Friday, 31 October 2014

Harley Davidson launches Breakout, Street Glide and CVO Limited

Harley Davidson has included three more models to it’s Indian lineup of motorcycles, by launching the Breakout, Street Glide and CVO Special here in India. Out of these three motorcycles, the Breakout will be assembled at the company’s assembly plant at Bawal in Haryana, while the other two, the Street Glide and CVO Special, will be brought to India and sold here as completely built units (CBUs). With this, there are now a total of 13 different motorcycles from the stable of Harley Davidson to choose from.
At Rs.16.28 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Breakout is the most affordable one out of these three models, which is the range topping model of it’s Softail lineage of motorcycles. Powering the motorcycle is a a four-stroke, Twin Cam 96, 1,690cc engine, which is capable of producing 129Nm of torque at 3,000rpm. The Breakout boasts of hidden rear suspension and rakish and aggressive handlebars, which are meant to be typical traits of all motorcycles from the Softail family.
The second product, the Street Glide, is a fully loaded motorcycle from the touring family of Harley Davidson motorcycles. The Street Glide is fitted with a four-stroke, Twin Cam 96, 1,690cc engine, which is capable of producing 136Nm of torque at 3,000rpm. The motorcycle is equipped with ‘Boom’ Box LCD display, adjustable hydraulic suspension, panniers attached to the sides and a linked ABS system. The Street Glide is priced at Rs. 29.7 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
For all the motorcycle lovers who want sheer exclusivity and presence wherever they go, the third motorcycle on the list, CVO Limited, fulfills their wish list. The motorcycle is finely handcrafted with high levels of ‘attention-to-detail’. The CVO Limited is blessed with a twin-cooled, twin-cam, 1,800cc engine, which belts out 155Nm of torque at 3,750rpm. The long list of lavish features on this flagship motorcycle includes a ‘Boom’ Box LCD display and two speakers, luggage compartments, arm rests for pillion riders and many more. The CVO Limited is priced at Rs. 49.23 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), making it the most expensive Harley Davidson motorcycle on sale.

US market lifts global tablet sales: survey

Strong sales in the United States helped boost the global market for tablet computers in the third quarter, tracker IDC said Thursday.
IDC said tablet sales rose 11.5% year-over-year to 53.8 million units. Much of that came from the US market, which saw 18.5% growth, helped by back-to-school sales.
"Not only is the US market one of the largest for tablets, but third quarter results also indicate that this is where the growth is," said IDC analyst Jean Philippe Bouchard.
Bouchard said the US saw growth led by carriers such as Verizon, and low-cost devices including the RCA brand, which broke into the top five.
Apple remained the largest single vendor despite a drop in iPad sales from a year ago, shipping 12.3 million units in the third quarter for a 22.8% market share, IDC said.
Samsung held its number two position on the market with 9.9 million units shipped, capturing 18.3% of the market.
In third place was Taiwan-based Asus at 6.5%, followed by China's Lenovo at 5.7%. RCA-brand tablets were fifth with a 4.9% share, while 41.8% came from other vendors.
"Although the low-cost vendors are moving a lot of volume, the top vendors, like Apple, continue to rake in the dollars," said IDC's Jitesh Ubrani.
"A sub-$100 tablet simply isn't sustainable -- Apple knows this -- and it's likely the reason they aren't concerned with market share erosion."
The tablet market, which grew at a dizzying pace in 2013, is now seen as cooling because consumers are keeping their devices longer and turning in some cases to new "ultramobile" PCs.
A Gartner report earlier this month predicted 2014 worldwide tablet sales of 229 million, up 11% from last year, when the market grew 55%.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be conducting first of its kind Q&A with users

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced in a blog post that come next Thursday, he will sit down and answer questions that users of the social network want him to answer. This is the first time that the young billionaire will be holding such a Q&A on the website.
However, it works a tad differently to the usual Q&As or Reddit ‘Ask Me Anythings’ which we are familiar with. Those who wish to pose questions to Zuckerberg must visit this Facebook page and post them there. If they don’t have a question of their own, they can Like other people’s inquiries to make them more visible.
Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg will then answer these questions on a livestream, a video of which will be posted afterwards. This livestream is scheduled to commence on November 6 at 2pm PT.
Funnily enough, the question with the most Likes right now goes ‘Why you forced us to install Facebook messenger?’ While we’re quite certain that the Facebook CEO will choose to not answer this one, we’d be pleased if he proves us wrong.
Also Read: Wi-Fi will be beamed from the sky: Facebook will fly Internet beaming drones in 2015
Although this will be the first time Zuckerberg will be interacting like this with users of the world’s biggest social network, he regularly holds similar Q&A discussions with his employees. These private discussions are meant to let the staff build a better rapport with higher authorities in the company.
The Facebook head has recently turned to becoming quite an active CEO. In October, he paid a visit to India as part of the initiative, while a few days ago, he was also spotted speaking Mandarin during an interaction with students from China.

Microsoft Leaks its Own New Fitness Band and Health Software

Microsoft Band has more health-tracking sensors than its rivals, and claims it will use Microsoft's 'big data' resource to analyse fitness patterns

Microsoft has officially unveiled a new fitness smartwatch and Health service after accidentally leaking it through smartphone app stores hours earlier.

The band was first revealed by mistake through Microsoft's supporting apps for the iPhone, Android and Mac computers, which allow the Microsoft Band to connect to smartphones, tablets and computers beyond Windows.

The new fitness gadget is a Bluetooth band that records the number of steps the wearer takes in a day, the intensity of her sleep, exercise performance and calories burned. It also tracks heart rate, location via GPS, skin temperature, perspiration and UV exposure making it one of the most complete fitness trackers available.

Microsoft Band
The Band has more sensors than almost any other fitness tracking band.Photograph: Microsoft
It will last around two days on a charge with 24-hour heart rate monitoring, although use of the GPS during runs will reduce the battery life, according to Microsoft.

'Combine health and fitness data to create powerful insights'

Four years in the making, the Band also has a microphone and connects to a smartphone to display notifications and activate voice assistants such as Windows Phone's Cortana, in a similar fashion to Google's Android Wear smartwatches.

The Band will connect to Windows Phones, iPhones, Android devices and Windows and Mac computers to sync data. Fitness tracking is powered by Microsoft's new Health service, which like Google's Fit and Apple's Health aims to collate fitness and health data from third-party apps and services as well as the Microsoft Band.

"The Microsoft Health platform includes a cloud service for consumers and the industry to store and combine health and fitness data to create powerful insights," said Todd Holmdahl, corporate vice president at Microsoft in a blog post.

Microsoft's "Intelligence Engine" will process data from different sources combining fitness information with data from a user's calendar, email and location to build a more detailed picture of their health.

"Nobody else has the big data or machine learning to attack fitness and productivity challenges in this way," said Zulfi Alam, Microsoft's general manager of personal devices.

Microsoft Band
The Band will connect via Bluetooth to Windows Phones, iPhones and Android phones, as well as Windows and Mac computers.Photograph: Microsoft
The company said that the data would be securely stored in its cloud service, and that users will be able to actively share that data with medical providers using Microsoft's HealthVault.

Jawbone, MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal and RunKeeper will be some of the first apps to connect to the new health platform, with more added later.

Lucrative health market

Microsoft is the last of the big three traditional technology companies to enter the medical market with a new health service. Apple released its Health app and service with the iPhone 6 and iOS 8.1 while Google released Fit Wednesday - each of these apps and services are designed to both monitor fitness directly and the allow third-party apps and service to connect and share data.

Many in the technology sector are vying for a slice of the healthcare industry, which is a potentially lucrative market worth about 10% of the economy of developed nations. In Britain, more than £100bn a year is spent on the NHS, according to the Department of Health.

Fitness trackers and the "quantified self" movement represent a small proportion of that market. But the personal data trackers offer potential for setting baseline measurements against which changes caused by disease could be measured providing better, more personalised diagnoses from medical professionals.

The explosion in the market has been fuelled by the intersection of biometric sensor cost and capability, which has made devices such as heart rate monitors a viable addition to consumer gadgets costing under £200.

