New Delhi, Sept 18: The
World Wide Web Consor-
tium’s (W3C) India office was
inaugurated by Minister of
State for Communic...
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Your Genome on an iPad : Kapil Khandelwal, EquNev Capital,


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EquNev Capital

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Your Genome on an iPad : Kapil Khandelwal, EquNev Capital,

  1. 1. New Delhi, Sept 18: The World Wide Web Consor- tium’s (W3C) India office was inaugurated by Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot. W3C is engaged in develop- ment of common protocols on the web, developing of stan- dards and recommendations for web access. The establishment of new W3C India office space gives it a permanent entity and would play more active and crucial role in proliferation of W3C standards among ICT indus- try and users to make India truly a knowledge-based soci- ety. “Activities initiated by W3C India office will go a long way in accelerating the growth of web in indian lan- guages,” said Pilot on the occasion. “This step will facil- itate information access on world wide web regardless of languages, location, ability,generation age and income,” he added. —IANS bbIITTss GOOGLE REMEMBERS UNCLE PAI NNeeww DDeellhhii:: : Google’s home- page Saturday paid homage to Anant V. Pai, who intro- duced Indian culture and tra- dition to millions of his coun- trymen through his Amar Chitra Katha comic series. INDIA GETS ITS FIRST ONLINE ART FAIR NNeeww DDeellhhii:: Art fairs in India are entering digital space. The country’s first online art fair, India Art Collective, will be held from November 19 to 26. Collective director Sapna Kar said: “India Art Collective will allow collectors and art lovers to discover a vast col- lection at a single location from any place.” Twitter was an amazing experience & even greater set of people. –––– AAbbdduurr CChhoowwddhhuurryy ex- Chief Scientist, Twitter EHEALTHPOINTGETSA PRESTIGIOUSAWARD NNeeww DDeellhhii:: Indian healthcare provider E HealthPoint has been named laureate of the Tech Awards 2011, a signa- ture programme of the US- based Tech Museum, for app- lying technology to benefit humanity. WORLD WIDE WEB CONSORTIUM SETS UP INDIA OFFICE New Delhi, Sept 18:India and Britain Friday held dis- cussions to further their coop- eration in science and tech- nology. Science and Technology Minister Ashwani Kumar held talks with former British prime minister Gordon Brown on the sidelines of the Summer Davos conference under way in Dalian, China. “Discussions were held on collaborative projects in sci- entific research, including futuristic and advanced research in nanotechnology, biotechnology, nuclear safety, material science, astrophysics and green technologies,” said an official statement issued here. Britain also offered assistance for facilitating achievement of universal edu- cation targets set by India and the achievement of millenni- um development goals, the statement said. — IANS INDIA, BRITAIN DISCUSS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY c m y k c m y k TECHNOMICSQUOTE OF THE DAY PAGE 13 Twitter’s chief scientist Abdur Chowdhury has quit the microblogging giant. Yahoo’s interim CEO Tim Morse got a 25 per cent pay hike. He now earns $750,000, up from $600,000. MONDAY 19 | SEPTEMBER 2011 BENGALURU New Delhi, Sept 18: Indian outsourcing compa- nies are likely to witness a slump in hiring activity owing to the current global economic scenario, but the decline would not be as “substantial” as was after the 2008 crisis, experts believe. There is definitely an impact of the global eco- nomic scenario on Indian IT and outsourcing firms, however, most of them have long-term contracts with their clients which were signed at extremely competitive rates, experts said. According to HR consul- tancy Hay Group’s Managing Consultant (Mumbai Operations and Rewards Practice Leader) Sridhar Ganesan, “Post- 2008, business planning with high focus on risks and mitigation has been critical for Indian IT firms. The precedence of 2008 in terms of outlook and fore- casts is therefore much more realistic.” Echoing the sentiment, executive search firm GlobalHunt Director Sunil Goel said, “The IT and outsourcing companies have re-aligned their businesses, and have a very balanced approach. Though there would be a slowdown, there may not be a complete downfall or a shut down in hiring activi- ty.” Prateek Srivastava, man- ager (IT Practice), Elixir Consulting, a recruitment process outsourcing firm, said: “The impact of a glob- al slowdown would be mar- ginally low than the last time. Early reports already indicate Indian IT firms are picking up more talent than last year from top B- Schools.” Besides, Indian BPO companies in their evolution of business from basic services to more com- plex services have also realised that clients are looking at the portfolio of operations for giving busi- ness. “It is not just pure off- shoring anymore. The model has to be a mix of onshore, near shore and offshore,” Hay Group’s Ganesan said, adding that Indian outsourcing firms like Aegis and Wipro among others are not look- ing at only India but a port- folio of locations that will help them win client busi- ness