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India set to be 6th nation with its own deep sea mission: Dr Jitendra Singh

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India set to be 6th nation with its own deep sea mission: Dr Jitendra Singh

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) India is set to be the sixth country to have its own deep sea mission, which has the potential to contribute greatly to the overall growth of the economy, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, said on Sunday.

Chairing a meeting to discuss the 100-day action plan of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Dr Singh expressed happiness on the progress of the deep sea mission and India being among the very few nations to achieve this feat.

“Mission is not limited to mineral exploration but development of ocean sciences and exploration of flora and fauna and conservation of marine biodiversity, etc,” he said.

The Minister highlighted the multi-fold impact this mission will have on flora and fauna, deep sea exploration, rare earth metals commercial exploitation, exploration and discovery of metals and poly-metallic nodules in the Indian sea-bed. He also directed and motivated scientists and officials to develop indigenous technology and capability and reduce India’s dependence.

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He asked institutes to focus on achieving a resilient blue economy to empower people dependent on the ocean and its energy for livelihood.

The minister also hailed the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT)’s efforts for the development of ‘Matsyayaan 6000’ which could go 6,000 metres deep into the ocean. Dr Singh directed officials to complete the first stage of harbour trials by September 2024 and finish subsequent trials by 2026.

–IANS

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I-STEM launches V-LABS initiative to revolutionise R&D in India

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I-STEM launches V-LABS initiative to revolutionise R&D in India

I-STEM launches V-LABS initiative to revolutionise R&D in India

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) In a bid to revolutionise R&D in India, I-STEM (Indian Science, Technology, and Engineering facilities Map), an initiative from the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser, on Thursday launched V-LABS (Vertically Aggregating Labs).

V-LABS platform connects researchers, startups, and industries with a vast network of labs and equipment across diverse sectors through an online portal, providing data free of cost.

The initiative aims to save capital expenditure on advanced equipment and prevent duplication of scarce resources in research institutions.

It also represents a paradigm shift in scientific resource allocation, meticulously curating and integrating data on scientific and engineering equipment into the I-STEM portal.

The vision of I-STEM is to connect one million new-age researchers to a network of 10,000 cutting-edge labs across India by the end of 2024.

“Through meticulous curation and integration of data into the I-STEM portal, V-LABS ensures that our stakeholders can efficiently find and utilise the equipment or lab they need for research, prototype development, product development, testing, and certification,” said Dr. Harilal Bhaskar, Chief Operating Officer and National Coordinator, I-STEM.

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“This initiative not only saves costs but also optimises resource utilisation, promoting a collaborative and resource-efficient research environment,” Bhaskar added.

He noted that ‘V-LABS’ ensures efficient resource utilisation, promoting a collaborative and resource-efficient research environment.

The initiative aims to strengthen the national research ecosystem, ensuring equitable distribution and efficient use of scientific resources.

Key outcomes include enhanced accessibility to scientific equipment, significant cost efficiency, resource optimisation, and data-driven insights.

The V-LABS campaign represents a major step in I-STEM’s commitment to fostering innovation and scientific excellence across India.

It aims to democratise science education and research, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, and empowering the next generation of scientists and engineers.

–IANS

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HP brings powerful AI PCs for businesses, retail customers in India

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HP brings powerful AI PCs for businesses, retail customers in India

HP brings powerful AI PCs for businesses, retail customers in India

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) PC and printer major HP on Thursday unveiled its most powerful AI PCs in India which are aimed at empowering large enterprises, startups and retail consumers.

The new devices include the HP EliteBook Ultra and HP OmniBook X, being the company’s first Copilot+ PCs.

Both laptops are engineered around the Snapdragon X Elite processor and its dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU), capable of 45 trillion operations per second (TOPS) to run language models and generative AI locally on the device, said the company.

“Our next-gen AI PCs are designed to enhance work efficiency, boost security, and offer personalized experiences for hybrid workstyles. We are excited to see how these innovative devices will drive India’s digital transformation and economic growth,” said Ipsita Dasgupta, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, HP India.

The HP Elitebook Ultra is available at a starting price of Rs 1,69,934 in Atmospheric blue colour. The HP OmniBook X is available, starting at Rs 1,39,999 in Meteor Silver colour.

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The HP EliteBook Ultra features the thinnest design in its class and boasts a powerful battery. It is equipped with enterprise-grade endpoint security to safeguard data, especially in an era where cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated.

