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Giving huge discounts gets difficult for E-retailers

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Image source: www.digit.in

New Delhi: E-retailers, like Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal may now find it difficult to provide lucrative discounts to attract customers as the new guidelines on online marketplaces prohibit such players to influence the prices of goods and services.

While the government permitted 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in marketplace e-commerce retailing, the guidelines stated that such entities will not directly or indirectly influence the sale price of goods and services and shall maintain level playing field.

“Discounts can only be given by the owner of the goods or provider of services,” an official said.

“E-commerce guideline allows owner of inventory i.e sellers registered on marketplace to determine price including by giving discount,” Joint Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Atul Chaturvedi said in a series of tweets.

He said the guidelines strike balance between virtual and physical stores.

“It will also end predatory pricing and will provide level playing,” he said adding the norms will empower SMEs as they can now sell their products without any physical stores and create jobs.

Industry experts too said that the guidelines on pricing may impact big e-retailers.

“Going by the current guidelines, marketplace retailers will not be able to extend lucrative discounts to attract customers.

“However, it appears that with the consent and association of the owner of the inventory, the e-retailers may yet be able to provide additional promotional discounts,” Aamir Jariwala, Secretary, E-commerce Coalition said.

Government had yesterday allowed 100 per cent FDI through automatic route in most of e-commerce retailing, a development that will boost domestic as well as foreign players like Flipkart and Amazon.

While the decision to allow 100 per cent FDI in market place e-tail — where the company only provides platform for buyer and seller to connect — will help domestic players like Flipkart and Snapdeal to attract more foreign investment, it will also open the doors for the foreign retailers like Alibaba to set shop easily.

Although the decision was widely welcomed by e-retailers, traders body CAIT strongly opposed the decision, while IT industry body Nasscom said the 25 per cent cap may prove to be “restrictive”.

Credits: PTI

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Undaunted Initiative by tribal women for forest preservation in Muturkham, Jharkhand

Muturkhum forest saved from deforestation and exploitation under Timber mafia due to collective efforts of tribal women

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forest under the threat o deforestation in Muthurkam saved by tribal women. pexeby

8th Nov, 2017, Jharkhand:Armed with just water bottles and sticks, a group of poor tribal women in Muturkham village of Purbi Singhbhum district of Jharkhandtrekked miles to the sal forest that surrounded their habitat. Their mission: To save the forest from being plundered and denuded by the “forest mafia”.

Accompanied by just a dog for their safety, these determined women made frequent forays into the deep forest — with which they shared a symbiotic relationship — and have been able, over the years, to successfully conserve 50 hectares of forest land and its flora and fauna deep in the heart of a territory that has also been a battle zone between government forces and left-wing extremists.

This group was brought together by Jamuna Tudu, 37, who has spent the last two decades of her life fighting against deforestation. It was in 1998, after her marriage, that Jamuna took up this challenge of preserving the forest by making villagers develop a stake in it.

 

orest saved from deforestation by tribal women in Muturkham. pexeby

Today, her Van Suraksha Samiti (Forest Protection Group) has about 60 active women members who patrol the jungle in shifts thrice a day: Morning, noon and evening. And sometimes even at night, as the mafia set fire to the forests in random acts of vandalism and vengeance.

Jamuna’s fight has not gone unnoticed. The President of India has honoured her conservation efforts.

“Few days after my marriage, when my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and a few other women from the village took me to the forest to cut wood and get it to cook food, I felt that if we keep cutting the trees this way, all our forests will be wiped out,” Jamuna recalled to IANS in an interview.

In her quest, she had to battle against the mafia that was chopping down trees for their precious sal timber with complete disregard for the law or the tribal tradition that prohibits cutting of the trees.

Realising that she would get little help from authorities, who may well have been hand in glove with the mafia, she took matters in her own hands. She spoke to a few women of the village who were quite aghast at the task she had taken on. We won’t do it; this will require us to fight the men in the village, they told her.

