Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Don't get injured, or fall ill at any railway station in Mumbai


Watch your step while at any suburban railway station. In case you get injured or fall sick there, the stations are ill equipped to give you any medical aid.

An inspection conducted by mid-day has revealed that railway stations on Western, Central Main and Harbour lines are shockingly under-prepared to deal with medical emergencies, despite having the medical equipment to do so. Staffers at stations do not know how to operate a majority of the medical apparatus.

The High Court had, in 1999, directed railway stations to stock 70 items for emergency medical assistance, 28 of which comprise a basic medical first-aid kit. Station staffers, however, can boast of knowing how to use 11 of these first-aid items.

 Railway staffers confirmed they have received no training in handling the remaining 59 items and they have no choice but to wait for doctors of the Maharashtra Emergency Medical Services (MEMS), known as the ‘108’ ambulances which are supposed to be stationed outside railway stations.

The first-aid kit is divided into two types, according to the kinds of cases encountered – medical (fever, dizziness, abdominal pain, chest pain, etc) and trauma (falls from heights, train accidents, labour pain, food poisoning, etc). The basic first-aid kit contains 28 items like aluminium stretchers, bandages, dressing tapes, creams, antiseptics and others (see box).

 mid-day checked the preparedness of emergency medical services and first-aid boxes at Dahisar and Kandivli on the Western line, Sion and Kurla on the Central line, and Sewri and Dockyard Road on the Harbour line. The results were very worrying. 

The last lioness of Byculla Zoo, dies in Mumbai


Jimmy, the only lioness at the Mumbai’s Veermata Jijabai Bhonsale Udyan (Byculla Zoo), died after a bout of prolonged illness on Monday. She was the last of the big cats at the Byculla Zoo with the others having already succumbed to old age or illness.

 Jimmy, who was 16 years and 8 months, was born at the zoo, one of India's oldest, in March 1998 to Anita, who passed away three years ago, at the age of 22. The average life span of lioness is 18 to 20 years.

Zoo authorities had shifted Jimmy in the zoo hospital in December 2012, where she was under treatment for paralysis of both hind limbs because of which she had been unable to walk. She also suffers with osteoarthritis.

Veterinarians from Parel’s Bombay Veterinary College and Byculla zoo were treating Jimmy, who was a hybrid breed (African-Asiatic). The ailing lioness, had suffered two cardiac arrests recently -- one major, and the second minor. "She needs to consume 20 tablets a daily to stay fit. She is 16 years old and gets nervous when she sees any visitor and, hence, she cannot be kept in a cage," a veterinary doctor from the zoo had told mid-day earlier.

 Jimmy had been showing positive response to medicine since the last 3-4 months. However, on Sunday from around 5 pm she had difficulty breathing and not being able to walk properly. After which her condition deteriorated.

Jimmy’s body has been sent to the Taxidermy Centre of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali for preservation. A post mortem will be done to ascertain the cause of death. 

Mumbai: Another young cricketer passes away on the field


While the tragic death of 25-year-old Australian cricketer, Phillip Hughes, is still fresh in the minds of the game’s lovers, the death of a young Mumbai player at Oval Maidan shook the city’s cricketing community yesterday.

Ratnakar More (28) was at the ground for a cricket tournament organised by his employers, when he suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed on the spot. According to More’s friends, who were present at the ground, he had begun to complain of uneasiness and chest pain during the first innings of the match, and then collapsed at 11.05 am.

“I saw him walk towards the shadow of a nearby tree and collapse there. We thought he fell unconscious because of the heat or dehydration, and rushed towards him. But when he didn’t move, we panicked and called for an ambulance,” said Mohan Kamat, one of More’s friends. By 11.30 am, however, doctors at Bombay Hospital declared More dead.

The 28-year-old’s body was then transferred to the state-run GT Hospital for post-mortem. According to Vishvakant Dighe, from the GT post-mortem centre, the cause of death was a ‘severe heart attack’. More, an employee of Tata Energy at Carnac Bunder, is survived by his parents and his wife, who is currently five months pregnant. According to his cousin, Vishal Mane, More and his wife had got married just last year. 

