Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hacked Company: Breach exposes nearly 6,00,000

Silicon India
Bangalore: Hosting company and domain registrar Network Solutions has disclosed the data security breach of nearly 6,00,000 credit card holders by malware on a server. The company has notified 4,343 of its nearly 10,000 e-commerce merchant customers about the breach, said Roy Dunbar, Chairman and CEO of Network Solutions.
As reported by CNET News, Network Solutions is investigating this breach that may have led to the theft of credit card data of 5,73,928 people, who made purchases on Web sites hosted by the company. It affects 573,928 cardholders whose name, address, and credit card number were exposed between March 12 and June 8, said Susan Wade, a spokeswoman for Network Solutions.

Network Solutions informed the merchant customers in an e-mail that the credit card transactions were intentionally diverted by an unknown source from certain Network Solutions servers to servers outside. "Mysterious code was discovered in early June on servers hosting e-commerce customer sites during routine maintenance," Susan said. The company called in a third-party forensics team to help with the investigation, and the team was able to crack some of the code on July 13, determining that it could be related to credit card data, she added. According to Susan, it is unknown how the malicious code got onto the system and where it came from.

The hackers left behind malicious code, which allowed them to intercept personal and financial information for people who made purchases at the stores hosted on those servers, said Susan. "So we have notified law enforcement and began the process of notifying our customers. At this point, we don't have a reason to believe that (the data) has been used, but we are working with the credit card companies," she added.

According to the Network Solutions, "Assuring the security and reliability of our services to customers is our most important priority. We store credit card data in an encrypted manner and we are PCI compliant. Unfortunately, any company operating in our business could have become a victim of this type of invasion. In this situation, the unauthorized code appears to have transmitted information about credit card transactions as they were being completed; it did not involve vulnerability in the way we store data in our systems."

But in a prepared statement,Bob Russo, General Manager of the PCI Security Standards Council urged the company to be more cautious about its statements regarding PCI compliance until an investigation is completed. "Until a forensics investigation is completed, an organization cannot comment accurately on its compliance status," Russo said.

However, with this breach of Network Solutions' servers, an unanswered question revolves in the consumers' mind asking, "Do you think it is safe to make transaction on the Internet?"

Mountain View
The Economic Times
Boxes lined the cubicles and hallways in the offices of Mozilla on a recent afternoon, and its chief executive, John Lilly, seemed a bit disoriented as he looked for a place to sit. Mozilla, which makes the Firefox Web browser, had just moved from one end of this city to the other, mainly to gain more space for its growing work force.

Yet it was hard not to read symbolism into the move. Mozilla’s old offices were next door to Google’s sprawling headquarters. For several years, Google has been Mozilla’s biggest ally and patron. But in September, it also became Mozilla’s competitor when it unveiled its own Web browser, Chrome.

So it seemed only natural for Mozilla to move out from under Google’s shadow.

"We’ve learned how to compete with Microsoft and Apple," says Lilly, a soft-spoken, earnest 38-year-old. "Google is a giant, of course, and competing with them means we are competing with another giant, which is a little tiring."

Those big companies weren’t giving much thought to browsers when Firefox was released in 2004, and neither were most ordinary Web users. A browser was just a window onto the Web, and people often used whatever was already installed on a computer. Usually that meant Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Since then, Firefox has captured nearly a quarter of the browser market by focusing on speed, security and innovation. Its success is all the more remarkable because it was built and marketed by a far-flung community of programmers, testers and fans - mostly volunteers - coordinated by a nonprofit foundation. It is a shining example of the potential of open-source software, which anyone can modify and improve, and its ascent is one of Silicon Valley’s most unusual success stories. In short, Mozilla showed the world that browsers matter. Now the challenge is to keep proving that Mozilla matters.

The rise of Firefox unleashed a new wave of innovation and competition among browser makers. Microsoft, which make Internet Explorer, and Apple, which makes the Safari browser, have narrowed the gap with recent upgrades. That makes it less likely that people will take the trouble to seek out and install Firefox.

At the same time, the Web has been expanding accessibility from PCs to powerful mobile phones like the iPhone. Firefox won’t have a mobile version ready until later this year.

And then there is Google. After introducing Chrome, a lightning-fast browser designed to run increasingly complex Web applications, Google upped the ante. This month it said it would put Chrome at the center of a new operating system - the software that handles the most basic functions of a PC.

"Google, Apple and Microsoft can all throw a lot of resources toward improving their browsers. Mozilla, not so much," says Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "When it was them against Microsoft, it wasn’t such a big problem. Now that there are other alternatives, it becomes harder for them to retain relevance."

Animated Film works the net

The Financial Express
And the Oscar for the best-animated short film goes to ... an Internet community? That teaser, posted last fall on Facebook by the upstart company Mass Animation, kicked off a project many people in Hollywood thought was laughable: making a five-minute animated film using the Wikipedia model, with animators from around the world contributing shots, and Facebook users voting on their favourites.

But it worked. The completed short, “Live Music,” has been deemed of high enough quality by Sony Pictures Entertainment to warrant a theatrical run.

Sony will bring the tale of star-crossed love involving an electric guitar and a violin to the multiplex masses on November 20 as an opener for its animated feature “Planet 51.”

“Social networks can operate like automated talent scouts, helping the cream rise more quickly to the top, and that’s what happened with ‘Live Music,”’ said Michael Lynton, chairman and chief executive of Sony’s entertainment division. “While creativity has been pretty evenly distributed in society, it hasn’t always been easy to tap.”

Few expect “Live Music” to win an Academy Award or even be nominated for one. But even Pixar started somewhere, and Sony’s enthusiasm for the short underscores the potential power of social networking in creating high-quality content.

The marketplace—advertising, gaming and, of course, Hollywood —is hungry for content, animated in particular, that is done in a faster, cheaper way. “Live Music” was made for about $1 million and took about six months to complete. Intel, hoping to peddle its new Core i7 processor to animation geeks, was the principal backer.

The finished film is made up of scenes submitted by 51 people, who received $500 per scene and a film credit for their efforts.

Orissa small IT Firms seek sops

Jayajit Dash, Bhubaneswar
Business Standard
Small and medium information technology enterprises in Orissa have sought a host of enabling measures from the newly elected government in the state to remain competitive during the ongoing recession.

These measures include complete exemption from VAT (value added tax) on hardware procurement by the units, investment subsidy and employment subsidy as well as ‘plug and pay’ office space for upcoming units.

“IT SMEs in the state have been hit hard by the economic meltdown and are finding it increasingly difficult to bag new orders. In such a scenario, these units should enjoy a complete waiver of VAT on hardware procurement and also be given other facilities like investment and employment subsidies which are provided by other IT-friendly states in the country,” a senior official of the Confederation of Information Technology Enterprises (CITE), Orissa said.

VAT on IT hardware currently ranges from 4 percent to 12.5 percent.

The official said the state government needs to introduce a focused ICT (information and communication technology) policy which provides an investment subsidy of 15-20 percent on a capital cost of up to Rs 20 lakh for upcoming IT units.

This apart, IT SMEs have called for other facilities like provisions for cheap land, uninterrupted supply of power and the setting up of more Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) centres in the state.

We offer high-end cloud services to small businesses

Shilpa Shree
Financial Chronicle
NaviSite, a Nasdaq-listed data centre service provider, has over 1,500 customers worldwide. The company has several Indian customers spread across sectors such as fast moving consumer goods, retail, healthcare and pharma, IT, banking and advertising. The company's managing director, Sumit Sabharwal, spoke on NaviSite's India plans.

What is the kind of infrastructure NaviSite has?

We provide enterprise hosting and application solutions with over 1,500 customers depending on us for managed application services and development, implementation and management of its web infrastructure platforms. We have 15 state-of-the-art data centres, which are supported by more than 650 professionals.

How does cloud computing help your customers?

Cloud computing combines software as a service, Web 2.0, server virtualisation, hardware as a service and other recent, well-known technology trends, with a more common concept -- relying on the internet for satisfying the computing needs of a company. Cloud hosting is an on demand, scalable service which includes tools for customers to develop, manage and deliver new web-based services to their clients. The core advantage of a cloud model is that it offers flexibility while introducing a different paradigm of charging for infrastructure -- one that is based on usage. Service offerings like our virtual dedicated servers are a subscription based service, which can add or subtract capacity, random memory and storage in near real time without having to forecast needs upfront.

But does cloud computing cut costs?

Yes, cloud computing enables companies to do more with less. With a cloud hosting product companies can pay for what they use -- and consolidate several servers and applications in one environment. It does not require any capex for server hardware and networking equipment. During this recession, savings in capex and the lack of a need for a loan, helps small businesses conserve cash while upgrading their IT. Cloud computing can also open the door to administration savings. Fewer employee hours are needed to manage and maintain applications and solutions hosted in the cloud. Cost savings are realised on both the capital expense (higher asset utilisation and longer asset life) as well as the operating expenses by only paying for what is used.

Do you plan to expand in India?

We do not have a data centre in India. We have leveraged Indian operations to provide a consolidated set of services for small and medium businesses (SMBs), both in India and more broadly across the globe.

By combining our data centres and employees globally, we are able to provide expertise that small businesses truly need to run their IT infrastructure in a reliable model without having to stretch their wallet. In difficult economic times like this, a turnkey hosted model like NaviSite's has broad appeal. We look to build upon this in the India market while bringing newer technologies like virtualisation and making them a reality for growing and emerging businesses in India.

Extension of sunset clause for industrial parks hailed

Ronojoy Banerjee, Saahil Anant, New Delhi
Financial Chronicle
India Inc on Monday welcomed finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s measure to extend the sunset clause for industrial parks by 2 more years up to March 31, 2011.