But Jamuna, who has studied up to Class X, foresaw a bleak green-less future for herself and her community with no trees and forests to sustain or protect them.

‘Jungle nahi rahega toh paryavaran kaise bachega (how will we protect the environment if the forest is destroyed)?’ she asked.

Jamuna’s clear understanding of the issue soon trickled down to the other women and even men in her village.

“I was brought up with a love and respect for nature. My father used to plant numerous trees in our farms in Odisha. That’s where I learnt the importance of the environment,” she said.

Pointing out how the mafia was exploiting the wood from Muturkham to fund their alcohol needs, she said she was bewildered by the passive response of the community at their habitat being slowly destroyed.

“I went on to speak to a few women in the village. I held a meeting with them several times to be able to convince them that we needed to protect our beautiful forests,” she said.

Gradually, she mobilised a group of 25 women from the village and armed them with bows and arrows, bamboo sticks and spears, they marched into the forest to take on the forest predators.

With time, many men also became part of the campaign against deforestation, but most of the effort has continued to be from women, said Jamuna.

There are many daunting challenges that came their way, but their single-minded dedication towards their cause kept them going.

“There were too many altercations with the village people initially.. many scuffles with the mafia… and I told those women that in this journey, we would come across both good and bad times, but we have to struggle to keep the forest,” said Jamuna.

The group convinced the railway authorities to bar the plundered wood from being exported.

“Some time in 2008-09, we were brutally attacked by the mafia,” she said.

“They pelted stones at us while we were coming back from the railway station after speaking to the station master. Everybody got injured,” she added.

For obvious reasons, Jamuna, the woman whose initiatives were hampering their business, was their main target. She and her husband suffered most in the assault.

“My husband got hit on his head as he tried to save me. It was dark and we somehow managed to run away. We narrowly escaped death that day.” But she did not give up.

Over 15 years of many fierce encounters with the mafia and relentless sensitisation of the community, Jamuna, and the Van Suraksha Samiti that she formed, have succeeded in protecting and conserving the 50 hectares of forest land not just surrounding her village, but around many others as well.

Tribal communities cannot survive without wood. They need it for various things — mostly to cook food. But they ensure that their requirements remain within sustainable limits.

“We don’t cut trees on purpose any more and use the fallen trees and branches for all our needs,” Jamuna said. “The amount we are able to save up during the rains is sufficient for the whole year.”

The Forest Department has “adopted” her village, which has led to Muturkham getting a water connection and a school.

In 2013, Jamuna was conferred with the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award in the ‘Acts of Social Courage’ category and this year in August, she was awarded with Women Transforming India Award by the NITI Aayog.

Today, she runs awareness campaigns through various forest committees in Kolhan Division. Around 150 committees formed by Jamuna, comprising more than 6,000 members, have joined her movement to save the forests.

She wants to do a lot more. “I wish to do a lot… to make a lot more difference, but I am bound by limited resources. I can’t in many ways afford to go beyond the villages in my state.”

But if I get more support, many more forests like ours can be saved, she declared.

(This feature is part of a special series that seeks to bring unique and extraordinary stories of ordinary people, groups and communities from across a diverse, plural and inclusive India, and has been made possible by a collaboration between IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Mudita Girotra can be contacted at mudita.g@ians.in)

 

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Apple losing out AI race to Google, Amazon: Report

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Apple
Apple losing out AI race to Google, Amazon: Report

November 3, 2017, 10:32 IST: Essentially a hardware-focused firm, Apple is falling behind in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) race with Google and Amazon racing ahead while embracing the open-source and collaborative approach in the emerging field of AI, Fortune reported.

According to Mohanbir Sawhney, McCormick Foundation professor of technology at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, sheets of glass are simply no longer the most fertile ground for innovation.

“That means Apple urgently needs to shift its focus and investment to AI-driven technologies, as part of a broader effort to create the kind of ecosystem Amazon and Google are building quickly,” Sawhney wrote in Fortune.

