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Orissa Techies Invent Cheapest 3G-based Data Card
BlackBerry Says India Can't Access Encrypted Data
Buoyant IT Industry Rebounds but Remains Cautious
WIPRO: Rs 240M Tax Case
TATA CONSULTANCY: Architectural Sizzle
SATYAM: Internet in Jail
Mobile Verification
NOKIA: Biz Mobility
Leadership Training

Orissa Techies Invent Cheapest 3G-based Data Card

The 3G device market seems to be hotting up with the latest and cheapest offer from iWEBLEAF, a city based company launched by two young Oriyas, who just completed B.Tech from the Techno School under Biju Patnaik University of Technology this year.

They are all set to offer 3G data card (USB modem) at an unbelievable price tag of Rs. 1,300, at least for the time being.

Chandrasekhar Panda and Saswat Swain have designed the first ever 3G technology-based data card that provides high speed Internet at a very low cost. The Wi-Fi and 3G enabled data card is designed to work on the spectrum of any telecom operator providing high speed Internet service all the time.

This invention is expected to be a major breakthrough in providing mobile broadband connectivity as the biggest challenge in India today is to provide broadband in rural villages and remote areas of the country.

“Our goal is to drive a 'highway' of high-speed internet uniting 410 rural regions, where private telecom companies do not develop broadband internet infrastructure due to low demand,” Swain said.

By using only 3 to 4 data cards, an entire village with around 150 families can be provided Internet connectivity with a net spending of just Rs. 900 per month. Similarly, an urban user will get high speed Internet at just Rs 99 per month.

Interestingly, by using this data card, a person can get to view more than 150 television channels, free of cost without using any television tuner or additional gadgets.

The twin inventor’s problem is that their innovation is yet to be recognized by the state government. “We are unable to go for commercial production of the device as it requires at least Rs 2 crores, which we just can’t dream of. Currently we are talking with Future Group,” Swain said.


BlackBerry Says India Can't Access Encrypted Data

Denying reports that it has agreed to allow access to its encrypted corporate data to Indian authorities, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has said unscrambling encrypted email on its devices is simply not “technologically feasible.”

India has been seeking access to all encrypted communications as the terrorists involved the 2008 Mumbai attack communicated with their handlers by using sophisticated technology. It wants the Canadian company to install a server in India to monitor this service.

However, RIM, which has got two reprieves since August and assured a solution by January 31, is not willing to compromise on the privacy of this encrypted service which has made its smart phones a darling of businesses.

Reacting to the report from New Delhi that it has agreed to installation of a network data analysis system in India to let security agencies check secure BlackBerry data, RIM said it is “inaccurate and misleading.”

The report conveys the impression as if it is “somehow enabling access to data” transmitted through its business server system, RIM said.

“This is both false and technologically infeasible,” it said. This so-called “network data analysis system” is just a tool required to allow carriers in India to provide lawful access to its consumer services, including its instant messaging service, RIM was quoted as saying.


Buoyant IT Industry Rebounds but Remains Cautious

Recovering from the global tech meltdown, the resilient Indian IT industry returned to high growth during a tumultuous 2010 but is cautiously optimistic about 2011 in view of the economic uncertainty in Europe and the U.S., which accounts for 80-85 percent of its export revenue from software services and back office operations.

"Though 2010 has been a good year for our IT industry with a healthy growth, we are entering the new year with cautious optimism as clouds of uncertainty hang over Europe and to an extent the U.S. due to less than expected recovery from the great recession," Infosys Technologies chief executive S. Gopalakrishnan said.

Putting behind fiscal 2009-10 as a year of downturn, when annual growth plunged to six percent after a scorching cumulative growth of 25-30 percent during the previous four years, the industry returned to double-digit growth in this fiscal (2010-11), thanks to renewed investments by global firms across verticals in IT infrastructure, software and back office services.

"We have seen growth returning and business coming back because of transformational needs of our global customers and changing business models favoring more outsourcing and off-shoring of IT services and solutions we deliver cost-effectively," industry body Nasscom president Som Mittal said.

With the worst behind and the industry on the recovery path, Nasscom has projected $56-57 billion or 13-15 percent year-on-year growth from exports and Rs 768 billion or 15-17 percent YoY growth in domestic market this fiscal (2010-11).

"With growth surpassing our expectations during the first half, we will be revising the outlook for this fiscal after the third quarter (Oct-Dec) results, factoring the anticipated growth in the fourth quarter (Jan-March)," Mittal said.


WIPRO: Rs 240M Tax Case

IT bellwether Wipro Limited deposited Rs 240 million with the state commercial tax department in compliance with a Karnataka High Court directive, a company official said.

"We have deposited the amount as directed by the court but we look forward to an early solution to the issue of double taxation on goods and services," Wipro senior vice president P.V. Srinivasan told the media in Bangalore.