Oppo N3: First impressions

Oppo N3: First impressions

Oppo has pulled the wraps off its latest flagship, the N3, a successor to the N1. The company launched the device amidst grand fanfare in Singapore and we had the chance to play around with the device to find out what it’s like to use. Here are our first impressions.
Design and display

The Oppo N3 is easier to use one-handed than the N1
This is Oppo’s top-of-the-line model sporting a premium look. The aluminum chassis ensures that the device is durable, while being as lightweight as it can. It’s not as massive as its successor, thanks to the new reduced display size – down from 5.9 inches to 5.5. inches. It should be noted that the huge display was considered one of its weakest points, so it’s good to know that Oppo has been listening.
The 1080p Full HD display is bright and vivid, and with the high pixel density of 400ppi, there shouldn’t be much to complain about. It also gets a layer of Gorilla Glass 3 for added protection against scratches and should be able to withstand rough use.
The device is fairly portable and easy to use with one hand, if not for longer durations. In bid to make it look expensive, the company has also added a faux-leather stitching around the rotarised camera.
Oppo has maintained the highlight of the device – the swivel camera – that can be used to take rear as well as front photos. However, it has added a big improvement in the form of the motorised ability that automatically rotates the camera 206 degrees, without the need to manually rotate it. All one needs to do is open the camera app and then swipe your finger downwards to rotate the camera to click your selfie. It can be moved upwards to take it back to the earlier position. It worked quite well each time we did it.
Notice the faux-leather stitches around the 16MP camera
Besides, you can also control the camera via the ‘Touch Access’ on the rear side and the all new O-Click 2.0 remote. Another improvement comes in the form of the 16MP camera, which has been upgraded from the 13MP we saw on the N1. It’s a true-selfie phone and quite capable of taking some really good self-shots. However, we can ascertain this only once we’ve tested its camera abilities in different conditions.
Just like other Chinese brands, Oppo ships with its own customised version of Android OS. The all-new N3 runs on the latest version of the Color OS 2.0. It is based on Android Kitkat and has introduced a more minimalistic look. Navigating gets really easy once you get used to it.
Other specifications
The N1 disappointed with the Snapdragon 600 chipset, but Oppo has now spruced up the processing power by opting for a Snapdragon 801 chipset in the N3. It’s also backed by 2GB of RAM, which should provide plenty of horsepower for running apps and games at a lightening speed. It seems speedy enough to run everyday apps and we didn’t experience any lags during our limited time with the phone.
The fingerprint scanner is positioned just below the Oppo logo
The fingerprint scanner works in a similar fashion as in most of the devices, but is housed on the rear instead of the home button. It let you add up to five fingerprints. Oppo also claims to have improved the battery life drastically with the new VOOC technology. It packs in a 3000mAh battery. However, we will know the exact battery life only once we conduct our loop tests.
Bottom Line
With the Oppo N3, the company has tried to add all the elements required in a high-end device along with gimmicky features such as a fingerprint scanner and a 16MP swivel camera. It has tried to tick all the boxes with the Full HD display, Snapdragon 801 processor and a large battery, but one of the crucial factors that remains is the pricing.
The Oppo N3 is launched for $649 that translates to approximately Rs 41,000. The device is expected to launch in India soon. While the exact availability or pricing details are not disclosed yet, it is expected to be priced the same. This could prove as a hindrance, considering Oppo will be competing with seasoned OEMs like HTC and Samsung, and not the budget segment like Xiaomi and others.

WikiTweaks for Chrome restyles Wikipedia to avoid content distractions

WikiTweaks for Chrome has restyled Wikipedia that can help users to avoid distractions from the links within the text body and stay focused on the main content.
It adjusts the formatting of each entry on Wikipedia and adds pop-up summaries of those tempting links, keeping you on the right page, CNet reported.
The simple install of the copy of WikiTweaks for the Google Chrome browser would be sufficient to format the entire Wikipedia page. The other noticeable differences would be that there is less space in the left and right margins, which makes more use of your screen real estate.
If people click on the WikiTweaks button, they'll see a list of recently viewed Wikipedia entries. This extension makes Wikipedia more user-friendly by helping people find out what a linked word refers to, without losing track of what they went to the site for in the first place.

Former Android boss Andy Rubin leaves Google

Andy Rubin  
Andy Rubin co-founded the world's most popular mobile operating system Android
One of the creators of the world's most popular mobile operating system is to leave Google, it has been announced.
Andy Rubin, who co-founded the Android project, is to step down after around nine years at the technology giant.
Announcing Mr Rubin's departure, Google said he created "something truly remarkable" in Android.
Mr Rubin, who has also worked for Apple, reportedly plans to found an incubator for hardware start-up firms.
"I want to wish Andy all the best with what's next. With Android he created something truly remarkable - with a billion plus happy users. Thank you," said Google's chief executive and co-founder Larry Page.
Mr Rubin's departure comes after he stepped down from Google's Android division in March 2013 to begin working on the technology giant's robotics project.
He was behind the acquisition of seven robotics companies in a six-month spell as part of a reported attempt to develop a rival to Amazon's mooted drone delivery system. Google said that those claims were speculation.
When he left, Android came under the control of Sunder Pichai, a rising star at the company who worked with Google Chrome and Apps, and who has since picked up yet more responsibilities from Larry Page.
'Extraordinary progress' Writing on Google's blog at the time, Mr Page wrote that when Andy Rubin he first launched Android in 2003, "most people thought he was nuts".
He said Mr Rubin's vision of "aligning standards around an open-source operating system" struck a chord with Google because it simplified the development process.
And he lauded its subsequent success, which he said was "pretty extraordinary progress for a decade's work".
The move comes amid a series of executive changes at Google, which the New York Times reported were designed to relieve Larry Page of the responsibility of running individual projects.
"These changes will free me up a bit so I can focus on the bigger picture with Sundar [Pichai] when it comes to our core products," it quoted a memo from Mr Page as saying.
The news of Mr Rubin's departure from Google came as Twitter confirmed that it had demoted its head of product, the former director of Google's Mobile Apps, Daniel Graf.
Mr Graf was replaced by Kevin Weil, who took up the role of vice president of product. The former retained his title but was given a narrower role.
He will be expected to work on geolocation features and other strategic initiatives, a source intimated.
His demotion came only six months after he was hired from Google and is the second time Twitter's head of product has been replaced in the year since the initial public offering.

Sennheiser and Jabra Launch In-Ear Headsets in India

Sennheiser and Jabra have launched new headsets in India. Sennheiser on Friday launched the MM 30G in-ear headset at Rs. 3,999, while Jabra on Wednesday launched the Storm in-ear Bluetooth headset at Rs. 4,499.
The Sennheiser MM 30G is an in-ear headset specially designed for Samsung Galaxy smartphones, but is compatible with other smartphones as well. Coming with the option to choose between small, medium and large size ear sleeves, the headset integrates an in-line remote control with integrated omni-directional microphone, including volume controls and a multi-function button that lets users answer or end calls.
Pressing the Sennheiser MM 30G multi-function button once, twice or holding it for specified durations will activate other controls, such as voice commands, depending on the compatibility of the handset, with Sony, HTC, and Nokia handsets also listed.
The MM 30G is available to buy in two colour variants - Black and White - for Rs. 3,990 along with a 2-year warranty. It features a 1.2-metre cable, a 3.5mm plug, a 16ohm impedance, and a weight of 11 grams.
jabra_storm_rear.jpg"The smartphone has become an integral part of everyone's daily entertainment source and communication on the go. Sennheiser being an innovator in the audio solutions space, has created the Sennheiser MM30G especially for Samsung mobile device users to ensure seamless communication combined with great audio entertainment experience on the go," stated Mr. Kapil Gulati Vice President- Sales & Marketing (Consumer segment) Sennheiser Electronics India Pvt. Ltd at the launch.
The Jabra Storm Bluetooth headset is available to buy from the company website.
Featuring the company's own 'micro POWER' technology for smaller batteries, the Jabra Storm is advertised as a smaller and lighter headset than headsets by other firms. The Bluetooth headset features a behind-the-ear style design along with 'Noise Blackout' audio technology via the dual microphones, and 'HD Voice' support. The headset also includes NFC (or Perimeter Pairing) and Bluetooth connectivity. Jabra says the Storm headset provides up to 10 hours of talk time, and up to 240 hours of standby time.
Earlier this month, JBL announced its collaboration with OnePlus, a smartphone maker, to introduce its JBL E1+ Earphones made exclusively for the company's 'One' handset.
The JBL E1+ Earphones feature PureBass technology and high frequency response. The red-coloured earphone with a flat wire design includes a frequency range from 10Hz-22000Hz. It also features an in-line three-button remote with microphone, which lets users answer calls, skip audio tracks and also take images. The JBL E1+ Earphones come with three additional pairs of rubber earplugs of different sizes.

