U.K. Rejoins EU’s Research Funding Program in Sign of Brexit Thaw

Posted By: Ramesh Sharma Posted On: Sep 07, 2023
Rejoining the science program is a political win for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The U.K. is set to re-enter the European Union’s flagship scientific research program, according to two people familiar with discussions, the biggest step by the U.K. to tighten ties with the bloc since Brexit.

An announcement is expected as early as Thursday morning after months of negotiations between the two sides over how much Britain will pay to participate in the 95.5 billion euro, or about $102 billion, Horizon program, which funds research and innovation projects in the EU and beyond. U.K. and European universities had lobbied hard for Britain's return.

The move is the latest sign that Britain and Europe are mending fences after years of friction over Brexit, a rapprochement that began with close collaboration over the Ukraine war. Britain is also hoping to boost its stagnant economy by reducing trade friction with the bloc, which it formally left in 2020.

Relations have improved significantly under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government, which in February reached a deal with the EU to end a trade feud over Northern Ireland. After that agreement, both sides said they would look for opportunities to deepen ties, including rejoining Horizon.

A spokesman for the British prime minister pointed to Sunak's statement earlier Wednesday to Parliament that he had been “extensively involved" in talks to resolve the Horizon issue.

The efforts to make nice come as a narrow majority of the British public express remorse over having voted to leave the EU, as they struggle with high inflation and the prospect of years of low growth. A YouGov poll in June showed that if a Brexit referendum were held today, 55% of Britons would vote to remain in the bloc. Back during the Brexit referendum in 2016, 52% voted to leave.

Despite any regrets over Brexit, the likelihood of Britain rejoining the EU soon is small, say political analysts, and isn't being touted by the nation's two biggest political parties. The focus instead is on making Brexit work as well as possible and limiting the economic damage from trade barriers with the U.K.'s main trading partner.

Before the U.K. left the bloc in 2020, British universities and research centers were among the most active participants in the program, receiving a net contribution from the EU of close to €1 billion for Horizon projects in 2019, according to EU figures.

Since Britain left, the U.K. government issued over 2,000 grant offers worth £1.05 billion, or about $1.3 billion, to researchers to keep them funded while the negotiations with the EU continued. The funding was due to expire this month.

Rejoining Horizon is a political win for Sunak, who has managed to forge closer ties with Europe without sparking any meaningful revolt within his Conservative Party, analysts say.

Despite the closer ties between the UK. and its former trade partners, however, there still remain ongoing trade frictions between Britain and the bloc that are likely to remain until the next election in Britain. Polls show the opposition Labour Party, which has long supported closer ties with the EU, far ahead of Sunak's party. Opposition leader Keir Starmer has said he has no intention of reversing Brexit.

Write to Laurence Norman at laurence.norman@wsj.com and Max Colchester at Max.Colchester@wsj.com

Source: Live Mint
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Tighter tech rules spur business for global CDN firms

Posted By: Ramesh Sharma Posted On: Sep 26, 2023
Tom Leighton, co-founder and chief executive of Akamai.

Regulations on data use and localization across countries have sparked business opportunities for global content delivery networks (CDNs) and cloud service operators. One of the beneficiaries is Akamai, which claims to have invented the foundational technology behind CDNs.

Increasing monitoring of data and fragmented regulations have thrown up new business opportunities for CDNs, said Tom Leighton, co-founder and chief executive of Akamai.

More governments are looking to regulate and control data, and this makes operations difficult to some extent, Leighton said in an interview. “But there's more adoption of the internet, and as a result, there are more global entities. So, there's a lot more use taking place over time. While government control presents challenges, they also present more opportunities," Leighton said.

These opportunities come from a spate of regulations, including the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act passed by Parliament on 9 August. The legislation brought control, sanctions and penalties on use and misuse of data by tech companies globally into Indian legislation for the first time.

Mint reported on 14 September that the Centre will set tight deadlines to large companies to comply with the new data rules, while smaller firms would get more time.

