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News in Brief

  India's 4G speed lowest in the world
India has been found to have the lowest 4G speed in the world, coming in after Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Algeria. India's 4G speed was measured at 6.07 mbps, while Singapore has the fastest speed at 44.31 mbps, followed by Netherlands with 42.12 mbps, Norway with 41.20 mbps, South Korea with 40.44 mbps and Hungary with 39.18 mbps. However, when it comes to 4G connection availability, India has been ranked at 14 out of 88 countries, with 86.26%. In this ranking, South Korea tops the list with 97.49%, followed by Japan with 94.70%, Norway with 92.16%, Hong Kong with 90.34% and United States of America with 90.32%.

Malalayam actress becomes overnight internet sensation
Malayalam actress Priya Prakash Varrier became an almost overnight internet sensation following the release of a song from the movie Oru Adaar Love. The song has shots of various students at school, of whom Varrier is one. Her expression, particularly a wink, catapulted her into Internet stardom; the song has garnered over 38 million views on YouTube at the time of going to press.
The song has faced controversy as well, with an FIR being lodged against the 18-year-old actress in a Hyderabad police station alleging that the song hurts the religious sentiments of particular community. After Varrier sought the Supreme Court’s intervention, the apex court stayed all criminal proceedings.

Musk sends Tesla car into space on Falcon Heavy rocket
Entrepreneur and visionary Elon Musk’s company SpaceX recently launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, aided by three boosters. The rocket was ostensibly a point to prove for the company that it can, in future, be considered as a major player for all space payload delivery systems, especially at drastically lower costs, since the boosters land back on earth back after launch, ensuring reusability unlike all the competition. The payload for the Falcon Heavy was a red Tesla Roadster, with a dummy strapped into it, nicknamed ‘Starman’. The car has the words ‘Don’t Panic’ written on the dashboard, referencing popular sci-fi novel Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Currently, the car’s trajectory is being tracked by enthusiasts, with some reporting that it might just crash back to earth in future.

Lack of policy won’t hinder electric vehicle development, say automakers
Major automakers have said that the absence of a policy on electric vehicles (EV) will not hamper the development, testing and deployment of EVs. This is in the light of a statement by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant that there was no need for a policy for EVs, as an action plan has been prepared and technology should not be trapped by rules and regulations. The automakers include Maruti Suzuki, Mahindra Electric and Mercedes-Benz. Ford India, on the other hand, has adopted a more cautious approach, citing the goal of an-all EV fleet to be difficult without a roadmap and allied infrastructure, investment and incentives guidelines.

World’s largest wheelmaker pumps funds into India
Maxion Wheels, the world’s largest wheelmaking company, has announced that it will invest $100 million in its wholly-owned subsidiary in Pune. This is in line with its objective to increase output from India from the current 5 million to 10 million wheels every year over the next 3 to 5 years. Currently, Maxion produces around 60 million wheels from its 21 manufacturing bases across the world, with Pune being its 22nd. Moreover, the company has also stated that the new plant is expected to generate over 1000 jobs.

India’s largest solar plant to come up in Bengal?
The Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government is expected to award the country’s single largest grid connected floating solar power project in Murshidabad by March. Currently, Kerala has the largest floated PV solar project of 500 Kwh size. Currently, the world’s largest solar power park is located in Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu.
China is building the world’s largest floating solar power plant in the nation’s eastern province of Anhui, and the facility is expected to become operational by May 2018.

Indian billionaires’ wealth 15% of GDP: Report
According to a report released by Oxfam India, the total wealth of Indian billionaires is as much as 15% of the country’s gross domestic product. In 2017, India had 101 billionaires.
The report, titled ‘The Widening Gaps: India Inequality Report 2018’, has claimed that India ranks among the world’s most unequal countries on all parameters of income, consumption and wealth, and that the reason behind this is the “lopsided” policy choices made by successive governments. The report analysed various sources of data and describes how the path of inequality has changed in India-from being stagnant in 1980s, to its increase since 1991, and to its subsequent and continued surge in recent years until 2017.

Uber eyes 10 times growth, to invest in India market
Cab aggregator Uber has stated that it will continue its investments in India, counting the country as incredibly important and core market. In his first visit to India, new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced Travis Kalanick recently, said that the company plans to grow its business in India tenfold in the next decade.
This is ostensibly contrary to the “opinions” of investor SoftBank, which would prefer to see the company scale back to countries where it has a stronghold.

First Ikea store to open in mid-2018
The world’s largest furniture maker Ikea has announced that its first store in India will be launched in mid-2018. The Swedish company has spent `1,000 crore over the past two years in creating infrastructure, including land and distribution centres. This is almost 10% of the `10,500-crore proposal cleared by the government to open 25 stores by 2025 across India, with each store touted to be large enough to fit four football fields. According to the company, Maharashtra is a key market, and has been allocated `3,000 crore over the long term to set up multi-format stores. Each store is expected to create around 2,000 jobs, direct and indirect, with 50,000 people employed by 2025, and sourcing 30% of Ikea’s global requirements. Currently, India accounts for around 3% of Ikea’s sourcing.

High variation in online media consumption between Hindi, English users
A survey has revealed that there is a significant divide between the content consumed online by Hindi readers as compared to readers in English. The former is attracted by nationalistic, political and religious content, while the latter by news on entertainment and celebrities. Sharing of nationalistic and political themes dropped from 22% in 2016 to 14% in 2017.
The firm analysed sharing of news articles on social media for 143 leading Indian media brands in 10 languages, including Hindi, English and Bengali, among others. Hindi news stories had a significantly higher average engagement of 1,601 shares per story, whereas English reports were at 483 average shares in 2017. Bengali was the third most popular language for news sharing, with 6.97 per cent of the total shares.

Monthly mobile data usage at 11GB: Nokia
According to a report released by Nokia, mobile data usage in India has jumped by nearly 144% year on year. The average consumption per user in 4G broadband touched 11 gigabytes per month in December 2017, indicating a huge opportunity in the market. Of this total mobile data traffic, video content constituted nearly 65%. Hindi and regional languages comprised more than 90 per cent of popular videos watched online.
On average, an Indian subscriber consumed 7.4 GB of data per user per month on their mobile devices over mobile networks alone, placing India ahead of developed markets like the UK, South Korea and France.

Chinese smartphone makers grab lion’s share of Indian market
With Chinese phone manufacturers starting to manufacture or assemble nearly all their products sold in the country, Indian players have been left with less than 15% market share. According to a report by Counterpoint Research, as of 2017, Chinese firms, including Xiaomi, Vivo, Lenovo, Oppo and Huawei, have grabbed as much as 53% of the market, while the combined market share of the top four Indian brands — Micromax, Lava, Intex and Karbonn — was barely 12.5%. Interestingly, Xiaomi alone had 20.9 per cent market share.
This is after the period between 2013 and 2014, when Indian brands enjoyed up to 45% of the market before the entry of the Chinese heavyweights.