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India elected as co-chair of Digital Innovation Board at International Telecommunication Union

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New Delhi, March 21 (IANS) The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has elected India as co-chair of its Digital Innovation Board, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) said on Thursday.

DoT Secretary, Dr Neeraj Mittal, was unanimously elected as co-chair of the Digital Innovation Board of ITU, formed under the aegis of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alliance for Digital Development. It comprises Ministers and Vice Ministers of Telecom/ICT of 23 member countries of ITU, spanning Asia, Europe, Africa, and North and South America.

The Telecom Secretary had led a high-level delegation to Geneva for a series of crucial meetings at the ITU headquarters from March 18-20. The visit focused on fostering collaboration and exploring innovative initiatives in the telecommunications and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors.

The alliance established the Digital Innovation Board to provide strategic guidance, expertise and advocacy regarding its mission of building critical local enablers and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in digital development, to create a more inclusive and equitable digital future for all.

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Dr Mittal also held several meetings at ITU headquarters, along with chairing a review meeting at the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva.

Permanent Representative, Arindam Bagchi, and other senior officers joined the meeting. The meeting reviewed progress on critical milestones and efforts to increase participation of India in ITU activities with greater engagement of academia and Industry members from India.

A bilateral meeting between India and Japan took place on the sidelines of the Digital Innovation Board Meeting at the ITU headquarters and Dr Mittal invited the Japanese government and industry delegates to visit and participate in ‘WTSA 2024’ and India Mobile Congress (IMC) 2024.

The Telecom Secretary also co-chaired a bilateral meeting between India and Bahrain with Mohammed Bin Thamir, Minister of Transport and Telecom of the Gulf kingdom at the ITU HQ on the sidelines of the Digital Innovation Board meeting.

Both countries decided to collaborate actively in the ICT sector in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, 5G use cases, cybersecurity, and the development of a data embassy. Both agreed to revisit the MOU on ICT between the two countries that lapsed in 2015. –IANS na/

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South Korea to operate strategic R&D centres in US, Europe

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Seoul, May 30 (IANS) South Korea will operate strategic research and development (R&D) centres in the United States and Europe to enhance global R&D collaborations, the science ministry said on Thursday.

The strategic hubs aim to create a network between small overseas research centers in the regions and communicate with local authorities to find project partners, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.

The ministry plans to select these strategic centers among existing facilities and start test operation after securing the necessary budget next year, reports Yonhap news agency.

Additionally, the ministry will create a comprehensive map outlining the technological levels of global leaders in 12 national strategic technologies designated by the South Korean government, as well as key technologies for achieving carbon neutrality.

The 12 technologies are semiconductors and displays, secondary batteries, advanced mobility, next-generation nuclear power, advanced biology, aerospace and ocean engineering, hydrogen, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, next-generation communications, advanced robotics and quantum technology.

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As an initial step, the government analyzed the maps for three technologies: solar power, wind power and power grid.

The findings showed that South Korea ranks fourth in hyper-efficient solar battery technology, 11th in large-scale wind turbine technology and fifth in intelligent power supply system technology.

Separately, the ministry announced four flagship global R&D projects, which will be on top of the government-backed programs, including the Boston-Korea Project and Net-Zero Korea Project.

The Boston-Korea project aims to strengthen cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. to advance biotechnology, while the Net-Zero Korea project targets improving the country’s hydrogen technologies.

–IANS

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Lava launches new 5G smartphone in two storage variants

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Domestic smartphone brand Lava, on Thursday, launched its new smartphone Yuva 5G in two storage variants.

Priced at Rs 9,499 for the 64 GB variant and Rs 9,999 for the 128 GB variant, Yuva 5G will be available for sale on Amazon, Lava e-store and Lava retail outlets from June 5. It comes in two colours — Mystic Blue and Mystic Green.

“Yuva 5G is designed for the youth, suited to their consumption patterns and preferences. The power-packed features provide a seamless experience with complete safety and assured updates,” Puravansh Maitreya, Marketing Head – Lava International, said in a statement.

The smartphone features a glass-back design, a side fingerprint sensor, 4GB+4GB (Virtual) RAM, and a 50MP AI Dual Rear Camera with an 8MP selfie camera.

It comes with a 6.5-inch HD+ punch-hole display with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 5000 mAh battery with 18W Type-C fast charger.

“Equipped with a power-packed Octa-core Processor, dual AI camera and fast charging the new Yuva 5G sets new benchmarks in this category bringing the best of technology and creativity for users,” said Sumit Singh, Product Head, Lava International.

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In addition, the company mentioned that the smartphone features Clean Android 13 with no ads, no bloatware and face unlock feature.

