• Special Report
  • Farm loan waivers crippling state finances

    The farm loan waiver practice which began in the current phase with the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh waiving off loans for small and marginal farmers to the tune of over 36,000 crore is having a snowball effect . That Maharashtra has waived off Rs 30,000 crore loans and a parallel waiver seems on the anvil in Madhya Pradesh is testimony to the ripple effect that has been caused. Amid the muted protests from the Reserve Bank there is a realisation that there is a crippling effect of such waivers on the finances of State governments.

    While economic prudence is at a discount, profligacy is to the fore. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has already warned the states that the money for farm loan waivers will have to come from the coffers of the states themselves, the Centre does not have the resources to bankroll this activity. The UP government has decided to issue Kisan Rahat (farmers’ relief) bonds to pay for this populist move but there is no denying that there would be a severe strain on State finances. In Maharashtra, the agitating farmers have decided to defer their agitation until July 25 to see how the promises made to them are translated into action.

    The Fadnavis government in Maharashtra had earlier promised a ‘conditional’ waiver but that was unacceptable to the farmer-agitators. With opposition, political parties having jumped into the fray to exploit the volatile situation, genuine financial considerations have receded into the background. In a climbdown, the State has agreed that even cultivators with large land-holdings would qualify for write-off if they are fully dependent on farming. In MP, the real issue was the unremunerative prices that farmers were getting for various crops due to a bumper harvest but agitating farmers are jumping on to the farm loan waiver bandwagon, encouraged as they are by opposition parties.

    Significantly, a 2014 World Bank study on the farm loan waiver announced in 2008 by the erstwhile UPA government had found that the scheme had no significant effect on productivity and investment in agriculture, and, in fact, worsened loan allocation in districts with greater exposure to the debt waiver. Experts say unless farmers are given the right incentives to shift to more remunerative and sustainable farming and non-farming options, Indian agriculture will not be able to overcome its current crisis. Ad hocism and piecemeal, patchwork solutions are not the panacea for farmers’ woes.  A well-thought-out policy is the need of the hour rather than knee-jerk reaction to crisis situations.



  • Trump criticizes Republican healthcare reform

    Washington: US President Donald Trump has called the healthcare reform bill approved in May by the Republicans in the House of Representatives “petty”. The President also called on his colleagues in the Senate to make it “more generous,” sources from Congress told the media on Tuesday, Efe news reported.

    A month after praising the House-approved bill and ensuring it was “incredibly well-crafted,” Trump urged the senators to make substantial changes to the same bill, which has been designed to replace President Barack Obama’s health reform implemented in 2010, but still needs the Senate’s approval, according to legislative sources cited by media outlets CNN and The Hill. In particular, Trump believes the bill approved by the House does not go far enough to protect Americans who depend on health insurance under Obama’s Health Care reform.

    Modi to meet Trump at White House on June 26, might discuss H-1B issue
    Doubts over the future of the bill in the Senate rose after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a report in May predicting that if the Republican reform is to go ahead, 23 million people in the US will lose their medical coverage within a decade. In addition, the Republican majority in the Senate is much narrower than in the House of Representatives and, according to current rules, Trump would need the votes of the 52 Republican Senators plus eight Democrats on his side.

    Realizing the difficulty of the reform’s approval, the President suggested two weeks ago that the Senate changes its rules in order to pass the health law with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of 60 which are needed under current rules.

    Trump has also vaguely suggested investing more money into the reform to make the US health care system “the best anywhere,” something that may throw conservative Republicans who want to use the law to reduce the budget deficit further.


  • ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Buoyant India aim semis berth against Sri Lanka amid weather woes

    London: A near flawless demolition of Pakistan achieved, India will eye another dominant performance to seal a semifinal berth when they take on Sr Lanka in the ICC Champions Trophy here today.

    Having pulverised Pakistan by 124 runs, India will start as overwhelming favourites against Sri Lanka, who looked in total disarray during their 96-run defeat at the hands of South Africa.

    The only worry is the fickle London weather, with forecasts of 40 percent chance of heavy rainfall.

    Contrasting performances aside, the sheer difference in quality also puts India a few notches ahead of the cricketers from the island nation. On paper, the two sides are a total mismatch.

    While India ticked almost all the boxes in their victory against Pakistan, the Sri Lankans, in their opening fixture, looked as if they have only entered the tournament to add numbers.