based on this model. Central European coun- tries are getting a lot of the knowledge process out- sourcing (KPO) business as the cost is competitive, it is near the main company headquarter and also tech- nical institutions there are providing very good talent. “There has been an accel- erated number of compa- nies that have decided to move to places like Philippines, Latin America and Australia, primarily because of cheaper wages coupled with high literacy rates. Countries like Philippines, a former US colony that retains many American cultural values, ensure better cost arbi- trage,” Srivastava said. India, which was earlier preferred for its low-cost advantage, has lost that tag as salaries have gone up in the last decade, infrastruc- ture cost has increased and support system cost has also jumped. Companies are now looking for newer avenues where they can align their costs. — PTI Recession may hit Indian IT cos hiring In India, e-commerce visits you at home ■ Dozens of online retail firms have recently sprung up to capitalise on India’s growing Internet use Bengaluru, Sept 18: Several months ago, when Prabhu Kumar could not find a book he wanted in bookstores here, he found it online at for $10. But he had to pay more than $9 in fees to have Amazon ship it to him. Many Indians are unwilling to use credit cards online, so some companies send delivery squads to customers’ doors. Mr Kumar, a software programmer, said he would not be doing that again. He now shops on India’s answer to Amazon — — which delivers books, phones and other items in as little as 24 hours at no extra cost. Mr. Kumar doesn’t have to pay FlipKart a single rupee until a couri- er bearing his books arrives at his door. He can then hand over cash or a credit card. “I think it perfectly fits the Indian mentality,” Mr Kumar said. While dozens of elec- tronic commerce firms have recently sprung up to capitalise on India’s growing Internet use, they have a problem. Indians are not yet com- fortable with shopping on the Web. Many of them remain unwilling to use credit cards online. So the Indian retailers have gone to great lengths to gain customers. Custo- mers may pay in cash on delivery, and the compa- ny fields delivery squads to ensure shipments get to customers quickly. Online sales still make up a small portion of over- all retail spending — one estimate pegs it at $10 bil- lion, a tiny fraction of India’s $500 billion retail market — but they are growing fast. FlipKart says it had rev- enue of 500 million rupees ($11 million) in its last fis- cal year, and is now clock- ing sales of about 10 mil- lion rupees a day., a coupon and deals site similar to Groupon, expects sales of 1.5 billion rupees this year, up from almost nothing the year before. The top executives of the Future Group, India’s largest retail company, says its daily online sales are on pace to triple between now and March. “This time it is for real,” said Kishore Biyani, the founder and chief execu- tive of the Future Group, referring to an earlier wave of e-commerce euphoria in the early 2000s. “This is the biggest thing to happen in India.” That rapid growth has drawn the attention of venture capitalists who poured $183 million into 20 e-commerce firms in the last 12 months, up from $61 million for 13 firms in the previous 12 months, according to Venture Intelligence, a research firm. The rapid growth has also attracted the notice of American online retail- ers. Amazon, which has a software development office in Bengaluru, is now building a ware- house and hiring employ- ees for an Indian site, according to two industry officials. And earlier this year, Groupon bought an Indian Web site, But, like in frothy Silicon Valley, some Indian analysts and investors are starting to question the frenzied deal-making. These skep- tics find it difficult to jus- tify the high prices ven- ture capitalists are pay- ing to invest in unprof- itable Indian e-commerce firms. For instance, VCCircle, a news site, recently reported that FlipKart may soon raise $150 million, which would give it a $1 billion valua- tion. (Executives at the company declined to dis- cuss its financial plans.) India has 50 million to 100 million Internet users, according to vari- ous analysts, and the number is growing by about 30 percent a year. JuxtConsult, a New Delhi- based research firm, esti- mates that 17 million peo- ple bought something online this year, up from 10 million last year. The Indian government esti- mates that household con- sumption has increased by more than two-thirds in the last five years, and most of that increase has come in the purchase of nonfood items. “It seems to be more for real than a flash in the pan,” said Kanwaljit Singh, who is a senior managing director at Helion Advisors, which has invested in about a half-dozen Indian e-com- merce sites, including MakeMyTrip. But capitalising on India’s growth online will not be easy. Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, the founders of FlipKart, have had to do things that their American or European counterparts would never have. They have set up delivery oper- ations in 13 big Indian cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai and New Delhi because Indian shippers do not have the delivery and package-tracking abilities that FedEx and U.P.S. provide for its American customers. They plan to expand FlipKart’s delivery net- work to 25 cities within a year. Sachin Bansal, the com- pany’s chief executive, said that by having its own staff, FlipKart avoids paying courier services’ commissions of more than 2 percent to accept cash on delivery, which make up about 60 percent of its orders. It can also track packages more accurately. And because labor costs are relatively low in India, its delivery cost is a modest $1 a pack- age. The Bansals say they are prepared for competi- tion from Amazon. Sachin Bansal, who work- ed with Binny Bansal as a software developer at Amazon before starting FlipKart, brushed aside a suggestion that the firm would make for an easy acquisition by Amazon. “We are very keen on going our own way,” he said. “The opportunity is so large that we would want to grow it to a much bigger level before we think of anything.”—NYT Intel to lower PC power consumption California, Sept 18: The world’s largest chip- maker Intel Corporation said it is working on a host of futuristic tech- nologies that would improve the power effi- ciency of PCs 300-fold in the next 10 years, as well as ensure the security of data and user identities. Speaking on the final day of the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2011 here, Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner said the company was developing technologies to take computing to the next level, with better performance and lower power consumption. Energy efficiency was a key theme of the three- day IDF summit this year and a number of Intel executives demonstrated the efforts being taken by the company in this regard. The move assumes significance in light of consumers gravi- tating toward always-on computing devices with a greater degree of mobili- ty. Mr. Rattner said that Intel’s multi-core technol- ogy, in which more than one processing engine is built into a single chip, has become the accepted methodology for increas- ing performance while keeping power consump- tion low. These technologies would enable faster web access, improve PC user security and reduce the requirement for wireless infrastructure to provide the optimal online experi- ence, among other bene- fits, he said. Mr. Rattner demon- strated a new technology for better PC security, wherein users would be able to see images and other data on social net- working sites and other platforms only if the com- puter recognises his or her face. — PTI SSAANNGGEEEETTHHAA CCHHEENNGGAAPPPPAA || DDCC BENGALURU When his arrogance results in the escape of a 100 souls from hell, including that of Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, Daksh the half-human son of Lord Yama is banished to earth to retrieve the escaped souls and send them back to hell. Then, there is Odayan, who uses deceit, subterfuge and his prowess in the ancient Kerala martial art form, Kalari Payattu, to orchestrate his rise to power and fame during the reign of the Zamorin of Calicut. The adventures of Daksh and Odayan, the new age comic avatars in Jump, one of India’s latest monthly comic magazine, will be available online at for free from the third week of September. Most of the characters in Jump are inspired by larger-than-life Indian and international mythic heroes, supermen, sports icons, Bollywood superstars etc. And some of the older popular stories like Shaurya (India’s equiv- alent of Superman) and the Rabhas incident, a zombie horror story set in Bengaluru will also be available for free download. The brainchild of Bengaluru boys, Suhas Sundar and Shreyas Srinivas, who completed engineering from BMS College of Engineering in 2005, Jump comics embrace a new genre of “dark fanta- sy” and is a blend of science fiction, martial arts and survival horror stories that are narrated in a style that combines Japanese, American and Indian art- work and story-telling tech- niques. “Having grown up on a diet of comics spanning Amar Chitra Katha, Indrajal, Diamond and Raj comic series, with charac- ters like Karna, Surya, Phantom, Mandrake, Bahadur, Dara and Nagraj filling our leisure hours, we realised that there are hardly any Indian comics that can hold our attention these days. Most of the comic content and charac- ters have not evolved enough to capture the attention of Generation Y, who are digital natives and have grown up in a world of video games, computers and multi-channel televi- sions. Even iconic comic book characters like Batman and Superman have been re-launched glob- ally in their new avatars over the last few months,” said Suhas, Creative Director, Jump, who previ- ously worked with Cognizant USA. Suhas and Shreyas (for- mer manager, Unilever India) quit their jobs to start Level 10 Entertainment Pvt Ltd and create comic book content in April 2010. They came out with their first issue in May 2010 which catered primarily to the 18-30 years old male audiences. While one of the recent issues of Jump fea- tures a tribute to superstar Rajnikanth, executed in Manga inspired artwork style, Batu — a hero who is modeled as a cross between Sachin Tendulkar and Harry Potter — is another of Jump’s creations. Stating that most