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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Budget to focus on policies to promote growth: Mayaram

Budget to focus on policies to promote growth: Mayaram

Arvind Mayaram

Centre will prefer the FDI route over FII inflows

The budget will be centred on growth-promoting policies and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will soon unveil new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policies that the government is working on, Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram said on Tuesday.

The government would focus on the infrastructure sector so that manufacturing that had slumped from 12 per cent growth to 0 per cent now could be revived, Mr. Mayaram further added. He explained that for this the system needed to gear up, especially for de-clogging the infrastructure sector as the new government had clearly stated that the system of project approvals was to be simplified and timelines were to be set so that there were no delays and so that then both domestic and foreign investments could return to the manufacturing sector.

“I am confident that the economy will see a major change this year and it will take off this year,” the Finance Secretary said. He was speaking at the launch of the World Investment Report 2014 of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Mr. Jaitley will present the Modi Government’s first budget in Parliament on July 10.

The trend line gross domestic product (GDP) growth was what should be looked at and over the last 10 years it had been 6 per cent for India, the Finance Secretary said adding that he believed India’s potential was a growth rate of 8 per cent. The economy grew at a sub-5 per cent rate for the last two years.

The slow economic growth had adversely impacted revenue collection, Mr. Jaitley said talking to reporters on the sidelines of a Navy function on Tuesday. “With regard to the Finance Ministry...this is a challenging time for it …because in the last two years, the economy has moved at a slow pace...Whatever steps have to be taken in this direction, this is the time for it and you will have to wait for this,” the Finance Minister said.

The Finance Minister also said that over the last three-four weeks he had been holding consultations with stakeholders to make the economy grow at a faster pace, reinstate the trust of investors in it and to make plans for bringing it back on track by holding consultations with stakeholders.

PTI reports:

With growth trending below 5 per cent for two successive years, Mr. Mayaram said India would prefer the FDI route over FII inflows if overseas resources need to be generated to spur economic expansion to its potential level.

“I believe our potential growth rate is 8 per cent. And to get there, we need to develop resources. And that which we cannot generate domestically must come from outside and if it comes from outside then we prefer it in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI) rather than foreign institutional investment (FII),” Mr. Mayaram said.

India’s GDP expanded 4.5 per cent in 2012-13, the slowest pace in the past decade, and at 4.7 per cent in 2013-14. The RBI this month retained its GDP growth estimate of 5-6 per cent in 2014-15. Foreign investment is considered crucial for India, which needs an estimated $1 trillion in the five-year period ending March 2017 to overhaul infrastructure such as ports, airports and highways to boost growth. A decline in foreign investment could affect the country’s balance of payments and the rupee.

Overall foreign inflows into the country grew 8 per cent to $24.29 billion in the previous financial year from $22.42 billion in 2012-13. To further attract foreign inflows, the government plans to relax the FDI policy in sectors such as defence, railways and construction activities.

Mr. Mayaram emphasised the need to bring India back on the growth path to attract investments.

“You must remember that investments don’t come because of agreements like Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements. Investments come if there are opportunities to make profits. Opportunity to make profits can only happen when growth is higher, and when the economy becomes robust,” he said.

On Sunday, Mayaram said at G-20 meeting in Australia that the policies of the new government would deepen the reform process to put the economy on a sustainable and balanced high-growth path.

Google I/O 2014: Android 5.0, smart home gadgets, wearable devices expected to be announced at the event

An Android update, wearable gadgets and so-called smart home devices are just some of the innovations Google is likely to show off at its two-day developer conference, which begins Wednesday in San Francisco.

In recent years, the conference has focused on smartphones and tablets, but this year Google's Android operating system is expected to stretch - into cars, homes and smartwatches.

Pacific Crest analyst Evan Wilson believes Google will unveil a new version of its Android operating system - possibly called Lollipop - with a "heavy focus" on extensions for smartwatches and smart home devices.

Google I/O 2014: Android 5.0, smart home gadgets, wearable devices expected to be announced at the event

Google I/O 2014: Android 5.0, smart home gadgets, wearable devices expected to be announced at the event

Google may also have news about Glass, including when the company might launch a new and perhaps less expensive version of the $1,500 Internet-connected eyewear.

"We think Google will directly counter Apple's recent announcements of health products (Apple HealthKit) and home automation (Apple HomeKit)," Wilson wrote in a note to investors.

Google's I/O event comes at a time of transition for the company, which makes most of its money from advertising thanks to its status as the world's leader in online search. The company is trying to adjust to an ongoing shift to smartphones and tablet computers from desktop and laptop PCs. Though mobile advertising is growing rapidly, advertising aimed at PC users still generates more money.

At the same time, Google is angling to stay at the forefront of innovation by taking gambles on new, sometimes unproven technologies that take years to pay off -if at all. Driverless cars, Google Glass, smartwatches and thinking thermostats are just some of its more far-off bets.

On the home front, Google's Nest Labs - which makes network-connected thermostats and smoke detectors- announced earlier this week that it has created a program that allows outside developers, from tiny startups to large companies such as Whirlpool and Mercedes-Benz, to fashion software and "new experiences" for its products.

Integration with Mercedes-Benz, for example, might mean that a car can notify a Nest thermostat when it's getting close to home, so the device can have the home's temperature adjusted to the driver's liking before he or she arrives.