–IANS

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Truecaller crosses 400 million monthly active users

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Leading caller identification app Truecaller on Thursday announced that it has reached a significant milestone of 400 million users monthly.

The company said that it continues to grow rapidly in many different geographic markets and has since March 31 this year grown with 10.1 million users.

“New technology and increased opportunities for fraudsters to make money are driving this development. We continue to develop our app and add new functionality to protect our users before, during, and after a phone call or SMS,” Alan Mamedi, co-founder and CEO of Truecaller, said in a statement.

The company said that it reported an average of 383.4 million active users per month during the first quarter (Q1) of 2024 and at the end of the quarter, the number of monthly active users was 389.9 million.

Meanwhile, Truecaller has reported an 8 per cent increase in net sales in India in Q1 of the calendar year, saying that the country accounted for 74.2 per cent of the total net sales.

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India continues to remain one of the biggest markets for Truecaller as the region accounted for growth across three revenue streams — Truecaller for Business, Premium subscriptions and Ads, the company said in a statement.

–IANS

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Children most vulnerable to thirdhand smoke: Experts

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Children are most vulnerable to third-hand smoke pollutants that settle indoors when tobacco is smoked, said health experts on Thursday, ahead of World No Tobacco Day.

World No Tobacco Day is observed every year on May 31 to raise awareness about the health risks of using tobacco.

Thirdhand smoke contains more than 250 residual chemicals including nicotine and cancer-causing substances such as formaldehyde, and naphthalene. It builds up on surfaces over time and can get embedded in clothing, furniture, drapes, bedding, and carpets.

“Children are most vulnerable to thirdhand smoke because they tend to touch surfaces, and often their mouths, resulting in skin exposure and ingestion of these residues,” Lancelot Mark Pinto, from P. D. Hinduja Hospital & MRC, Mumbai, told IANS.

“The only way to prevent such exposure is by completely banning indoor smoking, and insisting on keeping a radius outside buildings and homes smoke-free,” added Lancelot, Consultant Pulmonologist and Epidemiologist at Hinduja.

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Thirdhand smoke is a hidden danger, lingering in furniture, walls, and clothing long after a cigarette is extinguished. The residue can remain for weeks, months, or even years.

“Vulnerable groups include infants, children, and those with respiratory conditions, as they are more likely to come into contact with these contaminated surfaces and inhale harmful residues,” Ishan Capoor, pulmonologist and respiratory medicine, Narayana Health City, Bengaluru, told IANS.

“This exposure can lead to respiratory issues, developmental problems, and an increased risk of cancer,” he added.

To prevent third-hand smoke exposure, ensure that smoking is strictly prohibited indoors and in vehicles. Regularly clean surfaces and fabrics, and encourage smokers to quit or at least to smoke outside and away from others. Awareness and proactive measures are essential to protect the health of those most at risk.”

In addition to children, Srinath Bharadwaj, Medical Oncologist at Apollo Cancer Centre, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, told IANS that it may also harm pets in the house.

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“Our furry friends usually groom by licking their fur. If that fur is coated with smoke residue, they ingest carcinogens and toxins on top of the ones their lungs take in,” he said.

The experts called on businesses, communities, and individuals to take action to help prevent thirdhand smoke exposure by not allowing smoking indoors. Smoking in front of an open window does not prevent thirdhand smoke exposure.

“The best way is to quit smoking and stay safe and keep your family safe,” they noted.

–IANS

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Agnibaan rocket launch a momentous occasion for India's space sector: PM Modi

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Calling the Agnibaan rocket mission, by IIT Madras startup Agnikul a remarkable feat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said it is a “momentous occasion for India’s space sector”.

Powered by liquid oxygen/kerosene, Agnibaan is a two-stage rocket that can carry up to 300 kg to a height of 700 km.

“A remarkable feat which will make the entire nation proud!” PM Modi said in a post on social media platform X.com.

“The successful launch of Agnibaan rocket powered by the world’s first single-piece 3D printed, semi-cryogenic engine is a momentous occasion for India’s space sector”.

The launch is also “a testament to the remarkable ingenuity of our Yuva Shakti”, PM Modi said.

The Prime Minister also extended “best wishes to the Agnikul Cosmos team for their future endeavours”.

The indigenously designed and manufactured Agnibaan-SOrTeD (SubOrbital Technological Demonstrator) lifted off from India’s first privately developed launchpad called ‘Dhanush’ at 7.15 a.m. today.

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The launch pad, established by Agnikul at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, is located inside ISRO’s rocket port in Sriharikota.

The maiden test flight from the private rocket maker will demonstrate the in-house and homegrown technologies, gather crucial flight data, and ensure the optimal functioning of systems for its orbital launch vehicle the ‘Agnibaan’ by the end of 2025.

–IANS

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