Ganesh Natarajan, CEO of IT firm Zensar Technologies, said, “Exporters will get a big relief. The slowdown had made life very difficult for most of them and hence the move is welcome.”

"There was a compelling case for the extension of tax holiday for industrial parks as IT spending is going down and the industry is facing challenges. This would help the IT industry as the STPI scheme is expiring and the only alternative left was SEZs," said Jai Mavani, executive director (infrastructure and government practices), KPMG.

"There was a demand for the extension. This comes as a major stimulus for India Inc from the government," a senior commerce and industry ministry official who did not want to be named said.

Web spiders picks 51% stake in netwings info

Business Standard
Web Spiders (India) Pvt Ltd, a Kolkata-based software consulting firm, has acquired 51 percent stake in Netwings Infotech Pvt Ltd (NIPL), which is engaged in delivering fibre optic networking and GIS solutions.

The development marks the company’s entry into systems integration, which was earlier only into manufacturing and software development. Another company, Supreme & Co Pvt Ltd, manufacturer of fibre optic, telecom and power equipment, has a 50 percent shareholding in Web Spiders.

Siddharth Jhunjhunwala, CEO, Web Spiders, explained, “With this acquisition, we have created a synergistic end-to-end platform from manufacturing to software and systems integration for our customers”. He, however, declined to give the value of the 51 percent stake. Jhunjhunwala added that the Rs250 crore Group is now bullish on the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts in the power sector, together with e-Governance and large activity projects in Geographic Information System (GIS) and weather services and fibre optic backbone for industrial automation.

Netwings, for example, has already worked with Reliance Big FM's Mumbai station for weather updates and forecasts, D Mallick, CEO of the company informed. The group targets to grow by 45-50 percent in terms of revenue this fiscal. The Group is also looking at overseas acquisitions in areas of web-based software development and has set aside around $ 5 million for the same.

IDS Softwares eyes govt tourism projects

Shahani Fatima, Chennai
Business Standard
Bangalore-based hospitality software solutions firm IDS Softwares Private Limited is targeting government tourism projects to boost growth.

During the first quarter, the company added Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (Citco) as clients. “Around 40 hotels under the Madhya Pradesh tourism department and Citco were centralised using our software and we are in talks with tourism departments of eastern states as well,” said Sivaprasad G, deputy general manager, IDS Softwares.

This apart, the two-decade-old company is eyeing an addition of 500 more hotels this fiscal. “There is a huge opportunity for managed services as the automated system will feed complaints and queries from different rooms in the hotel to a central server and will reduce the dependence on manual labour,” he said. Of the 50-odd hotel chains that use IDS products now, only 27 use managed services like ‘quality management’ softwares.

According to Sivaprasad, expansion in existing markets like Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica is fuelled by the company’s strategy of adding mid-level hotel chains. “The volume growth in this category is more than the high-end hotel chains. In the present economic scenario, volume growth is critical for niche software players like us,” he said.

The company offers its solutions to around 1,700 hotels apart from clubs, restaurants and resorts globally and has a presence in West Asia, south Asia and Africa. Of the 1,700, only around 100 hotels are in the five-star level.

The company is also expanding its service portfolio and has subscribed to GDS interface systems like Galileo to update on net the room vacancies in its client hotels. “There is a 40 percent shift to web-based hotel reservations globally. So we are keen to provide exposure to our clients by interacting with the GDS interface systems,” he said. The GDS interface systems provide data on hotels and room vacancies to various travel portals.

Apart from this, the company has launched the French version of its software to add customers in French-speaking nations like Senegal and also to foray into the European market.

Emotions’ security solution for Metro Rail

Ritwik Mukherjee, Kolkata
Financial Chronicle
Kolkata-based technology startup eMotions Infomedia, jointly with Jadavpur University, has come up with four security solutions focused on public transportation system, especially for the Metro railways.

Partha Das Chowdhury, CEO, eMotions Infomedia, said, “We had formally teamed up with the Centre for Microprocessor Application, Training, Education & research (CMATER), Jadavpur University and have been working on these ‘Intelligent Surveillance Solutions’ for little more than one year now.”

“We are now ready with at least four solutions —Approaching Danger Zone-Yellow Line, Unattended Baggage Detection (UBD), Events in a Zone (EIZ) and Commuter Face Detection (CFD). With the railway ministry committed to expansion and extension of Metro Railway networks across the country, we are confident that these research-based products will have immense utility,” Das Chowdhury added.

The city-based company has already started taking up these solutions with the concerned authorities.

Global IT cos expect Indian PC market to rebound in H2

Writankar Mukherjee, Kolkata
The Economic Times
With computer sales in India expected to revive in the second half of 2009, PC makers and chip manufacturers alike are planning to provide a thrust to their game plan in the country.

While Intel and AMD are adopting multiple initiatives to target the first-time users and lower PC prices in the market, PC vendors such as Dell and Acer are looking at ways to grow the market by tapping the huge potential in government projects and growing consumer sentiments.

For starters, AMD has just rolled out a new entry-level processor in India priced at $35. “With this, we have reduced the entry-level processor prices by nearly $5. This is part of our strategy to do whatever we can to grow the market. We also plan to grow our retail distribution network,” AMD India VP (marketing and sales) Ramkumar Subramanian said.

According to AMD India, PC sales slid by nearly 10-15 percent in the first half of 2009. Arch rival Intel feels PC sales have bottomed out during the first half in India and the industry can now expect a sizeable recovery. Both the chip makers are working with OEM and trade partners to grow adoption of their latest platforms in this subdued market.

“While 2009 started with a lull in government purchases, there is now a healthy ICT tender pipeline. Enquires from the enterprise segment are also rising as they want to refresh their PC infrastructure to control costs. After all, the latest range of PCs significantly cut down power and operating costs,” Intel South Asia director (marketing) Prakash Bagri said.

Intel expects newer form factors like ultra-slim notebooks will drive PC sales in the top-end of the market. The chip giant is also betting on its Atom processors to drive growth in value computing through netbooks and nettops. “With Atom, we expect to create a range of devices for the first time users in India. We are also packing more features like WiMAX capabilities to increase its performance,” said Bagri.

PC vendor Acer is refreshing its product line big time in India. “We plan to undertake a lot of ground level activity in the second half with the festivity season round the corner. The netbook is also gaining acceptance in India as the sub-Rs 20,000 price point is becoming a big draw,” said Acer India chief marketing officer S Rajendran.

Dell India country general manager Sameer Garde said the company is also expanding its product portfolio and distribution channel to grow the business in second half. Hewlett-Packard (HP) is tapping the rural turf to drive growth in line with increasing broadband penetration. HP has adopted the FMCG approach in smaller markets and is setting up a service network before initiating actual sales.

A latest study by MAIT, the apex body of IT hardware firms, estimated the total PC sales in India dipped by 7 percent in 2008-09 but is likely to grow by 7 percent in 2009-10 with total sales expected to cross 7.3 million units.

Browse the web on your TV

Hindustan Times (Delhi edition)
Vu (pronounced `view') has unveiled its Gem collection of three 22-inch PC monitors. It also has a DPF (Digital Photo Frame) printer, which allows connect to your external memory device via a USB port and print images at a cost of 35 images for Rs 500.

The Intelligent TV, Vu's latest release, stands out from all its other products. It is a 46-inch, flat-screen, full HD, PCcum-TV with a number of ports on the back which, along with your usual cable wire, give you the option to connect a USB broadband device. So you can switch between watching TV and browsing the Net, and even split up the screen to do both at the same time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bangalore techies settle for low-paying jobs

Silicon India
Bangalore: Till a few months ago, IT professional T.V. George was earning Rs.70,000 per month, plus perks. But after losing his high-paying job, and being unemployed for three months, George, 31, has started giving tuitions in mathematics and physics to aspiring engineering students in his neighbourhood
"Now, I am earning Rs.15,000 per month. It's been hard. I got married only a few months before losing my job. So, when I lost my job, I was in a difficult position. Thankfully, I had some savings. With the savings, I am paying my rent and for a few other necessities," George, who was employed with a top U.S. IT company, told IANS.

"After losing my job, I tried my best to get a new job. But I remained unlucky. So to help run my home, I decided to give coaching classes to aspiring engineering students."

George is not alone. Recession has hit the IT sector in Bangalore, with scores of techies losing their jobs. Some have been forced to take up low-paying jobs as they wait to bounce back when the recession ends.

Dipankar Dutta, 27, working with an Indian IT company as software engineer, lost his job almost eight months ago.

Today he has a job, but as a content writer in a tech firm.

"Thankfully, writing has been my forte. So, I landed this job of a content writer. Otherwise I would have been in a soup. Since I cannot afford to stay in Bangalore without a job, I compromised and settled for the new job with a much lower pay package," said Dutta.

Scores of IT and ITES professionals in Bangalore have lost their jobs in recent times, an effect of the global economic meltdown. But there is no precise count of the numbers.

According to the latest employment and business outlook report by Bangalore-based staffing firm Teamlease, at 23 percent the attrition rate in this city is higher than in any other city in India.

The report was based on interviews with HR heads, CEOs and senior executives of 495 companies in Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Pune.

"The city accounted for the highest attrition rate. IT accounts for over 80 percent of the city's total labour pool. The attrition rate was 23 percent in the last quarter, against the previous quarter's 16 percent. Much of the attrition could be involuntary attrition (or layoffs)," Teamlease General Manager Surabhi Mathur-Gandhi said.

India's Silicon Valley has seen thousands of people getting pink slips in recent months. And many more are under the threat of losing their jobs.

