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Kolkata, July 22: Aiming to lend support to geriatric care by aiding caregivers to reach out to the aged on time, students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur have developed two interconnected android smartphone applications, an official said on Monday.


The app named ‘CARE4U’, developed by an interdisciplinry team of 2nd year B.Tech students, connects the caregiver to the elderly. While one of these apps can be installed on the phones of the elderly, the other can be attached to the smartphone of the caregiver.

“The neural network-based fall detection algorithm in the app installed on the phone of the elderly can detect whether the elderly has fallen down. If there is a fall, it automatically calls the caregiver and emergency services with the location of the elderly person,” a statement said.

The other features include detecting emotion by taking a picture and calculating the mood index. To make this feature more effective the team has developed a cognitive intelligent chatbot for the elderly person to engage with.

“We customized it to recognize the current mood of the person and, accordingly, fine-tune its conversations with that of the person. For example, the chatbot can recommend a motivational quote or an old song when the person is sad,” said team member Kanishka Haldar from the Department of Electronics and Electrical Communication Engineering.

Moreover, the app can also do other activities like make a call, send a text, book a cab and so on. It also has a record of medical histories, an account of allergies, an SOS button, real-time location tracking, among others.

The ‘CARE4U’ app includes a ‘Medicine Reminder’ feature to remind both the elderly person as well as the caregiver that it is time for the former to take medicine. 

The app recently won the IIT Kharagpur team the first runners-up position at a nationwide hackathon called vesAIthon’19.

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New Delhi, July 22: Leaders from across the political spectrum on Monday applauded the successful launch of the Chandrayaan-2 Mission and termed it a proud moment for the country.

Soon after India’s second lunar mission ‘Babubali’ GSLV rocket put Chandrayaan-2 into the orbit, President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the launch historic and a proud moment for all the countrymen.

“The historic launch of Chandrayaan-2 from Sriharikota is a proud moment for all Indians. Congratulations to our scientists and engineers for furthering India’s indigenous space programme. May ISRO continue(s) to master new technologies and continue to conquer new frontiers,” the President tweeted.

Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu said the landing of Chandrayaan-2, “an indigenously developed spacecraft launched by India’s most powerful rocket GSLV MKIII, on the moon in a few weeks would make India the fourth country to do so.”

Noting that Chandrayaan-2 will be the first spacecraft to land close to the moon’s South Pole in some 50 days from now, he said, “The mission is expected to lead to new discoveries and enrich our knowledge systems. I wish the Chandrayaan-2 team every success.”

Modi called it a special moment “that will be etched in the annals of our glorious history!”

Along with congratulating the ISRO team for “setting yet another benchmark in the field of space technology”, Union Home Minister Amit Shah also thanked Modi for encouraging “institutions for setting new standards every time”.

Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Rajnath Singh and Piyush Goyal too congratulated the ISRO team.

“If lunar landing of Apollo 11 was hailed as ‘giant leap for mankind’ the launch of Chandrayaan-2 will be remembered as a ‘giant leap for womankind.’ Congratulations to the ISRO team, led by space scientists M. Vanitha and Ritu Karidhal, for India’s leap to the lunar south pole,” Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.

Former Union Minister Sushma Swaraj wished the mission a grand success.

The Congress also congratulated the ISRO team for the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 and recalled country’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

“This is a good time to remember the visionary move of India’s first PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to fund space research through INCOSPAR in 1962, which later became ISRO. And also Dr Manmohan Singh for sanctioning the Chandrayaan-2 project in 2008,” the Congress tweeted.

Chief Ministers of Delhi (Arvind Kejriwal), Chhattisgarh (Bhupesh Baghel), Telangana (K. Chandrashekar Rao), and Uttar Pradesh (Yogi Adityanath) also called the mission historic and congratulated the ISRO team.

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) blasted off from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota spaceport at 2.43 p.m.

About 16 minutes into its flight, the rocket put into orbit Chandrayaan-2 to begin its 48-day journey to the Moon. The success of the mission will make India the fourth country in the world to land a vehicle and travel on the Moon surface after the US, Russia and China.

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New York, July 22 : Veteran actor Rishi Kapoor and his wife Neetu Singh enjoyed the perfect Indian lunch at actor Anupam Kher’s home here.

