Sunday, 28 June 2015

E-shopping sites liable for deficient service, cannot shirk responsibilty

Online shopping is becoming increasingly popular because it saves time, the bother of travelling, the prices are competitive, and returns are accepted. In some cases, the seller's name is disclosed, but the address and contact numbers are withheld. This is done in business interests, so that the buyer and seller do not make a deal, depriving the portal of its commission. The consumer deals with the portal, makes payment to the portal and follow-ups too are via emails to the portal. Yet, when a problem arises, the portal shuns responsibility by claiming it is only a trading platform to bring the buyer and the seller together, and is in no way liable. This is against consumer interest and unwarranted, as held by various consumer fora.

Case Study 1:

Atul Malhotra ordered a Lava mobile phone offered at a 94% discount on Flipkart, for an amount of Rs 400. Flipkart cancelled the order two days later, claiming inability to cope with the demand, refunding Rs 400. Since Atul wanted the phone, not the refund, he complained to the Chandigarh District Forum. Flipkart claimed it was not liable, and the complaint be dismissed as the actual seller had not been joined as a party to the dispute.

The forum observed that Flipkart had made the offer. The entire email correspondence was with Flipkart, including the cancellation. Hence, it would be liable for deficient service. Flipkart was ordered to pay Rs 3,000 as compensation and Rs 2,500 towards costs.

Case Study 2:

Shivanand Narain had purchased a Stealth mobile phone online for Rs 20,390, which turned out to be defective. He returned it and sought a replacement, as the website promised. Since his grievance was not redressed, he filed a complaint. The forum ordered the portal to refund Rs 20,390, the price of the mobile and also awarded Rs 15,000 as compensation.

The portal challenged the order in an appeal to the Chandigarh state commission, contending it was only a "facilitator". Rejecting this argument, the commission observed that the portal solicits business. Customers make payments to the portal. Correspondence with the portal is through the given email address. Thus, it actively participates in the transactions. The state commission dismissed the portal's appeal.

Case Study 3:

Urmil Munjal had made an online purchase through As she was not satisfied with the product supplied, she filed a complaint against the portal before the Gurgaon district forum, which allowed the complaint. The portal's appeal was dismissed. It filed a revision before the national commission, contending that it was only a facilitator. Rejecting this argument, the national commission observed that the portal had admitted it acts as an intermediary, collecting payment. So its services could not be considered gratuitous merely because no separate charge was collected from the consumer. Inviting buyers and sellers to trade online made the portal amenable under the Consumer Protection Act. The commission concluded that the e-commerce portal would be liable to the consumer.


E-commerce platforms are liable for the products advertised and business solicited through their websites.

(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt. of India's National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email is

Friday, 26 June 2015

Tech touch to make Nashik's Kumbh Mela a success

  Kumbh Mela is fast approaching and the city youths are doing their bit to promote the once-in-12-years mega-religious and touristic attraction through social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Wikipedia is one such website that has been utilizing local youth to help build an accurate webpage on Nashik. Through its project 'Wiki takes Nashik', the website has decided to upload up to 5,000 pictures of Nashik that would provide a glimpse of the city to people all around the world ahead of the Mela.

Team Wikipedia had in January sought college students from the city to update information on Nashik on the backdrop of visitors seeking information about it during Kumbh. This time too, a similar event has been organized for uploading pictures about the city on the webpage. The team aims to upload 5,000 pictures by the first week of July.

Over 100 students from various colleges across the city came forward in January and uploaded correct information about the city. The information was uploaded under 18 categories including geography, history, mythology, arts and culture, agriculture, people, industry and tourism.

Abhishek Suryawanshi, ambassador and vice-president of Wikipedia, New York chapter, said, "Uploading of the pictures is the next step to give the readers the look and feel of the various aspects of the city," he said.

Suryawanshi said that Wikipedia's main page on Nashik has been viewed 11,02,481,287 times in the last 60 days since the information was uploaded. "There are at least 500 viewers daily and the traffic would only increase as the Mela nears. So it is equally important for viewers to get a feel of the festivals, places, people and the culture of Nashik," he added.

He further said that a similar activity was held in Pune as well last year which received tremendous response and the same was expected in Nashik. "We have already started receiving pictures through volunteers. We have appealed to the residents to come out in large numbers with enthusiasm and contribute in the project by donating pictures of the city," Suryawanshi said.

Speaking to TOI, he said a separate event would be held on July 3 and 4 to upload the pictures on the website. "Pictures would be uploaded on a mass scale on the two days. Personal, copyrighted and edited pictures would not be allowed. Pictures that are website compatible and clear would be preferred from the contributors," Suryawanshi said.

Similarly, a group of students in the city is busy developing websites and mobile applications to ensure a comfortable trip and stay to Nashik for millions visiting Nashik for the Mela. Students from various colleges have been roped in for what has been termed as KumbhThon, a task to develop new ideas after identifying problems that the visitors might face during the religious congregation.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Bharti buys stake in satellite company OneWeb

Bharti Enterprises, said on Thursday it has acquired a strategic minority stake in OneWeb, which is supported by a global consortium of Qualcomm, Virgin Group, Airbus, Coca-Cola, Intelsat and Grupo Salinas and aims to provide affordable internet access to all.

As one of the founding members of OneWeb, Bharti will have representation on the board of the company. The firm has received funding of $500 million from its investors and aims to build a communications network with an initial constellation of 648 low earth orbit satellites that will provide connectivity around the world.

Bharti Airtel, a Bharti group company, will be a preferred distributor of the service in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Africa, with a strong focus on rural markets.

The OneWeb User Terminals contain embedded LTE, 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi access capabilities that extend the reach of mobile operators. With more than 10 terabits per second of new capacity, the system will extend the networks of mobile operators and internet service providers to serve new coverage areas, bringing voice and data access to consumers, businesses, schools, healthcare institutions and other end-users.