"It's painful to lose your job, in today's expensive world. Those who have lost their jobs are desperate now, thus they are settling for low paying jobs," Karthik Shekhar, General Secretary of UNITES-Professionals, an unrecognised union of IT/Call Centre/BPO employees, told IANS.

"Every day we meet young men and women who have lost their IT jobs recently. All they want is a job. But getting a job in the IT sector is very difficult. So, they have no option but to settle for jobs outside their fields and that too with low paying packages," Shekhar added.

"It's encouraging that today's youths are ready to move ahead in their lives. Instead of waiting for the economy to revive, IT professionals have started exploring other fields and this is a positive sign," said B.N. Gangadhar, professor of psychiatry at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans), Bangalore

Mohammed Khan, a trained software engineer, told IANS: "Initially it was difficult, but I am happy with my choice. After losing my job with an IT firm, now I am working as a sales executive. I am hoping the economy will recover soon and all the techies who have lost their jobs will get new jobs in their field."

Ericsson to buy Nortel's wireless biz for $1.13 billion

Toronto, July 26, 2009
Business Standard
Ericsson is all set to acquire a major part of Nortel's North American wireless business for $1.13 billion, after the Swedish firm emerged as the successful bidder for the bankrupt Canadian company's CDMA and LTE technologies.

The purchase is structured as an asset sale at a cash purchase price of $1.13 billion on a cash and debt free basis, the two companies said in separate statements.

The acquisition significantly expands Ericsson's footprint in North America and also provides Nortel's customers with a strong and reliable supplier for the future, many of which have expressed support for this acquisition.

"Acquiring Nortel's North American CDMA business allows us to serve this important region better as we build relationships for the future migration to LTE," Ericsson President and CEO Carl-Henric Svanberg said.

Svanberg further said, "By adding some 2,500 highly skilled employees, of which about 400 are focused on LTE research and development, Ericsson reinforces and expands a long-term commitment to North America."

On July 25, Ericsson entered into an asset purchase agreement to acquire the parts of the Carrier Networks division of Nortel relating to CDMA and LTE technology in North America.

As part of this agreement, a minimum of 2,500 Nortel employees supporting the CDMA and LTE Access business will receive offers of employment from Ericsson.

Internet 2.0 will drive productivity growth

California, July 27, 2009
John Chambers/CISCO The crash has hit Silicon Valley as hard as anywhere else. The only consolation is that this time, at least, it didn't start here. But while other firms are hunkering down and trying to survive, networking giant Cisco Systems ($130 billion market value, $40 billion in annual sales) continues to stride forward.

"Even in this downturn," says chairman and CEO John Chambers, sitting at the table in his modest, mementocrammed office, "We intend to be the most aggressive we've ever been."

A decade ago Cisco was known for building the switching systems (called routers) that find the most efficient path for information on the Internet. These days it has a presence in just about every corner of the Web's infrastructure--from networking hardware (switches, gateways and the like) to network management software (CiscoWorks) to the Linksys router that runs the wireless network in your home.

As much as three-quarters of the world's digital data now passes through Cisco equipment, the company estimates.

This massive expansion has come not merely by internal growth, but through one of the biggest (and most successful) merger-and-acquisition programs in high-tech history.

Despite taking the same hit as the rest of the computer industry earlier this year, Cisco's stock is climbing (up 17% to more than $21.50 in the last month), the company has cut an incredible $1.5 billion in operating expenses, and earned an upgrade this week to "outperform" from Credit Suisse. It has also announced a major sponsorship of the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

How deleted email can come back

Washington, July 27, 2009
The Times of India
Beware, emails or Facebook posts or pictures can resurface months after they are deleted -- in the wrong hands or at the wrong time, according to researchers.

"If you care about privacy, the internet today is a very scary place," said University of Washington (UW) computer scientist Tadayoshi Kohno. "If people understood the implications of where and how their email is stored, they might be more careful or not use it as often."

For instance, a lost cell phone can expose personal photos or text messages. A legal investigation can subpoena the entire contents of a home or work computer, uncovering incriminating, inconvenient or just embarrassing details from the past.

The team of UW computer scientists developed a prototype system called Vanish that can place a time limit on text uploaded to any web service through a web browser. After a set time text written using Vanish will, in essence, self-destruct.

Kirtika Suneja & Seema Sindhu, New Delhi, July 26, 2009
Business Standard
The job market has begun to show signs of a revival led by sectors like telecommunication, pharmaceutical, life sciences and financial services. Human resource firms claim there are more vacancies now than a year ago when the slowdown first set in, though these are way below past peaks.

TeamLease Services Managing Director Ashok Reddy said that the demand for temporary employees had gone up nearly 100 percent from the earlier levels.

“On an average, we have over 3,000 vacancies now, against the peak of 8,000 to 10,000 in 2005 and allow of 1,400 some months ago. Sectors like telecommunication, financial services, fast-moving consumer goods and IT to some extent have enough openings that need to be filled.” “There’s a marginal improvement in the job market. But since larger job markets like the US and Europe are still under pressure (several large employers are headquartered there), it’s too early to say anything,” Ma Foi Management Consultants CEO and Director EBalaji added.

He attributed the marginal improvement in demand to opportunities in sectors like pharmaceutical, life sciences, healthcare and power which have not borne the brunt of the slowdown.

With the government-sponsored stimulus in place, employers expect the economic environment to improve and have therefore begun to hire. Several of them had cut their rolls sharply at the first sign of the slowdown. And low salary expectations have helped.

“Organisations are looking at it as the right opportunity to get the right people at the right cost. While hiring is not back to normal, strategic hiring for special skills is going on across the sectors,” said Hewitt Associates Practice Leader Sandeep Chaudhary.

Job portals like Monster.com and Naukri.com affirmed the observation.

“Between March and December 2008, there was a 30 percent fall in total opportunities, while January-March 2009 was stable. However, now there has been almost 10 percent growth in opportunities available on the website in terms of job listings,” said Monster.com (India, West Asia and Southeast Asia) Managing Director Sanjay Modi.

The company said it expected this trend to continue and had registered 45,000 users now, up from 38,000 in December last year. “Jobs in information technology, business process outsourcing and telecommunication have come back and we expect education to remain the largest employer this year,” Modi added.

“We perceive a positive sentiment among recruiters. Most companies are now doing replacement hiring,” said Info Edge (which runs Naukri.com) National Head (marketing and communications) Sumeet Singh.

A new survey by Naukri.com, specific to Mumbai, found that hiring activity in the city picked up by 13 percent in June 2009 as compared to May 2009.

Banking and financial services saw an increase of 22 percent in June as compared to May. Hiring for information technology professionals was also back in action with an increase of 12 percent in June.

On a national level, the Naukri.com JobSpeak index at 718 showed an uptrend in hiring activity by 8.1 percent as compared to 664 in May 2009.

It is the highest upward movement since July 2008, indicating the return of the hiring sentiment.

However, human resource experts said one should exert caution before uncorking the champagne. They said it would be clear in another two quarters if the trend would hold in the long run.

Companies are looking at greater fitments for any open position and not willing to just about take anyone for the job.

Managed services spell big IT Business

Peerzada Abrar, Bangalore, July 27, 2009
The Economic Times
As global recessionary pressures increase, enterprises are looking at ways to capitalise their existing IT infrastructure, with many of them adopting the managed services business model.

Telecom IT companies such as products company Subex and Netmagic Solutions, an IT services provider that count on customers such as AT&T, BT and Vodafone, have adopted this model.

Subex is going to change its business strategy for the next five years by focusing more on managed services rather than follow the old licence-fee model. “Telecos are now demanding that they share risks with their product companies,” Subex founder chairman, managing director and chief executive Subash Menon said.

“People will ask for platform and managed services by the next decade. Telecom players want to have platforms and not point solutions.”

Subex has gained 24 customers in managed services, including BT and a few customers from the US, and is bidding for large contracts with telcos, which will adopt the managed route rather than licence sale.

“We achieved 11 percent of our revenue from managed services, which was zero three years back,” Menon said. He added that the acquisition of Azure has given them domain and operational expertise to create a managed services platform.

Insight Research predicts that revenue associated with the managed services market will grow from $30 billion in 2008 to nearly $43 billion by 2013. Netmagic Solutions, which clocked growth of over 50 percent last year, expects a growth of 70 percent for the financial year 2009-2010.

Netmagic, which has a virtual data centre in the US has launched cloud computing in addition to its managed services. “Our cloud-computing services help companies cut costs by 25-30 percent and now 95 percent of our customers have some element of managed services,” Netmagic chief executive and managing director Sharad Sanghi said.

IDC expects global spending on IT cloud services alone to grow almost threefold in the next five years, touching $42 billion by 2012. “We allow customers freedom to focus on their core competency. Service providers have realised that the managed services improves their margins. Managed services is already in place in the US and now the trend is picking up in India,” Sanghi said.

Netmagic, which has 350 employees, is looking to employ 500 employees in the next six months and build data centres in Chennai and Delhi.

‘SOCIAL’ Technologies in education

D. Murali, July 27, 2009
The Hindu Business Line
The IT boom did many things, and one of its significant effects was to cause a shift in the conversation from only `employment' to `employability' and `scale,' observes Vaidya Nathan, Founder and CEO, Classle Knowledge Pvt Ltd, Chennai (www.classle.net).

The speed at which it hit the education system, India's most `regulated' sector, caught everybody unawares, he continues, during a lunch-hour interaction with eWorld.

"With solutions being looked at every level starting from policy and governance downwards, can the wonderful capabilities of IT solve education's woes? Innovative start-up companies such as Classle, EduComp, Everonn, say `Yes'."


