets, along with the FAME 2 subsidy and other basics like insurance, road tax, GST, and other fees.

Ather had begun the installation of its Ather Grid points in Chennai in May 2019. Since then, Chennai has seen installation of ten fast charging points. These charging points can be found in malls like Forum Vijaya Mall, offices like AtWorks and cafes, restaurants, and even grocery stores. To encourage adoption of EVs in the city, Ather Energy will provide free charging at Ather Grid till December 2019 for all electric 4Ws & 2Ws and will add 40-50 more charging points to their network.

The company will be opening Ather Space, the experience center at Wallace Garden, Nungambakkam on 24th July. Consumers can test ride vehicles at Space and get an in-depth view of electric vehicles and their usage.

The company has announced free Ather One subscription for all the deliveries in 2019, starting with the September batch. The Ather One plan offers customers free access to; public and home charging; regular maintenance inclusive of consumables; breakdown assistance; and unlimited data services at only INR 700 + GST monthly.

The company is increasing the production capacity of its manufacturing facility to ramp up deliveries in Bengaluru and Chennai. The waiting period for the vehicles has come down enabling faster deliveries to customers in the last month.

Quote by Tarun Mehta, Co-founder & CEO, Ather Energy:

“After the successful launch in Bengaluru, we are excited to enter Chennai, where Ather was born. There is an incredible amount of excitement and awareness of electric vehicles in the city. This was evident in the pre-launch event when we sold out our first batch of deliveries before the official launch in Chennai.  Two out of three consumers pre-ordered a vehicle, some even before taking a test ride. We now believe that Chennai will be a bigger market than Bengaluru for us. We have spent the past year scaling up to meet the demand for Bengaluru and have been building more features and improvements on the 450. We have been experimenting with new forms of ownership like lease and are excited to launch the same in Chennai.”

The Product – The Ather 450 is exclusively designed to suit the city’s riding conditions. It has a top speed of 80 km/hr, a range of 75 km (IDC range of 107 km) and one of the quickest accelerations (0-40 km/hr) in the scooter category of 3.9 seconds. Also, for the first time in the category, Ather 450 comes with parking assist, which allows riders to reverse into tight parking spots.

The key differentiator of the Ather 450 is its intelligent features, seamless charging and ownership experience. The Ather 450 has a 7” touchscreen dashboard that allows onboard navigation with options of alternate routes and saved locations. It comes with the Ather app that enables push navigation from the phone to the vehicle dashboard, remote monitoring of the vehicle’s health and charge status.

The Ather 450 comes with a home charging Point, that will be installed by the company at either owners’ home or workplace. The company has introduced six major OTA updates on the vehicle since launch. These updates have enabled new improved features on the vehicle and the app, ranging from new ride modes, range and navigation improvements to ride statistics on the Ather app.

Josh Gates Explores Fabled City of Dwarka in Discovery's Latest Series 'Expendition Unknown' From July 12, 2019

Josh Gates, one of the world’s most passionate explorers, is set to embark on an epic adventure in India in search of the truth behind the fabled city of Dwarka – India’s very own Atlantis! Are the ancient manuscripts purely myths or could the legendary city of Dwarka be based on a real place? Josh Gates is going to join a team of scientists who believe that they may have discovered something under the water that could rock the foundations of history as we know it. Viewers will be able to witness the extraordinary story of Dwarka unfold in the special episode of ‘EXPEDITION UNKNOWN’ starting July 12, 2019 at 9 PM only on Discovery Channel.

According to scripture, Dwarka was an expansion of Lord Krishna's energy. It was described as a utopian city with opulent buildings gilded in gold.  Per the legend, Lord Krishna summoned divine powers to erect the towering city, which rose up out of the ocean, surrounded by a massive stone wall to protect the city from invaders. But in the wake of Lord Krishna's death, the glittering kingdom sank into the Arabian Sea and its glory faded into myth. Now, Josh is teaming up with world-renowned researchers who are dedicated to unearthing the truth behind the fabled city.

“The story of ancient Dwarka is an important religious tale, but as we examine submerged ruins surrounding the modern city by the same name, we’re discovering that the legend may be based on something historic,” says Josh Gates, as he dives into the waters of the Arabian Sea.

After investigating the coast of modern Dwarka, Josh heads to a dig site on Bet Dwarka, an island to the north, with a team of Indian archeologists who have recently discovered intriguing relics including the remains of a wall, pottery, and an enigmatic stamping-seal.

“Archaeologists have barely scratched the surface on this island, but the evidence is already mounting that there was a significant settlement here,” says Gates. “The items we've uncovered and especially the ancient seal demonstrates a vibrant culture here and strong indications of ritual and ceremony. But is it ancient Dwarka?”

Speaking about his experience, Josh Gates, adds, “I leave India entranced, swept up in thousands of years of myth, devotion and celebration. In time, archaeologists may find irrefutable proof that Dwarka isn't just a religious parable in an ancient text. I'm eager to see what archaeologists turn up next, but for the citizens of modern Dwarka and of the nearly billion Hindus around the world, this legend is more than just real. It's divine.”

EXPEDITION UNKNOWN is produced for Discovery Channel by Ping Pong Productions.

Join Josh Gates on his fascinating journey to uncover the myth of the legendary lost city of Dwarka; a special episode from the latest series ‘EXPEDITION UNKNOWN’ on July 12, 2019 every Friday at 9 PM only on Discovery Channel!

UL and Wintech Testing and Certification Combine to Provide Best in Class Testing and Certification Services

UL, a global safety science leader, announces the acquisition of Wintech Testing and Certification, a Telford, U.K.-based firm that provides testing and certification services to architects, building owners, manufacturers and others across the built environment community. The acquisition strengthens UL’s expertise in the field of building envelope evaluation, testing and certification, and offers greater access to global markets.

Wintech Testing and Certification is a privately-owned firm that offers testing and certification services to the building envelope market. Wintech Testing and Certification’s unique laboratory facilities are among the largest in the U.K. and are accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Wintech Testing and Certification also holds accreditation from UKAS as a certification body operating several schemes involving certification of windows, doors, curtain walls, and rainscreen cladding. Over the last twenty-five years, Wintech Testing and Certification has contributed to many high-caliber projects throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.

“UL and Wintech Testing and Certification have a shared mission and complementary businesses. We are relied upon by the building materials community for the services and knowledge that they need to enhance public safety, meet regulatory demands, protect brand value and successfully access the global market,” said Kevin Faltin, vice president of UL Building and Life Safety Technologies division. “Working as one, UL and Wintech Testing and Certification will continue to grow the vision that has brought us together, that of becoming a global leader in the field of building envelope evaluation, testing and certification.’’

Wintech Testing and Certification’s employees will join and strengthen UL’s existing building envelope team. The group’s building science thought leadership and global center of excellence will be based out of the Telford, U.K. headquarters.

“We are excited by this opportunity to join forces with UL and provide best-in-class services to the building envelope community,” said Gailord Nepp, former managing director of Wintech Testing and Certification and now European business development manager - Building Envelope Services for UL. “Our group’s shared reputation for delivering industry leading services and in-depth industry knowledge will continue to strengthen our position as leaders in the field of building envelope evaluation, testing and certification. Joining forces with UL will allow us to significantly accelerate our growth and access to global markets, in addition to providing our clients with a broader range of complimentary services and expertise. Clients can rest assured that customer service and technical quality will remain our top priorities, and that our newly integrated capabilities will deliver even more value.’’

The transaction closed on June 28, 2019. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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