"This will provide internet access to the last man, especially in rural areas, and have an astounding effect on healthcare and education," Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman, Bharti Enterprises, told TOI. He said the service could be used as a hot spot in urban areas to provide connectivity as well as address the issue of call drops. He did not elaborate on Bharti's investment in the venture.

"In India, which is on the cusp of a massive data revolution, hundreds of millions of consumers in rural areas will benefit from this initiative and it will boost the government's Digital India programme and its vision of broadband access for all. Similarly, nations across Africa will be able to fulfill their digital inclusion agenda and aid economic growth through these affordable services," he said.

Mittal said trails would be started by 2017 and services are likely to begin by 2019.

OneWeb satellites will provide high-speed connectivity to a small user terminal, which transmits broadband access through Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G and 2G to the surrounding area.

This access will operate on mobile operators' billing platform. The terminals can be optionally solar-powered and used as community access points in schools, health centres or other locations.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Seven student projects from Ahmedabad to vie for crowd funding

To help young innovators and entrepreneurs for crowd funding, Gujarat Technological University (GTU) Innovation Council (GIC) with Crowd Funding Initiator (CFI) has launched CFI 100 with support from crowd funding website Start51.

In second boot camp this summer, 17 selected teams were taken through a 10 day programme where their ideas were nurtured and mentored. On the last day of the boot-camp seven young students' project will be converted into start-ups.

From the total seven teams, two are of hardware automatization, two are of GPS based phone applications, two are web based community portals and one is a data analysis and forecasting services.

CFI is India's first boot camp dedicated to make young entrepreneurs and innovators crowd-fund ready.

Among the seven projects, PridePick by engineering student Dhruv Patel is online directory website which collates all type of contact information at one place using services via website, by calling and by SMS also.

Another project Agonmmers by Rajdeep Barad, Sonika Bhardwaj and Heena Nainwani of a city based college is a complete social media hub for gamers and developers with latest updates and online development.

NearBuy, a project by Samrat Thakkar of Kalol based college is a GPS based application that will track your location and basis of that it will give you best offers and discounts from stores nearby you.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Mobile app to report river pollution launched

The government on Tuesday launched a mobile application (Bhuvan Mobile App) and a web portal in coordination with Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) to enable people to collect and report information on various sources of river pollution.

The android-based mobile app will provide a platform for crowd sourcing to monitor pollution in the Ganga and enable decision makers to prioritize interventions.

"The first version of the application is made available for download in the Bhuvan Ganga web portal ," the ministry of water resources said.

Besides, the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of Isro to utilize the geo-spatial and crowd-sourcing technologies for pollution monitoring in Ganga.

'Bhuvan Ganga' is an exclusive web portal deployed in Isro Bhuvan's geo-portal with all geo-spatial layers related to river Ganga. It will be used as a tool to support decision making and planning for the Clean Ganga Mission.

Monday, 22 June 2015

A new curator every week ensures this Twitter handle is forever chirpy

Bengaluru has innumerable voices and bazillion perspectives, especially in the virtual space. But many a time, ideas get lost in dragging debates and annoying trolls.Making room for such myriad thoughts, a Bengaluru-specific Twitter handle - @WeAreBangalore - is rotating its curator every week, unravelling the many layers that make the city .

The handle, one of the earliest to replicate the Swedish model of rotation curation, has joined hands with various stakeholders of the city to make it a better place to live in. Recently, it ran a weeklong campaign, #ImTheChange, in partnership with Social Media Week and Bangalore traffic police to spread awareness on road safety and behaviour.

Making a difference

#ImTheChange encouraged citizens to click pictures, shoot videos and share their pledge towards road safety on social media; some members even hit the roads to spread the word.@WeAreBangalore will soon kickstart another such campaign.

Robust rotation curation is the highlight of @WeAreBangalore, which often sets the agenda for social interactions. Over 100 Bengalureans, including guest curators, have been managing the group for 89 weeks now. The handle boasts of one of the largest tweet banks, 60,000 to be precise, among similar handles from across the country.

"With a new and interesting curator monitoring the handle every week, we get to see the every week, we get to see the city from different points of view," said Tinu Cherian, one of the administrators.

"Apart from regular rotation, we've had guest curators too. For instance, dur ing fitness week we had Major DP Singh, a Kargil War veteran and blade runner as the curator. During the budget sessions, we had financial experts number-crunching on our handle. Similarly, we had experts analyzing the India-Pakistan cricket match.But they curate just for the day," said Cherian.

Taking a cue from Sweden

The concept of rotation curation originated in Sweden in 2011. The country's official Twitter account, @Swedento, is managed by a different person every week, the idea being to showcase the diversity of Sweden.Bengaluru was one of the many cities in India to lap up the concept.Jeroz Nishanth Coelho, one of two individuals behind the initiative, said once he got excited about the idea, he tried to create a handle under the name@ WeAreBangalore, but found it had been taken."I kept following the handle but there wasn't much activity. Then, along with Gaurav Jain, I started tweeting at @WeAreBangalore, requesting to work with the owner, quite unaware who the person was," says Coelho.Then, one fine day, we got a reply from @ WeAreBangalore which was controlled by Sandeep Saini. We agreed to run the handle together and here we are. Members wanting to curate can apply online but the decision rests with the administrators.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Smartphone with 10,000mAh battery in the works

Would you trade in a bit of your smartphone's lightness and thinness in return for some extra battery life? Oukitel thinks you will if prototype images spotted on the web are anything to go by.

The Chinese manufacturer is said to be working on a phone that sports a whopping 10,000mAh battery. The indications are that you could go a whole week between charges with this beast.

These leaked pictures are all we have to go on for now -- included in the title of the post is "Android 5.1" so it sounds like Google's most recent mobile OS is going to be part of the picture.

Slab test
Judging by these pictures the new Oukitel phone is very much a work in progress and there's no official confirmation from the company yet. It would be nice to at least have the option of a bulkier, longer-lasting handset.

The chunky black slab is slightly reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active but it's difficult to make out any distinctive features. Chinese outfits ZTE and Gionee have also been experimenting with bulkier battery packs.