    The winners of the last edition have a formidable batting line-up, which is being backed very well by a potent bowling attack. And therein lies the problem with Sri Lanka, which is a side that is going through a rebuilding phase for the longest time now.

    It’s two years since both Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara quit ODIs post the 2015 World Cup but Sri Lanka have not been able to single out even a couple of players, who can show steely resolve.

    The likes of Dinesh Chandimal or Chamara Kapugedara have been around for some time but both have been guilty of not realising their full potential till date.

    No wonder Sangakkara, in his column for the ICC, has made it clear that Sri Lanka need to show aggression against India while conceding that it may not be easy for them. For India, playing Sri Lanka before facing South Africa (on June 11) is an advantage as they can go into the final group league game with a free mind.

    Rohit Sharma hitting a 91 on comeback is a reassurance while Shikhar Dhawan’s positive approach will keep the ‘Men in Blue’ in good stead.

    Skipper Virat Kohli has over the years been Sri Lanka’s nemesis and the 81 not out against Pakistan, is just the tonic he needed before taking on the likes of Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal and  Nuwan Pradeep. Yuvraj Singh was in vintage form at the Edgbaston and a placid Oval pitch will only help get a few more runs under his belt. Hardik Pandya’s power hitting at No 7 and his ability to chip in with quick wickets makes this Indian side more intimidating.

    The only thing that Virat Kohli would want now is Mahendra Singh Dhoni getting some batting time before the big game against South Africa.

    Kohli promoting Pandya ahead of Dhoni is an indication that the skipper is looking to use his former captain more as an accumulator — in Javed Miandad mould who would rotate strike, frustrate bowlers and launch a furious counter-attack after getting his eye in.

    India’s bowling unit has been sharp off late. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s controlled swing bowling, Umesh Yadav’s fiery pace backed by Jasprit Bumrah’s overs at the death has have troubled the oppositions.

    Such has been the quality that bowlers of Mohammed Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin’s calibre are warming the benches since the first XI picked for the matches so far have not given any reason to complaint.

    For Sri Lanka, this is a do-or-die match where a lot will depend on how well skipper Mathews plays and the kind of performance Malinga gives while bowling first up.

    Meahwhile, Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews conceded that it will be “very hard to beat India.” After losing by 96 runs to South Africa, Sri Lanka have been plagued by injuries with skipper being unable to bowl and senior batsman Chamara Kapugedara already sustaining a knee injury.

    Worse, Upul Tharanga has been suspended for two games due to slow over-rate. “As you know, India is a force in world cricket no matter where they play, whether it’s at home or away. They have played fantastic cricket especially in the last couple of years. It’s very hard to beat them unless we are on top of our game. We will all have to pull our socks up and give a great performance,” Mathews said on the eve of the game against India.

    The Teams

    India: Virat Kohli (captain),  Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma,  Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik

    Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickewalla, Chamara Kapugedara, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Thisara Perera, Sekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Malinga, Asela Gunaratne, Nuwan Kulasekara.

  • Rohit Sharma Unplugged: MI skipper on IPL 2017 win, strategy and challenges

    Mumbai: Mumbai Indians won IPL 10 by defeating Rising Pune Supergiant by one run in Hyderabad. After that, Mumbai Indians came to Mumbai and interacted with media about the game, challenges and the journey of winning the trophy in Mumbai. During the press conference, Mumbai Indian skipper Rohit Sharma as well as Parthiv Patel and Shane Bond were present at Trident Hotel on Monday in Mumbai. The captain made some interesting observations.

    Dropping Harabhajan Singh

    In IPL 10, Harbhajan Singh did not play a match. On it, Rohit said, “It was just a tactical change. Nothing was related to performance.”

    2013, 2015, 2017, which win was special?

    Mumbai Indians have won the IPL trophy three times, in 2013, 2015 and 2017. Rohit said, “All three (2013, 2015 and 2017) are special for me. Last game was brilliant, to be part of one of the best T20s. I can not single out any one every win is very very special. We have a put a lot of hard work in it, so I want to cherish all of them. But certainly, my best T20 game was last night.”

    Challenges faced

    “The challenge in the game of IPL will always be there. A new set of players are joining the team. A new support staff is coming in, that comes with IPL. You have face that challenge, for that you have to know them very well. And we are very glad for we had the same staff during the games.”