Lava Iris Fuel 50 unveiled in India with massive 3000mAh battery at Rs 7799

The Lava Iris Fuel 50 smartphone has been officially launched in India and is targeted at those looking for a decent handset with average specs and great battery life. The device aims to deliver these features at a price point of Rs 7799 which is a pretty attractive amount.
The Lava Iris Fuel 50 is equipped with a 3000mAh cell that should keep you mum about your battery woes. And where activity time is concerned, you can expect up to 17 hours of talk time on 2G (13 hours on 3G) or up to 370 hours of standby. The phone will have to compete with the Stellar 518 from Spice and Gionee’s M2 which also offer huge batteries and fall in the same price range.
Lava Iris Fuel 50
The smartphone has a bit in common with the Iris 460 in the hardware department, but not with its looks. The phone does proffer a decent design and it isn’t too bulky either, considering that there’s a large cell onboard.
Also read: Spice Stellar 518 offers a massive 4000mAh battery for Rs 7799
It measures 9.5mm thick and tips the scales back by 160 grams. The front flaunts a 5-inch FWVGA touchscreen and a 2MP camera coated with Asahi Glass, while the rear packs an 8MP snapper with dual LED flash. On the inside, you’ll find a quad core processor and basic memory provisions.
Lava Phone With Large Battery
Here’s an overview of the Lava Iris Fuel 50’s specs:
- Android 4.4 KitKat
- 1GB RAM, 8GB storage, 32GB expandable
- 1.3GHz quad core processor
- 5-inch 854 x 480 pixel IPS LCD panel
- Dual SIM slots
- 2MP front camera, 8MP rear snapper
- 3000mAh battery

The Coming Out of Apple’s Chief Tim Cook: ‘This Will Resonate’

Apple’s Cook Makes Case for Equal Rights

Given widespread rumors that he was gay, including being ranked No. 1 on Out magazine’s list of the most powerful gay people last year, the fact that Mr. Cook is gay is less surprising than his willingness to publicly acknowledge and embrace it.
He certainly made the announcement from a position of strength: Apple just completed the most successful product introductions in its history, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and reported record cash flow earlier this month. Apple’s latest fiscal year “was one for the record books,” Mr. Cook told investors. Mr. Cook has survived the intense glare of attention since succeeding Apple’s legendary founder, Steve Jobs, in 2011.
Still, Mr. Cook was plainly reluctant, and, as he put it in his essay in Bloomberg Businessweek, “I don’t seek to draw attention to myself.” But, he wrote, he came to the realization that “If hearing that the C.E.O. of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”
Although Mr. Cook and Mr. Blankfein are professionally close (they were together in China last week), and Mr. Blankfein has publicly championed gay rights, they had never discussed Mr. Cook’s sexual orientation. “I don’t talk about my sexual predilections, and if anybody asked it would be jarring,” Mr. Blankfein said. “No one owes the public such a deep view of his personal life. People underestimate how hard this is. But someone had to be first. For Tim, this was a commitment to make life easier and better for others. It was a generous and courageous thing to do.”
It’s also something that was “unthinkable” when Allan Gilmour was chief financial officer and a board member at Ford, Mr. Gilmour said. “Companies didn’t want controversial executives,” he recalled. As a gay man, he kept his own sexual orientation a closely guarded secret, he said, but there were rumors. He was single and had never married. He retired in 1995 at age 60 after he was twice passed over for the top job.
Mr. Cook’s announcement is “historic and it’s wonderful,” Mr. Gilmour said. Progress “has been erratic, but it’s major.” Mr. Gilmour came out to a local newspaper in 1996, returned for a stint as the openly gay vice chairman at Ford, and served as president of Wayne State University and on numerous corporate boards. He recently married his partner, Eric Jirgens, in Vermont.
On Thursday, he sent Mr. Cook an email thanking him for his “courage and leadership.” He added: “I found, after I outed myself in a poorly planned interview, that my life had a new, and wonderful, dimension. I didn’t have to dissemble, lie, exaggerate, change the subject, etc. I was what I was.”
Richard L. Zweigenhaft, co-author of “Diversity in the Power Elite: How It Happened, Why it Matters” and a psychology professor at Guilford College in North Carolina, who has closely tracked the progress of minorities in business, said Mr. Cook’s announcement gave him “the same feeling that I had back in 1998, when many were speculating about when the first African-American would be appointed a Fortune-level chief executive and who it would be.”
There were two named in 1999 — Franklin D. Raines at Fannie Mae and Lloyd Ward at Maytag. By 2005, there were seven more African-American chief executives at Fortune 500 companies. “Those first appointments really opened the gates,” Professor Zweigenhaft said. “It was like the car went from zero to 60 in 10 seconds.” But since then, progress has stalled, and there are no more African-American chief executives today than there were in 2005.
Professor Zweigenhaft noted that unlike African-Americans, women and Hispanics, for gay men and lesbians, “There’s the issue of self-disclosure — they may choose not to publicly disclose their sexual orientation.” That may be one reason it has taken so long for a chief executive of a Fortune 500 company to come out publicly as gay since doing so may distract from the company and its products.
“Your mission at Ford was to serve the company,” Mr. Gilmour said. “It wasn’t to draw attention to yourself. It wasn’t about self-realization.”
This was evidently a consideration for Mr. Cook. In his essay, he said, “I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.” Mr. Cook told Josh Tyrangiel, senior executive editor at Bloomberg, that he had sought and obtained the approval of Apple’s board before making the announcement, Mr. Tyrangiel said on Bloomberg Television.
Mr. Blankfein sent an internal memo on Thursday to Goldman Sachs employees, praising Mr. Cook’s “eloquent” statement and stressing “the importance of a workplace that celebrates and embraces people’s differences.”
But he acknowledged in an interview: “There are still pockets of resistance. There’s still gender discrimination, and we’re still dealing with racial issues. I’m not sure we can say the battle has been won. But I think people are pretty confident how the battle will end. It’s amazing how much progress has been made and how fast.”
Todd Sears, the founder of Out on the Street, which promotes gay and lesbian leadership in the financial industry, and who has been encouraging gay chief executives to come out, said Mr. Cook’s statement might have even more impact outside the United States. “Sixty percent of Apple’s sales are outside the United States,” he said. “People love Apple products. It’s the biggest company on the globe. There are 78 countries where being gay is illegal, and in a third of those, it’s punishable by death. What are those countries going to do when Tim Cook comes to visit?”
Mr. Cook’s essay also seemed carefully drafted to be inclusive, to embrace anyone who feels different or excluded, which could broaden its impact far beyond the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Mr. Cook was “wonderfully candid about why it was difficult for him to come out,” said Kenji Yoshino, a constitutional law professor at New York University and co-author of “Uncovering Talent: a New Model for Inclusion.”
“When I give presentations on diversity and inclusion in organizations, I often start by noting that of the Fortune 500 C.E.O.s, 5 percent are women, 1 percent are black and zero percent are openly gay,” Professor Yoshino said.
In his essay, Mr. Cook wrote that he was many things besides being gay: “an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic.” Professor Yoshino noted: “When Drew Faust became the first female president of Harvard, she made a similar point. ‘I am not the woman president of Harvard,’ she said. ‘I’m the president of Harvard.' ”
Professor Yoshino added: “We should honor these individuals as the pioneers they are. But one way we do so is to let them know that we will not reduce their stories to that one narrative. So in my next presentation, which I am about to give in an hour, I will happily adjust the gay C.E.O. statistic up to 0.2 percent, but underscore that the movement has occurred today thanks to ‘the nature lover and sports fanatic’ Tim Cook.”