This can offer new monetization avenues for CDNs, Leighton said. “If you're a global company, you've got to comply with all of the tech regulations around the world. This gives us a chance to come in, because we already have global technical skills that we can leverage across a large number of customers. Financially, this makes more sense—to be able to go to a company and manage their data-driven operations in different countries. That's added value we can provide, which would otherwise be harder for individual companies," he added.

To do this, global cloud service providers are working on being compliant to begin with. Akamai, Leighton said, has servers across 130 countries, which increases operational complexities rising out of the need to comply with various regulations such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), and India's DPDP Act.

Akamai has competition. In August last year, Jonathon Dixon, managing director, Asia-Pacific at rival CDN service Cloudflare, said the company was working to become compliant with India's legislative requirements by the end of 2022. In September last year, the company launched a data localization suite for cloud and CDN customers.

“We have infrastructure almost everywhere, which means that we can serve the data within these regions, and we also do a lot of work to keep the data within the said region. This requires more investment on our side. To do all of this, we have 4,000 edge points of presence (PoPs) around the world, and are present across 1,200 different global networks—whom we work with to position our servers," Leighton said.

The US-headquartered Akamai, which counts the likes of homegrown gaming startup Rooter, global gaming services Nintendo and Sony Playstation, and retail chain JC Penney among its CDN clients, registered an 8% constant-currency year-on-year revenue growth last year, with revenue at $3.62 billion. Leighton confirmed that Akamai today has over 2,500 employees in India, which accounts for a quarter of its global workforce.

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Source: Live Mint
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New Air India by 2025-end

Posted By: Anita Mamgai Posted On: Sep 26, 2023
Air India CEO Campbell Wilson. (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

Air India plans to establish a low-cost stronghold in local routes, alongside the broader goal of revitalizing the Tata group-owned airline by refurbishing its entire fleet by the end of 2025, chief executive officer (CEO) Campbell Wilson said.

“We're very confident that we're in the right place for full service being long-haul, medium-haul international. Domestically, it's quite clear that the market is most appropriate for low-cost, which is why we have Air India Express that will form the bulk of our domestic flights as well as some short-haul international," Wilson said in an interview on Monday. “But the positioning of Air India Express is very definitely going to be low-cost. We won't be putting business-class seats into the aircraft," he added.

The Tata group acquired Air India and its low-fare unit Air India Express in January 2022 under a government-led strategic divestment programme. Later that year, the Tata group announced a merger between Air India and Vistara, and between Air India Express and AirAsia India. The two mergers are currently underway.

“There will be a full-service presence on metro-to-metro and on routes that we believe have significant international connectivity. But the market is clearly most conducive to low-cost domestically. So, Air India Express will be the majority of our domestic operations," Wilson added.

To that end, the airline plans to induct most of the 400 narrow-body aircraft from its existing orders to the Air India Express brand while refurbishing its older fleet of more than 100 aircraft. The airline will invest $400 million to retrofit 40 wide-body Boeing B777 and B787-8 aircraft by 2025.

“We've restored the in-flight entertainment system availability in business class and first class to more than 99%. But the sad fact is that the seats and the in-flight entertainment were about as old as the iPhone. So, we're doing the best we can in keeping things functional until such time that we can do the retrofit of the aircraft, which starts next year by July-August," Wilson said.

While Air India placed an order for 470 aircraft, including 70 wide-body aircraft, in February, it also plans to take 36 aircraft on lease, out of which 21 narrow-body planes are set to join the airline's fleet by May. In addition, the airline expects to induct six leased Boeing 777s and six Airbus A350s from its 470-aircraft order by March 2024. These aircraft will mainly serve Europe and North America.

In the case of Vistara and Air India, the merger has recently received a nod from the Competition Commission of India and is expected to be completed by the end of March.

“We're in no hurry to make a change (to Vistara brand). We'll continue working on elevating Air India to the point where it is as good or better than Vistara. And then we can take a call based on what the public thinks about the respective airlines and how we can bring them together," Wilson said.

The company will further start working on planning the network more closely between Vistara and Air India once the merger process receives approvals from “a few foreign jurisdictions."