Even if the phone does exist, it's unlikely to ever make it out of Asia -- but if it sells in decent quantities then the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google and the rest are sure to sit up and take notice.

Friday, 19 June 2015

China to allow full foreign ownership of e-commerce businesses

China will allow full foreign ownership of some e-commerce businesses, aiming to encourage foreign investment and the development and competitiveness of the industry, the ministry of Industry and Information Technology said.

The move, effective immediately, will apply to "online data handling and trade handling services", the ministry said in a statement on its website. It was not immediately clear how this would affect e-commerce companies already operating in China.

China's e-commerce industry has been booming, with companies like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Inc benefitting from a rising middle class with more disposable income.

Other players include US online retailer Inc, Vipshop Holdings Ltd and US supermarket chain Wal Mart Stores Inc, through its stake in shopping site Yihaodian.

Allowing full foreign ownership "supports our country's e-commerce development, encourages and brings in the active participation of foreign investment, and further excites market competition," the ministry said.

In recent years, the government has lent its support to the industry by keeping taxes low and loosening restrictions on cross-border trade, among other concessions.

E-commerce and the internet sector more broadly have been shining stars for Chinese industry.

Companies including Alibaba, social networking and online entertainment firm Tencent Holdings Ltd and search leader Baidu Inc account for hundreds of billions of dollars in stock market capitalization.

Their success comes as the world's second-largest economy grows at its slowest pace in three decades and Beijing looks to catalyze a shift away from a dependence on manufacturing and towards higher-value services.

Reliance Jio denies chat app sends unsecured data

A group of hackers has claimed that Reliance Jio Infocomm's (RJIL's) mobile messaging app Jio Chat transmits users' data in unsecured form to servers located in China, a charge denied by the company.

"We took apart Reliance Jio app and found they are using Chinese geolocation mapping service. It shows that Reliance is using a geolocation which is China-based service," said AnonOpsIndia, a twitter account claiming to represent a group of hackers. "There is no encryption between the person using Jio chat app and Chinese company amap. Hence, it makes it lot easier for the Chinese hackers to snoop over your data," AnonOpsIndia tweeted. agencies

RJIL, however, termed it "unfounded and malicious allegations".

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Microsoft strengthens startup programme

Microsoft Ventures, which runs one of the leading startup accelerator programmes in India, has launched a new corporate engagement initiative.

Called Innovation for Corporates (ICI), the programme aims to help corporates build deeper engagements with upcoming startups in India.

"We have been working with various corporates for years to help them address their business problems with innovations from startups. We are now institutionalizing these efforts under ICI and we expect this will help us scale up and help even more businesses," Ravi Narayan, director of Microsoft Ventures in India, said at a press conference on the occasion of the company's annual conclave of startups, Think Next.

Microsoft also announced a partnership with Brand Capital, the strategic investment arm of Bennett, Coleman & Co (Times of India Group), under which the latter will provide necessary resources for entrepreneurs to build their brand, including an investment of Rs 1 crore in marketing funds for the Microsoft-accelerated startups.

Under ICI, there will be three programmes - the Market Access Programme, which seeks to bring startups and enterprise businesses together, the Partner in Acceleration Programme, which allows corporates to leverage Microsoft Ventures' resources and network, and the High Performance Programme, which will work with startups nominated by corporates and build them into stronger businesses.

Microsoft Ventures has previously partnered with Reliance Industries and Nasscom for startup acceleration programmes. "Our partnership with Microsoft has been very successful. We have been able to mentor the startups and help them gain traction very fast," said Vivek Rai Gupta, part of the Reliance-Microsoft accelerator programme GenNext Innovation Hub.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

E-com portals to file tax returns every quarter

In a first for the city, Delhi government's Value Added Tax department has decided to bring all big and small players on e-commerce platforms under the scanner to check evasion of tax.

A notification is under way to make it mandatory for all online portals like Flipkart and Snapdeal to file tax returns quarterly. All dealers operating through these platforms will also be expected to file their returns. Failure to do so will evoke action.

The department has prepared a detailed set of guidelines on the process to be followed for all online portals and even the dealers transacting through them.

"The Delhi Value Added Tax Act gives us the power to ask everyone doing trade of taxable goods to file their returns. We are citing Section 70 of the Act which empowers to bring in a notification for this purpose. This will also enable us to identify the dealers registered with the VAT department and operating on these platforms. This will eventually ensure that the non-registered dealers also comply and register with the department," VAT commissioner, Sanjeev Khirwar said.

The dealers will be expected to declare their details with regards to transactions executed through these portals both in Delhi and outside.

Khirwar said the notification can be expected in a day or two. "We will later check the data of registered dealers who are also selling and purchasing through online portals to check for any discrepancy in their statements filed as part of the tax returns," he said.

States like Karnataka, Kerala and Rajasthan too have been working on bringing e-commerce operators under the scanner by way of compulsory filing of returns. With Delhi ready to notify the process, the department is hopeful that this will be a step to check tax evasion by dealers.

In 2014, the VAT department had started an exercise to scan the transaction records of big online portals as part of a drive to check bogus dealers from misusing the e-commerce platform. The government had also asked registered dealers operating on online portals to submit their tax declarations for the past two financial years.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

IT-geek constable’s crime fighting tools go national

Dilip Thakor, 38, a constable with Ahmedabad police, first saw a computer 1997 when each of the district headquarters were allotted one PC each. Most policemen were perplexed by the machine but Thakor, a diploma in diesel mechanics, began to explore the computer on his own.

On seeing his keen interest, his seniors enrolled him for private coaching in computers. The investment paid off. Over years, Thakor has developed more than a dozen software aimed at enhancing police efficiency in crime prevention and detection.

His best work Pinac and Eklavya will be demonstrated to senior cops from across India at the two-day national seminar beginning Thursday organized at Hyderabad by the National Police Academy (NPA) on 'IT applications in Indian Police'. "Besides Hyderabad, the software will also be demonstrated to senior police officers in BPR&D, New Delhi and," said Deepan Bhadran, DCP (crime), Ahmedabad.