Rishi shared a photograph of himself holding a chapati. Anupam and Neetu can be seen smiling at the camera. 

“At Anupam Kher’s apartment for lunch. Had the correct ‘aate (flour) ka phulka(Indian bread)’ after a while. Great food made by his man Friday Daddu,” he captioned the image.

Anupam shared another photograph and said he was delighted to have the star couple over for lunch.

“Delighted to have Neetuji, Rishi and Santosh at my house for lunch. As Neetuji rightfully commented that we never thought we will meet like this at my place in New York. But then, don’t I always say ‘kuchh bhi ho sakta hai (anything can happen)’. Dattu was over the moon to specially cook for them,” he added. 

Rishi has been undergoing medical treatment in New York for the past several months.
In April, his brother Randhir Kapoor had said that the “102 Not Out” actor will be back home in a few months, amid reports that he was “cancer free”.

In the meanwhile, the actor’s friends from the film and business world have been giving him company. 

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Bengaluru, July 22: The crucial floor test for deciding the fate of the JD-S-Congress coalition government in Karnataka would be conducted after the Supreme Court (SC) order on two joint petitions before its three-judge bench, an official said on Monday.

“Though the debate on the confidence motion Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy moved on July 18 will resume at 11 a.m., as many members of the ruling allies want to speak, the Speaker (K.R. Ramesh Kumar) will wait for completing it (debate) and the apex court order,” a legislative official told IANS here.

The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will hear the joint petitions the Congress and the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) filed on July 19, challenging its July 17 interim order that their 15 rebel legislators who resigned would not be compelled to attend the Assembly for the floor test although it defies their whip and hence disqualify them under the anti-defection law (10th Schedule of the Constitution).

The Speaker will also wait for the top court’s order on the joint petition two Independents R. Shankar and H. Nagesh filed on Sunday for its directive to hold the floor test by 5 p.m. on Monday to avoid further delay.

With the 15 rebels, including 12 of the Congress and 3 of the JD-S deciding not to attend the session and two Congress legislators (B. Nagendra and Srimant Patil) being in a Bengaluru and Mumbai private hospitals, the strength of the allies will be 99 (65 out of 79 of Congress plus 34 out of 37 of JD-S), including the Speaker (from Congress) in the 225-member Assembly.

With the two Independents supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has 105 legislators, 107 votes will be against the motion in the division of votes vis-A-vis 100 of the ruling combine, including one from its ally Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), whose member N. Mahesh was absent from the Assembly on July 18-19 when the debate on the trust vote took place.

“As the voting takes place on the basis of the members present in the House, with only 100 members on his side, Kumaraswamy will inevitably face defeat when the motion will be put to vote, as the new halfway mark will be 105 out of 208 (225-17),” BJP spokesman G. Madhusudan told IANS here.

The BJP is hoping both the Independents will be present in the Assembly for the floor test though they were absent on July 17-18 when the debate was taken up on the confidence motion.

Since the Chief Minister moved the motion, the onus is on him and his ruling allies to prove majority. Though BSP chief Mayawati directed Mahesh to vote in favour, he told reporters on Sunday in his home constituency (Kollagal) that he would remain neutral by abstaining from the House, as he did on July 17-18 for the debate on it.

“We think Kumaraswamy will go to Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation to the Governor (Vajubhai Vala) than suffer a humiliating defeat by asking the Speaker to conduct the floor test when the numbers are stacked against him and his warring allies,” asserted Madhusudan.

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Chennai, July 21: The Indian space agency has done some hard work on the ground so that its moon lander — Vikram — can soft-land safely and rover — Pragyaan — can move around, said a senior retired official.

“The surface of the earth and that of the moon are entirely different. So we had to create an artificial moon surface and test our rover and lander,” M. Annadurai, who retired as Director, U.R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), formerly ISRO Satellite Centre told IANS.

The moon’s surface is covered with craters, rocks and dust and its soil is of different texture as compared to earths.

Annadurai said the legs of lander and wheels of the rover had to be tested before their flight.

While moon light dinners are known for the human beings, Indian space agency created moon light environment for testing its rover.