Navi Mumbai: 17 years on, Seawoods-Belapur-Uran rail corridor finally on track


When the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) announced the Seawoods-Belapur-Uran railway project in 1997, areas along the proposed route began to develop rapidly in anticipation.

However, it is only now 17 years later that the project might finally see the light of day, with the planning agency inviting design proposals for stations on the corridor.

CIDCO officials told mid-day on Monday that they have received applications from six design consultancies that are interested in designing the stations on the corridor, which will connect residents of Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Uran, to Mumbai and Thane by rail.
With the town-planning agency having issued tenders in August, the six agencies vying for the project are expected to submit their designs by January 2015. S A Bokade, railway superintendent engineer at CIDCO, said, “We have suggested that the designers come up with designs by the first week of January.

The consultants will also submit quotations for the project and we will take a final decision based on the design and the cost estimates.” This development follows a series of hurdles that the project has met with over the years.

In fact, CIDCO is yet to overcome another major roadblockit is yet to acquire a 4-km stretch of land between two of the stations, Kharkopar and Ranjanpada, which is why the civic body has divided the project into two phases.

Of the 27-km corridor, the first phase covers five stations Seawoods, Sagar Sangam, Targhar, Bamandongri and Kharkopar. While Seawoods station has already been developed, the designers have been asked to submit proposals for the remaining four in the first phase.

“An approximately 4-km stretch between Kharkopar and Ranjanpada stations is yet to be acquired from the forest department. Hence we are currently speeding up the first phase of the project,” said Bokade.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Google redesigns search results on PCs


Web surfing through the Internet's main gateway now looks slightly different on personal computers, thanks to a few cosmetic changes to Google's search engine this week.

The tweaks to the way Google's search results appear on desktop and laptop computers mirror a makeover on smartphones and tablets introduced a few months ago.

The new presentation increases font sizes and removes the underlines below the blue links of each search result on PCs. Ads appearing along the top and the right-hand panel of the results page no longer are presented in boxes shaded in blue and yellow. The marketing pitches are now marked by small ad tags to distinguish them from the rest of the results.

Google Inc. rolled out the new design on PCs with little fanfare, even though it will be seen by almost everyone who searches for information on personal computers. That's because Google processes about two out of every three search requests made on PCs.

The company's lead search designer, Jon Wiley, announced the makeover Wednesday with a post on his Google Plus page.

The changes are meant to make it easier to scroll through Google's search results and present a "cleaner look," Wiley wrote in his post.

Google's decision to transfer a design originally tailored for mobile devices to PCs also underscores the company's increasing emphasis on smartphones and tablets.

"Improving consistency in design across platforms makes it easier for people to use Google search across devices, and it makes it easier for us to develop and ship improvements across the board," Wiley wrote.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., didn't immediately respond on Thursday to requests for further comment about the new look.

As with any redesign of a popular Internet service, some users were expressing their dismay and frustration with Google's new search design on PCs. There were also compliments mixed in with the complaints on Twitter's short-messaging service and the comments section below Wiley's Google Plus post.

The main gripes about the makeover seemed to center on the larger and different font and the lack of color on the results page.

Google, though, typically faces much louder protests when its engineers complete a radical overhaul of the formula that determines rankings of search results. Those revisions can dramatically reduce the traffic of websites exiled to the back pages of the search results after a new formula is introduced.

In this case, Google is tinkering with the style of the search results, and not the substance.

Friday, February 21, 2014

FB's WhatsApp buy 'a brilliant move'

Facebook makes a smart move by acquiring hot messaging service WhatsApp in a whopping $19 billion deal. We take a look at some of the top acquisitions around the world.

Facebook acquires WhatsApp
Deal worth: $19 billion
Year: 2014

Facebook Inc acquires mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion in cash and stock.

The hot messaging service has more than 450 billion users and can handle 50 billion messages every day.