The HP OmniBook X is designed specifically for retail customers including creators and freelancers, who need a powerful and versatile device to support their dynamic lifestyles, the company informed.

“We are thrilled to unveil our first fully loaded AI PCs in India with the HP EliteBook Ultra and HP OmniBook X. These AI PCs are designed to create more personalized and meaningful user experiences,” said Vineet Gehani, Senior Director – Personal Systems, HP India.

The new laptops come with built-in HP AI Companion, a personal AI-assistant for boosting productivity and creativity.

Coupled with Copilot+ PC, these PCs supercharge creativity and productivity for a more personalized, powerful computing experience.

Weighing 1.3 kgs, these laptops are the world’s thinnest next-gen AI PCs with upto 26 hours battery life, claimed the company.

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–IANS

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Google Maps to alert about road widths, flyovers, EV charging stations in India

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Google Maps to alert about road widths, flyovers, EV charging stations in India

Google Maps to alert about road widths, flyovers, EV charging stations in India

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Google on Thursday announced several new features to enable more efficient and sustainable journeys via Maps in India, powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and local partners.

The company said it is introducing a new feature for Maps users in India designed to reduce the use of narrow roads when driving four-wheelers.

It starts with estimating road widths which is incredibly complex, given India’s vast and diverse road network.

“To address this, we’ve developed an AI model specifically for Indian roads that incorporates multiple signals — satellite imagery, Street View, and other information like road types, distance between buildings, paved sections, etc. to estimate road widths at scale,” informed Miriam Daniel, VP and GM, Google Maps.

Now, four-wheeler drivers can enjoy a less stressful driving experience, and it also benefits bikers, pedestrians, and other commuters who can now use these narrow roads more safely and confidently.

The company is also adding “clear callouts” in Maps Directions and Navigation screens to alert the users to narrow sections on your route, so that they can proceed cautiously or choose an alternative route.

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The company is rolling out the feature on Android devices this week in eight cities — Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Indore, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati — and looks forward to bringing this to iOS and more cities soon.

Another feature will call out flyovers along the recommended route. This will help anticipate upcoming flyovers and prepare ahead of time to get onto the flyover.

“Starting this week, you’ll see these flyover callouts in 40 cities across India for both four-wheeler and two-wheeler active navigation on Android apps and Android Auto. iOS and CarPlay support will be coming soon,” said Lalitha Ramani, GM, Google Maps, India.

For electric vehicles (EVs), Google is introducing helpful information about EV charging stations on both Google Maps and Google Search in India.

“We’re collaborating with leading EV charging providers in India – ElectricPe, Ather, Kazam, and Statiq – to add authoritative information for over 8,000 charging stations, representing a significant portion of available charging stations in India,” said the tech giant.

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Last December, Google announced a collaboration with ONDC and Namma Yatri to streamline the public transport experience on Google Maps.

The metro booking experience in Google Maps is now going live in Kochi and Chennai.

Over 60 million people share millions of reviews, photos, business edits, and road updates every day.

“We’ve simplified how you can report road incidents. Whether there’s ongoing construction or a traffic mishap on your route, you can now report it with just a few taps, making it easy and less distracting. This update is available in India on Google Maps across all platforms 0- Android, iOS, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay,” Google informed.

The tech giant has also collaborated with local experts like NDTV Food and MagicPin. They’ve curated lists for 10 major cities and tourist spots, offering insider tips and recommendations for the best places to eat, drink and explore.

Google Maps has mapped over 7 million kilometres of roads, 300 million buildings, and 35 million businesses and places across India, providing real-time traffic predictions, offer immersive experiences like Street View and Live View walking navigation.

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–IANS

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Indian GenAI startup Devnagri raises new funds led by Inflection Point Ventures

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Indian GenAI startup Devnagri raises new funds led by Inflection
 Point Ventures

Indian GenAI startup Devnagri raises new funds led by Inflection
 Point Ventures

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Homegrown Generative AI (GenAI) startup Devnagri on Thursday said it has raised an undisclosed amount in a pre-Series A round led by Inflection Point Ventures.

The B2B-focused Indian language translation startup said new funds will be allocated to marketing, sales, technology scaling, R&D, infrastructure and administrative expenses.

Devnagri offers personalised business communication to non-English speakers, making it hyper-local and more accessible.

Co-founded by Nakul Kundra and Himanshu Sharma, it excels in contextualising and personalising content, seamlessly integrating its technology into both private and government infrastructures.