    Difference between coaches

    In IPL 10, Mahela Jayawardene was the coach of the Mumbai Indians team. On this Rohit said, “Different coaches are different. Ricky Ponting and Mahela (Jayawardene) are separate individuals. But both of them have vast experience and immense knowledge about the game. Both taught us how they dealt with and handled situations when they were playing, and that helped us a lot. Have been around both coaches so I have learnt so many things.”

    Team work

    “I feel individual brilliance can win you a few games but what is required to win a championship is team unity and team work. These are the factors which I believe personally is very critical to win a championship.”

    Rivalry between Pune and Mumbai (Misal vs Vada Pav)

    When it was confirmed that the final match will be held between Mumbai and Pune, Punekars and Mumbaikars started trolling each other on social media by saying that it’s a match between misal pav and vada pav. Reacting to it, Rohit said, “A match between Mumbai and Pune get most people excited because both teams are from Maharashtra. Till the final, we have played three matches with Pune, and lost all. For the final, we did plan to prove anything. We just wanted to play the game. We were just thinking about the game and team work. But, I don’t know about what vada pav and misal pav were trending on social media.”

    Low-scoring IPL Final

    Mumbai Indians scored only 129 for eight after electing to bat, and Rohit said they were 30-40 runs short of what would have been a winning score on the pitch. “Our target on this wicket was 140 to 160. 160 on this wicket probably would have been a match-winning score,” Rohit opined.

    All praise for Kunal Pandya

    Rohit couldn’t stop praising Krunal Pandya, who was adjudged man-of-the-match for his vital 47 runs. Asked if he aspired to become India captain, Rohit gave a diplomatic reply. “It’s thinking too far ahead. I don’t think too far ahead. When the opportunity comes, if it comes, I will grab it with both hands,”


  • IPL 2017: Mumbai Indians demolish KKR to storm into final

    Bengaluru, Krunal Pandya’s unbeaten 30-ball 45 helped Mumbai Indians record a facile six-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) second qualifier clash at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.

    Mumbai, who finished on 111/4 in 14.3 overs, will now take on Steve Smith’s Rising Pune Supergiant in the final on Sunday.

    Krunal stars
    Chasing just 108, Krunal joined hands with skipper Rohit Sharma for a 54-run fourth wicket stand to steady Mumbai’s ship after early hiccups which left them on 34/3 at one stage. Rohit (26) gave away his wicket cheaply, picking out Ankit Rajpoot at deep square leg off Nathan Coulter-Nile’s delivery.

    KKR caused a flutter among Mumbai ranks scalping three wickets inside the first six overs. Piyush Chawla (2/34) was at the forefront of the early demolition, sending the dangerous Lendl Simmons (3) and Ambati Rayudu (6) back in the hut with a googly and a peach of a delivery respectively which beat Rayudu all ends up.

    At the end of Powerplay, Mumbai were in a spot of bother at 36/3. But once Rohit and Krunal saw off the initial few overs, it was Mumbai all the way as the latter played the role of aggressor with deft fours and lusty sixes to inflict a 16th defeat on their rivals in the two sides’ 21st meeting. Krunal’s innings was laced with eight fours and no six. With him at the crease was Keiron Pollard (not out 9) when Krunal hit the winning runs.

    KKR fall to Karn
    Earlier, Mumbai leg-spinner Karn Sharma took four wickets to bowl out KKR for a paltry 107 in 18.5 overs. Karn (4/16) was brilliant on the night taking the wickets of Sunil Narine (10), Gautam Gambhir (12), Colin de Grandhomme (0) and Ishank Jaggi (28) to derail KKR’s innings.

    Suryakumar Yadav (31) and Jaggi put a semblance of a fight with a 56-run association for the sixth wicket but could not script a turnaround as the former fell in the 18th over looking to accelerate. Umesh Yadav (2) was not out as Rajpoot (4) was the last man to be dismissed. Opener Chris Lynn (4) was sent back early by medium pacer Jasprit Bumrah (3/7) with a fullish delivery which the explosive Australian tried to loft over mid-on but was picked up by Pollard.

    The men in purple, who usually score at a brisk pace in the Powerplay overs, struggled to get going with the ball not coming on to the bat even as Gambhir continued his good form hitting the first four of the innings in the third over off Mitchell Johnson, playing in place of Mitchell McClenaghan.