Importing lunar soil like substance from the US was a costly affair and ISRO looked for a local solution as its need was about 60/70 ton of soil.

Many geologists had told ISRO that near Salem in Tamil Nadu there were “anorthosite” rocks that would be similar to features of moon soil or regolith.

The ISRO finalised to take the “anorthosite” rocks from Sithampoondi and Kunnamalai villages in Tamil Nadu for moon soil.

According to Annadurai, the rocks were crushed to the required size and moved to Bengalure where its Lunar Terrain Test Facility was located and the test bed created.

“Initially a sum of Rs 25 crore was budgeted for the purpose but it came down drastically as the service providers did not charge us,” Annadurai said.

Artificial lighting was also set up to resemble the Sun-lit environment on the moon.

“Initially the rover was of four wheel configuration. But we changed to six wheel configuration after experiments to give it more stability. Some changes were made to the wheel size as well,” Annadurai recalled.

He said helium balloons were used to reduce the weight of the rover to simulate the moon’s gravity which is less than that of the Earth’s.

The communication compatibility of rover and the lander were checked at HAL’s facility, Annadurai said.

In order to test the lander, a test bed was created at ISRO’s facility at Challakere in Chitradurga district in Karnataka.

Artificial moon craters were created at Challakere, similar to the site where lander Vikram will set down its legs.

Prior to its soft-landing, Vikram’s sensors would check whether the terrain is safe to land. Even after landing if the terrain is not suitable then the lander will go up and settle down at a nearby spot.

“We put the sensors in the small plane belonging to NRSC (National Remote Sensing Centre) and flew it over the test bed couple of times to check the sensors as to whether it can read the terrain properly,” Annadurai said.

Other space agencies too, build such terrain facilities to test their equipments so that when the lander actually lands on the moon it does not topple.

According to him, the actuators of the lander were tested at ISRO centre at Mahendragiri and the thrusters were also tested.

The strength of the lander legs was also tested in two ways-falling when the engines were switched off and in a calibrated landing. The legs have to absorb the landing shock, he added.

The landing process is divided into “rough braking” and “fine braking”.

The descent trajectory of Vikram has to take into account the variation in local gravity. Further the landing site, landscape features should not result in a communication shadow area.

The next challenge is the moon dust. The moon’s surface is covered with craters, rocks and dust. Firing the onboard motors close to the surface will result in backward flow of hot gases and miniscule, hard/barbed/jagged dust.

Its negative charge makes it stick to most surfaces, causing a disruption in deployment mechanisms, solar panel and sensor performance.

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Washington, July 22 : As the world marked the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing, the US space agency said it has doubled down on its next giant leap with the Artemis programme that would take “the first woman and the next man” to the lunar surface.

“Artemis” is named after the twin sister of Apollo who is also the Goddess of the Moon and the hunt.

“Artemis will light our way to Mars. The new Artemis identity draws bold inspiration from the Apollo programme and forges its own path, showing how it will pursue lunar exploration like never before and pave the way to Mars,” NASA said in a statement.

The astronauts would explore regions of the Moon never visited before, unlock mysteries of the Universe and test the technology that will extend the bounds of humanity farther into the solar system.

“On the lunar surface we will pursue water, ice and other natural resources that will further enable deep space travel. From the Moon, humanity will take the next giant leap to Mars,” said the agency.

Returning astronauts to the Moon in 2024 could cost about $30 billion, or roughly the same price tag as the Apollo 11 spaceflight when factoring in inflation.

The total cost of the Apollo programme that the US launched in 1961 and concluded in 1972 was $25 billion.

The climax of that programme came nearly 50 years ago when two astronauts landed on the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission, which cost $6 billion at the time, equivalent to $30 billion today.

According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, the main difference between the Apollo programme and the “Artemis” is that the former culminated with brief stays on the Moon while the latter will entail a permanent human presence there.

The plan will involve the recruitment of private companies and international partners, the construction of a lunar space station and manned landings at the Moon’s south pole within five years.

The programme includes an unmanned mission around the Moon in 2020 and a manned mission that will also orbit the Moon two years later.