The deal underscores Facebook's determination to win the market for messaging. As part of the deal, WhatsApp co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Jan Koum will join Facebook's board, and the social network will grant an additional $3 billion worth of restricted stock units to WhatsApp's founders, including Koum. That is on top of the $16 billion in cash and stock that Facebook will pay, says a Reuters news report.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Job market in India eyes in a new year with double-digit salary hikes

After mostly disappointing trends in 2013, the job market in India is looking quite promising in the new year and experts believe that the worst may be over on hiring front and the employees can even look forward to double-digit salary hike of at least 10-12 per cent in 2014.

Notwithstanding the continuing impact of global macro-economic situation and the concerns surrounding India, be it elections or economic slowdown, most of the experts and HR consultancy firms are unanimous that recruitment outlook for the country in 2014 looks bullish.

The sectors that are likely to drive the job market include IT, healthcare, education, development sector moreover the new retail banking licences are also expected to give a decent hiring trend in year 2014.

"Overall looks like the worst is over for the job market and we are entering a zone of another 2-3 years of positive growth if not more," Naukri.com Business Head V Suresh said.

Echoing similar sentiments, TeamLease Services Senior Vice President and Co-Founder Sangeeta Lala said "in 2013, hirings went slow across mid and senior levels, recruitments were done only to replace 'key' gaps.

However, 2014 seems promising and many are forecasting elections to bring us out of this grey guessing phase."

Corporates should come out of the closet and take a stance to grow out of their shells and invest into business again, automatically leading to talent search, she added.

In the year gone by, the job market in India was not driven by global economies, it was more domestic in nature and there was a cautious optimism among employers as hiring was more specific and need based.

"Companies wanted a clear ROI on every hire, quality triumphed over quantity, selection ratios increased, candidates who could hit the road immediately were preferred, negotiations were hard and long drawn, bonus packages (joining bonus, notice period buy outs) were measured," Lala said.

The job market in India started to head North in the later part of 2013. Moreover, revival in the US labour market would mean an increase in the discretionary spends across the IT space which in turn would have a positive impact on the hiring prospects in the IT/ITES sector in 2014.

According to the Employment Outlook Survey by workforce solutions major ManpowerGroup, Indian employers are expecting a brisk hiring pace for the January-March period, especially in mining, construction and services sector.

Moreover, India has also emerged one of the most optimistic nations in the world in terms of hiring plans for the next three months.

With signs of global recovery and signs of positivity in the job market, it's important for companies to attract, retain and motivate high performers. Experts are expecting slightly better increments than 2013 in the coming year.

And employees with good potential and performance will get differentiated significantly, going forward through innovative compensation and benefits, they believe.

"There will be a salary hike in double digit and there will be salary hike of 10-12 per cent," GlobalHunt MD Sunil Goel said but cautioned that the pay hikes would be restricted to above average performers where top performer will be paid higher and below average performer would be paid low increments.

The traditional sectors would see higher increments however, service sectors (hotels, hospitality, telecom, banks) are likely to be a hit on increments given it is a low performing, high attrition segment.

According to Srikanth Rengarajan- Executive Director and President, ManpowerGroup India, "Middle to senior level professionals can expect salary increases between 10 per cent to 15 per cent and bonuses may increase up to 20 per cent".

The top talent would be seeing their pay packets rise up by an average 14.3 per cent, whereas for others, the average salary increment is expected to be at 9.8 per cent, Rengarajan said.

According to experts, social media and job boards would be a significant source of talent in 2014 for white collar jobs and for jobs in urban cities, where candidates have ample internet access.

While, referrals, job fairs and networking would continue to draw the most attention for the larger masses looking for jobs in the smaller cities or without the online access to job opportunities.

Google's Great Online Shopping Festival: India's Cyber Monday

On December 11, when an office colleague received a package from Myntra—the online shopping website—at a huge discount, and when the next day I saw many more packages getting delivered at not only at my office but also in my neighbourhood, I realised how urban Indians are latching on to this phenomenon called the Great Online Shopping Festival (Google's GOSF).