    Narine, kept quiet by Bumrah, Mitchell Johnson (2/28) and Lasith Malinga (1/24), cut loose with an uppish shot over deep midwicket for the first six of the innings before Karn outfoxed the West Indian spinner with a googly that saw Parthiv Patel effect an easy stumping.

    Robin Uthappa (1) did not last long, being trapped plumb by Bumrah, while trying to flick across the line. After six overs, KKR could muster just 25/3, and captain Gambhir lost his wicket five balls into the seventh over. The southpaw was looked good before playing against the turn off Karn for Hardik Pandya to pouch the ball at deep midwicket.

    Keeping veteran tweaker Harbhajan Singh on the bench, Karn vindicated his captain’s faith in him by taking the wicket of Colin de Grandhomme in the next delivery, pinging the New Zealander on his backfoot for an easy leg before decision. After 10 overs, KKR were tottering at 43/5. In the next four overs, Suryakumar and Jaggi sought to stem the rout, scoring 40 runs before their stand was broken by the excellent Karn, taking the prized scalp of Jaggi.

    Chawla departed adding just two to the total and Coulter-Nile tonked Johnson for a six to bring up KKR’s 100 in the 17th over before getting out.

    Following is the scoreboard in the IPL second qualifier game between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium

    Kolkata Knight Riders

    C. Lynn c Pollard b Bumrah 4
    S. Narine st Patel b K Sharma 10
    G. Gambhir c H Pandya b K Sharma 12
    R. Uthappa lbw b Bumrah 1
    I. Jaggi c Johnson b K Sharma 28
    C. de Grandhomme lbw b KV Sharma 0
    S. Yadav c Malinga b Bumrah 31
    P. Chawla c Rayudu b Johnson 2
    N. Coulter-Nile c H Pandya b Johnson 6
    U. Yadav not out 2
    A. Rajpoot b Malinga 4

    Extras (lb 3, w 4) 7

    Total (all out; 18.5 overs) 107

    Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Lynn, 1.3 ov), 2-24 (Narine, 4.4 ov), 3-25 (Uthappa, 5.2 ov), 4-31 (Gambhir, 6.5 ov), 5-31 (de Grandhomme, 6.6 ov), 6-87 (Jaggi, 14.5 ov), 7-94 (Chawla, 16.1 ov), 8-100 (Coulter-Nile, 16.5 ov), 9-101 (SA Yadav, 17.1 ov), 10-107 (Rajpoot, 18.5 ov)


    M. Johnson 4-0-28-2
    J. Bumrah 3-1-7-3
    L. Malinga 3.5-0-24-1
    K. Sharma 4-0-16-4
    K. Pandya 3-0-25-0
    H. Pandya 1-0-4-0

    Mumbai Indians

    L. Simmons lbw b Chawla 3
    P. Patel c Uthappa b U Yadav 14
    A. Rayudu b Chawla 6
    R. Sharma c Rajpoot b Coulter-Nile 26
    K. Pandya not out 45
    K. Pollard not out 9

    Extras (lb 4, w 4) 8

    Total (4 wickets; 14.3 overs) 111

    Fall of wickets 1-11 (Simmons, 1.3 ov), 2-24 (Patel, 2.5 ov), 3-34 (Rayudu, 5.4 ov), 4-88 (RG Sharma, 12.2 ov)


    U. Yadav 2.3-0-23-1
    P. Chawla 4-0-34-2
    N. Coulter-Nile 3-0-15-1
    S. Narine 4-0-21-0
    A. Rajpoot 1-0-14-0

  • IPL 2017 Qualifier 2 MI vs KKR: Watch out for these players

    IPL 10 has reached its final stage and there are only two matches to go before we find out who the winner is. Rising Pune Supergiant were the first team to enter the final beating all odds by defeating the mighty Mumbai Indians in their own backyard. The match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in Bengaluru will be a close one and whoever holds their nerve will take on RPS in the final on Sunday in Hyderabad.

    Mumbai Indians will be smarting from their defeat against the less fancied RPS and would like to start on a fresh note. MI Have always performed well against the Knight Riders in the IPL. This season Mumbai have outclassed Kolkata in both the matches and would be confident of keeping the form going.