According to him, Apple has reached its peak with “super premium” iPhone X and “does not represent the beginning of the next 10 years of the smartphone, as Apple claims”. Apple launched the iPhone X globally. Players pursue innovation along a vector of differentiation until the vector runs out of steam.

“When that happens, the focus of innovation shifts to a different vector and new market leaders emerge. We have seen this pattern several times in mobile phone innovation over the past three decades,” Sawhney said.

he vector of differentiation is now shifting from hardware to AI and AI-based software and agents.

“As AI-driven phones like Google’s Pixel 2 and virtual agents like Amazon Echo proliferateaToday’s smartphones will likely recede into the background,” he stressed.

Google Pixel phones offers great photo-enhancement features and deeper hardware-software integration driven by AI-based technology. The second edition of Pixel features 5-inch display, 4GB RAM, 12MP rear and 8MP front camera, and 2,700mAH battery. Google will bring Pixel 2 XL (6-inch display) into the Indian market from November 15 onwards.

The Amazon Echo enables natural conversations through the Alexa virtual agent.

“Apple has only to look at Motorola, Nokia, and Blackberry to understand how quickly a leader can fall from the peak in this market, and do its best to avert this outcome,” Sawhney added. (IANS)

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Con man in Delhi Duped Amazon for over Rs. 50 Lakh; Arrested by Delhi Police for Fraud

Shivam, a resident of north-west Delhi’s Tri Nagar, holds a degree in hotel management. However, he chose to use all his management skills to con the commercial giant, Amazon

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Amazon logo. Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 11, 2017 : Leading e-commerce portal Amazon was taken for a ride by a 21-year-old youth who is said to have duped the company for over 50 lakh.

As per the police, the accused, identified as Shivam Chopra, bought over 166 expensive mobile phones via the online e-commerce store Amazon and consequently demanded refunds claiming he had received an empty box.

Shivam, a resident of north-west Delhi’s Tri Nagar, holds a degree in hotel management. However, he chose to use all his management skills to con the commercial giant, Amazon.

A complaint registered this year on behalf of Amazon Seller Services Private Limited first raised eyebrows in June when it was revealed that refunds had been claimed for as many as 166 mobile phones that had been ordered between April and May, on the claims that the delivery packages were empty. Suspicion gathered momentum when it was further revealed that payments for all these 166 mobiles were made through gift cards.

Allegedly, Shivam would use different customer accounts (reports suggest he used 48 different accounts) to place orders of expensive phones on Amazon and would provide the portal with a false address. He would then speak with the delivery associate and collect his order at a mutually decided place within the locality. Consequently, Shivam would then place complaints with Amazon, claiming that he had received an empty package and would demand a refund.

Subsequently, refunds were initiated in the form on gift cards.

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Following an enquiry, a case was registered with the Delhi Police in August.

The accused was then identified with the help of Amazon’s delivery persons, and the locals and by tracing the multiple numbers that were used to place the orders and Shivam was arrested on October 6.

According to the police, Shivam allegedly also purchased 150 pre-activated SIM cards to place the orders from different numbers. His accomplice in the con, Sachin Jain, has also been arrested, who helped provide him the SIM cards.

As per a report by PTI, upon investigation, the Delhi Police recovered 19 mobile phones from Shivam’s house. It was revealed that he had sold all other devices to buyers in the notorious Gaffar Market, or on the online marketplace OLX. The police also recovered Rs 12 lakh in cash, 40 bank passbooks and cheques from his house.

An Amazon India spokesperson later thanks ed the Delhi police for their services in an official statement and added, “We continue to work closely with the Delhi Police and thank them for all their efforts in the investigation.”

An ordinary guy who duped an e-commerce website and claimed refunds running into lakhs of rupees – the case is not a first of its kind. Previously, con-men had been arrested for duping rival e-commerce website FlipKart. However, what is peculiar is how no action has been taken to keep such frauds at bay and these cases continue to suffer.