Budget 2016 gives Major boost to Department of Space

Of the Rs 7509 crore budget allocation, Rs 1509 crore has been earmarked for different projects. In a boost to the Department of Space (DoS), theUnion budget 2016-17allocated Rs 7509 crore to the department, an increase of around Rs 550 crore as compared to the last budget.

Of the Rs 7509 crore budget allocation, Rs 1509 crore has been earmarked for different projects.

In 2015-16, the revised budget for DoS was Rs 6959 crore, of which Rs 1359 crore was earmarked for various projects.

ISRO is the only science related department/ ministry, which has seen such a whooping hike in its budget.

The Department of Atomic Energy, which as the DoS comes under the Prime Minister’s Office, has witnessed a wafer thin cut in its budget.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 381 crore for Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre while Satish Dhawan Space Research Centre, Rs 173 crore.
Last year, the non-plan outlay for different projects was Rs 1359 crore as compared to Rs 1509 crore this year.
Money has also been earmarked for Chandrayaan 2, GSLV Mark III project and the INSAT satellite system.
The Department of Space will implement important missions like the proposed SAARC satellite mission later this year.

In the Union budget 2016-17, the Ministry of Science and Technology has been allocated Rs 9,488 crore as compared to Rs 10,361 in 2015-16 while the proposed allocation to Ministry of Earth Science is Rs 1,418 crore in 2016-17 which was Rs 1,672 crore in 2015-16.

Bill Aims to Keep States From Banning Smartphone Encryption

United States Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, last week introduced legislation to prevent states from passing laws banning the sale of smartphones with encryption capabilities.

Bill Aims to Keep States From Banning Smartphone Encryption

The “ENCRYPT Act of 2016,” as the bill is known, provides that a state or political subdivision of a state may not mandate or request that a manufacturer, developer, seller or provider of covered products either design a security backdoor or modify existing security functions to allow the surveillance of their users or allow their physical search “by any agency or instrumentality of a state, a political subdivision of a state or the United States.”

No Backdoors

The bill prohibits the use of products or services from manufacturers, developers, sellers or providers to decrypt or otherwise render intelligible information that has been encrypted or otherwise rendered unintelligible.

Covered products and services include computer hardware, software, electronic devices, and online services available to the general public.

In short, the bill aims to shut off attempts by the FBI, NSA and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. to force high-tech companies to include security or encryption backdoors or otherwise provide access to information on devices.

Rationale for the Act

“I was concerned when I saw the New York State legislator’s bill that would mandate encryption backdoors, and got more concerned when the California state legislature introduced a similar bill,” Lieu told TechNewsWorld. “California is a Democratic state, and if a Democratic legislator introduces the bill, I figure it will pass.”

The FBI, the NSA and other law enforcement agencies have been pressing for encryption backdoors.

FBI Director James Comey went so far as to suggest Congress might have to intervene if Apple and Google refused to remove default encryption from iOS and Android, but some lawmakers gave that suggestion a chilly reception.

A Weather Eye

“You can’t design a smartphone that would work in different states differently in terms of encryption, because people travel in different states all the time,” Lieu pointed out.

The issue is not about encryption, per se, he said. “Whether you believe in encryption backdoors or oppose them, you can still support the [ENCRYPT 2016] bill, because states shouldn’t get into interstate commerce.”

The bill “introduces people to the issue,” observed Daniel Castro, a vice president at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, and “in some ways, it educates policy makers on the issue.”

It also “sends a signal to the states that Congress is keeping an eye on things, and maybe they’ll give the issue some serious consideration,” Castro told.

“We need a national policy on this,” he remarked. “It’s not just about screwing up encryption but about how we can do national security really well.”

India to Establish Gravitational Research Lab, Says Prime Minister Modi

India to Establish Gravitational Research Lab, Says Prime Minister Modi

India has decided to establish a Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) where gravitational waves can be studied, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Sunday.

In his monthly radio programme Mann ki Baat, Modi said Indian scientists were also in the research team that studied gravitational waves.

The laboratory will be third of its kind in the world after Hanford in Washington and Livingston in Louisiana, both in the US.

“Recently the Gravitational Waves have been discovered by the scientific community of the world, which is indeed a major achievement. We should be proud of the fact that Indian scientists were also part of it. Keeping this in mind, we have taken a decision to open a LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) in India,” said Modi.