“We are moving towards offering the enterprises and government departments a private cloud infrastructure, to maintain their ownership of their content and by keeping the Natural language processing (NLP) and Small Language Models (SLM) trained with every usage by the customer,” said Kundra.

Mitesh Shah, Co-Founder, Inflection Point Ventures said that in India, where more than 700 languages are spoken, translating it is a challenging task from the perspective of accuracy, context, and cultural nuances.

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“Devnagri addresses these problems by leveraging AI-powered human translation,” said Shah.

So far, Inflection Point Ventures has invested over Rs 720 crore across more than 200 startups.

The opportunity market for Devnagri is valued at $53 billion in India, growing at a CAGR of 6.7 per cent.

Devnagri raised $600,000 from Venture Catalyst, Inflection Point Ventures and other co-investors in a seed round in 2021.

–IANS

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CBDT explains taxation of capital gains

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CBDT explains taxation of capital gains

CBDT explains taxation of capital gains

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) on Thursday issued FAQs to explain the new capital gains tax regime in Budget 2024-25.

Q: What are the major changes brought about in the taxation of capital gains by the Union Budget 2024-25?

A: The taxation of capital gains has been rationalised and simplified. The five broad parameters to this rationalisation and simplification are: Holding period has been simplified. There are only two holding periods now, viz. one year and two years. Second, rates have been rationalised and made uniform for the majority of assets. Third, indexation has been done away with for ease of computation with simultaneous reduction of rate from 20 per cent to 12.5 per cent. Fourth, parity between Resident and Non-resident and fifth there is no change in roll over benefits.

Q: What is the date when the new taxation provisions come into force?

A: The new provisions for taxation of capital gains came into force from 23.7.2024 and shall apply to any transfer made on or after this date.

Q: How has the holding period been simplified?

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A: Earlier there were three holding periods for considering an asset to be a long-term capital asset. Now the holding period has been simplified. There are only two holding periods, for listed securities, it is one year, for all other assets, it is two years.

Q: Who will benefit from the change in holding period?

A: The holding period of all listed assets will now be one year. Therefore, for listed units of business trusts (ReITs, InVITs) holding period is reduced from 36 months to 12 months. The holding period of gold, unlisted securities (other than unlisted shares) is also reduced from 36 months to 24 months.

Q: What about the holding period of immovable property and unlisted shares?

A: The holding period of immovable property and unlisted shares remains the same as earlier i.e. 24 months.

Q: What are the changes in the rate structure for STT paid capital assets?

A: Rate for short-term STT paid listed equity and equity oriented mutual fund and units of business trust (Section 111A) has increased from 15 to 20 per cent. Similarly the rate for these assets for long-term (S. 112A) has increased from 10 to 12.5 per cent.

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Q: Is there any change in the exemption limit for long-term capital gains under Section 112A which was earlier Rs 1 lakh?

A: Yes. The exemption limit of Rs 1 lakh for LTCG on these assets has also increased to Rs 1.25 lakh. This increased exemption limit will apply for FY 2024-25 and subsequent years.

Q: What are the changes in the rate structure for other long-term capital gains?

A: The rate for other long-term capital gains on all assets has been rationalised to 12.5 per cent without indexation (Section 112). This rate was earlier 20 per cent with indexation. This will aid in simplifying the taxation of capital gains and their easy computation.

Q: Who will benefit by the change in rate from 20 per cent (with indexation) to 12.5 per cent (without indexation)?

A: The reduction in the rate will benefit all categories of assets. In most of the cases, the taxpayers will benefit substantially. But where the gain is limited vis-a vis inflation, the benefit will also be limited or absent in a few cases.

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Q: Can the tax payer continue to avail the roll over benefits on capital gains?

A: Yes. The rollover benefits remain the same as earlier. There is no change in roll over benefits already available under the IT Act. Therefore, tax payers who want to save on LTCG tax even with low rates can continue to avail the rollover benefits on fulfillment of conditions as applicable.

Q: In which assets, can the long-term capital gains be invested for rollover benefits?

A: For rollover benefits, tax payers can invest their gains in house under Section 54 or Section 54F or in certain bonds under Section 54EC. For complete details of all rollover benefits, please refer to Sections 54, 54B, 54D, 54EC 54F, 54G of the IT Act.

Q: What is the amount up to which rollover benefit is available?

A: Investment of capital gain in 54EC bonds (up to Rs. 50 lakh) and in other cases, the capital gain is exempt from tax, subject to certain specified conditions.

–IANS

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