    Players to watch out for MI:

    Lendl Simmons: The Trinidadian has always performed well for Mumbai Indians. Simmons seamlessly replaced Jos Buttler and has provided impetus to the Mumbai Indians’ batting. Simmons would fancy his chances against Knight Riders bowling attack, which consists of Umesh Yadav, Sunil Narine and Nathan Coulter-Nile. Lot will depend on Simmons’ aggression and what kind of tone he sets upfront.

    Rohit Sharma: The Mumbai Indians captain has had a very poor IPL by his lofty standards. Sharma has struggled right through this IPL and has also got some dodgy decisions. The skipper has only scored 283 runs in 15 matches at a very low average of 23.58. The big stage might see Sharma bouncing back and has a very good record against the Knight Riders. Sharma would like to lead from the front and answer his critics to take his team into the IPL finals for the fourth time.

    Jasprit Bumrah: Jasprit Bumrah has been a total revelation this season. The youngster has bowled exceedingly well at the death and has been the go to bowler for Rohit Sharma. Bumrah has picked up 15 wickets in 14 matches and has only conceded runs at just over seven. Bumrah would be high on confidence and would like to pick up wickets in the crunch game.


    Kieron Pollard: The big West Indian is a big match player and has been very consistent this season. Pollard has batted well under pressure and when MI were 7 for 4 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bengaluru, Pollard took his time and scored a match winning 70 off 47 balls hitting five maximums. Pollard relishes the challenge and with his athletic fielding will be an asset for the Mumbai franchise.

    Kolkata Knight Riders have played exciting brand of cricket this season and narrowly missed out for this match if the rain had not stopped against Sunrisers Hyderabad. KKR started the tournament with a bang before losing their way. KKR have always performed poorly against MI and would like to change that in this crucial match.

    Players to watch out for KKR

    Chris Lynn: The Aussie has been the cornerstone stone of Knight Riders’ batting. Lynn started the tournament with a bang against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot and blasted 93 off only 41 balls hitting eight sixes striking at 226.82. Lynn then suffered a misfortune and injured his shoulder against MI and missed next nine matches. KKR would hope that Lynn continues the good form and takes them to another IPL final.

    Sunil Narine: Sunil Narine is known for his bowling, but this season he has become a batsman who can bowl a bit. Narine scored the fastest fifty this IPL in just 15 balls (i.e. 2.3 overs) against the hapless Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bengaluru. Narine might not be intimidating but he has been getting the job done for KKR. Chris Lynn and Narine complement each other well and KKR are much stronger when they both attack from the word go.

    Gautam Gambhir: Gautam Gambhir doesn’t come across as your typical T20 player. He is not big, doesn’t hit big sixes or plays funky shots but Gambhir is currently the second highest run scorer (486 runs in 15 matches) and has also led KKR admirably. The Delhi lad plays spin very well and is an ideal foil for the stroke makers around him. Gambhir is an IPL veteran and scored over 4,000 runs, with 35 half centuries to his name. The match will come down to who holds their nerve and Gambhir always plays well when there is pressure and thrives on it.

    AFP PHOTO / Dibyangshu SARKAR

    Nathan Coulter-Nile: The big, burly cricketer from down under has bowled with pace and aggression this season. Coulter-Nile with his height and bounce will test the technique of batsman and has a knack of picking up big wickets. The Aussie has made a difference to the KKR line up and has picked up 14 wickets in seven matches. Coulter-Nile is also a handy batsman down the order and can smack a few with the willow.

  • IPL 2017: Shah Rukh Khan and Son Abram cheer for KKR in Rajkot

    Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan is busy shooting for his new film and was recently spotted in Punjab to root for his upcoming motion picture directed by Imtiaz Ali. But, who can keep him far from Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) matches, the team which he owns. On Friday, him as well as his child AbRam was also observed cheering for their team in Rajkot. Daddy and child were available amid the match between Gujarat Lions and KKR, which Kolkata won convincingly. AbRam stole the spotlight for quite some time and the concentration of the observers moved to him from the match.

    Twitterati went wild and couldn’t avoid themselves from sharing the minute via web-based networking media. The Badshah of Bollywood and AbRam were seen sitting in the stands, with the previous donning a KKR cap and child a white polo t-shirt.