UN warns of 'unprecedented' number of foreign jihadists

London: Foreign jihadists from more than 80 countries have flocked to fight in Iraq and Syria on an "unprecedented scale", according to extracts of a UN report published by Britain's Guardian newspaper today.
Around 15,000 people have travelled to fight alongside Islamic State (IS) and other hardcore militant groups from "countries that have not previously faced challenges relating to al-Qaeda," said the report.
The number of foreign jihadists travelling to fight since 2010 exceeds the cumulative total of the 20 preceding years "many times", the Security Council study said.
"There are instances of foreign terrorist fighters from France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland operating together," it said, according to the Guardian.
Britain's top police officer, Bernard Hogan-Howe, estimated last week that five people a week were leaving the country to fight with IS. Security officials estimate that there are currently around 500 British nationals fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Dozens have been arrested for preparing to leave to join the IS group or helping others to do so.
France is also moving closer to adopting an "anti-terrorism" law which would slap a travel ban on anyone suspected of planning to wage jihad.
The UN warned that more nations than ever face the problem of dealing with fighters returning from the battle zone.
The US Central Intelligence Agency last month announced figures showing that there were around 20,000 to 31,500 IS fighters active in Iraq and Syria, much higher than previous estimates.
A US security official estimated that there were close to 2,000 westerners among the 15,000 foreign fighters.
Previous figures showed there were 7,000 foreign jihadists fighting in March and 12,000 in July suggesting 1,000 a month were travelling to fight, despite the launch of US air strikes three months ago, although there is a lag of a few weeks in the figures.
The report was produced by a committee that monitors al-Qaeda, and concluded that the once mighty and feared group was now "manoeuvring for relevance" following the rise of the even more militant IS, which was booted out of al-Qaeda by leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Despite the split, the UN concluded that the legal basis for US President Barack Obama's fight against IS was justified by its ideological congruence with al-Qaeda, and considered the two groups as part of a broader movement.
"Al-Qaeda core and Isil (IS) pursue similar strategic goals, albeit with tactical differences regarding sequencing and substantive differences about personal leadership," the UN wrote.
Obama has vowed he will not order a large force into combat in Iraq or Syria, relying instead on air power and local forces.

Happy New Year makes Rs 134 cr in first week: SRK fails to break Salman's record

Shah Rukh Khan's Happy New Year may have had a successful run at the box office, but it failed to break the opening weekend record of Salman Khan's Kick, that released earlier this year. While SRK starrer Happy New Year grossed Rs 134 crore in the first week,  Salman's Kick record stands unbeaten at Rs 155 crore (net).
According to a Boxoffice India report, while the film did great business in Mumbai and Gujarat in the last week and is still going steady, it doesn't seem to have as strong a grip on the box office as Kick did.
Courtesy: Facebook
Courtesy: Facebook
Directed by Farah Khan, Happy New Year, featuring Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in lead roles had opened to mixed reviews. However, the film did enjoy a great opening.
According to a Box office India report, in its first four days, this heist film has grossed Rs 109 crore. The film managed to collect Rs 44.97 crore on the opening day and joined the Rs 100 crore club in just three days time. However, with Diwali holidays drawing to an end and schools and offices reopening, its Monday collections dropped drastically in the metros and East Punjab.
Happy New Year minted just Rs 12.25 crore nett on Monday.  On Tuesday, the film's  business was around Rs 11 crore.  However, in the later part of the week there was an evident slump in the collections of Happy New Year.
The film had a good run in the overseas market. Happy New Year's worldwide figures stand at Rs 245 crore, which is the fourth highest total ever after Dhoom 3, Kick and Chennai Express.
It is also evident, that with no big releases in next couple of weeks, Happy New Year will have a smooth run at the box office and while it is undoubtedly a hit, this Shah Rukh Khan starrer isn't the record breaking film, as it was touted to be.

Sensex Nears 28,000: Five Things to Know About This Record Rally

Sensex Nears 28,000: Five Things to Know About This Record Rally

The Sensex jumped over 500 points to hit a record high of 27,894, while the Nifty gained 153 points to end above 8,300 for the first time. Indian stock markets have now gained over 7 per cent in the last 10 trading session and bulls seem firmly in control of the Dalal Street. The Sensex and Nifty were the best performers in Asia today after Japan's Nikkei, which jumped nearly 5 per cent.
Here are five reasons why markets have jumped in the last 10 days,
1) The Nifty opened at record highs today, but the big push came from Bank of Japan (BoJ), which stunned markets with new easing steps. BoJ's aggressive efforts to revive its economy augur for domestic investors as funds from Japan will move into emerging markets such as India, where yields are much higher.
2) BoJ's move comes a day after the US Federal Reserve ended its bond buying programme (called quantitative easing). The end of QE, six years after it started, is negative for India because it marks the end of the easy money policy that drove Indian assets higher. But the recovery in the US economy is good news for Indian exporters. The IT index has jumped 4 per cent in the last two sessions. IT stocks, which have a large weight on the Nifty, are the big drivers of the current rally.
3) Foreign investors are back to buying domestic stocks after a brief scare early this month. Over the last 10 days (October 20 to October 30), foreign investors have bought Indian equities worth Rs. 3,818 crore. Barring January 2014, FIIs have not been net sellers in the equity market this year. Domestic institutional investors have also been net buyers of Indian equities since May 2014. Infosys hit its 52-week high today.
4) Renewed expectations of a rate cut as early as in December have given fresh legs to the rally. The continuous slide in global crude prices and diesel decontrol (announced earlier this month) are likely to have a big impact on easing inflation in the coming months. This also means greater pressure on the Reserve Bank to cut rates. Earlier this week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said "currently, interest rates are a disincentive. Now that inflation seems to be stabilising somewhat, the time seems to have come to moderate the interest rates."
5) The current market rally is co-terminus with the announcement of reform measures such as diesel control. Energy reforms have been followed by incremental reforms in other sectors. Last week, the government announced the opening up of the coal sector and on Thursday it eased norms for foreign direct investment in the construction sector. According to Moody's, the economic, fiscal and financial measures undertaken by the government and the RBI are expected to sustain higher growth and tackle constraints on the sovereign rating.

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Rohit Sharma was flawless  when he scored 142 against Sri Lanka in the warm-up match © IANS (File Photo)
Rohit Sharma was flawless when he scored 142 against Sri Lanka in the warm-up match © IANS
After a 10-week injury layoff, Rohit Sharma is all set to return to the Indian team. If there was any doubt whether he returns as an opener or middle-order batsman, the batsman has quelled the debate with a breezy knock in tour game. But there’s much more at stake than just a return to limited-overs cricket.
Back from an injury to his middle finger, Rohit Sharma’s fluent 142 in 111 balls against Sri Lanka A gave an indication that he is completely fit and in good nick to return to the national side. He will have to wait for his chances as the selectors have already picked the squad first three matches.
The unwelcome injury break gave Rohit enough time to regroup himself and mentally prepare after a mixed 2014 for him. He played a couple of fine knocks in between two or three inconsistent ones in the limited ODIs. In the second half of 2013, Rohit’s career sparkled as an opener during the Champions Trophy 2013 followed by followed by taking the team past the finish line in mammoth run-chases. He averaged 52.80 compared to his overall batting average of 35.93. However, this year, the average has dipped below his ODI career average, though just 10 ODIs does not always give a clear picture.
The difference between the pre-opener phase and now for Rohit is his value for the team. He was a talented batsman whom the selectors picked because of his potential with tons of runs in domestic cricket. As of now he is being looked upon as a dependable player to lead the batting for India.  Inconsistency then saw him dropped. Inconsistency becomes a worrying factor because the selectors have their hopes pinned on him as an opener, if not, then at least as a reliable middle-order batsman.
Some of his shots during the 142-run knock would have delighted the chief selector Sandeep Patil, in attendance for the match.  The fact that the selectors did not rush him in to the Indian squad and neither did they pick him for the West Zone matches for the upcoming Vijay Hazare Trophy shows they want him fully recovered for the grueling schedule involving preparations for World Cup.
“His match fitness had to be assessed and that was the reason that the selectors had roped him in. He gave a fantastic account of himself. He has been practicing really hard over the last 10 days at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC). And he showed the total recovery from that injury while batting and he showed no discomfort at all,” confirmed Sanjay Bangar after the match on Thursday.
All these do indicate that a good show in the limited overs for Rohit could keep him in contention for a regular spot in the Tests. Since his memorable debut involving centuries in consecutive Tests, Rohit is yet to instill confidence as a sound batsman in any conditions. While a Test team comprising of seven batsmen would see him come at No. 6, he will be facing competition now from Suresh Raina who has worked upon his technique and looks set to take make a comeback.
Rohit’s priority surely would be to be fit and be in good nick for the World Cup. Yet, beyond the marquee tournament, he would be eager to build his reputation of being a quality batsman for all formats and any conditions which some his teammates like Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have already managed to do.

