Connect with us

Technology

Uber Gets Back London License After Winning Court Challenge

Avatar

Published

on

By Associated Press | Updated: 28 September 2020

Uber can keep operating in London after the ride-hailing company won a court appeal on Monday against the refusal by transit regulators to renew its license.

The US company had challenged Transport for London’s (TFL) decision in late 2019 not to renew its private hire vehicle (PHV) operating license over safety concerns involving imposter drivers.

“Despite their historical faillings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV operator’s license,” Deputy Chief Magistrate Tanweer Ikram wrote in his decision.

However, he said he wanted to hear from lawyers for both sides before deciding how long Uber’s license should be and under what conditions it should operate.

Uber was allowed to continue operating while the appeal was underway. The decision came after a four-day hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.

Transport for London had decided in 2019 to reject Uber’s application for a new license, citing several breaches that placed passengers at risk. The regulator noted, among other things, that unauthorised drivers were able to carry out thousands of rides by uploading their photos to other driver accounts.

The magistrate said he took into account Uber’s efforts to improve oversight and didn’t find any evidence of a “cover up” of the driver photo fraud problem.

TFL had already revoked Uber’s license once before, in 2017, but a court later granted it a license lasting 15 months, which TFL then extended for two more months in late 2019, but with 20 added conditions.

The legal victory in a lucrative European market will help Uber as it struggles to turn a profit. The company posted a $1.8 billion (roughly Rs. 13,264 crores) loss in the latest quarter, raising doubts that it can meet its goal of becoming profitable by 2021.

Science

Sweden Joins India’s Venus Mission With Instrument to Explore Planet

Avatar

Published

on

By Press Trust of India | Updated: 25 November 2020

Sweden is getting on board India’s Venus orbiter mission ”Shukrayaan” with a scientific instrument to explore the planet. Ambassador of Sweden to India, Klas Molin said Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) is engaged in the venture, its second collaborative project with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

“IRF’s satellite instrument Venusian Neutrals Analyzer (VNA) will study how the charged particles from the Sun interact with the atmosphere and exosphere of the planet”, he told PTI.

“The new Venus mission means that the collaboration between IRF and ISRO continues”.

The VNA would be the ninth generation of IRFs series of miniatured ion and ENA (Energetic Neutral Atoms) instruments, according to Swedish officials.

The first generation was named SARA (Sub-keV Atom Reflecting Analyzer) and was launched on board the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 that explored the Moon in 2008-2009. SARA consisted of two sensors. One was a detector for energetic neutral atoms and the other was an instrument to measure the flow of ions in the solar wind.

The instrument studied how the plasma around the Moon interacts with the moon where the surface is not protected by an atmosphere or a magnetic field, they said.

“For the first time ever, SARA could investigate energetic atoms that are knocked from the lunar surface when they are hit by the solar wind”, Swedish officials said.

The SARA experiment was the first collaborative project between IRF and the ISRO.

On collaboration in general with India in the field of space, Molin said Sweden has quite a lot to provide, both from its institutions and from space tech companies. He said India has a clear ambition to explore the universe, other planets and to send humans to space. “This segment includes to a large extent R&D effort, both regarding space technologies and services.”

“The unique Space Tech Testbed capability at Esrange can also carry out even more advanced tests of equipment and technologies that should be used in exploration campaigns”, Molin said. On future prospects in the space field between the two countries, the Ambassador noted that India has recently created National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) to provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure.

This is part of reforms aimed at giving a boost to private sector participation in the entire range of space activities, he said. “The future is exciting as India is opening the space market for commercial player participation and easing import-export restrictions, including 100 per cent FDI allowed in satellite development and deployment. It is important to underline that ISRO will remain as the main Indian customer in the coming years, but the market growth could be exponential”, Molin said.

According to ISRO officials, the Indian space agency has short-listed 20 space-based experiment proposals, including from France, for its proposed Venus mission to study the planet for more than four years. They include “collaborative contributions” from Russia, France, Sweden and Germany. ISRO was eyeing June, 2023 for the country’s first mission to Venus.

“But we are currently reviewing this mission timeline due to delays arising from the pandemic situation”, an ISRO official said.

