Centre launches ₹10,000-cr fund to boost electronics manufacturing

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

In a bid to kickstart manufacturing in the electronics sector, the Centre on Monday launched a ₹10,000-crore development fund specifically targeted at the semiconductor industry.

Called Electronic Development Fund (EDF), it will provide risk capital to companies developing new technologies in electronics, nano-electronics and information technology.

The Centre will contribute ₹2,200 crore, while the balance will be brought in by private entities.

Canbank Venture Capital Fund, a subsidiary of state-run lender Canara Bank, has been appointed the implementation agency for EDF.

The Department of Electronics and Information Technology will be the anchor investor.

To start with, the Centre announced the allotment of funds to four VC firms — Karnataka Semiconductor Venture Capital Fund, Exfinity Technology Fund, Forum Synergies EDF Digital India Fund, and Endiya Seed Capital Corporation Fund.

The Centre has provided ₹169 crore to the four companies, while the VC firms are investing close to ₹1,000 crore.

“At any given time, the government will not invest more than 20-25 per cent in the funds, allowing the funds to be managed independently by the fund managers who have expertise in identifying and managing start-up investments,” said Ravi Bansal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Communications and IT.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said this was one of his dream projects and the government will do everything to protect the intellectual property of the start-ups that use this fund.

“We would encourage investments in two key areas — cyber security, where I think India can become a hub for innovation, and chip design, where I see a huge scope for designing semiconductor chips in India,” Prasad said.

The fund will also be used to acquire foreign companies and technologies that are required for building hi-tech capabilities within India, he added.

The fund has a commitment period till March 31, 2017, but according to Bansal, it is unlikely that the entire ₹10,000 crore will be invested by then.


Uber Launches ‘Trip Experiences’ API on Its Developer Platform

Uber Launches 'Trip Experiences' API on Its Developer PlatformAt Uber’s first ever Asian hackathon held in Bengaluru on Tuesday, taxi aggregator Uber announced the launch of its Global API called Trip Experiences. Launched on developers.uber.com, it lets startups leverage Uber’s API to provide an enhanced and gamified travel experience during the free time that Uber riders have during their trips.

Saad Ahmed, Business Development Lead, Uber India said that it was also the first time that a global API launch was done from Bengaluru, where the company would be setting up an engineering team.

Dmitry Shevelenko, Head of Business, Uber Developer Platform said that the company’s focus on its API platform, launched in March 2015, had been on helping riders make a booking without having to re-enter the address on the Uber app. A focus on intent to ride has been good for the company, he said, citing Microsoft’s integration of the API into Cortana, which was done from the Hyderabad office.

“The API has been helping folks up to point A. Using our API, someone could rebuild our Uber for Android app. What we’re announcing today is a shift from utility, to opening up the platform for true creativity,” Shevelenko said, adding that the Trip Experiences API opens up opportunities that happen on the trip itself. He calculated that Uber riders had generated 20 billion units of free time on over one billion cumulative Uber trips.

The Trip Experiences API will leave users in control, the company said, adding that only apps specifically given permission will be able to connect to Uber and access their trip details. Users can also turn off the feature on an app by app basis, the company said. The company showcased use cases for apps centred around entertainment, news, dating, gamification, local guides, and IoT-based home automation.

The API can tell developers when the rider has free time, how much free time they have, where they’re coming from, and where they’re going, the company said.

Zomato, Zo Rooms, Housing.com, and Satyam Cinemas were some Internet companies who had integrated Uber’s API into their apps, the company said.

In a recently mailed fact sheet, the company said that it had over 250,000 driver partners on its platform active in India, with a presence in 26 Indian cities.


HackerRank Launches App-Based Recruitment Platform

HackerRank Launches App-Based Recruitment Platform

Bengaluru-based code-challenge community HackerRank announced the launch of HackerRank Jobs, a platform to provide a developer-focused approach to recruiting.

The HackerRank Jobs mobile app is available now in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, as well as on the HackerRank website.

Launched in a limited beta, the site has jobs listings from Indian and US-based tech companiespublished online, which include VMware, Visa Inc, Practo, Uber, Quora, Zenefits, Palantir Technologies and Amazon. The company is working with 30 hand-picked companies who are already its customers in its beta.

“We will be working closely with these companies for two to three months, to build a bridge between our community and tying it back to the company who are participating in Hackerrank Jobs for now,” said Arpit Maheshwari, Product Manager at HackerRank, speaking to Gadgets 360. Additional regions will be available by the end of March 2016.

The app and Web-based platform lets candidates sign up for a code challenge on the mobile app, available on Android and iOS, and features five-day response times, automated skill-based code challenges, and salary transparency.

Companies have up to five days to schedule an interview with the top-performing engineers, and candidates who didn’t pass the hiring bar will be notified. Applicants are guaranteed to know whether or not they move onto the next round, the company said.

“For the company or recruiter, they will now have a very clear dashboard of who is applying to the company, and who is above and below the cutoff mark. They can define what is the criteria for qualifying their company’s challenges, and rather than going through hundreds of resumes, they really just need to talk to the 20 qualified people,” Maheshwari said.

HackerRank Jobs is focused on the software engineering domain, ad it also has sub-products to assess skills in areas like system administration, and database engineering, he added.

Founded in 2009, HackerRank provides coding challenges in over 15 domains and 35 programming languages.


YouTube Launches Pakistani Version, Paving Way for Ban to Be Lifted

YouTube Launches Pakistani Version, Paving Way for Ban to Be Lifted

The Supreme Court’s ban in place since September 2012 applied to YouTube’s global and localised sites.

The new site, youtube.com.pk, is currently live but inaccessible inside Pakistan, and the government and Google hope its creation will mean the Supreme Court will lift the ban, even if only partially.

Content on the local site can still be regulated, and a senior government official told AFP Wednesday Pakistan’s telecommunication authority could ask Google to remove content it deems objectionable.

If Google complies, it could meet a condition set by the Supreme Court for lifting the ban.

“The understanding is that on the localised version offensive and blasphemous content could be blocked by Google on the government’s request,” the official said.

A Google spokesman confirmed that governments are allowed to request the removal of YouTubevideos that violate local laws.

“We have clear community guidelines, and when videos violate those rules, we remove them,” the spokesman said.

But the Internet giant said it would review requests before taking videos down.

“Government requests to remove content will continue to be tracked and included in our Transparency Report.”

Islamabad has been in intermittent talks with Google for several years over the issue, another source close to the matter said, without providing a specific timeframe for the unveiling of YouTube Pakistan.

“We are in a very near-term sort of thing. The roadblocks have been removed,” the source said.

A Supreme Court official meanwhile said the next court hearing about the ban is in two weeks.

Users in Pakistan continue to access YouTube using proxy servers and Virtual Private Networks.

Blasphemy is a contentious issue in Pakistan and the country has seen violent riots sparked by content considered offensive to Islam.

In 2010 Pakistan shut down Facebook for nearly two weeks over its hosting of allegedly blasphemous pages. It continues to restrict thousands of online links.