Created by Google India on December 12, 2012, in collaboration with a number of Indian online shopping portals, the idea behind the GOSF was that online shopping websites would give heavy discounts for one day in order to promote their sales. But the GOSF is not a new concept. The concept originated in the US in the middle of last decade and got christened as the Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving when companies persuade people to shop online. Since then, it has spread to various countries including Canada, Japan, Australia, the UK and China; interestingly, in China, the Singles’ Day—when unmarried men used to spend November 11 lamenting their single status with a drink—has now transformed into an online shopping day and has, in fact, become the world’s largest online shopping event.

Coming to the GOSF, while last year it was a one-day event, Google planned to organise it over three days this year, from December 11-13. But because it crossed over a million users on the first day itself, Google had to extend the festival by another day, making GOSF 2013 a four-day affair. This year, the GOSF brought together 240 e-commerce websites including the likes of Myntra, Flipkart, Jabong, eBay, Snapdeal, MakeMyTrip, Tata Value Homes and more.

Google said that last year most players saw over 350% growth in daily sales and the festival saw participation from all over India with 50% buyers making online purchase for the first time. Rajan Anandan, vice-president & managing director, Google India, had this to say about the GOSF: “With over 200 million internet users in the country, more and more users are opting to shop online and fuelling the growth of both large multinational and home-grown companies. Industry estimates suggest that there are close to 20 million online shoppers in India and it is estimated to grow to 50 million in next few years, making it a $16 billion industry.”

Nitin Bawankule, industry director, e-commerce, Google India, said, “As new internet users come aboard, we continue to see a healthy growth in searches for online shopping, with over 40% queries coming from mobile phones. This year, we first extended the festival to three days and then, seeing increasing interest, we had to extend it by another day. We even attracted many more first time buyers this year. And last year’s success helped us to get onboard many partners across verticals and products, who lined up incredible deals for bargain hunters and first time buyers. This initiative helped our partners set new benchmarks in daily sales and helped build consumer awareness and confidence in online shopping.”

When asked why the GOSF is kept in December, Bawankule said that a primary reason was to ensure that the GOSF doesn’t clash with Diwali festivities and also that people, at this time of the year, do tend to shop for new year celebrations.

GOSF 2013 was also supported by three new partners to help create awareness about online shopping and drive user participation. Airtel, Intel and Paytm were the preferred partners for the initiative. And apart from promoting the initiative, Airtel offered a flat 10% cashback on all online transactions on top of other offers by participating websites to customers who transacted using Airtel money. The company also gave away a free dongle on new 4G and a free Wi-Fi modem on new broadband connections.

The director of marketing & market development, Intel South Asia, Sandeep Aurora, said, “We are delighted to partner with Google on this initiative, and through this, consumers can avail of exclusive offers on the best of Intel Processor powered devices like tablets and even fourth generation Intel Core processor powered laptops. We partnered with leading OEMs and e-commerce players to provide some good deals to our customers.”

For eBay, among the most famous names in e-commerce, events such as the GOSF are a great opportunity to expand the market and convert more internet users to online shoppers. Deepa Thomas, e-commerce evangelist, eBay India, said, “The eBay India GOSF microsite last year curated best deals in technology category of which the top performing product categories were portable storage devices, digital cameras, tablets, TVs and laptops. We also witnessed a significant jump in first time buyers on eBay India last year. This year, we looked at evoking e-commerce trial amongst consumers at large. For us, GOSF 2013 was a great opportunity to expand the market and convert more internet users to online shoppers.”

This year, to give a wider choice to consumers, eBay showcased deals on not just technology products but also expanded offers to lifestyle products. The company, without disclosing numbers, said it saw significant growth in traffic and conversions. “We had more than 10,000 product listings with up to 75% off on products,” Thomas added.