LIGO is a national facility for gravitational-wave research, providing opportunities for the broader scientific community to participate in detector development, observation, and data analysis.

The prime minister announced that within its limited resources India will also participate and contribute in the research through the LIGO.

Earlier this month, the Union cabinet approved a proposal to establish a state-of-the-art gravitational wave observatory in India in collaboration with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US.

The “in principle” approval for the LIGO-India project for research on gravitational waves – a discovery that is regarded as the breakthrough of the century – is piloted by the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science and Technology (DST), a press release said.

Tooler Is Not Shutting Down, Says Co-Founder

Tooler Is Not Shutting Down, Says Co-Founder

E-laundry services provider Tooler has denied news reports that it is shutting down its operations. It elaborated that Tooler is downsizing operations from the Delhi-NCR region to just Gurgaon.

Tooler Co-Founder Sukanth Srivastav said that the startup had stopped its operations for about fifteen days, from February 2 to February 20, but it wasn’t a permanent development. The service is presently operational in Gurgaon. “My customers know that I am open, they are ordering any how,” he said.

“The problem is, I told somebody something, they understood something, and they published something completely new,” said Srivastav. “I just do not have the power to write to everyone that we are not shutting down. I just don’t have the bandwidth to tell these sites, so I have left it,”

The Delhi-based startup, founded by Srivastav, Vishal Gupta, and Himanshu Arora in June 2015 had pivoted from a generic home services provider, focused on five services – laundry, dry-cleaning, plumber, carpenter, electrician, to one focused purely providing an on-demand laundry service.

Tooler had reportedly raised an undisclosed amount of funding from angel investors in November 2015.

Other startups that provide on-demand laundry services include Housejoy, LocalOye, Pickmylaundry, and DoorMint.

Srivastav said that the startup is in process of making an investment in a B2B dry cleaning company. “Our cashflow will always be maintained because of our B2B play,” he said. “It’s much more expensive to be in Delhi and Noida, we have a certain amount of funds that we need to make it last for a full year. We feel that the Gurgaon market is going to be big enough.”

Over seven thousand users have used Toolr’s Android app, Srivastav said, adding that more more than 50 percent of its users in Gurgaon.

“Gurgaon is a much better target market for us, and we want to explore different models here. We have a store here, so we have already started to explore both offline and online markets,” he said.

See That Billboard? It May See You, Too

See That Billboard? It May See You, Too

Pass a billboard while driving in the next few months, and there is a good chance the company that owns it will know you were there and what you did afterward.

Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, which has tens of thousands of billboards across the United States, will announce Monday that it has partnered with several companies, including AT&T, to track people’s travel patterns and behaviors through their mobile phones.

By aggregating the trove of data from these companies, Clear Channel Outdoor hopes to provide advertisers with detailed information about the people who pass its billboards to help them plan more effective, targeted campaigns. With the data and analytics, Clear Channel Outdoor could determine the average age and gender of the people who are seeing a particular billboard in, say, Boston at a certain time and whether they subsequently visit a store.

“In aggregate, that data can then tell you information about what the average viewer of that billboard looks like,” said Andy Stevens, senior vice president for research and insights at Clear Channel Outdoor. “Obviously that’s very valuable to an advertiser.”

Clear Channel and its partners – AT&T Data Patterns, a unit of AT&T that collects location data from its subscribers; PlaceIQ, which uses location data collected from other apps to help determine consumer behavior; and Placed, which pays consumers for the right to track their movements and is able to link exposure to ads to in-store visits – all insist that they protect the privacy of consumers. All data is anonymous and aggregated, they say, meaning individual consumers cannot be identified.

Still, Stevens acknowledged that the company’s new offering “does sound a bit creepy.”

But, he added, the company was using the same data that mobile advertisers have been using for years, and showing certain ads to a specific group of consumers was not a new idea. “It’s easy to forget that we’re just tapping into an existing data ecosystem,” he said.

In many ways, billboards are still stuck in the old-media world, where companies tried to determine how many people saw billboards by counting the cars that drove by. But in recent years, billboard companies have made more of an effort to step into the digital age.

Some billboards, for example, have been equipped with small cameras that collect information about the people walking by. Clear Channel Outdoor’s move is yet another attempt to modernize billboards and enable the kind of audience measurements that advertisers have come to expect.

Privacy advocates, however, have long raised questions about mobile device tracking, particularly as companies have melded this location information with consumers’ online behavior to form detailed audience profiles.

