Google vs Amazon: Youtube to be banned from Fire TV and Echo Show

In an escalating spat, Google has decided to terminate YouTube services from Amazon’s Fire TV and Echo Show devices. This decision was taken in the light of Amazon’s refusal to sell some Google products that would serve as a competition to Amazon gadgets. These products included Chromecast, Google’s streaming device seen as an alternative to Fire TV, and Home, an internet- connected speaker which attempts to compete with Amazon’s market-leading Echo .

In a statement given by Google on December 5, it said, “Given this lack of reciprocity, we are no longer supporting YouTube on Echo Show and Fire TV.’’ However, Amazon didn’t instantaneously respond to a request for comment.

Google hopes to pressurise Amazon into selling its products by denying access to the world’s  most extensively viewed video service. YouTube will be taken off  Fire TV on January 1, 2018, unless the two companies agree upon a truce.

YouTube was to be withdrawn from the Echo Show, although Amazon has in the past found methods to formulate unauthorised versions of YouTube available on its device.

Clashes between Google and Amazon have been persistent since the past few years. An initial sign was Amazon redesigning Google’s Android mobile software for its Kindle tablets. Two years ago, Amazon ousted Chromecast from its store, although the device had formerly been its top-selling gadget.

Apart from abjuring Chromecast and the Home speaker from appearing on its store, Amazon has declined to sell an internet-connected thermostat made by Nest, owned by Google parent Alphabet Inc. Amazon also doesn’t permit its Prime video streaming service on Chromecast, an elision that Google seeks to modify.

This spat reflects the contentions that occasionally stir between pay-TV providers and TV networks during re-negotiation of deals. Here, the two aren’t quarrelling over licensing fees. Instead, they are struggling to position their gadgets and digital services into our daily lives as internet-connected appliances become deeply embedded.


Bloomberg , The Indian Express

High BMI and diabetes linked to cancer: Lancet Report

As many as 5.6 per cent of the new cancer cases in 2012 were caused due to diabetes and high BMI(above 25 kg/m2), according to a new Lancet study. The study analyzed 7, 92, 600 cases reported across 175 countries. It revealed that of the latest cases in 18 types of cancers, 5,44,300 attributable to high BMI, equaled 3.9 per cent of all cancers — almost double of the 2,80,100 cases accredited to diabetes (2 per cent).

 The findings are crucial for India- home to 62 million diabetics, and the global diabetes capital. The obesity cut-off for BMI has been slashed from the global 25 kg/m2 to 22 kg/m2, due to the proneness of Indians to obesity. Based on data collected by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, India reported 10,57,204 cases of cancer in 2012.During 2016-17, approximately  14.5 lakh cancer cases were registered by the National Cancer Registry.

 Former dean and professor of oncology at AIIMS, Dr P K Julka said, “Obesity is known to be a major risk factor for several cancers, including that of the breast. Obese people are also more prone to cancers of the uterus and gall bladder.’’

However, he stated that there were no Indian studies investigating whether low BMI cut-off for Indians, applicable for cardiovascular risks, hold true for cancer.

 Globally, 422 million adults have diabetes and 2.01 billion adults are obese. High BMI and diabetes are risk factors as high insulin and sugar levels, chronic inflammation, and deregulated sex hormones like oestrogen cause adverse effects.

 Percentage of cancers linked to diabetes and high BMI is expected to rise globally. Researchers approximate that proportion of related cancers will increase, on an average, more than 30 per cent in women and 20 per cent in men by 2025.

Sources: Indian Express, The Quint

World Malaria Report: Indian malaria surveillance mechanism detects only 8% cases

Alarmingly, in accordance with the findings in a new World Malaria report, Indian malaria surveillance mechanisms detect meager 8 per cent of cases, featuring among the lowest in the world. Yet, India accounts for 6 per cent of all malaria cases reported globally.

The World Malaria Report 2017 says: “Countries with weak malaria surveillance systems include India and Nigeria, two major contributors to the global burden of malaria, with 8 per cent and 16 per cent of cases, respectively, detected by the surveillance system.”

Beyond the sub-Saharan Africa, India shoulders the greatest malaria burden globally. Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burkina Faso and India account 58 per cent of all malaria related deaths.

Until September 2017, 6,73,474 cases of malaria were reported in the country, based on estimates by the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme. In totality, 84 people died in eight states; West Bengal and Odisha reporting highest casualties at 26 and 25 respectively. Odisha acquires special mention in the Malaria report on account of the burst of cases in 2016 – 449697 from 436850 in 2015. As the report reveals, if these numbers comprise 8 per cent of reported cases, then India is seated on a volcano of about 80 lakh cases happening annually.

The report prepared by the World Health Organisation also noted, that India is on track for about 20–40 per cent reduction by 2020.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general highlighted that an overall decline in the global malaria burden has “unquestionably leveled off” and some countries are actually showing reversals in trends. 91 countries, in 2016, reported 216 million malaria cases, a surge of 5 million cases since 2015. The global tally of malaria deaths touched 445 000 deaths, similar to the situation in 2015.