During GOSF 2013, some participants saw revenues increasing by 4-5 times. Manu K Jain, co-founder, Jabong.com, said, “On the first day itself of GOSF 2013, we saw a phenomenal increase in traffic and sales. What was interesting is that customers had their baskets/carts full and ready before midnight and they transacted as soon as the clock struck 12. Revenue increased 4-5 times more than a usual day. And coping up with the increasing traffic and making shopping a hassle-free experience for the customers, our IT team worked hard to keep the website from crashing.”

Vikas Ahuja, CMO, Myntra, had this to say about the fest: “GOSF 2013 started on a great note for us and we saw positive results from day one. Our traffic grew approximately 2 times and revenue growth was 3.5 times, versus the preceding few days. We saw significant pick-up across all our core categories. This was in line with our expectations.” While Mukesh Bansal, CEO & co-founder of Myntra, added, “Such customer reactions are a testament to the promise and future that online shopping holds in our country.”

Tata Value Homes, another participant in the GOSF 2013, claimed that its GOSF initiative took off strongly. On the first day of the festival,Pawan Sarda, head, marketing & product development, Tata Value Homes, claimed, “We sold 22 units in just 2 hours.”

Sandeep Komaravelly, VP, marketing, Snapdeal.com, said, “GOSF 2013 started off with a blast. We saw 10x increase in sales as compared to last year. Initiatives like the GOSF act as a catalyst to further boost adoption of online shopping in India. In fact, a lot of these new shoppers become repeat buyers and add up to the traffic on the websites.”

But while GOSF 2013 was termed a grand success, it also had its share of problems. Such was the rush on the GOSF website initially that it got crashed on the first day, something not expected especially because Google was backing it up. And then some users did have issues relating to supply and delivery. Now, because online shopping is still at initial stages in India and, therefore, if the organisers can, next year onwards, focus more on improving the overall online buying experience, would such initiatives be termed really successful.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

India is now world’s third largest Internet user after U.S., China


Three-fourths of its online population is under 35, says comScore report

India has bypassed Japan to become the world’s third largest Internet user after China and the United States, and its users are significantly younger than those of other emerging economies, global digital measurement and analytics firm comScore has said in a report.

India now has nearly 74 million Internet users, a 31 per cent increase over March 2012, the report says.

The numbers are lower than other recent estimates, possibly reflecting comScore’s methodology that only factors in PC and laptop-based Internet usage.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) pegged the number of Internet subscribers in India at 164.81 million as of March 31, 2013, with seven out of eight accessing the Internet from their mobile phones.

The comScore report, on the other hand, puts mobile and tabled-based Internet traffic at just 14% of the total.

“Mobile phone based Internet usage is a key component of Indian Internet usage, and I’d say the recent growth is being driven by mobile Internet usage,” Nilotpal Chakravarti, spokesperson of the Internet and Mobile Association of India told The Hindu on Thursday. In addition, many Netizens were using dongles to access the Internet.

Three-fourths of India’s online population is under 35 as against just over half worldwide, the comScore report, India Digital Future in Focus 2013, says, possibly reflecting India’s more recent improvements in literacy.

Men under 35 and women between 35 and 44 are heavier users. But women account for less than 40 per cent of all Indian users, a far lower sex ratio than that of other countries.

A quarter of time spent online is on social media, the comScore report says, and another 23 per cent on email.

While Google sites have the most unique visitors, Net users spend the most time on Facebook, which is at second place as far as unique visitors are concerned.

Yahoo, Microsoft and Wikimedia sites follow in unique visitor numbers.

Among social media sites, Linkedin and Twitter are the next most popular, while Orkut is in decline. Google is by far the most popular search engine, accounting for 90 per cent of all searches in India.

Online retail is on the rise, with domestic retail sites being the most popular, the report notes. For online travel websites too, domestic websites are the most popular, the Indian Railways’ website being by far the most popular destination. Yahoo is also the most popular site for news.

The locus of online dominance has moved steadily towards Asia, which now accounts for 41% of all Internet users; from having 66% of all users in 1996, the United States now accounts for just 13%.

China has the world’s biggest online presence; Its Internet users outnumber Indians by a ratio of 5: 1. Brazil’s Internet presence grew faster than India’s over the last year.
 

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