What are the innovations that can help in education?

Many of the concepts and technologies used in Internet services share the attributes of our problem. The newer and popular phenomena such as `social media' (Wikipedia, YouTube, Podcast, and so on), `social networking' (Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn), `social bookmarking' (del.ico.us, digg, etc.), and micro-blogging (twitter), handle large size, a wider audience, are viral, accessible, and free.

So far, they have been looked at and used from an informational and entertainment perspective. But as a capability, they are potent and have the attributes required to solve the concerns of education.

Thankfully, the newer companies in education have identified these capabilities and combined them with other insights and innovations to directly address the issues of education. Even the principle of `social enterprise' is available as a business model.

What's more, from an adoption point of view, the youth, who are the target consumers, take to these concepts and technologies quite naturally.

We have the pieces, so what do we do next?

All the pieces are available to address different aspects of the education issue. What is now required are the `system integration' principles which are very common in IT. Interestingly, most of these tools are available at a level that is extremely economical.

We are really looking at a scenario where IT-driven innovation can dramatically alter the academic and professional quality of education, especially higher education and research.

While technology can set the stage, the actual actors have to enact the play. That is, all hands have to join together to solve the problems in education with these technologies. Let us not forget that all the tools, which form a part of the solution are `social' in nature. This will succeed only when `society' is involved and engaged in the exercise.

That is, everybody, including the academic institutions, instruction staff, industry, students and even parents, have to be a part of the solution. The good news is that the technologies make the effort involved in participating in the solution small. All that is required is to make that behavioural change.

How do you see IT impacting research?

Research is also another area where there are serious imbalances. The low preference for research is only a symptom. Actually, the students who prefer to do research go out to other countries.

There are many structural and policy changes, which are required to improve the condition. Some of the issues are the time taken for the research degree process, the relevance of problem statements, and the availability of collaborators, referees and mentors. If the transparency, reach and collaboration, which come easily with IT, are factored in, and the process redesigned accordingly, that would be a necessary first step to give a boost to research. Our research should be able to make technology more democratic, more localised, a lot more sustainable and definitely more people-friendly. IT, by bridging the islands of academia, industry and society, can certainly bring about a positive change.

Shriram properties to invest rs 4,900 crore in 3 years

T E Narasimhan, Chennai, July 27, 2009
Business Standard
Shriram Properties, part of Chennai-headquartered diversified Shriram Group, is planning to invest around Rs 4,900 crore in various residential and commercial projects.

Shriram Properties managing director M Murali said that the company had set a target to become Rs 1,000 crore company over the next three years from the present Rs 450 crore.

Speaking about commercial projects, Murali said that so far the company was promoting IT/ITeS projects and delivered one million sq.ft. currently construction is going on at eight lakh sq.ft of land near Chennai. The company also got an approval to pro-mote a special economic zone for IT/TeS in Kolkata. Total investment in the proposed project would be around Rs 1,200 crore.

Helipads, Skywalks planned at Mukesh Ambani promoted SEZS

New Delhi, July 27, 2009
The Economic Times Business Standard
Mukesh Ambani-promoted Navi Mumbai SEZ Private Ltd has sought government permission to set up helipads and skywalks at its Special Economic Zones on the outskirts of the metropolis.

The SEZ firm co-promoted by Ambani's close associate Anand Jain has plans to build helipad at four and skywalks at five of its Special Economic Zones at Navi Mumbai.

As per the proposals submitted before the BoA, the helipads will come up in the "non-processing" areas of the three SEZs for IT and ITES, and one for the multi-services.

Three of these are located at Ulwe, and one at Kalamboli -- both in the Navi Mumbai area.

Bill Gates urges India to move from low-cost to R&D

New Delhi, July 26, 2009
The Economic Times
Billionaire Bill Gates urged India to move away from low-cost labour toward high-end research and development to keep its giant IT sector competitive.

On a visit to New Delhi, the co-founder of Microsoft Corp called on the Indian government to speed up its commitment to R&D and to boost low number of home-grown PhD students.

Gates told a panel discussion that India's "IT success story" should strive to add value and move away from low-cost labour as other developing countries play catch-up.

"At first some of that (IT boom) was built on low-cost labour. And, of course, as time goes on, you don't want to have that as the only differentiator and it's not a sustainable thing, because others can come along with that as well," Gates said.

India's R&D sector has made strides in recent years and attracted some big foreign hitters, including Microsoft, in keeping with its IT- and service-driven economic boom.

But hampered by structural problems and a lack of government commitment, India's R&D still lags behind the United States and Asian rival China. China has more than 1,100 R&D centres compared to less than 800 in India.

"Leading companies here are contributing a lot of ideas and techniques. Even more of that has to happen and bring it to its full potential," Gates said.

"You've got to get the government, universities ... and companies like Microsoft to deepen their commitment to R&D."

India produces 100 computer-science PhDs a year -- a fraction of China or the U.S -- even as it exports a large number of students abroad. While English-speaking India is cheaper than China for R&D, New Delhi gives few incentives to researchers.

Beijing offers incentives like tax breaks for R&D centres, and special economic zones provide infrastructure for hi-tech and R&D industries.

MS wants to be part of Unique Identity project

TK Arun, Shelley Singh & Shubham Mukherjee, July 27, 2009
The Economic Times
Coming to slowdown, the US is erecting barriers in terms of tightening visas and forcing companies to create jobs locally. Is that the answer to cope with a slowdown?

Of course not. Immigration restriction in the US didn’t really emerge out of the recession. We have had some difficulty and unfriendliness in our immigration system, limits in H1B visas, difficulty in green cards. We have had these for quite some time. The recession may have made it even more difficult politically to get the system changed, but my personal voice and Microsoft’s voice very strongly is that system is bad for lots of individuals, bad for the US, bad for the country and so we will do our best to try and get that changed. Some countries don’t have restrictions like that. India lets people come in, Canada is good on it. That is a political debate...the current answer (to erect barriers) is not the best one.

Coming to Internet with all its hype and growth it’s reached about 1.5 billion people. Will the Internet ever reach the 6 billion plus global population?

Sure. Low cost PCs, low costs cell phones, community kiosks, computers in schools, computers in libraries, WiMax, wireless connectivity, breakthroughs in satellite connectivity will help and it takes many pieces to do it. People using Internet don’t understand all the innovation underneath it. Just like when they plug something in the electric system they don’t understand how is it continuously maintained at a particular voltage.

The Internet has very complicated networks underneath. The advances in Internet plumbing are there all the time and they are trying to bring the costs down and accessibility up. If you look at it a year ahead it may appear not to be moving fast, but if you look at a 5-10 year time frame big things are happening.

What’s the next big thing for Microsoft?

We are big -- we work for business customers, video games, cell phones, data centers -- its not a single thing. The general trend is this natural interface -- where speech, ink and vision make the computing experience far more pervasive and as you move between devices its kind of seamless that you are using your phone, PC, car, TV, all those things are connected to the internet, sharing information, connected to the cloud...making the cloud complimentary to all your different devices. Those are two big thrusts (cloud and new interfaces) that Microsoft is getting into.

Any products you have in mind you would like to get into...

We do software for cell phone and that lets us work for the bunch of hardware makers like we do in the PC market and that’s the strategy that is the best -- its different from Apple or RIM (Research In Motion--makers of BlackBerry). We will write software where it can be used, like TV sets never been a software intensive application and we are doing some great work there. We are doing IPTV -- you can watch anything, it’s interactive, its a breakthrough in TV and a decade from now you won’t think of TV as just one way but an interactive device.

Microsoft became big before the Internet became mainstream. There’s a sense that you took time to adjust with the post Internet world, while other companies came along. How far has Microsoft adapted to the changed world and enable customers to fully utilise the benefits of Internet?

The Internet is always changing. We put the browser into Windows in 1995 and what was the Internet then. We didn’t have search, we didn’t have video. Internet will continue to change. Video is a new scenario. In education space Internet is going to be phenomenal.

The world’s going to get lectures online. My favourite scientist Richard Fenyman’s lectures are now up for free, anybody can benefit from his brilliant way in explaining science and that wouldn’t have been possible before. So Internet keeps changing.

I worked on the Internet in 1973, before there was a Microsoft, before there was a Google or a Netscape or anything. The amazing thing is it took a while to get critical mass and then it just exploded in the mid-1990s. Every company has been a beneficiary of that and we all contributed. It made computing all the more important and it will become more and more important. The next decade will be a great period to be in the software business.

Will Bing become the dominant search engine?

Not anytime soon, but there are people at Microsoft who dream of such glory. They are brilliant people, who work hard, they make that space competitive. I spend little bit of time and help out. They are doing great work, after all Google needs some competition and who the heck else is going to do it but Microsoft.

What’s the future of software?

Very bright. What is the most interesting field in terms of innovation? It’s software. When people talk of robots they are talking about software not the motor or metals or cameras that are interesting and go to make a robot. When we talk about modelling drugs so you can figure out in advance what drug is going to work, that’s software. When you look at designing cars knowing how it will react to a crash, how eco friendly it is, you do it with software. Software has more headroom in terms of what it will do than any other business. There was no software before Microsoft came along. We decided there should be this big industry with high volume, low cost. The Widows platform allowed this rich ecosystem to grow and that created lot of jobs. It’s a very vibrant business.

iPhone: a lifeline for small Indian Software firms

Samanth Subramanian, New Delhi, July 27, 2009
Last July, when Apple Inc. threw open the doors of its iPhone App Store to third-party developers, a Silicon Valley start-up immediately contacted Net Solutions India, a Chandigarh-based software shop. “This was one of our regular clients, and he was very excited,” says Maninder Bains, chief technology officer of Net Solutions. “But even if he hadn’t said so himself, we’d already realized that iPhone applications would be big.”