Pinac can be used to search a database for criminals' records while Eklavya is used to check for vehicle information. Crime branch officials say police of other states have already shown interest in the software.

Rated one of the best police applications by experts of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) in Bhopal, Pinac has helped in over 200 detections. In December 2014, the software helped nab Paresh Jani, a conman, who duped senior citizens. Jani used to move around in expensive SUV and identified himself as a builder in need of some money. After a complaint, police ran a search on his modus operandi and found a match in Jani, involved in 12 cases. The victim also identified him from the photograph shown. On the basis of the information, crime branch caught Jani in a few days.

Eklavya, too, has played a significant role in the 100% increase (from 17% to 35%) in detection of vehicle theft in Ahmedabad city. Both softwares have been implemented by police in Gujarat's major cities. Digitization of records for access via the software is also underway.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Amazon gets warning from EU antitrust commissioner

Europe's anti-trust chief warned Amazon against using its dominance to thwart rivals, a week after launching an investigation into the US online retailer's e-book deals with publishers.

European Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager announced last week she would examine whether clauses in Amazon's contracts prevent publishers from offering more favourable deals to competitors.

E-books are a fast-growing industry and Amazon, which popularised the product, is Europe's biggest player. However, it should not abuse its market dominance, Vestager said.

"Amazon should not use its strong position to close the door behind it and prevent companies with new ideas from contesting the market," she told a conference.

The company could be fined up to 10% of its global turnover if found guilty of breaching EU rules.

The investigation is one of two against Amazon. It is also in the European Commission's crosshairs for deals with Luxembourg which allow it to pay extremely low taxes.

The EU competition authority is investigating whether the case gives Amazon an unfair advantage.

Vestager also said she was wary of too many mergers in the telecoms sector, warning that consumers could end up with higher bills and less innovative companies.

"Incumbent operators argue that if they cannot merge with their rivals in the same country they will be unable to increase their investment. I've heard this claim quite often, but I have not seen evidence that this is the case," she said.

"Instead, there is ample evidence that excessive consolidation may lead not only to less competition and more expensive bills for consumers, but that it also reduces the incentives in national markets to innovate."

Vestager's comments come as she scrutinizes a proposal by Norwegian telecoms company Telenor and Swedish peer TeliaSonera to combine their Danish mobile businesses.

She has already expressed concerns the deal may lead to higher prices.

A bigger deal is expected to land on her desk in the coming months: Hutchison Whampoa's bid to become Britain's biggest operator by buying Telefonica's British business, O2 UK, for 10.3 billion pounds ($16 billion).

Amsterdam to get 3D-printed bridge

Will you dare to cross a deep canal on a "printed" bridge? You may get a chance to try that soon.

A 3D printing company based in Amsterdam has developed a revolutionary robotic 3D printer that can 'draw' structures in the air. The developers are now planning to build a bridge over a canal in the city, CNET reported.

We research and develop ground-breaking, cost-effective robotic technology with which we can 3D print beautiful, functional objects in almost any form," wrote the firm MX3D on the project web page.

Printing an intricate, ornate metal bridge for a special location to show what our robots and software, engineers, craftsmen and designers can do." The bridge will be designed by artist and designer Joris Laarman, who helped develop the robotic 3D printer that combined the MX3D-Resin with a welder to be able to "draw" fast-setting metal structures.

In this technique, small increments of molten metal are welded to the existing structure, creating lines of steel and the same is used to print the bridge out of steel. By printing multiple lines, the printer will be able to create a strong, complex structure that spans the canal - printing its own supports along the way so that it can operate autonomously. The construction of the bridge is scheduled to begin in September this year. ians

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Govt to revamp sourcing, testing of telecom gear

The government is looking at a major overhaul of telecom equipment sourcing and testing in India as it fears that unfettered supplies from foreign vendors, including Chinese companies, are making the system susceptible to spyware and malware from unfriendly countries and anti-national activists.

A Cabinet note is under preparation to work out standards and order in-country testing of critical telecom equipment as these have the potential to become easy conduits for spying and leakage of information, official sources told TOI.

India imported telecom equipment, including electronic devices, to the tune of nearly Rs 70,000 crore in 2013-14 (Rs 57,000 crore in 2012-13). Alarmingly, a little over 60% of these imports emanated from China.

Apart from the various electronic devices that make their way from the dragon land, Chinese vendors such as Huawei and ZTE also sell crucial telecom equipment in India. Other foreign players that supply sophisticated telecom equipment include Sweden's Ericsson and Finland's Nokia Networks.

Recognizing potential threats to national security due to any breach into the sensitive networks, the government has already issued various amendments to telecom licences, mandating that operators need to procure equipment which has been tested according to relevant Indian or international security standards in any accredited lab.

However, India is still to develop concrete standards, procedures and tools for testing the equipment. The government has set up a pilot lab at IISc, Bengaluru even as a group of officers is preparing the processes and systems for security certification and testing of telecom equipment and accrediting the certification and test labs.

With huge delays in laying out the contours for such testing, the government is also understood to have extended by a year its proposal to have all the certification done by local agencies and labs from April this year. Once the testing standards and tools are put in place, the government intends to even allow private sector players to set up certification labs. A note to this effect will also be presented before the Union Cabinet, the sources said.

Telecom operators are currently free to purchase equipment from vendors across the world. However,

operators have been made responsible for ensuring security of their respective networks. They have to ensure measures like network forensics and conduct network penetration tests to ascertain robustness of security apparatus. Also, they have to conduct an audit of their security preparedness once a year.

The current norms stipulate the operators to inform the government immediately in case they monitor intrusions, attacks and any frauds across any wing of their network. The government has mandated a penalty of Rs 50 crore for any security breach that has been caused due to inadvertent inadequacies in precaution on the part of the operator.

Apart from security threats, the government also feels that domestic manufacturing of equipment will lead to creation of jobs and prevent a huge outflow of foreign currency from the country. Also, it is felt that technical knowledge and IPR creation will also have a spill-over effect on other allied industries.