The global software giant is of the view that when it is paying 10.3 percent towards service tax on the export of goods and services, levying an additional four percent as value added tax (VAT) by the state commercial department on the same transaction amounts to double taxation.

"As the case is sub judice, we will not go into its legal aspects but we hope to resolve the matter with the central and state tax authorities soon. As a law abiding company, we have complied with the court's order, though it was interim in nature," Srinivasan asserted.

In a similar case earlier, the Supreme Court ruled that levying service tax and VAT on goods and services was mutually exclusive. "It is a matter of interpreting the taxation laws and their application. In our view, to pay on selling goods and services towards service tax and VAT is to be taxed twice," Srinivasan pointed out.

As the company did not comply with the court's order of Dec 10, the vacation bench comprising Justice Venugopala Gowda and Justice B.V. Pinto declined to hear its appeal for a stay on payment of VAT on re-export of software, which is treated as sale of goods by the state commercial tax department.


TATA CONSULTANCY: Architectural Sizzle

A massive futuristic office complex is rising from a patch of spare, arid land here near Chennai. Six butterfly-shaped buildings dock like spacecraft to two long metal-latticed terminals.

About 12,000 people already work at the campus, being built by India's largest technology company, Tata Consultancy Services. It eventually will have space for 24,000 of Tata's nearly 180,000 employees.

Meanwhile Infosys, one of Tata's biggest competitors, has added a corporate campus for 15,000 employees with buildings that resemble the Parthenon, the Coliseum and the Louvre's glass pyramid. Infosys plans to build an additional 10 million square feet of custom office space by mid-2012 , at various sites, adding 25,000 workers to its current 122,000.

It is all part of a construction spree by India's outsourcing companies, which are growing at a breakneck pace after the lull caused by the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.

But the building boom is about more than making room for more workers.

The outsourcing giants, which include Wipro and others, hope that architectural sizzle can help them compete for the nation's top software programmers, while also burnishing their reputations with overseas clients and prospective customers. In this nation where world-class high-tech companies co-exist with urban slums and rural poverty, employers like Tata, Infosys and Wipro have set out to create avant-garde , environmentally smart corporate sanctuaries.

And even if some architects and critics complain about the wisdom and taste of the efforts, the executives behind the building boom say their ambitious projects put a modern face on Indian business.



An increasing proportion, close to 30 percent, of Yahoo’s intellectual property development is taking place out of the firm’s Bangalore research centre as it looks to capitalize on local talent and focus on emerging markets.

The proportion is sharply higher than the modest 12 percent a couple of years back with nearly 20 successful products being delivered out of India today. The share of IP from research centers within the U.S. is close to 60 percent while those smattered across the world cobble up the rest 10 percent.

“Our share of intellectual property grew rapidly as we got deeply involved to take end to end responsibility of number of global as well as regional products. Yahoo! India R&D has become the second largest centre globally reflecting the growing commitment Yahoo! has to this centre,” says Shouvick Mukherjee, chief executive and vice-president of Yahoo! India R&D.

“Over the last one year, we have really moved from just affecting the bottom line to making a strategic impact. The company is seeing more value, which is leading to an increased investment and focus in the India R&D centre. When you are handling complete end-to-end products you get a lot more domain expertise compared to when you are doing just some bits and pieces of development,” he specifies.

The high proportion of IP development — consultancy Zinnov pegs the normal level at sub-10 percent — is because Yahoo realigned its product development to the needs of the emerging markets and follow a more regional approach. “The market interface was lagging about 18 to 20 months back,” says Mukherjee.


SATYAM: Internet in Jail

Disgraced Satyam chief Ramalinga Raju is behind bars but does an internet connection and a cell phone help him remain connected with the world outside?

Sources in Chanchalguda prison, where he has been locked up for a second stint after the Supreme Court cancelled his bail, claimed the shamed IT czar has unlimited access to the Internet and mobile connectivity. However, Gopinatha Reddy , DG and IG Prisons, Andhra Pradesh, denied these claims and insisted Raju was being treated like any other prisoner.

Despite Reddy's denial, prison sources claimed the former blue-eyed boy of Hyderabad's IT business continued to enjoy his king-like status in prison, just as he did last year.

Raju, it appears, also doesn't miss out on his daily dose of entertainment. A TV set with a cable connection is available to him, though not in his cell. In the past he enjoyed facilities of an A-class prisoner, and had access to a badminton court and was free to cook his own food.

During his stay at the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences, prison staff on “Raju” duty had maintained a log book penciling in names of 250 visitors over 120 days. This practice has now been discontinued.

The log book at the Chanchalguda prison entrance has no record of Raju's visitors, the sources said. Allegedly, a handful of officials have been instrumental in extending these benefits to Raju.


Mobile Verification

The Unique Identification number project, which is poised to use the 700 million-plus mobile subscriber database and distribution network, will in turn become the basis of issuing mobile connections in the future. The UID number will be the definitive proof for subscriber verification.