Finance Ministry takes austerity measures to cut fiscal deficit to 4.1%

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (Photo: Reuters)

The Narendra Modi government launched an austerity drive on Thursday to trim the fiscal deficit to 4.1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014-15 with a 10 per cent across-the-board cut in non-plan expenditure and barred senior officials from first-class air travel, foreign jaunts, holding meetings in five-star hotels and purchase of new cars.
The Finance Ministry said that there will be a total ban on new posts in government departments and those that have been vacant for more than a year will not be filled except under very rare and unavoidable circumstances. The erstwhile United Progressive Alliance government had also clamped similar measures in 2012 and 2013 to cut down fiscal deficit.
While officers are entitled to various classes of air travel depending on seniority, utmost economy would need to be observed while exercising the choice keeping the limitations of budget in mind. However, there would no bookings in the first class. The facility of videoconferencing, the ministry said, "could be used effectively".
The ministry added that in all cases of air travel, the cheapest tickets available for the entitled class are to be purchased.
According to the order, purchase of new vehicles to meet operational requirement of defence forces, paramilitary forces and security organisations are permitted but the purchase of any other vehicles is banned.
"Such measures are intended at promoting fiscal discipline without restricting the operational efficiency of the government," a finance ministry statement said. In the context of the current fiscal situation, there is a need to continue to rationalise expenditure and optimise available resources, it added.
The government proposes to lower the fiscal deficit to three per cent of GDP by 2016-17. The deficit, which had touched a high of 5.7 per cent in 2011-12, was brought down to 4.8 per cent in 2012-13 and further to 4.5 per cent in 2013-14 by way of austerity.
Japanese brokerage Nomura said that the austerity drive would save up to Rs 40,000 crore but poses risks to growth. "... This would amount to a saving of Rs 35,000-Rs 40,000 crore, or 0.3 per cent of GDP," it said in a note issued in Mumbai.

India ranks 156th in tax payment, says World Bank report

India ranks 156th in tax payment, says World Bank report
Photo for representation purposes only. (Source: Reuters)

India is one of the worst places for paying taxes and has been ranked 156th out of 189 nations by the World Bank slipping two positions from 2013.
According to World Bank's latest 'Doing Business Report', the total tax rate in the country can be as high as 61.7 per cent, there are as many as 33 payments under the head of profit, labour and other taxes, and the time taken to comply with taxation requirements could be as much as 243 hours.
In terms of time taken to comply with tax-related work, India ranks better than the South Asian average where it takes 325.3 hours and its emerging market peers such as China (261 hours). India was placed above Brazil (177th) and below Russia (49th) and China, which was ranked 120th.
The United Arab Emirates and Qatar were placed in the first place followed by Saudi Arabia in the third position in the overall ranking.

2G Scam: Raja, Kanimozhi, Ammal, 16 Others Put on Trial

Former Telecom Minister A Raja was in "connivance" with MP Kanimozhi, DMK supremo M Karunanidhi's wife Dayalu Ammal and other co-accused in "parking" of illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore in Kalaignar TV, a special court today said and put them on trial on money laundering charges.

If convicted, Raja and others will face a maximum sentence of upto seven years.

This is the second case in the 2G spectrum allocation scam in which Raja, Kanimozhi and others, including Swan Telecom promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka, will face trial for their alleged involvement in the scam.

The court today framed charges against 19 accused -- 10 individuals and nine companies -- under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and fixed the case for commencement of trial on November 11.

It said there was enough material on record which makes out a "prima facie" case against all the accused who were chargesheeted by the Enforcement Directorate on April 25, for committing an offence punishable under the PMLA.

"Accordingly, I find that there is enough material on record to make out or to presume a prima facie case against each accused for committing an offence of money-laundering as defined under section 3 and punishable under section 4 of the (PML) Act," Special CBI Judge O P Saini said.

Besides Raja, Kanimozhi and Dayalu Ammal, the individual co-accused in the case are Shahid Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Directors of Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd Asif Balwa and Rajiv Agarwal, Kalaignar TV (KTV) MD Sharad Kumar and its Director P Amirtham and Bollywood producer Karim Morani. All of them are out on bail.

The court, in its 208-page order, said, "A Raja in connivance with M K Dayalu, K Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar, was actually involved in parking the illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore received from Shahid U Balwa and Vinod K Goenka in KTV."

"He (Raja) was also actually involved in the process of refund of the proceeds of crime of Rs 223.55 crore in order to wriggle out of the charges of crime. Thus, Raja has committed the offence of money-laundering as defined under section 3 of the Act," it said.

The court also framed charges against the nine accused firms -- Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd (STPL), Kusegaon Realty Pvt Ltd (formerly known as Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd), Cineyug Media and Entertainment Pvt Ltd (formerly known as Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd), Kalaignar TV Pvt Ltd, Dynamix Realty, Eversmile Construction Company Pvt Ltd, Conwood Constructions and Developers (P) Ltd, DB Realty Ltd and Nihar Constructions Pvt Ltd.

ED, in its charge sheet, had alleged that all the accused were involved in the Rs 200-crore money transaction which was not "bonafide" and "genuine" and it was a "bribe for grant of telecom licences to DB Group companies" by Raja.

As soon as the judge pronounced the order, he asked the accused as to whether they were pleading guilty to the offence or face trial.

To this, all the accused said that they will go for trial on charges against them.

While framing charges, the court observed that not only the roles of each accused were narrated in ED's complaint but there were "factual and credible allegations" against each of them.

The court also noted that the accused tried to project the "tainted money as untainted" and gave it a "colour" of regular business transactions with the intent to conceal its true nature.

"The projection of tainted money as untainted was done by the accused persons/entities in two parts, firstly, when the money flowed from Dynamix Realty to KTV and again when the money flowed back from KTV to Dynamix Realty.

"For both the transactions, that is, giving the money to KTV and its subsequent return, the accused persons/entities gave it a colour of regular business transactions with the intent to conceal its true nature and to project the said tainted amount as untainted," it said.

It said that entities involved in the money transaction from DB group company to DMK-run Kalaignar TV through Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables Pvt Ltd and Cineyug Films Pvt Ltd showed "knee jerk" reaction to return it after Raja was contacted by the CBI during the probe in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

"The process of structuring of these dubious transactions for layering of the illegal gratification is a process to project the illicit money as untainted and is squarely covered under the provisions of section 3 of the Act. The knee jerk reaction shown by the entities involved in the return of this amount was triggered on the date when A Raja was contacted by the CBI for investigation," it observed.

"The investigation has brought out that the reverse flow of the funds occurred from the time A Raja was asked to join investigation and the completion of the flow coincided with the day of his arrest. Investigations under the (PML) Act has revealed how the illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore was mobilized by KTV in a short span of time since the amount received earlier had already been utilized," it said.

In the first case probed by the CBI, Raja, Kanimozhi, Shahid Balwa, Goenka, Asif Balwa, Rajiv Agarwal, Morani and Sharad Kumar, along with others, are facing trial for criminal breach of trust, conspiracy, forgery, cheating and other offences punishable under the provisions of the IPC and under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The court, in its order, said that entire amount to the tune of Rs 223.55 crore was in fact the "proceeds of crime".

"The offence of money-laundering has been established by the investigation carried out under the (PML) Act against the accused persons named in the complaint and the proceeds of crime amounting to Rs 223.55 crore has been attached," it said.

Regarding Kanimozhi, the court noted that she "knowingly facilitated and was actually involved in the process of generation and layering of proceeds of crime and in projection of it as untainted property".

It noted that probe conducted by the agency has revealed that Raja was in contact with Kanimozhi and "pre-determined destination" of the illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore was KTV, in which Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar were holding 20 per cent equity each respectively while Dayalu was having the rest 60 per cent.

"Kanimozhi allowed the pledging of her 20 per cent equity to Cineyug Films (P) Ltd, along with other two promoter shareholders of KTV in order to conceal the actual nature/ purpose of receipt of Rs 200 crore in KTV from Dynamix Realty through Cineyug Films (P) Ltd. The amount of Rs 200 crore was consumed by KTV in its business operations,in which P Amirtham had an important say," it said.