The government has already announced a host of incentives to promote local manufacturing as it looks to create electronic manufacturing hubs across the country.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Reliance Jio internet plans to cost Rs 300-500 a month

Reliance Industries (RIL) will start commercial operations of its much-awaited telecom services in December, offering a 4G smartphone for as low as Rs 4,000 and a monthly bill of Rs 300-500, its chairman Mukesh Ambani said.
Reliance Jio Infocomm, the firm's telecom arm, is testing network with a 'beta launch' due over the next few months and commercial operations around December.
Our plan is to provide the same power of computing, communication and information to every individual, whether in towns or rural areas, that the US president had 10-15 years ago. All this at about Rs 300-500 per month," he said during his over-an-hour long speech, a third of which was devoted to Jio.
Looking to tap the surging voice and data demand, Ambani said the 4G-enabled smartphone in India will be priced below Rs 4,000 by December.
Ambani's re-entry into the telecom business nearly a decade after Dhirubhai Ambani's Reliance empire was split and the communication business went to younger sibling Anil, will include offering voice and high-speed data services such as viewing HD television.
The company also plans to launch many software applications for providing news and entertainment services to its telecom services users, he added.
Targeting 100% national coverage within the next three years, Ambani said Reliance Jio has applied for a pan-India cable television multi-system operator (MSO) licence and plans to enter into broadcast TV distribution.
Besides, it has partnered with the State Bank of India to apply for a payments bank licence.

Get a song, painting from online custom art store in Mangaluru

Want to express your love to your loved one, but can't croon? or rather gift a painting which is unique. No sweat. This online market store for custom art will help you.

Welcome to, which combines art and technology innovatively, to help people own their copy of a quality art including paint, a sketch and a song at very affordable price. Already the e-commerce site is already six songs and a couple of paintings old.

This is a novel attempt by lads from remote part of Dakshina Kannada District at Sullia. The venture launched couple of days back after payment gateway integration is all set to help.

Shreemukha, 21, founder/CEO of the venture claims this is the world's first online store where one can shop for custom art, be it music, painting or sketch art. Till now, e-commerce sites gave you readymade products. We will give you customised readymade product.

He says: We did not get a stage, so we created our own. The idea was basically to synergise art and technology since I had friends around me good in arts.

For those interested in getting customised song, the process is simple. All one needs to do is upload a small description about the person or the subject of the song. If the song is to dedicate for someone the description can include name, language, mood, memories shared etc. Buttistore in house artistes will compose the poem, make the music, sing and studio record it and deliver it in a fortnight.

As on today the team consists of the CEO, Keerthi Sathya (Music Composer), Shabari Y Ganiga (Singer / Artist), Nagendra Nayak (Singer) and Melrick D'Souza (Singer / Voice over artist). The team is on the verge of expansion with Shreemukha inviting singers for auditions on social media.

Buttistore is conscious about copyright issues, hence that would be kept in mind during composition of lyrics and music, notes Shreemukha. Music recordings are done at professional studios in Mangaluru.

"Our products are quality-assured. If the customer is not satisfied there's a refund policy also in place," adds Shreemukha.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Terror tweet, threatening to blow up Mumbai's 5 start hotel, traced to Chennai

The city police have traced the origin of a terror tweet, sent to two five star hotels in Chennai and Mumbai, in Chennai. The suspect, a 22-year-old Business Administration graduate, had on March 30 this year tweeted, "the hotel deserves to be bombed". The Chennai police have been informed about the suspect for further action.

The tweet was tagged to a hotel in Chennai and a south Mumbai hotel. "After getting information we started working on the case. A team of cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) from Mumbai went to Chennai and traced the suspect. We have informed the Chennai police and they will take further action," said KMM Prasanna, additional police commissioner. The tweet handle, Abhinav@AssistingMessi, created in 2013 was found to be responsible for the terror post. The hotels had informed several security agencies including the intelligence bureau (IB), however, it was the Mumbai CCIC that first cracked the case. During investigation, police requested the twitter to delete the objectionable post, block the handle and scan its earlier activities. "The service provider sent us a list of dynamic internet protocol (IP) addresses. It was difficult to get the right persons who had tweeted this. However, when we studied the dynamic IP, we found same handle was used everywhere. Our team reached the sender's home in Roypettha, Chennai. The youth, Abhinav G, admitted his crime and stated that he had done this for fun. He further told us that he was chatting to someone else through twitter and during that he had sent this," an officer added.

"He told us that he was searching on the internet and found the email addresses of the two hotels and information about them. We have submitted investigation related documents to the assistant commissioner of police, Range Gunday division in Chennai. Email accounts and conversations of Abhinav, only child of his parents, were also scanned to establish his credentials.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

WhatsApp helpline gets 300 complaints on Day 1

The traffic helpline set up by the Noida traffic police on messaging application WhatsApp received over 300 complaints and suggestions on Tuesday, a day after its launch.

According to officials, most of the messages on the helpline, which is being monitored by SP (traffic), were congratulatory ones appreciating the initiative, but some also highlighted issues on city roads.

R N Mishra, SP (traffic), said, "Some commuters informed us about a traffic jam at the Gijhor crossing in Sector 53. We also got messages about inoperative traffic signals in Sector 76-50. We sent our officials to ease the problem once we got the messages."

Some residents also sent in suggestions for the traffic police. One such message posted on the traffic helpline read, "The traffic police should regulate autos in the city. People alight from the right side of the auto, which can be dangerous. The traffic police should ensure its enforcement."

Enforcement officials said they would classify messages into three categories - complaints, suggestions and comments. "Issues like traffic jams and inoperative traffic lights will be addressed on a priority basis," said the SP (traffic).