Bains was right. The iPhone’s applications—or “apps”, essentially small programs of utilitarian or novelty value designed for the iPhone—have spread with epidemic efficiency in the US. But they have also held out a slim lifeline for small and mid-range software firms in India, at a time when other outsourced projects have succumbed to the slowdown.

“The recession has had its effect, and we’ve all seen some decline,” Bains admits. “But as I told my boss just the other day, there are three things that are making money for us. The first is iPhone apps. The second is also iPhone apps. The third is Facebook apps.”

This month, Apple’s App Store turns a healthy one year old. The store has now grown to include at least 65,000 apps, which have collectively been downloaded 1.5 billion times. Its growth has been meteoric; as recently as April, the Store listed 25,000 apps. Many of these apps are free, but of the paid apps, Apple stands to earn $150 million (Rs726 crore) a year via its 30% commission, according to an analyst recently quoted in The Wall Street Journal.

As if the iPhone’s cult status were insufficient, the apps have given Apple an even keener competitive edge over other smart-phone brands. Research in Motion’s catalogue of apps for its BlackBerry phones includes just over 2,000 programs; Google’s Android Market offers around 6,300. So, not surprisingly, advertisements for the iPhone now regularly pitch its gigantic app factory as part of—or even all of— their hard sell.

That first product Bains developed was, in fact, not an app; named Mobclix, it was a product that helped monetize and analyse traffic for other apps. Since then, Net Solutions has created Landmark Locator—which, in locating landmarks around iPhone users, does precisely what its name suggests. Another app, promisingly titled Hook Up, scours the immediate vicinity for other people to “connect” with; a sample screenshot on the Net Solutions website, for instance, introduces us to the intriguing “Angela, 21… Love to have fun and play with my cat”.

Customers want to buy value

Shamik Paul/Vishwanath Kulkarni, July 27, 2009
The Hindu Business Line
Wipro Ltd, looking to strengthen the sales organisation for its global IT business, recently appointed a global sales head. Martha Bejar, the former head of communications sector at Microsoft Corp, joined India’s third largest software exporter to lead its sales initiatives.

eWorld caught up with Bejar, who is currently in Bangalore to understand the company and the people steering its operations.


After having worked in product companies, do you see a drastic shift in the work profile?

In Microsoft it was a lot about software. In Nortel it was a lot about infrastructure, software and big turnkey projects that included a lot of services.

Here it is very focused on the business side of customers as well. But there is an absolute market trend in that direction.

To be part of that trend, to be part of that transition, is a dream come true for me.

At the end of the day, whether you are selling a car or a book or services, customers want to buy value, and that does not change from industry to industry.

And that is what we are doing here. We are trying to get closer to the customer, understand what value we can add to them and how we are going to address their business challenges.

What do the Wipro bosses expect from you?

My responsibility would be around the evolution of the sales organisation. The aim is to have a world-class selling team. But a transformation is not something that is going to happen overnight.

The execution of it has to do with the sales team, but the verticals have a bit to do with it, and my bosses have a bit to do with it. This is something that our company will have to work closely together.

What kind of sales strategy would work in this market?

Customers are taking a little longer to decide where they want to make investments. They want the return on investment to be quicker, and are a lot more demanding in terms of solutions that are tightly packed to their businesses, and how we can make their businesses stronger.

It is very important to let customers know that you care about their business. To let that sincerity become real, you have to have a good understanding of their business. That has to be the approach now as the purse gets tighter.

Best buy tests Internet contract

July 27, 2009
Financial Chronicle
Best Buy, the world's largest electronics retailer, is testing sales of discounted laptops with Internet contracts as it expands higher-margin services to fend off Wal-Mart Stores and online outlets.

Pragati Verma, July 27, 2009
The Financial Express
World’s third largest computer maker, Acer has recently jumped into the smartphone market. Unfazed by a slowdown in mobile phone sales globally and disappointing earning numbers from mobile phone companies, Acer mobility division head Aymar de Lencquesaing is confident of smartphone sales. “Consumers are increasingly accessing the Web from their mobile devices,” he reasons. Acer has recently launched five new feature-rich smartphones, in the price range of Rs 24,000 to Rs 35,000, in the Indian market. Hoping to sell more than a million smartphones by 2010, he is aiming to take a 6-7% share of the market in two to three years. In a conversation, he describes the new capabilities smartphones are adding.


What prompted Acer to enter this already crowded market of mobile phones?

Many people are wondering why we would get into a business like mobile phones. But we think it is the right strategy for us and it is a logical thing for us to do. We are the worldwide number one in netbooks and number two in notebooks. Most people don’t realise this, but Acer’s core competence is mobility products. Our core business is mobile data devices and we think of smartphones as mobile data devices.

Today, the challenge is not to get voice on phone, but to get data applications on the device. Of the 4 billion mobile phones, only 300 million have smartphones. So, you have 3.7 billion people left who can hop onto smartphones. That creates enormous opportunity and there is room for multiple companies. We are hoping to sell more than a million smartphones in 2010 and take a 6-7 % share of the market in three years.

As companies like you and Apple move into phone arena, should we expect phones and PCs to converge soon?

Computing and handset environments are moving closer to each other and are beginning to converge. We PC makers have gone from desktop PCsto notebooks to netbooks and now smartphones, without giving on our earlier products.

There are only five big PC companies and actually only have a massive scale. Among this set, we are probably the only company that has made such a radical, strategic move. We are well positioned to tap into this gigantic opportunity.

Apple’s entry proved to be disruptive? Are you aiming to change the way mobile phones work?

We cannot compare ourselves to Apple. We can only hope to repeat what we have accomplished in the PC business. At the same time, new entrants can be disruptive as they have a new way of looking at things and bring in new business models. PC companies are used to running business at an much higher level of efficiency. It’s a business diktat there.

We see that there are opportunities in the smartphone segment where some players have not run business at same level of efficiency, as margins did not demand it. Overtime, as competition comes in, you will see better value proposition to consumers and business landscape change.

To begin with, our revenue stands at $17 billion. Our operating expenses are low compared to revenue. Margins are not outrageous but respectable. We can bring these to new segments. These are principals that can be applied to new segments. I don’t want to call it disruptive but these will inject new levels of focus into the market that will ultimately bring new price points. And please don’t equate this with entry level; we will have products that are leaders in their segment but come at a good value.

How do you segment the market today?

We do segmentation by usage. It’s not as though we are looking at the competition and then deciding to undercut. We look at specific segments and then try to figure out if 3 megapixel is enough or should it be 5; and if screen size is big enough and so on. And then we try to get the equation work.

I know that our segmentation is not foreign to most of the operators that we have spoken. We have broken the market into six segments.

Smartphones currently attract the early adopter crowd, which tends to be more tolerant than the mass market.

We have also conducted an extensive user study and the results are a reason for us to be optimistic. Survey showed that customers have issues with current products.

These include battery, security and synchronisation of addressbook. Our study also validates that there is a strong implicit demand for Internet connectivity on the go; this explains the success of a product like netbook. We will now offer it in a pocket-sized device.

Friday, July 24, 2009

WAL-MART WOOS Laptop shoppers

San Francisco
Business Standard
Wal-Mart Stores Inc has expanded its laptop selection by 40 percent and will be aggressive in pricing the computers and the accessories to go with them as the discount retailer looks to win sales from frugal back-to-school shoppers.

Starting this Sunday, WalMart will begin selling an exclusive Compaq Presario notebook computer that it developed in partnership with Hewlett-Packard Co for $298. A similar unit currently sells at Wal-Mart for $548. “We think that that’s a screaming value,” said Gary Severson, Wal-Mart US’s senior vice president of home entertainment, in an interview. “You’re going to see us focus dramatically not only on price, but the value for that price.” The Presario notebook will be selling at a price that would normally purchase a less-capable netbook laptop.

Retailers have started the back-to-school shopping season on shaky ground as consumers show an unwillingness to spend on anything but basic goods. According to a National Retail Federation survey, the average family with children in kindergarten through 12th grade plans to spend 7.7 percent less on school gear this year than a year ago.

One bright spot in the survey was consumer electronics, where students plan to spend more. In addition, nearly 75 percent of respondents said they intend to shop at a discount store for their new school purchases.

Wal-Mart is looking at the back-to-school season as a chance to showcase its expanded selection of notebook and netbook computers, with Severson saying laptops are becoming astaple item for students of all ages.

“We think that this year is really the opportunity for us to establish in laptops,” Severson said.

To gain leadership, WalMart is following tactics it used to become a major player in flat screen TVs — expanding its selection of name brands while trying to beat the competition on price.

Wal-Mart has already started its back-to-school push in earnest and is offering Dell Inspiron laptops for $398 in colours ranging from pink to purple to aqua.

The retailer also stocked accessories to match the colorful laptops, like $60 Western Digital hard drives and $25 Logitech cordless optical mice in black, blue, pink and red.

Wal-Mart said the Dell offering was a popular one, and it expects a similar response for the Compaq Presario that goes on sale July 26.

YAHOO! SWOOPS For XOOPIT Email photo finding firm

San Francisco
The Economic Times
Yahoo! said on Wednesday it would buy Xoopit, a San Francisco startup specializing in finding and organizing photos buried in email inboxes.

"In short, Xoopit will bring phenomenal photo organization, improved photo sharing, and the serendipity of discovering forgotten photos to Yahoo! Mail," Yahoo! Applications senior vice president Bryan Lamkin said in an online post.