Sources: Indian Express, Financial Express

SC rejects FIMI-Vedanta plea of e-auction of iron ore

The Supreme Court, Monday, rejected the Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (FIMI) – Vedanta plea which sought elimination of e-auction of iron and manganese ore in Karnataka.

A bench of Justices comprising of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justic Naveen Sinha said they do not accept the suggestions. “We reject the plea of FIMI and also we reject the petition of Vendanta suggesting alternative measures for e-auction,” the bench said.

FIMI, a mining industry body, had sought a halt on the e-auction as per the apex court’s 2013 directions. It had suggested that instead of an e-auction, a long-term agreement between producers and buyers should be formulated as part of the new mechanism. This was in line with the suggestion made by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in this regard by its report on April 28, 2016.

The apex court had instructed that all sales of iron and manganese ores should be done entirely through e-auctions under the supervision of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC). It also structured and ordered several measures to prevent plausible environmental damage due to mining. On April 18, 2013, it permitted mining in Ballari, Tumakuru and Chitradurga districts, but inserted a cap of 30 million tonne per annum.

However, an NGO Samaj Parivartan Samudaya, had earlier opposed the plea, on grounds of the e-auction being a tool of providing the best price and royalty to the state government. Another reason behind its opposition was highly probable large-scale depletion of forest cover owing to colossal illegal mining.

News Source: Economic Times, Hindu

Image Source: Mint


FDI consolidated policy incorporates start-ups, permits 100% FVCI

The foreign direct investment (FDI) policy document released by the Commerce Ministry on Monday, has for the first time, included start-ups, which can raise up to 100 per cent funds from foreign venture capital investor (FVCI).

As per the document, now start-ups can issue equity or equity linked instruments or debt instruments to FVCI against receipt of foreign remittance. It incorporates all changes made in FDI policy over the past year. According to the document, “In addition, start-ups can issue convertible notes to person resident outside India (subject to certain conditions)”.

A non-resident of India (NRI) (other than citizens/ entities of Pakistan and Bangladesh) will be allowed to purchase convertible notes issued by an Indian start-up company for Rs25 lakh or more in a single tranche. NRIs can also obtain convertible notes on non- repatriation basis. It would be obligatory for the start-up issuing convertible notes to endow reports as prescribed by Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Promoting job creation and innovation is the major focus of the government. It liberalized FDI policy in sectors like defence, civil aviation, construction and development, private security agencies and news broadcasting in 2016.

India needs foreign investments, approximately $1 trillion, for refurbishing its infrastructure sector such as ports, airports and highways to enhance growth. FDI will aid in the improvement of the country’s balance of payments (BOP) scenario and reinforce the rupee value against global currencies, particularly the US dollar.

News Source: Livemint, TOI

Image Source: Bloomberg

North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un to scientists: Produce more ICBMs

Kim Jong-Un has ordered supplementary production of rocket engines and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) nosecones, according to a Pyongyang state report published Wednesday.

He inspected the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defence Science, which develops the North’s missiles, as reported by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Wednesday. The manufacturing process incorporated carbon fibre weaving, chemical deposition and high-pressure liquid deposition, KCNA revealed.

This year, tensions concerning the country’s weapons programs have mounted. It executed two ICBM tests in July, supposedly bringing most of the United States within range. A series of two-way threats ensued. This week, the USA and South Korea emanated their annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian military drills, condemned by the North as dress rehearsals for invasion.

Earlier this week, KCNA described President Trump as “the master of the White House who frequently posts weird articles of his ego-driven thoughts in his twitter and spouts rubbish to make his assistants have a hard time.”

It threatened to fire a salvo of missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam but has since backed away from the plan. On Tuesday, Rex Tillerson US Secretary of State praised the North for exercising a “level of restraint” by not conducting missile tests since new UN sanctions were imposed and regarded it as Pyongyang’s readiness to foster peace and disarmament talks with Washington “sometime in the near future.”

Questions regarding the North’s mastery of the technology required to ensure a ballistic missile warhead survives intense heat generated by re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere persists, although it claims to have done so.

Sources – Times of India, Hindustan Times 

Alibaba’s UC Browser likely to face ban over alleged data theft

Chinese internet giant Alibaba’s UC Browser has come under government scrutiny for allegedly leaking mobile data of its Indian users to China. It is likely to get banned in India if found guilty of data theft. The probe by the government emerges amidst escalating tensions between the two countries.

The allegation was initially made in a University of Toronto report, which revealed that the browser is mostly used in India and China.

“There are complaints that even if a user has uninstalled it or cleaned browsing data, the browser retains control of DNS of user’s device,” a senior official from the IT ministry told PTI.

UC Web, owner of UC Browser, said, “We take security and privacy very seriously and work hard to comply with local regulations of each region we operate in. It is common practice for IT companies to place servers all around the globe to provide better service to its users. We have strong measures in place to encrypt the data while we transmit it.”

UC browser claimed that it had over 100 million monthly active users in India and Indonesia in 2016. According to the Stat-Counter report, at the end of June 2017, it is the second most used browser in India preceded by Google’s Chrome. It leads the mobile phone market segment with 48.66 per cent market share. Alibaba has made significant investments in Snapdeal, Paytm and its parent company One97.

The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Hyderabad is investigating in the matter.