Monday, 8 June 2015

With native apps, Apple Watch tries to step away from iPhone

Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook announced on Monday an update to the operating system for its Watch that should make apps for its latest gadget speedier and help untether it from the iPhone.Cook said that so-called "native" apps will be coming for the Watch and was among the big news in the early part of his address at an annual developers conference.
Like other Apple products, the Watch's commercial success will likely hinge on a compelling collection of apps. But early apps for the timepiece have been tethered to the iPhone, placing some limits on what developers could do.
The expanded software kit should lead to better and faster watch apps, said Bob O'Donnell, an analyst at TECHnalysis Research, in an interview before the event.
at the event. The company behind the iPod and iTunes has long been a leader in digital music, but it has lost ground in recent years as subscription services such as Spotify have caught on with consumers.

Analyst Van Baker of Gartner said he expects Apple to release a new service to win a bigger share of the streaming business.

"This is catch-up for Apple," he said.

An Apple spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company also unveiled new details about its Apple Pay service, saying it was already supported by more than 2,500 banks and will surpass 1 million locations accepting it next month. In addition, the company said it would roll out the service to the United Kingdom next month.

Apple Inc shares were down about 1% at $127.48 in early afternoon trading as Cook and others spoke.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Google won't charge transaction fee for Android Pay: Report

Google's new mobile phone payment service, Android Pay, will not garner any transaction fees from credit card companies, which may put pressure on competitor Apple to drop or lower its charges, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Apple Pay, which launched last year, reached deals with big banks and other credit card issuers to receive 0.15% of the value of each credit card transaction, the journal said on Friday. Apple collects a half-cent per purchase on bank debit cards, it said.

Google's service will not receive any fees for the transactions, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation. It said Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc have made their "tokenization" card-security service free, which prevents payments services from charging fees to issuers.

"There is one agreement with Visa and the banks can have confidence that there are no pass-through fees," Visa President Ryan McInerney told the newspaper.

The Wall Street Journal said the rules may prompt changes in Apple's mobile phone payment deal with banks. It said some banks are not happy about sharing fees and could try to use Google's arrangement to effect changes in Apple's deals.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Two for the price of one

A few years ago, tablets were touted as notebook killers, but over time, the need for a keyboard was acutely felt. Tablets became consumption devices, used primarily for checking e-mail, browsing the web, playing games and to watch movies. While for productivity: typing documents, working with spreadsheets and presentations, or even replying to long e-mails, people still turned to their laptops and the comfort of a physical Qwerty keyboard. But with the launch of Windows 8 - an OS that combines a touch interface with the familiarity of a desktoplaptop computer - twoin-one devices began making an appearance.

These hybrids comprise a detachable touchscreen that can be used as a slate, and a docking keyboard for whenever you need to type. With the advancements in hardware, these two-in-ones are available at budget prices. You can get almost all your basic productivity tasks done, and these hybrids also work for watching Full HD movies every now and then.

More importantly, if you're looking for a portable gadget to carry along on trips, these two-in-ones strike the best balance between both form factors...


The Lenovo Miix 3 is a sleek two-in-one, with an aluminium body and slim-line keyboard dock that gives it a very elegant ThinkPadlike appearance.

It is the only two-in-one here that sports a Full HD display; colours appear punchy and vibrant. However, the glossy screen is highly reflective and a big distraction.

The dock is not as secure as the Acer One. Using it on an incline or moving it suddenly could cause the tablet to dislodge from the keyboard, but this is not exactly a deal breaker. The device still feels robust.

The Miix 3 comes with a good webcam. Image quality is on the warmer side and the captures in video calls are much better than the Micromax LapTab and Acer One.

This device also scores high on ergonom ics. The dock has two slim USB 2.0 ports that expand to accept a pen drive. Moreover, its smaller keyboard is very comfortable to work on. The keys are proportionately down sized and evenly spaced. Unlike the Acer One's haphazard placement of special keys, this one sticks to the standard positions.

The Miix 3's Full HD display tends to drain the battery . At best, we were able to eke out around six hours of mixed use from this device.

SPECS: 10.1-inch (1920x1200px) IPS touchscreen | 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 32GB (flash), microSD, USB OTG | 2MP webcam | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro HDMI, (2x) USB 2.0 | 6800mAh battery


When taken individually, the LapTab's tablet and dock are solidly built, and with a metallic finish. But when combined, the former attaches itself rather lightly on the latter's magnetic dock, and you stand the chance of dropping either if you do not hold them both when moving the device around. Also, unlike the other two-in-ones here, the tablet can only be docked with its screen facing the keyboard.

As far as ergonomics are concerned, the Qwerty keys on the LapTab's dock are smaller than what you would find on a similar-sized netbook, although they feel springy allow ing you to touch type once you get accustomed to it. What we didn't like, however, is that the charging port sits at the top edge of the screen making it slightly inconvenient to use when docked.

Noticeably missing from the LapTab is an HDMI port, but this is not a deal breaker.

Camera captures during video chats appear washed out when compared to the output of the Lenovo Miix 3, but it is definitely better than what we saw on the Acer One.

On the positive side, it's the only two-in-one that comes with a 3G SIM slot for on-the-go connectivity, and gave us around 6.5 hours on a single charge.

As another plus, the Micromax Canvas LapTab comes with Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 productivity suite.

SPECS: 10.1-inch (1280x800px) IPS touchscreen | 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 32GB (flash), microSD, USB OTG | 2MP front & rear camera | Wi-Fi, 3G SIM, Bluetooth, USB 2.0 | 7700 mAh battery


If most of your laptop use revolves around the in ternet - sending e-mails, browsing the web, social networking, video chats and using cloud-based apps - then you might want to try out the Xolo Chromebook.What you get is a sturdily-built, but understated machine with a good keyboard that belies its budget pricing. The device is equipped with a 16GB flash drive for storage, and boots up in under 10 seconds. For extra storage, it also has a microSD card slot, and can connect to external hard drives via its two USB 2.0 ports.

Out of the box, the Xolo Chromebook supports popular audio and video file formats including AVI, MOV , MP4, MP3, MKV , OGG and WAV . It handles most Full HD videos without a problem, though you would still need to use headphones or external speakers for better sound.