Xoopit got Yahoo!'s attention last year when it won a "Hack Day" event at the Internet pioneer's campus in Sunnyvale, California, presenting software for organizing pictures tucked away in Yahoo! Mail inboxes.

Xoopit-driven "My Photos" has become the third most popular application at Yahoo! Mail since it was added at the end of last year, according to Lamkin.

AMAZON.COM buying shoe seller zappos for $928 million

San Francisco
The Economic Times
Amazon.com will pay about $928 million for booming online shoe retailer Zappos.com, expanding aggressively into the apparel arena with a well-known name after trying unsuccessfully to go it alone.

Amazon said on Wednesday it struck a deal to buy Zappos, for 927.9 million -- mostly in stock -- growing its footprint in shoes and apparel.

The world's largest online retailer should benefit from the fiercely loyal customer base at Zappos, which had about $1 billion of gross merchandise sales last year.

Zappos is known for its attentive customer service, free shipping and a free returns policy which inspires shoppers to gamble on shoes. The company said Amazon will allow it to continue running its business as it always has.

Analysts applauded the deal. Bernstein Research analyst Jeffrey Lindsay called it an "outstanding acquisition."

But the move also signaled Amazon had fallen short with its online shoe site Endless.com, launched in 2007.

"This is, in some ways, Amazon throwing in the towel on footwear because they've tried to compete with Zappos," said Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

"If you can't beat them, buy them."

Amazon, which began as an online bookseller, has greatly expanded its range of offerings while also allowing third-party sellers to showcase their own items on its site.

That has allowed the company to post robust online sales in recent years, outpacing brick-and-mortar retailers, even as former online stalwarts such as eBay Inc, have stumbled.

New IT Projects to generate 6000 jobs in Madhya Pradesh

The Economic Times
As many as 6,000 jobs will be generated in Madhya Pradesh by the four Information Technology Parks coming up, Industry and IT Minister Kailash Vijaywargiya told the state assembly Thursday.

Replying to a question by independent legislator Paras Saklecha, Vijaywargiya said the four Information Technology Parks, coming up at Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior and Jabalpur, will create jobs for about 6,000 people.

The minister further said that a total of 22 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) have been signed in the recent past to take the state ahead in IT sector. He added that additional job opportunities would also come through 51 IT units associated with Software Technology Park of India's regional office in Indore.

Vijaywargiya said the chief minister has also held discussions with several IT companies and invited them to invest in the state.

P.R. Sanjai, Mumbai
BK Madhav and Sons is one of the many customs clearing agents in the Ballard Estate area of south Mumbai. Like many of his peers, Prathmesh Madhav, the firm’s promoter, was never interested in investing in information technology (IT) infrastructure.

The economic slowdown has now compelled Madhav, who manages customs clearing for the Indian unit of a global automobile firm, to integrate his processes and trim costs using technology. This has also cut his customs filing time to five minutes from three days earlier.

Like BK Madhav, many other small, family-controlled Indian logistics firms are considering investing in IT infrastructure to cut costs and outsourcing non-core functions.

“Recession is forcing logistics companies to take a hard look at their operations and look at ways to improve productivity and work on customer satisfaction and retention,” said Sumeet Nadkar, head of the logistics strategic business unit at Kale Consultants Ltd, a software firm in Mumbai that sells applications to logistics companies and airlines. “This industry has very low technology adoption. There are challenges in proliferation of technology and a lot of players are taking time with their technology buying decisions.”

For a mid-sized freight forwarding company, administration costs can be reduced by at least 10%. Features such as automated email or SMS (short messaging service) alerts to customers and partners also minimize telephone costs, while auto emailing invoices eliminate paper and courier bills, Nadkar said.

“This will further reduce 20-30% of communication costs. Similarly, the application sends proactive alerts to prevent service failures. That means there is savings in terms of steps taken to correct the service failures and additional resources required for the same,” he added.

Cyrus Guzder, chairman and managing director of logistics firm AFL Ltd, says there are three objectives behind outsourcing certain functions. “One is cost savings. But the most important reason could be increasing the productivity and having superior quality of service,” he said. AFL outsources its entire software development, hardware support and network management to Accenture Ltd.

Amit Maheshwari, chief executive officer and managing director of Mumbai-based Softlink Logistic Systems Pvt. Ltd, said technology can help prevent revenue leakages from operational issues as it streamlines and integrates the various processes involved.

For instance, key firms in the logistics chain, such as customs agents, freight forwarders, exporters and importers, can exchange data without needing to re-enter it manually at each stage, he said.

“Technology can decrease operational cost by almost 20% if used appropriately. Our clients have themselves given examples of reducing the man hours from 120 hours to 5 minutes for certain operational processes,” Maheshwari said. Softlink has some 2,500 clients.

“Moreover, given enhanced and redundant communications and connectivity infrastructures, shipping documents can just as easily and transparently be processed in Mumbai, Mexico or Manila,” said Jaison Augustine, vice-president, industrial and infrastructure services, at New York-based outsourcing firm WNS (Holdings) Ltd. “The average cost savings at different levels for a logistics company is anywhere between 30-60%.”

At least two big Indian logistics companies have started outsourcing some of their activities to outsourcing firms to cut costs, Augustine said over the phone from New York. He did not name the two firms.

Biometric card that doubles as database

Sameera Kapoor, Vashi, Mumbai
DNA (Mumbai edition)
Micro Technologies, an IT-based security solution company based at MIDC TTC Industrial Area, Mahape, recently launched a unique identity card for its employees embedded with important information for emergency access.

The card is enabled to store numerous personal information of the employee using biometric technology for purpose of individual identification.

Termed as leap in personal identification, the information encrypted includes date of birth, PAN details, residential address, banking details, heath and passport details.

"The card is similar to any other smart card expect with the minor difference of the amount and kind of information stored within. The card is incorporated with a chip that stores all important details that matters to an individual. Information about RTO registration, property etc. are the some of the other details stored for in the card," said Chairman and Managing Director of Micro Technologies Dr P Sekhar.

In a bid to reduce any possibility of duplication or misuse, the access of card calls for numerous verification processes only known to the user. Verification process comprises of authentication by means of biometric device and passwords.

BOA TO MULL 5 SEZ Proposals on August 11

New Delhi
Business Standard The Economic Times (Delhi edition)
The Commerce Ministry will consider on August 11 five proposals for setting up SEZs, including those of Brooke Bond Real Estates and Deccan Infrastructure.

The 19-member inter-ministerial Board of Approval (BoA) headed by Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar may also give formal approval to 25 developers who have been given more time to execute their projects.

The Board would also take a decision on requests of Lanco Solar and Cochin Airport International to set up special economic zones (SEZs), a source said.

Brooke Bond Real Estates plans to set up an IT\ITeS SEZ over 11 hectare in Karnataka, while Deccan Infrastructure has moved the BoA for permission to develop two tax-free zones in Andhra Pradesh.

The developers, including Ansal SEZ in Gurgaon (Haryana), Ranbaxy Laboratories in Mohali (Punjab) and Maytas Enterprises in Ranga Reddy (Andhra Pradesh), who have been given one-year additional time to go ahead with their projects, may get formal approval for the extension, sources said.

Two developers - Maytas Ventures and Sanvo Resorts - have requested the BoA to de-notify their projects.

So far 576 formal approvals have been given for setting up SEZs, of which 319 have been notified. Exports from SEZs grew by 36 percent to Rs 90,416 crore in 2008-09.

SAP to acquire SWISS CO SAF for $100 million

New Delhi
Business Standard Financial Chronicle Mint The Statesman The Tribune The Hindu Business Line Deccan Herald
Global IT firm SAP today said it was looking to acquire Switzerland-based software developer SAF AG for around $100 million.

“We are in the process of acquiring SAF AG. We are in talks and have gone for public bidding. The size of the acquisition is around $100 million,” SAP Indian Subcontinent Managing Director Ranjan Das said here on the sidelines of an event. Das, however, declined to give further details and the time-frame by which the acquisition would take place.

SAF is a Swiss forecasting and replenishment software developer in the field of retail and wholesale industries. The company today launched a software, SAP BusinessObject Explorer, here and said the Indian retail sector had a lot of potential considering its size and opportunities.

“Now the retail sector has extended beyond the traditional stores. It is more organised and companies are coming forward for a better way of management and supply chain organisation. This is where our solutions can help,” SAP Asia Pacific Japan vice-president (Service Industries, Industries and Solutions Group) Sandeep Shirodkar said.

Talking about its new product, the company said the new software would help them go beyond just being a Business Intelligence provider. The software will also help organisations take decisions at the managerial level as well.

Mid-sized firms expect IT budgets to increase

Darlington Jose Hector, Bangalore
Financial Chronicle
According to a global study released by IBM, over 50 percent of Indian mid market business decision makers (including COOs, CFOs, CIOs etc) expect their IT budgets to increase in 2009 as compared to last year even in tough economic conditions.

A majority of Indian companies surveyed cited supply chain management (SCM), information management and security management as critical business priorities for improving business performance and efficiency. Most midsize companies also recognise that a do-it-alone strategy may hinder their chances of success, and finding strategic IT partners who can collaborate with them to realise their vision is the key for success.

According to the study, even in today’s unsettled global economy, mid-sized companies continue to innovate and grow through technology investments in India. This is especially true in growth markets where IT budgets have been left largely intact.

The study is based on a study of about 1,879 business and IT executives at companies with 100-1,000 employees across industries and in 17 countries including India, Australia, Benelux, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, UK, and the US.

“Midsize companies in India are constantly innovating while deploying resources to create sustainable business value. They are investing in the future – making changes and taking risks to survive, compete – and thrive,” said Ramesh Narasimhan, director, general business, IBM India/South Asia.