“Future launch opportunity is either in 2024 or 2026”. It was noted that optimal launch window (when Venus is closest to the Earth) comes about every 19 months. Of the Indian and international payload proposals it received in response to an announcement of opportunity for novel space-based experiments to study Venus, ISRO has short-listed 20 and they are currently under review.

The one already selected, according to French space agency CNES, is France’s VIRAL instrument (Venus Infrared Atmospheric Gas Linker) co-developed with the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and the LATMOS atmospheres, environments and space observations laboratory attached to the French national scientific research centre CNRS.

Scientific objectives of ISRO’s Venus mission are investigation of the surface processes and shallow subsurface stratigraphy; and solar wind interaction with Venusian Ionosphere, and studying the structure, composition and dynamics of the atmosphere, according ISRO.

The payload capability of the proposed 2500-kg satellite, planned to be launched on GSLV Mk II rocket, is likely to be 175 kg with 500W of power.

The proposed orbit is expected to be around 500 x 60,000 km around Venus. This orbit is likely to be reduced gradually, over several months to a lower apoapsis (farthest point).

Continue Reading

Internet

NSE Warned Future Retail of Action Over Disclosures on Amazon Dispute, Emails Reveal

Avatar

Published

on

By Reuters | Updated: 25 November 2020

India’s National Stock Exchange (NSE) privately warned Future Retail it risked regulatory action for not making timely market disclosures about efforts by Amazon.com to block a disputed asset sale, according to e-mails reviewed by Reuters.

Future Retail, one of country’s top retailers, has been locked in a bitter dispute with Amazon over its $3.4 billion (roughly Rs. 25,300 crores) retail assets deal with Reliance. Amazon is a business partner of Future and argues the Indian firm’s asset sale breached some of their pre-existing agreements.

Amazon had complained to stock exchanges, accusing Future of misleading public by making incorrect market disclosures, allegations the Indian group denies.

The complaint came after Amazon on October 25 won an injunction from an arbitrator to halt the Future-Reliance deal.

Previously unreported e-mails exchanged between the NSE and Future show the stock exchange repeatedly requested the company submit more details of the arbitration order, seeking details of possible impact on financials, lenders and the Reliance deal.

On October 27, NSE asked Future why it had not disclosed the commencement of the arbitration proceedings and not shared the impact of the order. Future in response said it believed a disclosure wasn’t required.

NSE’s listing compliance division rejected that argument. It demanded a series of disclosures be made within hours, “failing which appropriate actions may be initiated”, the emails showed.

Future Retail’s Company Secretary, Virendra Samani, answered most of NSE’s queries in a late night e-mail on October 30, saying it was doing so “in the best interest of all stakeholders”, the communications showed.

Many of those responses were made public on directions of the NSE two days later in a six-page exchange filing by Future.

Before that, Future had only submitted a disclosure on October 26 in which it attached a media release saying it would ensure its deal with Reliance proceeded unhindered and that it was reviewing the arbitration order.

The NSE and Future Retail did not respond to requests for comment.

The legal dispute has now reached the Delhi High Court, where Future Retail has urged the court to stop Amazon from writing letters to regulators to block its Reliance deal, which is pending approvals from the market regulator and stock exchanges. The judge is expected to rule on the plea in the coming days.

Amazon had separately asked India’s market regulator to investigate Future for insider trading, saying it disclosed to Reliance price sensitive details of the arbitration order before its exchange filing in late October.

Future has said its communications with Reliance, which is led by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, were for a “legitimate purpose”.

NSE in e-mails at least twice asked Future Retail to provide a copy of the arbitration order to vet the disclosures, and also why it should not be disclosed as material price-sensitive information, emails between October 27 and October 30 showed.

Future’s Samani at first declined the request, stating in an e-mail that the order was “confidential in nature” and sharing further information could be “deterimental” to the company. A copy was provided following NSE’s warning.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

Continue Reading

Apps

China App Ban: Chinese Foreign Ministry Criticises India’s Move to Ban More Apps

Avatar

Published

on

By Press Trust of India | Updated: 25 November 2020

China on Wednesday said it was firmly opposed to India’s decision to block 43 more Chinese apps on national security grounds, claiming the move violated WTO rules.