The court also noted that for passing on the illegal gratification of Rs 200 crore, Dynamix Realty transferred a sum of Rs 209.25 crore between 2008 to 2009 to Kusegaon Fruits and Vegetables (P) Ltd in tranches which transferred Rs 206.24 crore to Cineyug Films (P) Ltd which finally transferred Rs 200 crore to Kalaignar TV (P) Ltd.

"The dates on which the amounts were transferred from the starting point, that is, Dynamix Realty to the destination, that is, Kalaignar TV (P) Limited, are not only very proximate to each other but also demonstrate that financial transactions of varying amounts were carried out with the intention of transferring the illegal gratification to Kalaignar TV (P) Ltd, through intermediaries so as to make the transactions appear bonafide, which, in fact, were not," it observed.

It said that the refund of money by KTV was to project the earlier receipt of funds as bonafide business transactions so as to conceal the true nature of bribe money.

"Modus-operandi adopted by the accused entities was again the mode of inter-corporate deposits. Sequence flow of funds from one to other entity at the time of reverse flow of funds from KTV to Dynamix Realty corroborate that entire exercise done by the accused persons/entities is nothing but projection of proceeds of crime as untainted," it said.

The court also observed that for the transactions of more than Rs 200 crore between the entities, there was no "valid agreement" signed between any of the parties.

The court said that the money was returned with additional amount so as to project as if the loan was being returned along with interest.

It also said that at the stage of framing of charges, only a prima facie view was required to be taken and money laundering was a separate and independent offence.

It observed that ED has not filed the complaint in the case only on the basis of the material collected by the CBI during the probe.

"It is, thus, clear that the complaint has not been filed on the same material as fresh material was collected by ED also. Even if the complaint is filed on the same material, there is nothing wrong in that if an offence under the Act is disclosed by it," it said.

"In the complaint, role of each company has been explained in detail and the proceeds of crime have been traced to each one of them. The role of each company and accused individually associated with a company has been comprehensively explained and extracted above, both individually as well as in official capacity, and needs no repetition at this stage," it said.

Regarding the contentions of accused that there were no material against the firms which were chargesheeted by ED, the judge said that the facts revealed that all the accused were involved, in one way or the other, in the money transaction or was actually a party to it, directly or indirectly.

"The truth or falsehood of these allegations cannot be gone into and the same have to be taken at the face value at this stage. As such, it cannot be said that there is no material at all against these companies and the same have been implicated in this case without any reason," it noted.

Bollywood pins hopes on new Maharashtra government to address tax issues

As Maharashtra witnesses a change of guard on Friday, Bollywood wants the new regime to address the issue of heavy burden of taxation that has stunted the growth of the film industry. Mukesh Bhatt, President of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India Ltd, said that archaic laws and heavy taxation are some of the key issues and challenges faced by the industry, which are not only detrimental to the growth of the film industry but will result in its inevitable breakdown.
He said Mumbai has been the centre of the Indian entertainment industry since its inception and this industry provides employment directly or indirectly to almost 5 million people in the country. "However, serious implications caused by the various archaic laws and heavy burden of taxation on the Hindi film sector has stunted the growth of this industry and made several stalwarts displeased with the system," he added.
The high taxes imposed on the Hindi film industry in the state, like the Entertainment Tax on films, applicability of VAT on television production business, stamp duty and to keep local bodies taxes out of proposed GST, have cast a dark spell for the 'Film Guild', he said. The absence of single window mechanism has resulted in systematic harassment and malpractices over the years, and has increased costs for producers, thereby significantly discouraging them from shooting in the state.
In addition to this, the lack of adequate cinema halls in Maharashtra (much lower than southern states) has hampered the growth of the film industry and directly resulted in increase in piracy and loss of revenues to the government, as well as the industry. Speaking about the various concerns weighing down the industry, Bhatt said, "Maharashtra has always been the home for the Hindi film industry. Sadly, we have been made to feel like an orphan in our own home state. Leave aside any support we are penalised for making films in a language which does not belong to any other state in the country including Maharashtra.
Bhatt also said that impartial treatment is given to the Hindi film industry when it comes to the high tax structure, archaic laws and multiple complications, which restricts growth of the film industry in the state.
"We are confident that the new BJP government in Maharashtra will address these pending issues and help the film industry achieve newer heights. "Mumbai has been the dream city for a lot of Bollywood actors, who have carved their space in the history of cinema and in the hearts of their fans over the years. Its time that the entertainment industry is rewarded for all these years of service to the people and required changes be made in the system, as they hinge their hope on the newly elected BJP government," he said.

Normalcy slowly returning to Trilokpuri

Eight days after an alleged fight between inebriated youngsters escalated into clashes, Trilokpuri largely offers a sight of reassurance with signs of normalcy, barring fleeting moments of disquiet and suspicion. During the day as prohibitory orders are relaxed in the East Delhi locality, a steady stream of buyers throng the mobile stalls set up by Delhi government selling essential items including vegetables and dairy products. Local grocery, garment and pharmacy shops are also gradually opening shutters.
In front of one such mobile stall, Meena, a resident of Block 20 asks, "Aloo aur tomato kitne ke de rahe ho bhai? (How much are the potatoes and tomatoes for?)" and a group of women adds voice, almost in unison. The vendor says that the demand is quite high pointing towards a van which was emptied during the day. "We are selling tomatoes for Rs 16/Kg and potatoes for Rs 27/Kg and around 10 vehicles have been deputed to different blocks throughout the locality."
At the pharmacy of Pradip Kumar Roy, known as 'Bangali doctor' among the locals, people wait patiently as he attends to a patient. "Although I was not present during the violence I can assure you that the locality will soon be back to complete normalcy. I know the residents quite well and as you can see amity has already returned," says Roy.
But with curfew-like restrictions reinstated as evening descends, roads become largely deserted and a deathly silence looms over the neighbourhood. Every few moments, patrol cars of the Delhi Police zip past flashing their customary red and blue lights, almost blinding in the darkness. Around that time, a string of devotees, largely composed of women, gather in front of a place of worship and offer prayers to the deity with few policemen loitering around.
Few blocks away, in Block 15, 14-year-old Abdul Majid is trying to make sense of the fast paced developments around him which have left him with a broken hand and landed his father Mohammed Akhtar in Tihar Jail. "On Saturday afternoon, a group of policemen and men in blue uniform (presumably RAF) dragged my father away and when I tried to stop them they pushed me," says Majid as his mother shows around their tiny two room settlement.
Residents say that Block 15 was one of the worst affected. Arun Kumar, standing at the entrance of Block 15, says they are at "the mercy of God". Tarsem Singh, 60, who stays in the area accuses the media of being biased. "They come and go one after another but no one raises voice for us so there is no point in talking to the media. Will you write that even gun shots were fired?" he asks.
C Adhikeshavan, a lawyer and a member of the Peace Committee, was hurriedly pacing up and down the lanes, assuring the residents of safety.
Offering a "balanced" assessment of the situation, he says that while the immediate trigger might have been the drunken brawl involving few teenagers, there were other reasons also. Notwithstanding the volley of allegations and counter-allegations, Trilokpuri is slowly but surely limping back to life. The area is also grappling with huge dumps of garbage. In fact all of the garbage dumps in the locality are full and the streets are littered with garbage and of course, strewn with large pieces of stones, another telltale sign of the violence.

Modi skips Indira Gandhi's memorial event, says Mahatma Gandhi incomplete without Sardar Patel

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday skipped the event commemorating the death anniversary of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at the Shakti Sthal memorial where President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and top leaders of the Congress paid floral tributes to her.

The dignitaries including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi drove to the memorial where they placed floral wreaths at the spot where she was laid to rest even as Modi flagged off a 'Unity Run' to mark 139th birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.

Devotional songs were played at Shakti Sthal. A speech of the late leader was also played on the occasion. There was also an event at her residence where she was shot dead on this day 30 years ago which had been converted into a memorial.

Expressing Congress' displeasure over government keeping away from the event to pay homage to Gandhi, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said Indira Gandhi lived and died for the nation and it was the responsibility of every government to honour her sacrifice.

The event at Shakti Sthal, organized by Congress, was attended by party leaders Motilal Vora, M Veerappa Moily, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ahmed Patel, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Digvijay Singh and Shakeel Ahmad besides others.

In the past Atal Behari Vajpayee as Prime Minister had visited Indira Gandhi's memorial to pay homage on her death anniversary.