“In today’s globally integrated economy, it is necessary to enhance customer relationships and collaboration, and to create efficiencies across supply chains and core business operations,” he said.

Some of the common barriers to successful IT implementation at growing organisations are an inability to implement and the lack of required skills in-house. Study findings indicate that many mid-sized firms work with IT providers and consultants to overcome these barriers. In terms of selection criteria, 70 percent of those surveyed indicate that they prefer to partner with an IT company who has expertise in their business to help them work smarter, while 67 percent look for partners that can provide the highest quality IT infrastructure solutions.

Improving efficiency and productivity, improving customer focus and sharpening business agility emerged as the leading business challenges in the study.

The Indian marketplace has more than 35 million small and medium businesses, and many of the businesses are trying to expand their business beyond India.

Bill Gates foundation to log out from India

Bangalore/New Delhi
DNA (Bangalore edition) The Economic Times Financial Chronicle
Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and one of the world's richest men, is in India to receive the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) that has been actively working in the field of health and development, especially HIV/AIDS.

Gates on Thursday announced an increase in his foundations' AIDS prevention commitment in India to $338 million from $258 million, saying India's AIDS prevention could be a model for the rest of the world. "I congratulate the Indian government for its leadership on HIV prevention, which can be a model for the rest of the world. Our foundation is committed to working with India over the long haul on a variety of critical health issues," Gates told reporters.

But DNA has learnt that all isn't well with one of India's biggest HIV/AIDS control programmes and BMGF is set to quit from ground work in India as its local mission hasn't achieved the desired targets.

BMGF has already confirmed the rollback plans: "We recognise that the fight against HIV/AIDS in India is far from over. Over the next five years, we will reduce our day-to-day role in programme implementation." The exit programme is already in action. Gates will meet Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Friday to discuss plans for "gradual transition" of Avahan to the Indian government.

Canon India to invest Rs 200 crore, launch 100 products

Mint Financial Chronicle The Financial Express The Economic Times (Mumbai edition)
Canon India, maker of digital imaging equipment, plans to invest up to Rs 200 crore this year to launch over a hundred new products and increase customer-reach through promotions.

“We have a capex plan of Rs 100 crore for our Indian operations this (calendar) year, which includes launching over a hundred new products. It is a cash-based investment,” Canon India Pvt Ltd, president and CEO, Kensaku Konishi, said.

“That apart, we will spend about Rs 80-100 crore in advertising and promotions,” he added.

Capital requirement would be met from internal accruals and investment by Canon Singapore.

The company is also eyeing a 20-25% growth in topline each year for the next two years, Konishi said.

“Last year (2008), we clocked Rs665 crore in revenue. This year, we want to reach a turnover of Rs800 crore and susbsequently Rs1,000 crore by end 2010,” Konishi said.

Canon India also plans to augment its workforce to 760 by this year-end by hiring 60 people, Konishi said.

It has a 200-strong product portfolio, including digicams, camcorders, printers, scanners, SLR cameras and photocopiers among others.

Canon India aims to up its market share to 60% in digital SLR cameras from 50% at present, Konishi said.

The company expects government spending to increase, especially in digital scanners and printers and is thus eyeing higher revenues from public sector firms, he said.

Canon India currently has an over 3,000-strong distributor network in India.

It has manufacturing facilities in Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand.

PC makers plan to prop up market revival

Writankar Mukherjee, Kolkata
The Economic Times (Kolkata edition)
With computer sales in India expected to revive in the second half of 2009, PC makers and chip manufacturers alike are planning to provide a thrust to their game plan in the country.

While Intel and AMD are adopting multiple initiatives to target the first-time users and lower PC prices in the market, PC vendors like Dell and Acer are looking at ways to grow the market by tapping the huge potential in government projects and growing consumer sentiments.

For starters, AMD has just rolled out a new entry-level processor in India priced at $35. “With this, we have reduced the entry-level processor prices by nearly $5. This is part of our strategy to do whatever we can to grow the market. We also plan to grow our retail distribution network,” AMD India VP (marketing and sales) Ramkumar Subramanian said.

According to AMD India, PC sales slid by nearly 10-15% in the first half of 2009. Arch rival Intel feels PC sales have bottomed out during the first half in India and the industry can now expect a sizeable recovery. Both the chip makers are working with OEM and trade partners to grow adoption of their latest platforms in this subdued market.

“While 2009 started with a lull in government purchases, there is now a healthy ICT tender pipeline. Enquires from the enterprise segment are also rising as they want to refresh their PC infrastructure to control costs. After all, the latest range of PCs significantly cut down power and operating costs,” Intel South Asia director (marketing) Prakash Bagri said.

Intel expects newer form factors like ultra-slim notebooks will drive PC sales in the top-end of the market. The chip giant is also betting on its Atom processors to drive growth in value computing through netbooks and nettops. “With Atom, we expect to create a range of devices for the first time users in India. We are also packing more features like WiMAX capabilities to increase its performance,” said Bagri.

PC vendor Acer is refreshing its product line big time in India. “We plan to undertake a lot of ground level activity in the second half with the festivity season round the corner. The netbook is also gaining acceptance in India as the sub-Rs 20,000 price point is becoming a big draw,” said Acer India chief marketing officer S. Rajendran.

Dell India country general manager Sameer Garde said the company is also expanding its product portfolio and distribution channel to grow the business in second half. Hewlett-Packard (HP) is tapping the rural turf to drive growth in line with increasing broadband penetration.

Mobile power

The Times of India (Delhi edition)
With miniaturisation gripping the technology sector, all companies have to do now is combine it with low costs. And that’s exactly what Intex has done with its line of ultra-compact netbooks. The Intex N101-WC1100 has a 10.1” display and weighs just 1.2 kg (with battery). Powered by an Intel Atom N270 processor, it has a 160 GB hard drive, a 1.3 meg video camera and a 1 GB RAM, which is expandable up to 2 GB.
Price: Rs 18,900 (black); Rs 19,400 (red)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wipro net up 12 percent but IT revenue declines

Bangalore: India's third largest IT bellwether, Wipro, remained profitable in the first quarter this fiscal despite marginal revenue decline in its global IT services business sequentially and annually.
Even for the second quarter, revenue from its flagship IT services business is expected to remain flat in the $1.03-$1.05 billion range, as against the $1.03 billion garnered in the first quarter this fiscal, but still less than the $.1.11 billion earned in the corresponding quarter last fiscal.

According to the company's financial statement for the quarter under review, net profit grew 12 percent year-on-year to Rs.10.16 billion (Rs.1,016 crore), while consolidated revenue increased 5 percent to Rs.62.74 billion (Rs.6,274 crore) as per the Indian accounting standard.

Under the International Financial Reporting System (IFRS), net income grew 13 percent to $212 million, while total revenue jumped 5 percent to $1.31 billion.

"Revenue from our global IT services business at $1.03 billion in the first quarter is a decline of 1.3 percent sequentially and 3.3 percent year-on-year," said Wipro chief financial officer Suresh Senapaty Wednesday.

The projected guidance for the second quarter this fiscal, in the range of $1.03-$1.05 billion, will be a decline of 3.4-1.7 percent on constant currency basis and down 6.7-5.1 percent on reported currency.

The dollar depreciated from Rs.44.78 to Rs.48.23 during the last 12 months.

In constant currency, IT services revenue for the first quarter at $1.01 billion is a decline of three percent sequentially, but a growth of 2.1 percent year-on-year, Senapaty said.

The company's IT products business grew marginally by 2 percent to Rs.7.6 billion (Rs.760 crore) from Rs.7.5 billion (Rs.746 crore) a year ago.

"We are starting to see the first signs of stability in the business as ramp downs start to taper off and volumes start to stabilise. We expect revenues from our IT services to be in the range of $1,035-1,055 million in the second quarter," Wipro chairman Azim Premji said in a statement.

The company's consumer care and lighting revenue grew by 9 percent to Rs.5.46 billion (Rs.546 crore) from Rs.5.13 billion (Rs.513 crore) a year ago.

"We are adapting to the new reality with investments in value creation, go-to-market and driving significant operational productivity," Premji said.

Though the IT services business division added 26 new clients in the first quarter, the number of active clients declined to 830 from 863 sequentially and 928 in the same quarter a year ago.

"Even as the business environment remains challenging, we improved on several operating parameters to deliver margin expansion of 0.6 percent to 22.3 percent in the IT services segment," Senapaty pointed out.

On the hiring front, the company made a net addition of 711 employees. As a result, the total number of engineers for its IT services business division has gone up to 98,521 from 97,810 a quarter ago and 95,675 a year ago

Tech Mahindra Q1 net plunges 49 percent y-o-y

Silicon India
Bangalore: IT firm Tech Mahindra reported 49.08 per cent plunge in net profit at Rs.131.62 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2009 owing to the interest costs on borrowings the company incurred after acquiring Satyam.

Tech Mahindra, which recently acquired 42.7 percent stake in Mahindra Satyam, had a net profit of Rs 258.52 crore in the June quarter of last fiscal. Total income of the company fell five percent to Rs.1,086.88 crore during third quarter, from Rs 1,142.50 crore in the year-ago period. On a quarter-on quarter basis, the company's net profit dropped 43 percent from Rs.230.40 crore in the March quarter of FY'09.

As of June 30, 2009, the company's debt stood at Rs 2,380.2 crore. Vineet Nayyar, Vice Chairman, Tech Mahindra said, "This has been a momentous quarter which has redefined Tech Mahindra's positioning in the market place. Not only has our leadership position in telecom been reinforced, but our presence has expanded across other industry verticals as well."