India on Tuesday blocked 43 more Chinese mobile apps, including Alibaba’s e-commerce app AliExpress, in a fresh wave of web sanctions amid its border standoff with China.

The banned applications were a threat to the “sovereignty and integrity of India”, an official statement said in New Delhi.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT issued the order for blocking the access of these apps by users in India based on the comprehensive reports received from Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center, Ministry of Home Affairs, the release said.

Earlier on June 29 this year, the government had blocked access to 59 mobile apps and on September 2, another 118 apps were banned under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act.

The ban had come in the backdrop of border tensions with China in eastern Ladakh since May.

Asked for his reaction to the latest ban on Chinese apps by India, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing that China expresses serious concern over India’s move.

“Since June this year four times India has imposed restrictions on smart phone apps that have Chinese backgrounds under the pretext of national security,” he said.

“This behaviour violates market principles and World Trade Organisation rules, severely undermines the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies. China firmly rejects it,” the spokesman said.
Zhao said Chinese government always asks its companies to abide by international rules and local laws and regulations when doing business overseas.

“Following the market principles, the Indian government has the responsibility to protect their lawful rights and interests of international investors, including Chinese companies”, he said.

He said the nature of China India economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial.

“We urge the Indian side to immediately correct its discriminatory behaviour and avoid further damage to bilateral cooperation,” he said.

Continue Reading

Mobiles

iPhone 12, Xiaomi Devices from China Hit by India Import Hurdles: Sources

Avatar

Published

on

By Reuters | Updated: 25 November 2020

India’s tight control of quality clearances for electronic goods from China slowed the import of Apple’s new iPhone model last month and held up other products made by companies like Xiaomi, according to two industry sources.

Applications to the quality control agency, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), typically used to be processed within 15 days, but some are now taking up to two months or longer.

BIS started delaying approvals in August for China-made imports of devices like smartphones, smartwatches and laptops, part of the fallout from deteriorating ties with China after a border clash in June that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.

Since the clash India has tightened rules for investments from China and banned hundreds of Chinese mobile apps, including from tech giants Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance. It banned 43 more apps on Tuesday.

When Apple’s new iPhone 12 was caught in the delays, Apple India executives called on BIS to speed its approval up, giving assurances that the company would continue to expand its assembly operations in India, the two sources said.

It was not clear how long the iPhone 12 application was delayed, and Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

The company has assembly operations in India, but newer models and the iPhone 12 are imported from China, where contract manufacturers make the bulk of Apple’s devices.

As of Wednesday, 1,080 applications to BIS for laptops, tablets and other devices were pending, with 669 of those waiting more than 20 days, according to the agency’s website.

These included applications for devices from China-based factories of Wistron and Compal Electronics, and from Hangzhou Hikvision, the data showed.

Some of the applications for approval have been pending since September.

Calls for boycotts

Indian traders and Hindu nationalist groups have for months called for boycotting imported products from China because of the border clash, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to promote self-reliance and local production.

“While the BIS is delaying approvals for products like smartwatches, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology is pushing companies to make these devices in India,” said one of the sources.

Under BIS’s registration scheme, certain electronic goods, whether imported or locally made, need to meet certain standards. After companies get their products tested in a certified laboratory, BIS approves the applications.

Wistron and Compal did not respond to requests for comment. Hikvision declined to comment.

BIS Director General Pramod Kumar Tiwari and India’s tech ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

The clearance delays are the latest headache for technology companies whose supply chains were hit by the COVID-19 curbs, pushing some smartphone makers to resort to imports of even models made in India. The delays also come during India’s festive season when customers make big ticket purchases of everything from mobile phones to gold and cars.

The BIS delays have also hit smartwatch imports for companies including Xiaomi and Oppo, the two sources said.

Xiaomi and Oppo did not respond to requests for comment.

In July, India’s trade ministry also restricted inbound shipments of TVs by requiring importers to get a special licence, a move that one of the sources said continues to hurt companies such as Xiaomi and Samsung.

Xiaomi was denied the special licence to import roughly 30,000 units of TVs, while Samsung has faced similar import hurdles, the source said.