“For example, rather than fly completely in parallel to Frankfurt or London, we can space the service out so that the customer has a better spread of schedules and therefore more choice. So, it will be operated as two separate businesses, but in a complementary rather than competitive sense," he added.

The focus on improving the product for the international segment comes amid efforts by the government to expand opportunities for Indian airlines in serving travel to and from India. The share of Indian airlines in overseas traffic to and from India has increased to 44% in FY23 from 40% in FY19, according to data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

“The diaspora remains very large, growing and increasingly wealthy. You've got India as a key node in the global supply chain. As we build the connectivity, as the airport infrastructure improves to facilitate this, it will support the development of India and Air India as a much stronger hub carrier," he said.

The airline, with its current primary hub in Delhi, plans to bolster its secondary hub in Mumbai and increase focus on southern India.

On the emerging duopoly in the Indian aviation market, Wilson said that the consolidation of a fragmented, under-capitalized, semi-private, semi-government environment is a step that many countries have undertaken to create a more stable, more profitable environment that allows the maturation and ultimately profitable expansion of the industry.

“We've seen a procession of airlines enter and then collapse in the Indian market. And that's burnt a lot of travellers, a lot of travel agents, a lot of companies, and a lot of employees. And it's clearly not a sign of a healthy ecosystem," he added.

Source: Live Mint
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Emcure plans to launch $400-500 million IPO in 2024

Posted By: Jaydatt Chaudhary Posted On: Sep 25, 2023
Emcure plans to money from initial public offering (IPO) in 2024 (Bloomberg)

Emcure Pharmaceuticals is planning to raise $400-500 million from initial public offering (IPO) in 2024, news agency Reuters quoted two sources on Monday. The development revives the listing plans for the pharmaceutical company which it shelved in 2022 as Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupted global markets. The company has hired investment banks JP Morgan, Jefferies and Kotak for the IPO and the sources said that it is targeting a valuation of about $3 billion.

The report said that Bain Capital, which owns 13% in the company is planning to sell its stake.

Other IPO News: Kody Technolab IPO allotment finalised: Latest GMP, here's how to check allotment status

The Emcure Pharmaceuticals IPO comes as the pharmaceutical market in India is projected to expand from its current valuation of $50 billion to a substantial $130 billion by the year 2030, with a surge in business transactions within the industry.

The pharmaceutical industry is currently experiencing a significant surge in merger and acquisition activity, marked by historically high company valuations. Torrent Pharma, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, is currently engaged in negotiations to purchase its larger competitor, Cipla, in a potential deal worth approximately $7 billion, which would make it the largest pharmaceutical deal ever in the country.

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Rising demand for pharmaceuticals

Emcure is one of the firms aiming to seize the opportunity presented by the rising demand for pharmaceuticals in the world's most populous nation and the increasing health consciousness among its inhabitants.

Also read: Bain Capital sells 2.82% stake in L&T Finance for ₹910 crore

The company planned its listing in 2022 and wanted to raise around $672 million. Emcure received the regulatory approval for the planned IPO but the Russia's invasion of Ukraine increased the volatility in the stock market and the company decided to shelve the plans.

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Source: Live Mint
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China's Stand on Ukraine Conflict 'Affecting Country's Image'

Posted By: Anita Mamgai Posted On: Sep 25, 2023

China's stance on the Russian war in Ukraine is affecting the country's image, the European Union trade commissioner warned on Monday, saying Beijing's refusal to condemn the invasion poses a “reputational risk”.

China has sought to position itself as a neutral party in the Ukraine conflict, while offering Moscow a vital diplomatic and financial lifeline as its international isolation deepens.

Russia and China frequently tout their “no limits” partnership and economic and military cooperation.

China's position “is affecting the country's image, not only with European consumers, but also businesses”, Valdis Dombrovskis said in a speech in the Chinese capital.

“Territorial integrity has always been a key principle for China in international diplomacy. Russia's war is a blatant breach of this principle,” Dombrovskis added.

“And, China always advocates for each country being to free to choose its own development path.