Opponents contend that people often do not realize their location and behavior are being tracked, even if they have agreed at some point to allow companies to monitor them. And while nearly all of these companies claim that the data they collect is anonymous and aggregated – and that consumers can opt out of tracking at any time – privacy advocates are skeptical.

“People have no idea that they’re being tracked and targeted,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “It is incredibly creepy, and it’s the most recent intrusion into our privacy.”

The Federal Trade Commission has brought a number of cases related to mobile device tracking and the collection of geolocation information.

In 2013, the agency settled charges with the company behind a popular Android app that turned mobile devices into flashlights. The agency said the company’s privacy policy did not inform consumers that it was sharing their location information with third parties like advertisers.

Last year, the agency settled charges against Nomi Technologies, a retail-tracking company that uses signals from shoppers’ mobile phones to track their movements through stores. The agency claimed that the company had misled consumers about their opt-out options.

For Clear Channel Outdoor, the goal is to give advertisers tools to buy and measure the effectiveness of outdoor ads that are similar to those they use for digital and mobile ads. It tested the suite of data and analytics, which it calls Radar, with the shoe company Toms and said it found a rise in brand awareness and purchases.

Clear Channel Outdoor will offer Radar in its top 11 markets, including Los Angeles and New York, starting Monday, with plans to make it available across the country later this year.

Government Unveils Digital Literacy Drive in Rural India at Budget 2016

Government Unveils Digital Literacy Drive in Rural India at Budget 2016

The government would soon launch two novel schemes to spread digital literacy in rural India for deriving greater benefit from demographic advantage, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in New Delhi on Monday.

“We now plan to launch a new digital literacy mission scheme for rural India to cover six-crore additional households within the next three years,” Jaitley said while presenting the Union Budget for 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha.

Announcing that the government approved the National Digital Literacy Mission and Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (Disha) to promote digital literacy, Jaitley said of the 168 million crore rural households across the country, 120 million did not have computers and were unlikely to have digitally literate persons.

“Details of the twin schemes will be spelt out separately,” Jaitley added.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a digital platform for enabling farmers to sell their produce at a better rate anywhere in the country will be launched on April 14.

The Prime Minister pushed for more and more use of modern technology and equipment along with traditional wisdom of farming to boost the agriculture sector, not only to meet the domestic needs but also cater to the demands from abroad.

India Funding Roundup: A Baby Care Portal, Home Rental Aggregator, and More

India Funding Roundup: A Baby Care Portal, Home Rental Aggregator, and More

Our latest funding roundup compiles investments in Indian startups engaged in thematic investments, mom and baby care, real estate, vocational training, and marketing tech.

Tauro Wealth
Bengaluru-based thematic stock market investments platform Tauro Wealth has reportedly raised an undisclosed amount in seed funding from TracxnLabs and a few angel investors. Incorporated in 2015 and currently in preview mode, the startup plans to allocate the current funding round towards building a Web platform, and for hiring developers. The firm is now looking for pre-Series A funding to roll out the live product, and manage the operations involved in providing online transactions and customer support.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has invested $13 million (roughly Rs. 90 crores) in Hopscotch.in, which operates on a flash sales model for mom and baby care products. The Mumbai-based startup has reportedly seen growth of over 700 percent year on year, and expects to break even by the end of 2016.

Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata has invested an undisclosed amount in home rental companyNestAway, his eighth personal investment in a startup in 2016 so far. NestAway turns unbranded, unfurnished houses into fully furnished and managed apartments and provides them at affordable prices to verified tenants, said the statement by IDG Ventures India, which is an investor in the company. Until recently, NestAway counted working professionals who are single among its target audience, but now it has also forayed into the family segment. So far, the startup has provided rental homes to about 5,000 tenants across six cities.

Mumbai-based EduBridge, which provides a vocational training services for low-income youth in semi-urban and rural areas has reportedly secured $2.5 million (roughly Rs. 17.1 crores) in VC funding. The company claims to have trained over 50,000 youth so far, and plans to use the funding to expand its operations to Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand and Bihar.

Freedom Smart Labs
Delhi-based in-store marketing technology startup Freedom Smart Labs has reportedly raised Rs. 1 crores in funding from DCS Group. The startup provides IoT solutions for malls and shopping arcades to target customers with integrated promotions and proximity based offers.