Samsung did not respond to a request for comment.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

Continue Reading

Technology

EU Says It Could Be Self-Sufficient in Electric Vehicle Batteries by 2025

Avatar

Published

on

By Reuters | Updated: 25 November 2020

The European Union could produce enough batteries by 2025 to power its fast-growing fleet of electric vehicles without relying on imported cells, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic said on Tuesday.

As part of its plan to become climate neutral by 2050, the EU wants to boost local production of the building blocks for green industries, including hydrogen fuel to make low-carbon steel and batteries to power clean vehicles.

“I am confident that by 2025, the EU will be able to produce enough battery cells to meet the needs of the European automotive industry, and even to build our export capacity,” Sefcovic told the online European Conference on Batteries.

Today, China hosts roughly 80 percent of the world’s lithium-ion cell production, but Europe’s capacity is set to expand fast.

Europe has 15 large-scale battery cell factories under construction, including Swedish company Northvolt’s plants in Sweden and Germany, Chinese battery maker CATL’s German facility, and South Korean firm SK Innovation’s second plant in Hungary.

Sefcovic said by 2025 planned European facilities would produce enough cells to power at least 6 million electric vehicles.

While the coronavirus pandemic has seen overall car sales plummet, combined sales of battery and plug-in hybrid cars in Europe are expected to roughly double this year, to one million units, according to the NGO Transport & Environment.

With the Commission expecting 13 million low-emission vehicles on Europe’s roads by 2025, further investments will be needed.

“We need to make significant investments in creating a full European supply chain and labour market to support the battery factories,” Northvolt’s Vice President of Communications Jesper Wigardt said.

Sefcovic said the EU’s EUR 50 billion (roughly Rs. 4,40,300 crores) coronavirus recovery fund was a “ready-made tool” to support projects.

Brussels will next month propose standards for the carbon footprint of batteries, while a private-public EU alliance aims to boost domestic supplies of the raw materials needed to make cells. That follows a similar EU scheme for battery projects launched in 2017.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

Continue Reading

Computers

Dell Rides Booming Demands for Remote-Working Tools to Beat Quarterly Sales Estimates `

Avatar

Published

on

By Reuters | Updated: 25 November 2020

Dell forecast current-quarter sales above market expectations as a pandemic-driven shift to remote work and learning powered demand for its desktops and notebooks, helping it post a surprise rise in third-quarter revenue.

The company said, on an earnings call with analysts on Tuesday, that it expects fourth-quarter revenue to rise 3 percent to 4 percent sequentially, implying a range between $24.18 billion (roughly Rs. 1,78,800 crores) and $24.42 billion (roughly Rs. 1,80,600 crores), compared with analysts’ average expectation of $23.09 billion (roughly Rs. 1,70,800 crores).

The PC maker’s shares were last up marginally in volatile after-market trading, as adjusted earnings matched Wall Street expectations of $2.03 (roughly Rs. 150) per share.

Consumers and businesses are spending on notebooks at a rate Dell has not seen in over a decade, according to an earnings presentation, helping its client solutions group rake in a record $12.29 billion (roughly Rs. 90,900 crores) in revenue, up about 8 percent from a year earlier.

Global shipments in the traditional PC market, which includes desktops, notebooks, and workstations, jumped 14.6 percent year-over-year to 81.3 million units in the third quarter of 2020, according to data from IDC.

While the health crisis lifted demand for Dell’s remote workstation products, the company’s data centre business remained under pressure, with revenue from the unit falling about 4 percent to $8.02 billion (roughly Rs. 59,300 crores) in the quarter.

Sales at VMware rose about 8 percent to $2.89 billion (roughly Rs. 21,400 crores). Dell plans to spin off its 81 percent stake in the software unit to help reduce debt.

Total revenue rose nearly 3 percent to $23.48 billion (roughly Rs. 1,73,650 crores) in the three months ended October 30, while analysts had estimated a drop of 4.4 percent to $21.85 billion (roughly Rs. 1,61,600 crores), according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net income attributable to the company rose to $832 million (roughly Rs. 6,150 crores), from $499 million (roughly Rs. 3,700 crores) a year earlier.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

Continue Reading

Trending