Earlier in the day, Modi tweeted:"I join my fellow countrymen & women in remembering former PM Smt. Indira Gandhi on her Punya Tithi."

In his address at the Rajpath to commemorate birth anniversary of Patel, India's first home minister, Modi had referred to the day as Indira Gandhi's death anniversary.

Modi's ministerial colleague Harsh Vardhan, who is on an official visit in Spain also paid homage to Gandhi.

"Remember Indira Gandhi the former PM of India who had to sacrifice her life on this day thirty years back — shall always be remembered," he said in a tweet.
Mahatma Gandhi incomplete without Sardar Patel: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday raked up the anti-Sikh violence that followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi this day 30 years ago and said it was a "dagger" in the centuries-old fabric of India's unity as he dedicated the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as National Unity Day.

With the aim of according the 'Iron Man of India' his place in history, the government said the event was not an attempt to belittle the contribution of any other leader.

Flagging off the 'run for unity on the 139th birth anniversary of the first home minister of the country celebrated as "Rashtriya Ekta Divas", Modi noted that the day was also being commemorated as the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi but made a veiled reference to the anti-Sikh riots that followed her assassination.

Modi said Patel devoted his life for the unity of the nation and it was unfortunate that "our very own people" were killed on his birth anniversary 30 years ago.

"...In the same country, 30 years ago, on the birth anniversary of the same leader something happened which cast a blow to the unity of the nation.

"Hamare apne logon ko maut ke ghaat utar diya gaya (our own people were killed on that day. That incident was not a wound in the heart of any community. It was a dagger in the centuries-old fabric of India's unity," he said.

"Patel never deviated from his vision of national unity despite facing obstacles in his political life. It is a misfortune of this country that 30 years ago on the birth anniversary of such a leader an incident which shook the unity of nation took place," Modi said.

Paying tributes to Patel's contribution to the integration and unity of the country, the Prime Minister said, "Let us not forget that a nation that disregards its history can never create one...Don't divide history, legacy in narrow confines of ideology."

The Modi government recently decided that it would be involved in commemoration of birth and death anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel while leaving it to trusts and societies to mark the memory of other leaders.

Government had also decided that no memorials will be built in memory of other leaders.

Remembering the contribution of Patel in the independence movement, Modi said Mahatma Gandhi had entrusted him with planning of the Dandi March which he successfully did.

"When we see Ramakrishna Paramhans he appears to be incomplete without Swami Vivekananda. Similarly when we see Mahatma Gandhi, he also appears incomplete without Sardar Patel," he said.

Modi also compared Patel with Chanakya, saying, "The country can never forget Sardar Patel. Centuries ago, Chanakya conducted a successful experiment of establishing a strong set up by uniting small princely states.

"Post Independence, the same great work was done by the man whose birth anniversary we are celebrating today, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel," he said.

"It is unfortunate that the man who dedicated his life for the unity of India, faced criticisms and opposition, suffered hurdles in his political career but was never deterred from his goal of uniting the country," the PM said.

Modi said Sardar Patel unified the country through his skill, vision and patriotism.

Recalling his role in uniting the entire country after partition, Modi said "Sardar Patel demolished Britishers' plan to divide India in many small regions. He single handedly merged all 550 regions with the country."

Earlier welcoming the Prime Minister, urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu said, "Had Sardar Patel been the first Prime Minister of the country, history would have been different. This is how many people feel."

He also said the celebration was not aimed at belittling the contribution of any other political leader.

Sangh has always felt that successive governments had held the contribution of Jawahar Lal Nehru and those of the Nehru-Gandhi family in higher regard over others.

As soon as he flagged off the run, participants asked the Prime Minister to lead them and he led the run for some distance.

Sports personalities Sushil Kumar, Vijender Singh, Virendra Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were among those who participated in the run.

Flanked by Union ministers Sushma Swaraj, Naidu, Arun Jaitley among others, the Prime Minister administered the oath of unity to participants.

Modi also offered floral tributes to the statue of Sardar Patel at Patel Chowk which was decked up for the occasion.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Merc launches GLA 45 AMG

Mercedes Benz India has launched the GLA 45 AMG 4MATIC sports utility vehicle (SUV) at a price of Rs.69.60 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai). The new model expands the company’s SUV offering to five models. “With the latest and fascinating AMG product line-up, strongly supported by the expanding AMG Performance Centres, we are well poised for the next phase of expansion for the AMG brand in India,” Eberhard Kern, Managing Director & CEO, Mercedes-Benz India, said in a statement.

Lenovo completes Motorola takeover after Google sale

Lenovo already had a successful handset division of its own ahead of the takeover
Lenovo has completed its takeover of Google's Motorola Mobility division.
The acquisition gives the Chinese firm control of the unit's Moto and Droid-branded handsets as well as its 3,500 employees, 2,800 of whom are based in the US.
Lenovo said the deal made it the world's third bestselling smartphone-maker after Apple and Samsung.
That knocks its country-mate Xiaomi back down into fourth spot, based on data from two market research reports.
Lenovo stated that a total of 100 million mobile devices were on course to be shipped from its existing mobile phone business combined with that of Motorola's over the current fiscal year, which ends in March.
Little overlap Motorola has found recent success with its "budget" Moto G models. The original version, released last year was the bestselling phone in the business's history.
Moto G  
The Moto G smartphone has helped reinvigorate Motorola's 86-year-old brand
More recently it has also entered the wearables sector with the Moto 360 smartwatch, and announced its first Nexus device - a 6in (15.2cm) "phablet" marketed by Google, which will be one of the first phones to offer the Android 5.0 operating system.
Lenovo is the world's bestselling PC maker, a position it attained after the takeover of IBM's personal computer business in 2005.
Its smartphones are already big sellers in Asia and the Middle East, but they have not been sold in North America and Western Europe.
While Lenovo and Motorola handsets do compete for sales in India, there is little overlap elsewhere between the two divisions at this point.
"We're now planning to introduce Motorola-branded products back into China," Aymar de Lencquesaing, Lenovo's president of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told the BBC.
Nexus 6 
 Motorola announced the Nexus 6 shortly before the takeover was completed
"But right now what we intend to do is leverage the stronger brand in each particular market.
"For the most part, think of the developed mature world - that's going to be Motorola-driven. Emerging markets will be Lenovo-driven.
"Some markets will overlap and over time nothing says that in any given market we couldn't have a dual brand strategy. But, let's put it this way, it's probably smarter for us right now to walk before we run."
He ruled out cutting jobs at Motorola and confirmed that the division would remain headquartered in Chicago.
'Quality phones' Lenovo had previously stated that one of the reasons it bought the division for $2.9bn (£1.8bn) was to take advantage of Motorola's existing relationships with network operators in North America and Europe.
One analyst said that this could offer a way to launch Lenovo-branded handsets in those regions if the company later decided to make the move.
"Lenovo has proven it can manufacture quality phones and it is already well known as a PC brand in Europe and the US," said Ronan de Renesse from the telecoms consultancy Ovum.
"So, it doesn't have the cheap aspect to its brand that some of the other Chinese manufacturers have to deal with."
 Motorola's brand has been updated to take account of the acquisition
Mr de Lencquesaing added that a nearer-term advantage to the tie-up was that Motorola would benefit from his company's supply-line efficiencies.
The takeover does not include Motorola Solutions, which makes communications equipment for utility and emergency workers. The two Motorola businesses formally split in 2011.
Google paid $12.5bn to acquire Motorola Mobility in 2012. It said the key motivation for the deal was the firm's patents, which it is keeping hold of.

Xiaomi, OnePlus One & Flash Sales – Does It Really Satisfy Consumers?