“So it's very difficult for us to understand China's stance on Russia's war against Ukraine, as it breaches China's own fundamental principles.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a state visit to Russia in March and declared that relations between the two countries were entering a new era.

His Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin is due to visit China next month.

Source: News18
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Pope Francis Urges Europe to Open its Doors to Refugees

Posted By: Vanshika Pathak Posted On: Sep 22, 2023

Pope Francis heads Friday to Marseille for a two-day visit focused on the Mediterranean and migration, bringing a message of tolerance amid bitter debate over how Europe manages asylum seekers.

The desperate conditions that cause many people to leave their homes for a new life, and the risks they take to do so, have been a key theme in the 86-year-old's decade as head of the worldwide Catholic Church.

But his visit to the French port city, to take part in a meeting of Mediterranean-area Catholic bishops and young people, puts him at the centre of a political storm.

A surge in migrant boats arriving from North Africa on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa last week triggered outrage both in Italy and beyond.

The European Union promised more help for Rome while France, amid wrangling over a draft law governing migrant arrivals there, said it would not accept anyone from Lampedusa.

Migration “represents a challenge that is not easy… but which must be faced together”, Francis said at the Vatican on Sunday.

“It is essential for the future of all, which will be prosperous only if it is built on fraternity, putting human dignity and real people, especially those most in need, in first place.”

The pope, who prefers to visit small Catholic communities around the world, has made clear that his trip is not to France but specifically Marseille.

He becomes the first pope in 500 years to visit the city, a gateway for immigrants and also home to some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Europe, many of which are plagued by drug trafficking.

Parts of the city were decked out Friday in the yellow and white colours of the Vatican, particularly on the main Avenue du Prado, through which the pope will travel in his popemobile on Saturday.

Regional newspaper La Provence welcomed his arrival with the headline “Habemus papam”, the famous Latin phrase meaning “We have a pope!” used on the election of a pontiff.

Ahead of what will be his 44th overseas trip, and in increasingly fragile health, Francis admitted this month that papal voyages were not as easy as they used to be.

He underwent hernia surgery in June, less than two years after having colon surgery, and routinely uses a wheelchair due to a troublesome knee.

The pope's plane is due to land at 1415 GMT, and he will be met at the airport by French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

He will head to the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, a symbolic monument overlooking the city, for a prayer with local clergy on Friday afternoon.

That will be followed by a moment of meditation with representatives of other religions in front of a memorial to sailors and migrants lost at sea.

The United Nations estimates more than 28,000 migrants who tried to cross the Mediterranean have gone missing since 2014.

On Saturday morning, the pope will take part in the closing session of the “Mediterranean Meetings” event.

As well as migration, it will cover issues such as economic inequality and climate change — also themes close to the pope's heart.

Tens of thousands of pilgrims are expected for the visit, despite the decline of Catholicism in France.

For Joseph Achji, a 25-year-old Syrian Christian originally from Aleppo, the pope's visit to Marseille is a “chance of a lifetime”.

On Saturday afternoon, Francis will lead a mass in the Velodrome stadium, with 57,000 people expected, including French President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron's decision to attend has sparked controversy among left-wing politicians in the officially secular country.

Some right-wing politicians have meanwhile criticised the pope's stance on migrants — but Marseille mayor Benoit Payan said the pontiff “has a message to deliver, not advice to give”.

“We have a pope who is particularly courageous and who, in the turmoil of the world, in the crises we are currently facing, has a universal message… of peace,” he told AFP.

Francky Domingo, who runs a migrant association in Marseille, said he hoped the visit would “give back a little hope” and “ease tensions at the political level”.

“Marseille is a cosmopolitan city, multicultural, multi-faith,” he told AFP, but faces “enormous difficulties”.