The fact remains, you need a robust internet connection for this device to be of practical use. You can use apps like Gmail Offline and Google Docs when the computer is not connected to the internet. But to sync your updated files and inbox, you will need an internet connection. That said, this device also works well to edit photos and images, using cloud-based utilities - and you can also find a whole bunch of apps, services and games (including those that work in offline mode) on the Google Chrome Store.

Still, for a computer that is so heavily dependent on the internet, we would have preferred if this machine came with an RJ45 port for a wired internet connection andor a 3G SIM slot.

SPECS: 11.6-inch (1366x768px) display | 1.8GHz Rockchip RK3288 quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 16GB (flash), microSD | 1MP webcam | 4200mAh | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, (2x)USB 2.0 | Chrome OS

NOTE: All the two-in-ones in this review are evenly specced to run casual games and Full HD videos. Heavy-duty imageand video-editing apps, however, could pose a problem. Also, you will need external speakers or earphones for better audio quality. On the flip side, these machines support USB on-the-go (OTG) that lets you connect a pen drive directly to the tablet's microUSB port for direct file transfer. And you also get full access to apps in the Microsoft Windows store.


The Acer One looks chunky and plasticky when compared to the other twoin-ones here, but it is sturdy to hold and use.The device feels extremely secure when docked with keyboard. The connectors are robust and the link is strong enou robust and the link is strong enough to be safely used on the lap or an incline.And you can also dock the tablet with its screen facing outwards, snap it close and carry it about.

While its touchscreen is bright, it suffers from poor viewing angles. This 2-in-1 comes with two cameras. However, its VGA webcam is quite unfit for video conferencing. If you plan to use your hybrid for lots of video calls, this is a deal breaker.

Also, the Acer One's keyboard takes some time getting used to. For some strange reason, the `M' key has been made narrower than the rest, and the position of a few other keys have been changed. This could affect touch typists.

When it comes to battery, you can expect to get around six hours of use on a single charge.

Still, this is the only two-in-one that comes with a 500GB hard drive in its keyboard dock, apart from the flash storage and microSD slot on the tablet.

SPECS: 10.1-inch (1280x800px) IPS touchscreen | 1.3GHz Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor | 2GB RAM | 32GB (flash), 500GB hard drive (in keyboard), microSD, USB OTG | 0.3MP webcam, 2MP rear camera | Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, micro HDMI, USB 2.0 | 5700 mAh battery

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Most don't know how to exit the chakravyuh: Ravi Narayan

Microsoft Ventures has played a leading role in India's startup eco-system with the accelerator programme it started in 2012. Its managing director, Ravi Narayan, has been a successful entrepreneur and investor.

Your programme has now had six batches of startups. Do you see the profile of entrepreneurs changing from the time you started?

More people with matured careers are coming now. They are a lot surer of themselves. There is a lot of hype about students directly coming out of IITs and IIMs to become entrepreneurs. It is not something that should be hyped up. If they have the talent, let them do it. But it should be more an exception than a rule. If you want to take an entrepreneurial risk early in your career, that is fine. But not everybody is a Mark Zuckerberg. It could be that you are completely unencumbered by what is around you, could have fresh thinking, a new perspective, but on the other side, you could have no clue how a product should be built, you may not know how to negotiate a contract, you may not know how to manage a team. There should be a happy balance. India is a very unorganized market and you need organizational skills.

Do you have Rahul Yadav in mind when you say this (Yadav, a student at IIT when he co-founded Housing, recently had run-ins with his investors and others)?

No I don't. It's just a general comment. Everybody has a right place and a right time to found ventures. Some people find it early. But if somebody is not ready, they should not be encouraged to take that path.

You have spoken about startups being stuck in an Abhimanyu chakravyuh, unable to get out. Can you explain what exactly you mean?

Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley invariably have a clear exit strategy - like who is a potential acquirer or how will an IPO take place. Any investor will want to know, if I put in money, when will I get it back. In India, when investors ask this question, earlier entrepreneurs would be shy about answering it. Now, they will say, if I build this, such-and-such company could acquire me. The investor will then usually ask, is acquisition your exit strategy. Then they will say, "No, no, I can also go for an IPO." There is no clear answer or perspective to this. So they will have two slides, one for the acquisition exit strategy and one for an IPO. Depending on what they think the investors want, they will swap it. An investor asks only to know whether the founders have thought through this properly till exit.

You don't see growth and profitability as an option to get out of the Chakravyuh?

Like Zoho, for instance, is trying to do.

In that case you should not take money from VCs. VCs have a time-bound contract to their capital providers; they have to return the principal plus something. That is why this is highly risky as well as rewarding. And there is never nirvana. If you raise seed money, you have to look for Series A, and then Series B, and after many rounds of fund raising, you look for an IPO; and then you have to look at the results every quarter.

How feasible is an IPO as an exit strategy?

IPOs are beginning to take off in Silicon Valley. But generally, you have to be an Unicorn (billion dollar in valuation) to go IPO.

Do you favour the idea of a separate exchange for startups?

These have been attempted several times around the world, but none have really succeeded, barring in London. They impose certain levels of compliance that startups may not be up to. The concept has to be really thought through, especially the compliance requirements, before it is introduced.

How do you see other elements of maturity in Indian startups?

There was a time when entrepreneurs started ventures without even thinking about who the customers could be. Now, some of them have IP, they have customers, have good talent, they know they can be acquired by global companies. But the other side is, many are still not clear what acquirers value. Companies who acquire may only want the IP, or only the talent, or only the customers. They might want only one thing or a small piece of one thing. But the entrepreneurs think, we have all of these, why don't they value everything. The startups should know precisely what is the value they are creating and for whom.

Would you recommend building products for the global market or the Indian market?

The opportunities in India are huge. It is better to build the product here in India, test it here, and then try to go global like Zomato did. Your value proposition will go up. I foresee tech unicorns--beyond e-commerce--in the next few years from India.

How focussed is Satya Nadella (Microsoft CEO) on the startup accelerator initiative?