of the comics cater to parents instead of their kids, Suhas said “The time has come to speak to the new generation in their own lingo with con- tent they can relate to, on devices that they have grown up with. We have tied up with digital comic content distributors to con- vert our content into differ- ent platforms. The content is available on Apple Store (i-tunes), Nokia OVI store and mobile phones for those who sub- scribe to Vodafone, Tata Docomo and Aircel services at just `15 per story. We have had 10,000 smart phone downloads of our comic stories so far.” Jump is available across leading bookstores in India and can be bought online on or through dial-a-book service with cash on delivery. Starting with sales of 5,000 copies a month that has now grown to 20,000 copies and a Facebook fan base of some 16,750 youngsters, the season finale of JUMP is due for release on November 10, 2011 and will feature tributes to iconic characters from the Indian comic pantheon. The Indian comic book/magazine market is estimated at `300 crore with 12.5 crore comics sold across the country per annum. New age online comics for Gen Y Washington, Sept 18: That playing video games makes the brain smarter and improves concentra- tion might be a myth fos- tered by a host of studies. “Despite the hype, in real- ity, there is little solid evi- dence that games enhance cognition at all,” said Walter Boot, assistant pro- fessor in psychology at Florida State University who led the study. Many of those studies compared the cognitive skills of frequent gamers to non-gamers and found gamers to be superior, the journal Frontiers in Psychology reports. However, Boot with doc- toral student Daniel Blakely and Daniel Simons from Illinois University points out that this does not necessarily mean that their game experience cau- sed better perceptual and cognitive abilities. It could be that individuals who have the abilities required to be successful gamers are simply drawn to gaming, according to a university statement — IANS MYTH: VIDEO GAMES SHARPEN BRAIN START-UPS There was an interesting panel discussion called ‘Your Genome on an Ipad’ that I attended in New York last week. The panel includ- ed some of the leaders in the human genomics space and included executives from companies like Illumina, Pacific Bioscienc- es, 23andme, Knome, App- lied Biosystems, GNUBio. Ever since deCODE Genetics, the pioneers in human genomics sequenc- ing, launched their web- based direct-to-consumer service called deCODEme, personal-genomics services have exploded in the Western world. Moore’s law is occurring in the genomics sequenc- ing, as the third and fourth generation sequencing tec- hnologies are beginning to emerge. With the price of such technologies within the reach of the common man, there is a likelihood of mass sequencing of the pop- ulation in the near future and an explosion of infor- mation as a result of unleashing of personal- genomics revolution. Companies such as de- CODE Genetics, 23andme, Navi Genomics, Illumina and Knome have launched services for consumers to provide personal genomic information to consumers. Many critics and purists have labeled these services as ‘recreational’ genomics to see their genetic code, and learn about their ances- tors. However in the West, there are concerns express- ed by the regulators and medical services industry with consumer genomics. Many have questioned the validity and legal issues around providing informa- tion that is still not under- stood well by practitioners and need consultations with experts. The industry that supports the personal genomics believes that it is about personal education and empowerment. The iss- ues regarding who should stand between the consum- er and has the right to see information about his or her genetic code is under the lenses of the regulatory bodies for a while now. Coming back to India, by 2020 around two-thirds of the healthcare expenditure will be used to fight chronic diseases. Our expenditure may double from current levels and could be a major factor for an economic cri- sis. Therefore the services from deCODE Genetics, 23andme, Navi Genomics, Illumina, Knome will be critical to know a patient’s genetic makeup and work on preventing chronic dis- eases before their onset. However, we are a miss- ing the vital link — how do we apply the genomic infor- mation, along with the ‘phe- notypic’ information of the patient, based on preventa- tive and wellness health- care interventions? Experts at the New York panel dis- cussion argued that mod- ern medicine should accept such diagnostics undertak- en by the consumers within the main stream. In 2000, President Clinton announced the completion of 13-years of efforts of the Human Genome Project at a cost of $ 2 billion. By last year, the same task took around a fortnight and $1500. It is now an era of sci- fi, where you may be able to get your genome sequenced and delivered to your iPad in less that an hour for costs as low as $100 dollars. A Dose of IT Kapil Khandelwal Genome on an iPAd Shreyas and Suhas, the creators of JUMP FlipKart executives, Sachin Bansal, left, and Binny Bansal, in their office . Kapil Khandelwal is director of EquNev Capital. The views expressed are his own.