An engineer kills himself over lost 4G iPhone

Silicon India
Bangalore: A Chinese engineer killed himself after a fourth-generation iPhone prototype he was responsible for disappeared. Sun Danyong, 25, was a recent graduate in engineering who worked in product communications at Foxconn Technology Group. Foxconn is a Taiwanese firm that makes many Apple products at a massive factory in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong
The Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper reported that his property had been seized and was held in solitary confinement, where he faced "unbearable interrogation techniques" for having lost one of 16 "4G" prototypes.

Apple issued a statement this afternoon in response to a report by CNET. An Apple spokeswoman said, "The Silicon Valley firm is saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death. We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect."

AppleInsider notes that it's the second piece of bad news for the company recently. Last week an investigation found that 45 of the 83 factories that built iPhones and iPods in 2008 weren't paying valid overtime rates, and that 23 weren't even paying some of their workers China's minimum wage.

Windows 7 ready for PC companies: Microsoft

The Economic Times
Microsoft Corp. says Windows 7 is complete. The software maker sent the final code for its next computer operating system to manufacturers Wednesday, and said it's still on track for an Oct. 22 launch.

Mike Angiulo, a general manager in the Windows group, said in an interview that getting up and running on a Windows computer will be ``a lot smoother'' than it was when Windows Vista launched in 2007.

At the time, Microsoft boasted about the number of programs and devices that would work with Vista, but many PC users found their existing software, printers, scanners, cameras and other hardware didn't function after the switch.

Microsoft said one reason Windows 7 should be an easier launch is that at its core, the new version is a lot like Vista. If a company updated a product to work with Vista in the last few years, it should also work with Windows 7.

Windows 7 has also progressed in an orderly way, which means outside companies have had more time to make sure their products will work. Vista was plagued by changes to Microsoft's plans, leaving partner companies scrambling to keep up.

The new operating system will launch into a much tougher climate than Vista did. PC shipments are expected to fall this year for the first time since 2001, as the economic crisis has forced businesses to slash technology spending. Microsoft built in a way for companies to run older, Windows XP programs in Windows 7, in an attempt to avoid losing those corporate customers that skipped Vista altogether because critical software wasn't compatible.

Companies that have long-term agreements to buy Microsoft software in bulk will be able to download and start installing Windows 7 in a few weeks, Microsoft said.

Emails can resurface after deletion but in the wrong hands

The Economic Times
Beware, emails or Facebook posts or pictures can resurface months after they are deleted -- in the wrong hands or at the wrong time, according to researchers.

"If you care about privacy, the internet today is a very scary place," said University of Washington (UW) computer scientist Tadayoshi Kohno. "If people understood the implications of where and how their email is stored, they might be more careful or not use it as often."

For instance, a lost cell phone can expose personal photos or text messages. A legal investigation can subpoena the entire contents of a home or work computer, uncovering incriminating, inconvenient or just embarrassing details from the past.

The team of UW computer scientists developed a prototype system called Vanish that can place a time limit on text uploaded to any web service through a web browser. After a set time text written using Vanish will, in essence, self-destruct.

Study co-authors include Roxana Geambasu, Tadayoshi Kohno, Hank Levy and Amit Levy, all with UW's department of computer science and engineering.

"When you send out a sensitive email to a few friends you have no idea where that email is going to end up," Geambasu said.

Google, Apple: two mobile software visions

The Economic Times
When Service-now.com, a maker of software for corporate information technology departments, created a smartphone version of its product last year, it bucked a major trend.

Instead of creating an application that customers could download through an outlet like Apple's (AAPL) iPhone App Store or Google's (GOOG) Android Marketplace, the company built a customized Web site so users of many different devices could use the software via their phones' browsers without downloading anything. Tailoring software for the five big mobile-phone platforms—iPhone, Android, BlackBerry (RIMM), Symbian, and Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Mobile—"would have taken five times as much work," says Service-now.com principal architect Pat Casey.

Service-now.com is hardly alone in discovering that the Web can be a more convenient place to host mobile applications than on devices themselves. The argument for Web-centric mobile computing got a boost this month when Google's vice-president of engineering, Vic Gundotra, told a San Francisco technology conference on July 16 that the Web, not downloadable apps, is the future of smartphones. "Over the next several years, the browser ... will become the platform that matters," Gundotra said during a panel discussion.

Less clout ahead for Apple?

The weight that Google threw behind the online style of mobile software development isn't surprising. Much of Google's software, including applications for getting directions, creating documents, and sending e-mail, resides on the Web and isn't downloaded onto users' PCs or phones.

But if enough developers write Web-based applications that aren't exclusive to the iPhone or other devices, as Google hopes, Apple and other hardware makers could have less clout when it comes to keeping customers loyal to their platforms. The phone makers also could miss out on revenue shared with software makers when users download their applications. Apple declined to comment for this story.

"Suddenly, the browser is an application platform," says Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera Software, which makes browsers for PCs and handheld devices and claims a 23% share of mobile-phone browsers, about equal to Apple's Safari, according to Web analytics firm StatCounter. Opera is improving its browser to run more types of mobile applications on more phones, von Tetzchner says.

Creating software for browsers gives developers a big advantage, according to von Tetzchner. It opens a potentially big new market for mobile apps: consumers with not-so-smart phones. Opera Mini, a stripped-down version of the company's browser, gives basic phones made by Nokia (NOK), Motorola (MOT), and others the ability to access Web sites and applications. Developers whose software runs in a browser can likewise gain quicker access to emerging markets, where phones are generally less capable of running specially designed applications stored inside them, he says.

Concerns about security

Other companies have favored developing smartphone software for browsers rather than specific hardware as well. Wireless carriers including Vodafone (VOD) have called for consolidating the number of operating systems in the market, and for a push toward more mobile Web development. In May, Vodafone worked with carriers China Mobile (CHL), Softbank (9984.T), and Verizon Wireless to launch the Joint Innovation Lab, an initiative to educate would-be developers of mobile widgets and share with them the proceeds of software sales. "We very much believe in the idea that the [mobile] applications of the future will be running inside the browser," says Pieter Knook, Vodafone's director of Internet services.

SREI identifies new verticals in Medical Equipment, IT

V. K. Varadarajan, Bangalore
The Hindu Business Line
Srei Equipment Finance Pvt Ltd, a 50:50 joint venture between Srei Infrastructure Finance Ltd and BNP Paribas Lease Group, has identified the medical equipment and IT sectors as new verticals for financing.

The company has lent Rs 150 crore to these sectors so far and set a target of Rs 1,000 crore for this fiscal. The company is also contemplating entering agricultural equipment financing, leveraging its French partner’s experience in Europe. BNP Paribas is a leader in financing IT/medical and agricultural equipment financing.

The plan to enter farm sector is still in the drawing board stage. No firm plans have been made, the Chief Executive Officer, D. K. Vyas, told Business Line.

Targets corporates

He said with the company’s expertise in a suite of services, including advisory apart from selling and deploying infrastructure equipment, Srei hopes to fine-tune its pilot for the IT/medical equipment sector – initially aimed at corporates – for evolving a viable business model.

Vyas said: “We are trying to learn the business to fine-tune and evolve a viable business model for this sector.”

The IT sector traditionally depends on banks and captive financing arms of major IT companies for financing equipment.

On Srei’s core business, Vyas said infrastructure sector was emerging as a major focus area for investment from both the Government and private sector. Eyeing the sector’s consolidation in the coming years, particularly with the Budget giving a thrust this year through such rural programmes as Bharat Nirman, Srei hoped to exceed its disbursal target of Rs 7,000 crore this year. It has lent Rs 1,100 crore during the first quarter of this fiscal and hopes to lend Rs 2,000 crore in the second half.

Last year, Srei had disbursed Rs 5,500 crore.

With a market share of 33 percent, Srei wants to strengthen lending activity by launching a partnership campaign to build close relationships with the customers, said Vyas.

ICAI backs rotation of partners every 5 years

Pankaj Doval, New Delhi
The Times of India
Following the outcry over role of auditors in the Satyam scam, auditing regulator ICAI has recommended major changes in auditing processes, which include among other things, joint auditors for big companies and rotation of partners every five years.

These recommendations of a high-powered committee of ICAI, formed after the Satyam scam, will now be considered by the government. The committee, headed by ICAI president Uttam Prakash Aggarwal, was tasked with suggesting changes required to make the auditing process in India more effective and foolproof after the Satyam scandal shook corporate India and led to the arrest of auditors of Price Waterhouse.

I&B to set up towers along border areas

Nitin Mahajan, New Delhi
The Asian Age
In an effort to counter this anti-India propaganda, the government has an aggressive programme of setting up high-frequency towers in such areas

In an effort to counter Pakistani propaganda against India through its broadcast mechanism, the information and broadcasting ministry is planning to establish high-frequency transmitters and towers in bordering areas of the country. Official sources stated that the I&B ministry has earmarked an amount of around Rs 100 crore for implementation of the project.

The move comes after the I&B ministry's proposal for setting up high-frequency transmitters and towers on border areas to counter anti-India propaganda from across the border got a boost after the Union Budget for 2009-10 allocated around Rs 100 crore to the ministry for the same.

Official sources stated that the need to enhance the country's broadcasting capabilities in the bordering areas has been felt for long as people living in such areas in regularly receive anti-India feed on their television sets from across the border.

In an effort to counter this anti-India propaganda, the government has an aggressive programme of setting up high-frequency towers in such areas.

And for the maintenance and security of these towers, the government is also contemplating hiring retired Army engineers and former police officials on contractual basis.