Nest's founder, Tony Fadell, is an Apple veteran who helped design the iPod and the iPhone. Google bought the company earlier this year for $3.2 billion.

Opening the Nest platform to outside developers will allow Google to move into the emerging market for connected, smart home devices. Experts expect that this so-called "Internet of Things" phenomenon will change the way people use technology in much the same way that smartphones have changed life since the introduction of Apple's iPhone seven years ago.

Google is also likely to unveil some advances in wearable technology. In March, Google released "Android Wear," a version of its operating system tailored to computerized wristwatches and other wearable devices. Although there are already several smartwatches on the market, the devices are more popular with gadget geeks and fitness fanatics than regular consumers. But Google could help change that with Android Wear. Android, after all, is already the world's most popular smartphone operating system.

Google may also have news about Glass, including when the company might launch a new and perhaps less expensive version of the $1,500 Internet-connected eyewear. Google will likely have to lower the price if it wants Glass to reach a broader audience. But that's just one hurdle. Convincing people that the gadget useful, rather than creepy, is another one.

Linux dominates supercomputers as never before

Linux dominates supercomputers as never before

Summary: The latest list of the fastest supercomputers in the world is out -- and not only does Linux rule, it's almost eliminated all of its competition.

June 2014 Linux Supercomputers

For years, Linux has ruled supercomputing. So, it came as no surprise to anyone at the Linux Enterprise End-User Summit near Wall Street that once again the Top500 group found in its latest supercomputer ranking that Linux was the fastest of the fast operating systems.

June 2014 Linux Supercomputers

With 97 percent of the world's fastest supercomputers running Linux, the open-source operating system has eliminated almost all its rivals.

As one Red Hat representative said, "The only thing that would be surprising about Linux being the top dog would be if anything else even came close." He doesn't have any reason to worry.

In the latest contest, not only did Linux dominate, but Linux showed that is slowly pushing out all its competitors. In the June 2014 Top 500 supercomputer list, the top open-source operating system set a new high with 485 systems out of the fastest 500 running Linux. In other words 97 percent of the fastest computers in the world are based on Linux.

Of the remaining 16, 13 run Unix. They appear to be running IBM AIX since they're all running on IBM Power processors. The fastest of these boxes, the United Kingdom's weather predicting system, ECMWF, ranked 60th in the world.

Two Windows boxes squeezed into the list. The best of these, coming in at 294th place, is at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center. The remaining supercomputer, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology machine, runs a mix of AIX/Unix and Linux. Solaris and BSD Unix no longer have even a toe-hold in the rankings.

The overall performance growth rate of all the systems, however, is at a historical low. For the slowest supercomputer, number 500, performance has "lagged behind historical growth trends for the past five years, a trajectory that now increases by only 55 percent each year. Between 1994 and 2008, however, the annual growth rate for the No. 500 systems’ performance was 90 percent."

The hardware vendors are trying to goose supercomputer performance by making faster processors. Intel's forthcoming Xeon Phi many-core chip, codenamed Knight's Landing, is designed to deliver up to three trillion double precision floating point operations per second (3 Teraflops) in a single processor socket. That's three times faster than Intel's current highest performance chip.

At the same time, Linux is tackling its own performance bottlenecks. A great deal of the talk at Linux Enterprise End-User Summit has been about how to drastically improve the latency in both storage and network stacks.

Why so much emphasis on performance when Linux is already the operating system of choice for anyone wanting the fastest computing? Because research and businesses, especially the stock markets and trading companies, not only want but need even faster computers. To meet this demand for ever more speed, Linux is not resting on its laurels but working hard on going ever faster.

Hackers show how to protect your iPhone

 Here's one way to make your iPhone hacker-proof: Ask hackers for advice.

I recently caught up with security researchers at the online security conference Infiltrate. At dinner one evening, I placed my iPhone on the table. I was surrounded by ethical hackers whose jobs are to find vulnerabilities before the bad guys and exploit security flaws.

"I could hack your phone pretty easily," security researcher Tomi Tuominen mentioned. Obviously, I took notice.

For the next 20 minutes, Tuominen and information security researcher Robert Lee gave me a tutorial on making my iPhone settings hacker-proof. Some of them are basic -- like changing your four character password to something more complex. Others take a bit more work, such as using settings to limit ad tracking. For more tips, check out the video.

BlackBerry Z3 to launch in India today. Price could be Rs 11,000

BlackBerry Z3 to launch in India today. Price could be Rs 11,000

The BlackBerry Z3. (Source:

The Z3 is a 5-inch phablet that runs the Canadian smartphone maker’s latest BB 10.2.1 operating system

Blackberry will launch its Z3 smartphone, the cheapest BB 10 device, in India on Wednesday. The phone, designed for emerging markets like Indonesia and India, was first launched in Jakarta over a month back.

The Z3 is a 5-inch phablet that runs the Canadian smartphone maker’s latest BB 10.2.1 operating system. This is the first phone for which Blackberry is touring the Android compatibility of its new OS.

This means the phone will give users the security and ease of use Blackberry is known for along with the app ecosystem that Android brings to its devices. Incidentally, within a few months BB 10 users will be able to access the Amazon app store directly from their devices.

Would you buy the Z3 if it is priced at Rs 11,000?

Not sure

We expect the phone to be priced around Rs 11,000. While this is almost the same price as the phone tag in Indonesia, it will also make a phone among the most affordable 5-inch devices in the market from a global brand.

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