Source: News18
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South Korea’s government and business are over-close

Posted By: Tarun Kumar Posted On: Sep 21, 2023
On June 20th the World Bank?s arbitration forum ruled that South Korea?s government had left Elliott Investment Management, an American hedge fund, out of pocket by improperly meddling in a merger between two units of Samsung (Photo: Bloomberg)

Lee kun-hee embarked on a world tour in 1993 to take stock of Samsung, the firm he inherited from his father. Finding its televisions and other electronics languishing on shelves, he decided to remake Samsung’s image. “Change everything but your wife and your children," he told employees. One thing that didn’t change, according to a ruling by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), is the close relationship between such chaebol, family-run conglomerates that form the backbone of South Korea’s economy, and the government.

On June 20th the World Bank's arbitration forum ruled that South Korea's government had left Elliott Investment Management, an American hedge fund, out of pocket by improperly meddling in a merger between two units of Samsung. The deal in 2015 between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was seen as an attempt to ensure a smooth succession between Mr Lee and his son, Lee Jae-yong. Elliott, which owned a 7% stake in Samsung C&T, objected to the valuation of its shares and launched a proxy battle, which it lost after South Korea's National Pension Service (NPS), which held stakes in both firms, backed the deal.

Yet in 2016 Moon Hyung-pyo, the health minister at the time of the merger and by then the head of the NPS, was indicted for pressing the pension service to approve the deal. This triggered a series of investigations into corrupt dealings between Samsung and the government which revealed that the younger Mr Lee had bribed the then president, Park Geun-hye, to aid his succession. Ms Park was impeached; both ended up in jail (and both were subsequently pardoned).

Elliott filed suit in 2018 with the ICSID, claiming that the government's actions violated its free-trade agreement with America, and sought $770m in compensation. The government claimed that Elliott's hedging strategy, which involved buying Cheil swaps after the merger went through, meant that it had made a profit of $1.9m. Despite the court finding in its favour, Elliott says that it was awarded only $108m, including interest and legal costs.

Instead of quietly paying up, on June 27th the Ministry of Justice petitioned the court to deduct from the amount it owed a sum previously paid to Elliott from Samsung related to the merger. Continuing to make life hard for a foreign investor seems at odds with the spirit of the country's capital-market reforms, which are designed to attract investors and end the “Korean discount" that plagues its companies. Such meddling—in other ongoing cases the government is accused of exerting undue influence on the business dealings of foreign firms—in part explains the discount.

The entire affair may also upset ordinary South Koreans. Aside from the drain on the public purse from the court case, it is a reminder that the original merger cut the value of the country's pension fund by $300m, by some estimates. Park Sang-in of Seoul National University says the drama highlights how the “relationship between the government and the chaebol will cost the taxpayers money".

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© 2023, The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under licence. The original content can be found on www.economist.com

Source: Live Mint
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Pakistan Begged for Dollars as India Reached Moon

Posted By: Ajay Rawat Posted On: Sep 19, 2023

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif blamed former Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and former spymaster Faiz Hameed for the turmoil the nation finds itself in.

“Today India has reached the moon, the G20 meeting is being held in India, and Pakistan is begging countries around the world for a billion dollars,” Nawaz Sharif said.

Sharif lauded India's economic growth and compared it to Pakistan and pointed out that the Pakistani Prime Minister has to go to Beijing and capitals of Arab nations with a begging bowl asking for funds. He said it is regrettable that Pakistan is on the brink of defaulting on its debts.

It should be noted that former Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and former spymaster and the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (DG-ISI) Faiz Hameed were favoured by the former prime minister Imran Khan.

While Bajwa had his tenure extended during Khan's reign and is accused of rigging the elections to engineer the former cricketer's victory in the 2018 elections, Hameed was appointed as DG-ISI during the Imran Khan regime.

Nawaz Sharif, meanwhile, seeks to return to Pakistan as poll bells toll there. The elections in Pakistan have become a contentious issue as the judiciary, legislature and the executive are involved in a tug-of-war over the dates of the election.

Earlier in August, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that the elections could be held in January 2024 but Pakistan President Arif Alvi, who is from Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, said elections will be held in November, as per the constitutional mandate.

Since the dissolution of the National Assembly was premature, the elections must be held within 90 days, according to the Constitution of Pakistan. In normal cases, when the assembly completes its tenure elections are held in 60 days.