The next lunar missions will be delivered into space by the Space Launch System, a rocket being developed by NASA and Boeing that will be the largest ever built once it is fully assembled.

That rocket will send into orbit a new spacecraft known as Orion, whose lead contractor is Lockheed Martin.

The five missions between 2022 and 2024 will be operated by private companies, according to NASA’s plans.

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BY NIRBHAY KUMAR (08:06) 

New Delhi, July 21 : In the wake of its proposed privatization, the government has asked Air India to put a freeze on large-scale promotion and appointments.

A new flights has to be started only when it is extremely necessary and after due diligence from commercial aspect.

“The direction came almost a week back. It says that due to impending privatization, no major initiatives have to be taken up. There will be freeze on appointments and promotions,” an official source told IANS.

The direction has come from the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management or DIPAM.

After failing to find a bidder in its previous term, the Modi 2.0 government is working on war-footing to sell Air India to a private player. It has already reconstituted the group of ministers (GoM) to decide the course of privatization.

Consulting firm EY is already working to finalize preliminary information memorandum (PIM) to invite expression of interest (EoI) from prospective bidders.

“This time, we have no doubt over disinvestment. The speed at which things are moving, the airline’s ownership would be transferred to a private party,” said a senior Air India executive.

Air India has a total debt of about Rs 58,000 crore. The cumulative loss of the national carrier is to the tune of Rs 70,000 crore. In the financial year ending March 31, 2019 the airline is estimated to have reported a loss of Rs 7,600 crore.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri this week said that Air India has to be privatized in order to save it. He suggested that government was not equipped to run an airline where operational decisions on a day to day basis have to be taken immediately rather than following a bureaucratic process or going for tender process.

“Left to myself, I would all be interested entirely in supporting the public sector. But, the question arises: is the government equipped to run an entity, like Air India, where operational decisions on a day to day basis have to be taken on the spot?” Puri said in the Rajya Sabha.

The reconstituted GoM headed by Home Minister Amit Shah is expected to meet in the next few weeks to take decisions pertaining to Air India’s privatization.

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BY AYASKANT DAS 

New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) meant to provide justice to the aggrieved forces personnel is severely affected due to non-functional benches. The pending cases in the AFT, set up only 10 years ago as dedicated courts in the three services, have spiralled to 16000.

With only three of the 11 benches functional, it is a long wait for justice for the litigants. The benches located in Chandigarh and Srinagar are the only ones functional apart from the principal bench in Delhi which is headed by the Tribunal’s Chairperson.The principal bench alone has around 4,500 pending cases with most litigants making a beeline to it.

The Tribunal was set up in 2009 as per provisions of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act- 2007 to adjudicate cases pertaining to commissioning, appointments, enrolment and service conditions of military personnel.

As per the Act, only a retired judge of a high court below 65 years of age is eligible to be appointed as a judicial member. Each bench must consist of a judicial member apart from an administrative member.

Sources in the defence ministry, under which the Tribunal functions, said eight names – four for the post of judicial members and four for administrative members – have been short-listed. These appointments are likely to be made in August following final clearance.

The last judicial member to be appointed to the Tribunal was in the year 2017. Justice Sunita Gupta who had retired as a judge from Delhi High Court had been appointed as judicial member to the principal bench in Delhi.

In September 2016, the Armed Forces Tribunal Bar Association had filed a complaint with the then Chief Justice of India demanding immediate appointment of judicial members for swift disposal of cases. The Supreme Court had took cognizance of the case and admitted it as a Public Interest Litigation.

However, the apex court is yet to deliver a final verdict in the case. The last time hearing was ever conducted in the matter was more than a year ago on February 23, 2018.

“The Tribunal lacks contempt powers. It has no power to ensure that its judgements are effectively executed. The Tribunal should be provided with the power of judicial review in order to give it more teeth. This issue has also been raised in the PIL”, said Bar Association President A K Trivedi.

The other benches of the Tribunal are located in Lucknow, Kolkata, Guwahati, Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Jaipur and Jabalpur.

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Chennai, July 21: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the tax on the super rich is a small expectation from them to contribute a little more for the poor.

She was here to inaugurate the International Business Conference of Nagarathars organised by the Nagarathar Chamber of Commerce.