    What also got the consideration were the looks of AbRam’s new tattoo that is like his father, which SRK is seen sporting for his character in the Imtiaz Ali directorial yet untitled film.

    The “Raees” on-screen character had, few days prior, shared a photo montage from the arrangements of the film where he and performing artist Anushka Sharma were seen in normal Punjabi clothing.

    SRK, in a kurta and pajama, was riding a tractor in the fields of Punjab. “Lehraate Khet, Ladkiyaan, Lassi Te Love in Punjab. Thank u all for such a great shoot and to Imtiaz for bringing us here (sic),” 51-year-old on-screen character captioned the post.

    The Ring and Rehnuma were the tentative titles of the film. However, the final title is yet to be decided.


  • No, MP3 is not dead

    MP3 is only set free.

    MP3, the much popular audio format famous for its small size, has now got its licensing program terminated.

    The Fraunhofer Institute, the developer of the format, recently said it had ended the "licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software" as of April 23, 2017. The company stated: "Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3."

    What is MP3?

    MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 audio layer 3, ubiquitously known as mp3, is essentially compressed music files that allowed the audio file to be as little as 1/10th of its original size. The development of mp3 started in the late 1980s at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS. Compared to its WAV counterpart, the mp3 format occupied less space owing to its small size and was hence used extensively for sharing and streaming.

    Sound engineers use high-resolution audio in formats like AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, and DSD. But consumer electronics largely use mp3 to take advantage of a large scale user-base.

    What does the end of licensing mean for you?

    You can still use mp3 files if you want to. Many music streaming sites and services still use mp3 formats, according to Fraunhofer. "If you ever ripped an mp3 from a CD, or bought from an online store, then the company involved paid a licensing fee to Fraunhofer/Technicolor. Now, the company won't have to do this anymore, but your mp3s will still continue to work as they always did," says cnet.com.

    The popularity of the mp3 rose in the early 1990s, as people who wanted to listen to songs in their PCs had limited storage space. MP3 stepped in, and for most people, the songs sounded just fine. In the later years, it gained popularity due to underground song networks that were pirating copyrighted content. The advent of WINAMP software too, boosted the audio format’s image, before it became a standard in many mobile phones and compact discs.

    However, audiophiles preferred pure music over compressed ones, dissing mp3 for cutting down sounds that are thought to be beyond the audio reception ability of most people.

    According to macobserver.com, "MP3 isn’t dead, all your songs will still play, and you can keep buying MP3 tracks from music services. Fraunhofer's announcement means that, as of April there isn’t anything to license because there aren’t any current patents covering MP3. Without those patents there isn’t any value in licensing, and that’s what this comes down to: The Fraunhofer Institute can’t make money off licensing MP3 patents."

Social Media

  • WhatsApp voice calling is here and this is how you activate

    While several online reports have claimed that the voice calling feature on WhatsApp has arrived, there is no official announcement or confirmation from the company. Several blogs suggested that users need to download the latest version of Whatsapp or get version 2.11.528/531 to activate the feature. However, this may not work. Even newer versions like 2.11.561 is yet to get the feature. So, upgrading to the latest version will clearly not work.

    Another round of online reports informed that users will only get the calling feature activated on their accounts if someone makes aWhatsApp call to them. Suggesting that an invitation is required.

    For the record the latest version of WhatsApp (as of March 14) is 2.12.7. You can download it from the website and insatll the apk file. However, you will need someone (who already has the feature) to call you to activate it on your device.

    So, if you haven’t received the calling feature even after updating to the latest version, it’s better to forget about it for the moment and wait for the official announcement. When WhatsApp announced its WhatsWeb, the feature was available across all versions. So, we can expect the same this time for voice calling.

    Meanwhile, several malwares and fake WhatsApp calling apps have appeared to take advantage of curious users.

  • Facebook rewards $10, 000 to 10-year-old for discovering flaw in Instagram

    New York: The social networking giant has paid $10,000 to a 10-year-old boy for spotting a bug in Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram.

    According to a report in technology website VentureBeat.com, Jani from Finland discovered the security flaw in Instagram on his own.

    He found a bug in Instagram which requires you to be at least 13 before even signing up, that let him delete any comment on the social network.

    “He reported the bug by email, offered proof by deleting a message on one of Facebook’s test Instagram accounts and it was fixed in February. Facebook paid him the bug bounty in March,” the report added.