Security agencies often fret about lack of proper subscriber identification norms and paperwork before issuance of mobile numbers and SIM cards, especially among the fast growing prepaid segment. This is because subscribers across states and socio-economic categories do not have proper paperwork which either forces mobile companies to make exceptions or prevents potential and needy subscribers from getting onto India’s mobile network. Agencies have tried everything from tightening norms to penalties and failed.

Sixteen years after mobile operations were first launched in the country, the government and industry are yet to find a permanent foolproof response to this issue.

When ready, UID may just be the answer. DoT secretary R. Chandrashekhar says, “Serious consideration is being given to make UID the fundamental basis of subscriber verification. This will mean that the present arrangement will continue for a period of time but once UID is up and running the transition could occur very quickly and nationwide.”

UID is also far more secure than any of the other verification documents, except perhaps for the passport , which is available with only a very small fraction of the Indian population.

In a terror-prone country like India it has been proved time and again that mobile phones are the favorite communication device for terrorists and anti-social elements. They are easy to get and easier to dispose of, especially under the pre-paid scheme. The watered down subscriber verification norm often allows them to forge documents and other data, which could become considerably difficult, if not virtually impossible , with the coming of the UID number.


NOKIA: Biz Mobility

Handset manufacturer Nokia and technology major IBM has entered into a collaboration to provide mobile handsets a software solution which provides direct, secure access to e-mail besides personal information of the company.

The solution IBM Lotus Notes Traveler delivers direct, secure access to e-mail and personal information through IBM Domino servers available for Nokia Symbian S60 smartphones , both the companies said in a joint statement.

"IBM Lotus Notes Traveler gives business professionals easy, secure and real-time access to their email boxes, corporate contacts and corporate calendar on their Nokia smartphones.

Direct access mail also drastically reduces the cost of managing and maintaining servers," Nokia India director operator V. Ramanath said.

Both the companies have also shared an update on the deployment of the IBM Lotus Notes Traveler for the Nokia smartphones.

The solution has found large-scale deployment at the leading Indian enterprises including Asian Paints, Max New York Life, Britannia, Subros, Amtek Auto and Havells.

"This announcement is part of our continuing effort to expand mobile support for the Lotus software portfolio," IBM India/ South Asia director Pradeep Nair said.


Leadership Training

Yogesh Wardhkar wears a smug smile as he reads out a familiar story. “Once upon a time, there was a vain emperor who was very fond of clothes. Two swindlers, posing as weavers, decided to teach him a lesson...,” he reads to a class of 35 computer graduates at Infosys’ Mysore Campus.

A training session is on, and Wardhkar thinks he knows where this exercise is going. He’s probably going to be asked about the lessons he learnt from characters in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” like the wise minister and the innocent child.

After five minutes, however, the trainer says: “Take a sheet of paper and write who you think the characters in the story represent in the corporate world. Are they the clients, the employers, CEOs, project managers or the market?” Yogesh is visibly stumped; his smile vanishes. Clearly, the youngster from Mumbai was not expecting this twist in the tale as part of his personality development and leadership skills training.

In another room, new recruit Sohrab Khandelwal, an engineering graduate from Chandigarh University who joined Infosys earlier this year, is dealing with a different set of surprises. He thought he knew the Ps and Qs of etiquette, since he has an Air Force background.

But he had no idea that during face-to-face interactions, looking from left to right, and then to the forehead of the person in front, is considered a sign of arrogance. “I never realized these subconscious gestures could be offensive,” says Khandelwal.

Similar classes are popping up on the campuses of major Indian IT giants. Infosys, Wipro and TCS have decided to invest more in leadership training and personality development.



Click here to read the Current Issue in PDF Format

Free Binayak Sen!
Travesty of Justice

Chhattisgarh-based human rights activist Binayak Sen has been handed a life sentence for sedition, and that’s just not right, writes Kavya Ramachandran.

A Friend In Need:
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Former cricket star Imran Khan always offers support whenever Pakistanis needed it, as was evident during his recent fundraising trip to Northern California, writes Ras H. Siddiqui.

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EDITORIAL: A Terrible Injustice
NEWS DIARY: December
ENVIRONMENT: Restoring Breuner Marsh
SUBCONTINENT: Year 2010 in Retrospect
HUMANITARIAN AID: From Rajghat to Gaza
SUBCONTINENT: India Gets Touchy
REAL ESTATE: Rays of Sunshine?
BUSINESS: News in Brief
TRAVEL: Aquarium of the Bay, San Francisco
RECIPE: Chilli Paneer
AUTO REVIEW: 2011 Mazda 3
BOLLYWOOD Review: Tees Maar Khan
TAMIL FILM: Manmadhan Ambu
HOROSCOPE: 2011 Yearly Forecast

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