Early in his job, Nadella came to the Valley and held discussions with VCs. He asked what we should be doing differently at Microsoft and the VCs gave him feedback. These VCs have a fair understanding of how the global markets are changing. That is also one of the reasons why we are establishing a Valley office now. This will give us a chance to engage deeper with VCs as we evolve and make internal decisions based on that.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Tech Mahindra forecasts Rs 3,100 crore digital revenue for 2015

Tech Mahindra, India's fifth largest IT services company, expects digital revenue to cross $500 million (about Rs 3,100 crore) by the end of 2015, helping the company move towards its $5 billion topline target.

TechM's had assumed that a tenth of that would come from new digital technologies, but growth has exceeded expectations. 'Digital is growing faster than we had anticipated and faster than the rest of the business," TechM chief executive officer CP Gurnani told ET. "We will end the year with much more than $500 million in digital revenue."

Typically, IT firms include revenue from analytics, cloud and social media-based services and mobility solutions in their overall digital sales. Tech Mahindra's digital unit, however, also includes technologies related to network, security and sensors that comprise the Internet-of-Things, an idea of connecting almost everything online. The company uses the acronym NMACS for these technologies that comprise its digital offerings.

The company has over 2,500 people trained in digital specializations and over 200 consultants. The unit is augmented by TechM's overall workforce, which is about 100,000 people.

"Digital has to grow faster because that is where there is demand," an analyst with a Mumbai-based brokerage said on condition of anonymity. "But for IT firms to grow at their previous levels, the contribution of digital has to go much higher. For some of the US outsourcers, it is reaching 20% of revenue."

Digital is expected to be the saving grace for Indian IT players, who are facing pricing pressure in their traditional businesses. The segment is growing fast, as companies look to spend more on digital while cutting back on their existing contracts.

The National Association for Software and Services Companies has said 12-14% of the industry's revenues came from digital offerings in FY15, a proportion that is expected to rise. In its latest financial year, Accenture's revenue from digital was about $5 billion, roughly 17% of its overall revenue.

Among the Indian IT companies, Tech Mahindra is one of the few to disclose overall digital revenue. Cognizant, the second-largest India-centric IT firm by revenue, said it generated $500 million in revenue from SMAC in 2013, after that the company stopped breaking out its digital revenue.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Govt may order telcos to compensate users for call drops

Frustrated by frequent call drops in the middle of conversations? You may soon be reimbursed money for the inconvenience. The government is looking to order operators to return the money charged for the dropped calls or throw in extra airtime to compensate for deficient services.

Call drops have been a recurring irritant for Indian mobile phone users, who have emerged as the world's second-biggest market, behind only China. While low call rates and fast adoption of internet on mobile have marked the journey of the Indian phone market, service quality has been deteriorating over the years.

"The idea is to ensure that a customer is not made to pay for a deficiency on the part of an operator," a key official in the telecom ministry told TOI. The ministry is "working aggressively" on the issue, especially as call drops have become a regular phenomenon in choked networks of metros, the official added.

"I would be a millionaire if I am reimbursed money for dropped calls by my operator," Vishnu Mathur, a harried mobile customer who lives in east Delhi said when told about the impending proposal.

Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has been raising the issue of call drops time and again. "Call drops need to be minimized. Private operators need to reinforce their mechanism. I have directed officials in the telecom department to work on a disincentive architecture (for the operators) to address the issue," Prasad said while speaking at a conference on completion of one year of the NDA government.

The official source said the ministry also plans to rope in sectoral regulator Trai on the issue. "We plan to find a solution soon. It could be as early as the next six months," the source said, without giving further details. Surprisingly, Trai's customer satisfaction survey related to mobile services has failed to recognize the issue of call drops and poor broadband connectivity.

However, experts say that tackling the issue by making operators pay for it may not be easy. "There needs to be a mechanism in place to recognize when a call is dropped due to network issues. Also, there should be a way to confirm this so that the customer is aware of the deficiency," a telecom industry expert said.

An official of a leading mobile operator said that the companies can incorporate a mechanism to measure the rate and number of call drops. "It can be configured into the network. However, this will be done only if there is a regulation on the same," the official said, requesting anonymity.

Mobile operators blame the lack of adequate spectrum and problems related to erection of mobile towers for the growing network congestion and call drops. "We face a stiff resistance in installation of mobile towers. Also, we need more spectrum to handle the additional traffic on mobile networks," Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said.

However, some operators have decided to recognize the issue, albeit quietly, and are compensating customers for dropped calls. Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications doesn't charge a customer for the outgoing mobile pulse where the call gets disconnected due to network problems. Similarly, Uninor gives a minute of free talk time within 24 hours for disconnections during a call.

Monday, 1 June 2015

New irritant in H-1B visas for IT companies

A new ruling by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) requires employers of H-1B visa holders to file a fresh Labour Condition Application (LCA) if the employee is moved to a worksite in a different city.

The USCIS has also issued a 90-day guideline to employers to comply with the decision and if the amended petition is not filed before August 19 for those who have already moved workers, USCIS could revoke the H-1B worker status or deny request for extension.

An employer of the H-1B applicant is required to submit an LCA to the US Department of Labour well in advance of the intended start date of employment. The LCA, once certified, is to be included in support of the H-1B application. The LCA needs to identify , among other things, the intended places of employment.

Vikram Shroff, head of the HR Law practice at law firm Nishith Desai Associates, said that with the new ruling, the US government has clarified its stand that a proposed change to the place of employment (a place which was not mentioned in the original application documentation) will require the employer to file a new LCA along with an amended H-1B petition."While the exceptions may provide some relief, this ruling is likely to affect employee mobility under the H-1B visa regime by reducing flexibility to move employees to different locations or client projects in quick time," he said.

The exceptions include moves to other cities for up to five days for things like conferences, and shortterm placements of up to 30 days in a year.

Rakesh Prabhu, partner immigration practice in ALMT Legal, said the order does not come as a surprise."Change in the location of an employment, than what has been indicated in the existing LCA, will certainly amount to 'material change'. So an amended or a new H-1B petition (along with LCA) needs to be submitted by the employer."