    “I would have been able to remove anyone, even Justin Bieber,” the report quoted Jani as saying.

    The Finnish boy wishes to become a security researcher. “It would be my dream job. Security is very important,” he was quoted as saying.

    He used the reward money to buy a new bike, football gear and computers for his two brothers.

    Like Google and Microsoft, Facebook also has a bug bounty programme.

    In February, Facebook announced that it had paid $4.3 million in rewards to more than 800 security researchers for over 2,400 submissions since launching its bug bounty programme in 2011.


  • Facebook makes News Feed more relevant

    New York: In a move to make your News Feed more informative, Facebook has tweaked its algorithm to bring news that’s relevant and of interest to you.

    “Our goal with News Feed is to show people the stories most relevant to them, so we rank stories so what’s most important to each person shows up highest in their News Feeds,” said Facebook in a blog post on Friday.

    According to Jie Xu, Research Scientist, Akos Lada, Data Scientist and Vibhi Kant, Product Manager at News Feed, when Facebook rank and make improvements to News Feed, it rely on a set of core values.

    “These values — which we’ve been using for years — guide our thinking and help us keep the central experience of News Feed intact as it evolves,” they wrote.

    To better understand how the social media giant can show people the most informative stories to them, it talks to people and ask them how it can improve what they see when they check Facebook.

    “With the new update, we are creating a new ranking signal to predict what is most informative to you, so those stories appear higher in your feed,” Facebook said.

    “First, we look at the stories that people tell us they find informative. People from our Feed Quality Programme look at each story in their feed and rank it on a scale of one to five – one being ‘really not informative’ and five being ‘really informative’,” it added.

    The stories people rate as informative and really informative help create a new prediction about how informative Facebook thinks hey will find each story.

    “We then combine this signal with how relevant the story might be to you personally a” taking into account things like your relationship with the person or publisher that posted, or what you choose to click on, comment on or share a” to best predict stories that you might personally find informative,” the post read.

  • Beware! New scam on WhatsApp claiming to offer "free internet" without Wi-Fi is false

    New Delhi: New malware on most popular messaging app, WhatsApp is a new threat. This malware claims to offer free internet without Wi-Fi connection.

    This scam lures people to click on ads, download apps and even attacks smartphone with malware.
    Welivesecurity reported that a WhatsApp scam message is spreading around internationally and changes language according to the country it appears in.

    The message offers the user free internet facility without Wi-Fi connection. The message also asks the users to recommend a few friends or share within groups in WatsApp. Once the message is shared, the user is allowed to proceed to claim the so-called free service.

    In this fashion, link in the message takes the user to various websites which then forces the user either to visit malware or download a few apps from the app store. However, at the end, no free service will be offered. This scam message is to gain money through advertisements shown and even apps downloaded by the users.

  • Facebook, Instagram ban developers from using data for surveillance

    New York: To curb spying by authorities and other law enforcement agencies, Facebook has banned developers from using data obtained from them to provide tools that are used for surveillance.

    In a post on Monday, social networking giant that also own Instagram explained that over the past several months they had taken enforcement action against developers who created and marketed tools meant for surveillance, in violation of their existing policies.

    “Our goal is to make our policy explicit. We want to be sure everyone understands the underlying policy and how to comply. We also adopt policies that limit how developers, advertisers, and others can use our platform,” said Rob Sherman, Deputy Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook in the post.

    According to a report in the Guardian on Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has praised the policy reform saying that written policies must be backed up by rigorous oversight and swift action for violations.

    “Now more than ever, we expect companies to slam shut any surveillance side doors and make sure nobody can use their platforms to target people of color and activists,” Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director at the ACLU of California, was quoted as saying.

    Civil rights groups have raised their concerns about mass surveillance under Trump administration, and as such, this announcement from Facebook and Instagram comes as a victory for these activists.

    “It’s very important right now that tech companies like Facebook take a stand to be human rights champions, because otherwise they’ll be used to violate human rights,” Malkia Cyril, Executive Director of the Center for Media Justice, was quoted as saying.

    Centre for Media Justice is a part of a coalition that pushed for the anti-surveillance reforms.

    The ACLU had allegedly found that Facebook had let “special access” to Geofeedia — a controversial startup — that was working with law enforcement agencies to track streams of user content.