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif remains in self-imposed exile in London since November 2019 due to health reasons.

He was disqualified by the Pakistan Supreme Court and barred from holding any public office in 2017 and was again barred from holding public office for life 2018 after a probe ordered by the Supreme Court on Panama Papers revelations which found him guilty of not disclosing funds earned from his son Hussain Nawaz's Dubai-based firm.

Source: News18
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Why has the net neutrality debate surfaced again

Posted By: Jaydatt Chaudhary Posted On: Sep 19, 2023
People protesting against Facebook's Free Basics initiative in Bangalore on January 2, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

New Delhi: Network neutrality, or net neutrality, became the subject of a national debate in 2016, when Facebook (now Meta) pushed for its ‘Free Basics’ service in the country. Over the past month debates around net neutrality have surfaced again, with telecom operators urging the union government to consider taking a stance that would benefit them. Mint explains why net neutrality is back in the news, why telcos are against it, and what 5G has to do with it.

What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites. The core idea behind it is that services accessed through the internet should not differ in terms of the cost of accessing them. This principle has been in place to ensure a level playing field for all websites and a uniform cost of data for customers.

For instance, with net neutrality in place, no user will need to spend more data to access, say, Netflix. The reason is that if such preferential data usage charges are applied, users will move towards what is affordable, and telecom operators end up becoming gatekeepers of information and services on the internet.

Why are telcos against it?

In a recent submission to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm and Vodafone-Idea said that they should be allowed to set a higher cost for services such as WhatsApp and Netflix. Their rationale is that these apps are among the most widely accessed and put lopsided pressure on their infrastructure, increasing their operating costs.

What have these companies said?

A submission by Bharti Airtel dated 1 September read that “large traffic originators that account for a disproportionate amount of these investments must contribute a fair share" of the network cost incurred by telcos. This cost, Airtel said, should be covered “through a direct contribution to telecom service providers (TSPs)" to meet “the vision of Digital India".

Jio's submission on the same also suggested that “both communication and other OTT players contribute towards the cost of this infrastructure development, through direct compensation to TSPs".

What has the government said so far?

In 2016 the government ruled in favour of net neutrality with Trai's Prohibition of Discriminatory Tariffs for Data Services Regulations, 2016. The rule prevents discriminatory tariff for data services between a telco and an OTT service and therefore prevents them from striking any such deals. Now, despite telecom operators seeking a revision to these rules, reports have claimed that the government's stance on net neutrality is unlikely to change.

What does the government intend to do?

The Department of Telecommunications is learnt to have clarified to stakeholders that it does not plan to introduce any revenue-sharing model between the telcos and OTT service providers. Officials have told Mint that there's no such proposal being considered.

To remove any ambiguity on the issue, the government is also learnt to have removed OTT platforms from the definition of 'communication service' in the new telecom bill. Some officials have said that anything to do with these platforms will be under the purview of the IT ministry.

What does 5G have to do with all this?

According to Airtel's submission, “In order to adopt, integrate and sustain new technologies, massive investments are required in the network infrastructure on a continuous basis. The ongoing 5G rollout requires intense fiberization and densification of antennas, the need for which is only going to increase with the future deployments in 6G. These developments will intensify pressure and will have a significant impact on the viability of mobile network operators as well as of other actors in the value chain."

In other words, the telcos claim that 5G networks are expensive to deploy and maintain, and heavy traffic to specific applications increases their costs. They believe OTT services and applications should compensate them for this, which in turn would increase data costs for users.

Source: Live Mint
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Italy's PM Giorgia Meloni Calls For EU Help After Island Migrant Surge Published 1 hour ago

Posted By: Ajay Rawat Posted On: Sep 17, 2023

Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni warned on Sunday that the “future of Europe is at stake", after droves of migrants landed on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa.

Thousands of migrants on vessels from the North African coast landed on Italy's southernmost island this week, sparking a crisis that has rekindled debate over the division of responsibility among the EU nations.