Sitharaman said not more than 5,000 people are there in the super rich category in the country and the Union Budget 2019-20 has several measures to help start-ups.

Stressing that the super rich should shoulder part of the government’s responsibility in supporting the poor, she said it is not highway robbery or done with the intention to affect their business.

Appreciating Indian corporates for creating wealth and jobs, Sitharaman said over the past 60 years we have spoken about our rights but kept our duties to the minimum. She said the poor are doing their duty without any returns and hence the government is providing them free education, health and other benefits.

Sitharaman said the focus of the budget is to provide the youth the necessary support from the government, banks and others for doing business. According to her, the central government is focused on ease of living and also on ease of doing business.

On her carrying her budget papers in a swadeshi `bahi khata’ and giving up the traditional briefcase, Sitharaman said the central government is not a suitcase carrying government. She said a suitcase denotes taking and giving of suitcases, alluding that suitcases contain bribe money.

 
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BY NISHANT ARORA 

New Delhi, July 21: Chasing 15 seconds of fame, millions of Indians are hooked to TikTok and the success of the Chinese short video-sharing app — despite controversies and calls for regulation — has forced major digital giants to incorporate short videos on their own platforms.

TikTok is available in 150 markets, in 75 languages and has more than 700 million monthly active users globally (including over 200 million in India) in just a year compared to 300 million existing Indian users on Facebook.

Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are facing strong competition from TikTok in the country. TikTok owner now plans to invest $1 billion in India despite the calls to ban the app.

According to Meenakshi Tiwari, Forecast Analyst at global market research firm Forrester, while TikTok managed to monetise its offering within one year of its launch through a variety of revenue models like in-app purchase of coins and virtual gifts, advertising accounts for most of its revenue.

Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok invests heavily in influencer marketing.

“TikTok has launched new advertising formats such as brand takeovers that allow full-screen vertical display, in-feed native video, and hashtag challenge ads, which provide a more immersive and interactive platform to the marketers,” Tiwari told IANS.

One can imagine what Facebook must be thinking: To quickly put a spanner in TikTok’s growth else the India market will slowly ditch its main platform as well as the photo-sharing Instagram.

In November last year, Facebook quietly released a stand-alone app called “Lasso” to compete with TikTok.

On Lasso, which is currently available in the US, users can record themselves dancing and lip-syncing to music, similar to what they can do on TikTok.

“Lasso is a new stand-alone app for short-form, entertaining videos — from comedy to beauty to fitness and more. We’re excited about the potential here, and we’ll be gathering feedback from the people and the creators,” a Facebook spokesperson had told The Verge.

Facebook last week roped in former Google employee Jason Toff for a key portfolio and the speculation is rife about the social networking giant preparing the global launch of its short video-sharing app.

Toff, who earlier worked for Twitter’s short-video sharing service Vine which has been shut down, has joined as Facebook’s Product Management Director to lead the company’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) team aimed at developing experimental apps for consumers who are still away from the core Facebook brand.

According to Prabhu Ram, Head, Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR), the rise of apps like Bytedance’s TikTok demonstrates an underlying consumer fatigue and their urge and need for expressing themselves by experimenting with new apps and platforms.

“By focusing on vernacular languages, TikTok has enabled Indians everywhere to share their talent with the world. With its first-mover advantage, coupled with organically and rapidly growing user base, Bytedance is not shy of battling Facebook’s global dominance,” Ram told IANS.

TikTok is swiftly scaling its ecosystem to ringfence its users with ‘mini programmes’ and, perhaps, a smartphone with pre-installed apps in China.

“For Facebook, it is imperative to thwart TikTok’s rising competition. Unfortunately, its previous attempts at making a TikTok clone have failed. More significantly, Facebook’s reach in India does not extend beyond the tier II and III urban India,” emphasised Ram.

As pointed out by Facebook Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg in the Q1 2019 earnings call, the meaning of social media is changing in today’s world and there is a move toward more private social media like WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram.

Zuckerberg must not delay further in launching a TikTok rival, “else time may run out for Facebook to have a product that will get India excited,” said Ram.

Unless TikTok is permanently banned in the country over a series of complaints, there seems to be no stopping this Chinese app.

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