Do flash sales and pre-orders really help the customer? When Motorola’s Moto G opened to a phenomenal opening in India in the second month of 2014, stocks ran out within minutes at midnight and the company had no idea how to cope with the demand. The problem persisted with the Flipkart website as well which is an exclusive retailer for the model. Motorola later chose not to go for flash sales or pre-order based sale for either Moto G or Moto E. But, Xiaomi changed the game.
When Xiaomi launched their phones in India through Flipkart as their exclusive retailer, they decided to go with the flash sales model. The sale was open for a couple hours and pre-orders were accepted until the stocks lasted. Xiaomi Redmi 1S and Mi3 followed the same pattern but surprisingly they got sold within seconds, once the pre-order window opened. That did not however, satiate all customers. Many, frustrated with the server crashes and inability to place orders, opted for a different phone instead. When Xiaomi claimed that the Redmi 1S sold out in four seconds, many smelt a rat and thought it was a fraud. It helps if there is more transparency.
A similar sale was posted by OnePlus One last week which lasted for just one hour and again customers  faced issues with the server going awry and inability to place the order properly. The trend will change only if smartphone makers realize their mistakes and focus on customer satisfaction than on their own objectives.
Perhaps the better way is how companies like Lava, Micromax, Asus, LG, Samsung and others opened pre-orders before the actual launch to estimate the demand. This keeps both the customer happy and the company is sure of the demand. As for flash sales, only if the smartphone companies fix the server and other tech issues, can they justify flash sales!

Panasonic unveils new rugged Toughpad FZ-B2 tablet

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic has added yet another rugged tablet to its Toughpad range of devices. The especially 'designed for business' Toughpad FZ-B2 tablet will be up for grabs in Europe starting December 2014 at a price tag of GBP 709  (Rs.70,600 approximately). It will be available in the US starting February next year at a price tag of $1,299 (Rs.80,000 approximately). There is however no news yet regarding the device's availability and pricing in other parts of the world, including India.
The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-B2 tablet features a 7-inch WXGA IPS LCD display with a 800x1200 pixels resolution. It is powered by Intel Celeron N2930 processor (Quad Core 1.83GHz up to 2.16GHz) coupled with 2GB of RAM. It comes with 32GB of internal storage which is expandable via microSD card. It sports a 5MP rear camera as also a 2MP front-facing snapper. The Toughpad FZ-B2 tablet boasts of a fanless design and runs Android 4.4 KitKat out-of-the-box.
Connectivity options on the device include: Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 3.0. It decks in a 3220mAh battery which is rated to deliver up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge. Moreover users can opt for an optional 14-hour battery to replace the 8 hours one.
Talking about its rugged parameters, the FZ-B2 tablet is dust and water resistance with a IP65 rating and  MIL-STD-810G standardization. 

DoT’s spectrum delay may result in Vodafone, Airtel customers suffering from network disruptions

As a result of utter negligence on the part of the Indian government, subscribers of major mobile companies in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata may be seen suffering from network disruptions and outages in the months to come. This issue stems directly from the delayed allotment of spectrum by the country’s Department of Telecom (DoT).
For those not in the loop, an auction of airwaves had taken place this February, and despite the fact that eight months have passed since then, the spectrum has been allotted to the winning parties only now. Telecom brands like Airtel and Vodafone moreover, face several of their important licenses in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata expiring this month.
Mobile Tower
Vodafone had earlier revealed that it had completed all the required payments in March itself, and the allocation still took too long to happen. The big argument is that it takes at least six months to smoothly transition the network from old spectrum to the newly allocated one.
With just one month left for Vodafone and Airtel to make this move, they are seeking an extension of at least six more months on their current licenses to complete the process. If they are granted the additional time, consumers can breathe easy. But if they aren’t, disruptions and network outages are something they’ll need to be ready for.
Also Read: More than 1500MHz of spectrum will be put up for auction in 2015
Regarding the process of shifting frequencies, an industry official has revealed to The Times of India that a large amount of groundwork needs to be done. This involves new tower locations, antennae tuning, network configuration and more.
The six-month extension that is being sought by telecom companies like Airtel and Vodafone, has received the support of their union body, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) as well.

ZTE V5 review: Good design, decent price

Early this week while waiting for an audience with the UP chief secretary in Lucknow, I was tempted to eavesdrop on an engrossing conversation taking place between a group of state government officials, who were there in the waiting lounge for the same reason. The topic of discussion was on mobile devices and what amazed me was the level of knowledge that has percolated down among ordinary citizens. Talks revolved around issues such as the difference between a dual-core and an octa-core processor, how to boost the speed of a mobile phone, the benefits of having a Corning Gorilla Glass and so on and so forth. Gadget talks such as these are indeed going high-tech, aren’t they?
Also debated were the benefits of owning a value for money Chinese handset, which gives almost all the features found in a high-end mobile phone.
Fresh from this ground-level knowledge, I was excited to lay my hands on a ZTE mobile phone sent across for a product evaluation. It is the ZTE V5, a stylish device somewhat similar to a BlackBerry Z10, and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with quad-core CPU that promises to offer a seamless mobile experience. Like many other mobile phones, this new ZTE offering too is being made available on the e-commerce platform, It is priced at R10,999.
First, a few words on the maker of this device. ZTE Mobile Devices is a division of ZTE, a leading telecommunications equipment, networks and mobile devices company headquartered in Shenzhen, China. In recent months, India has emerged as one of the most important markets for the company and soon, it plans to launch its flagship Nubia range of products which is a success globally. ZTE has also revamped its distribution structure in India by appointing five regional distributors with geographical focus.
Back to the V5. The ZTE phone comes across as a great looking phone and has very good build quality. It comes with an elegant 5-inch multi-touch screen and a sharp HD finish. The phone has a white colour body at the back that gives a glossy finish but it does not leave fingerprints on the body. The front panel has a large display with three easily distinguishable keys at the bottom. The volume setting keys are placed on the left hand side of the phone and the power button is on the left side. The phone does

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2: Is this the best Android tablet at Rs 20,990?

The Android tablet space is choc-a-bloc with too many devices and brands. So many that it is hard to find more than a handful of devices that stand apart thanks to performance or innovation. There is, however, a new entrant to this list… one that could spoil the party for a lot of others. Meet the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2.
Specs: 8-inch 1920 x 1200 IPS display | Intel Atom Z3745 quad-core 1.86GHz processor | 2GB RAM | 16GB internal storage expandable up to 64GB | 8MP rear camera + 1.6MP front | Li-Ion 6400 mAh battery | Android 4.4.2 Kitkat
Price: Rs 20,990
Without a doubt this tablet has the most innovative design at the moment. This 8-inch tablet, and rest of the series, introduces the kickstand which the simple prop that it is lets you use the tablet in three different modes. With the stand turned outwards, you can make the tablet stand for content consumption, lie down for when you want to write or hang from a wall if you are glancing at it during work. And adding a little hinge on one end makes it easier to hold too, like Sony showed us with the Tablet S a few years back.
The only issue that when you start out it’s hard to figure out how to open the kickstand. It seems Lenovo figured this out too and there is a sticker to explain the simple twist. Behind the stand is the flap that holds the SD card and micro-SIM. At one end of its hinge is the power button and on other the power port, the design couldn’t have been better. My only issue is that there is just one micro USB port on the entire device and that could be a bit limiting for some users.
Display and Sound
It is not always that you get a full HD display at this price point. The display is sharp and bright and great for consuming videos, even from a distance. And with Dolby Audio on JBL speakers this tablet has the best audio quality and volume in town. It can be as loud as a television if needed.
The tablet is powered by a 1.86GHz Intel Atom Z3745 Quad Core processor and is a great work horse. Multi-tasking is smooth and there is absolutely no lag when using the apps or even browsing with multiple tabs on. However, I experienced some heating issues, especially while streaming videos on YouTube and that is rare on Atom tablets.
This is the tricky bit. I am not sure all of us will be happy with Lenovo’s tweaked UI for Android KItkat. It is ideal for tablet use and it not run off the mill smartphone UI, but the new icons need getting used too. It is a bit like Color OS, either you like it or you just hate it. But there are some really good pre-loaded apps in the mix.
The rear camera is decent, but not great in low light or for shooting indoors. The rear lens is also on the hinge and you will have to flip the tablet every time you want to shoot with it as the natural tendency is to have the heavier side facing down. But I still think the camera is just an appendage for the tablet that should be used only for video calls. I am sure a lot of you don’t agree and would still use it to shoot the Taj.
The Yoga Tablet 2 is a 3G/Wi-Fi device and offers great mobility. No issues on this front.
This is another plus point for this tablet. Lenovo is promising 18 hours and given its track record with smartphones I am more than inclined to believe it. Anyway, I could use it for a full day on a 3G network on full charge. That should be enough for most users.
Given the price point of Rs 20,990, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 is one of the best value for money Android tablets in the market at the moment. It gives you great functionality, a FullHD screen, good battery life and an overall experience that is better than what you have paid for.