At a press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a visit to the island, Giorgia Meloni said the bloc needed to work together to face the challenges of uncontrolled migration.

It is “the future that Europe wants for itself that is at stake here, because the future of Europe depends on Europe's capacity to face major challenges," Meloni said.

Between Monday and Wednesday, around 8,500 people — more than the island's entire local population — arrived in 199 boats, according to the UN migration agency.

“Irregular immigration is a European challenge that needs a European response," von der Leyen said, calling on other members of the bloc to take in some of the migrants.

The Italian Red Cross, which runs the overcrowded Lampedusa migration centre, said on Sunday that 1,500 migrants remained there despite having a capacity for just 400.

Transfers of migrants to Sicily and the mainland have not kept up with the flow of new arrivals, although further transfers were expected to be made Sunday, the Red Cross said.

The officials were met on arrival at the airport by residents unhappy with the mass arrivals, threatening to block their motorcade.

“We are doing everything possible," Meloni had said in response.

Large vessels operated by NGOs like the Geo Barents by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which have rescued nearly 500 migrants in 11 operations, are headed for major Italian ports.

But dozens of small boats continue to make the perilous sea-crossing to Lampedusa, where the migrant management system has come to the brink of asphyxiation.

In July, von der Leyen — with Meloni's strong backing — struck an agreement with Tunisia aimed at curbing the flow of irregular migration from the North African country.

More than 127,000 migrants have arrived on Italy's shores so far this year, almost double the same period last year.

Over 2,000 people have died this year crossing from North Africa to Italy and Malta, according to the UN migration agency.

The EU is pushing to overhaul rules on how to handle the migrant flow.

In France, members of the far right say Paris should not allow any migrants from Lampedusa across the border from Italy.

However, French government sources said late Saturday that Meloni and French President Emmanuel Macron had spoken and agreed on the need to “strengthen cooperation at the European level."

Source: News18
Related Posts: GIORGIA MELONI,EUROPEAN COMMISSION,URSULA VON DER LEYEN

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India registers 108% surge in transactions for travel

Posted By: Jaydatt Chaudhary Posted On: Sep 17, 2023
BookMyShow (File image)

Consumers in India have begun to spend significantly on events, online home services and other such entertainment avenues on the back of growing demand for convenience, seamless accessibility of these services, increase in purchasing power and propensity to spend. According to insights from leading checkout network 'Simple', there has been a 108 per cent growth in transacting users for varied kinds of services in the first eight months of this year.

Between January-August, several consumers used Simpl's 1-tap checkout to access services from merchants such as BookMyShow (movies and events), My Jio (mobile recharge), DriveU (On-Demand driver services), Park+ (Fastag recharge) and NoBroker (Home services, packers & movers) among others, according to Simpl.

During the same time period, the services segment has witnessed a remarkable 59 per cent increase in total payments volume (TPV), signifying the increasing demand for services among Simpl's users. TPV is a crucial factor in determining the value of payments successfully completed through a checkout network, according to a statement shared by Simpl.

Notably, the demand for services category was led by millennials with an average age of 27 years who were responsible for 42 per cent of this demand. While metros cities are at the forefront of this trend, there is an increasing adoption in smaller cities, especially tier-3 and beyond where customers are increasingly adopting internet services made convenient via Simpl's 1-tap checkout.

"An increasing number of consumers today are resorting to online services for travel, entertainment, and other essential and leisure services and are accessing these seamlessly with Simpl's 1-tap checkout. Over the last eight months since January, we have witnessed a 108 per cent growth in transacting users across a plethora of services-based merchants, in a testament to growing affinity of consumers to seek convenience online,'' said Ashwini Ravindranath, Vice-President, Partner Success at Simpl.

‘'This, complemented with our 1-tap checkout, has played a pivotal role in enabling a seamless checkout experience with near zero transactions for millions of customers across the country,'' added Ravindranath.

Source: Live Mint
Related Posts: ONLINE TRANSACTIONS,BOOKMYSHOW,MYJIO APP,SIMPL,DRIVEU,NOBROKER,ONLINE PAYMENTS

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