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In India, carpooling and ride-sharing can actually improve urban mobility: Uber

according to Uber, carpooling and sharing a ride can actually help with the congestion and pollution problems in the urban areas in India

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Uber began testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh and is now rolling out the service in San Francisco. (Uber), VOA

New Delhi, Jan 15, 2017: Getting “more people into fewer cars” has the potential to cut congestion and, therefore, pollution in urban cities. In India, carpooling and ride-sharing can actually improve urban mobility and global online cab-hailing app Uber has hit the ground running on this count.

For a country that considers car ownership as a status symbol, it has been interesting to note that people are finally adapting to the idea of sharing rides.

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The San Francisco-headquartered firm launched UberPOOL — a service that enables people going the same way at the same time to share their journey — in Bengaluru in September 2015. Thereafter, it was introduced in Delhi in December 2015, followed by Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and, more recently, in Chennai.

“The response we have got on UberPOOL has been phenomenal so far and is fast-emerging as the most preferred mode of transport for riders in India. More than 31 per cent of rides in Delhi are on UberPOOL and over 20 per cent of the UberPOOL rides are in the remaining five cities — Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai,” Apurva Dalal, Head of Engineering, Uber India, told IANS.

“Since the launch of UberPOOL in the country, the company has partnered with citizens in saving over 32 million km of vehicle-travel, over 1.5 million litres of fuel, reducing CO2 emissions worth 3.5 million kg,” Dalal claimed.

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UberCOMMUTE — the ride-sharing feature for those who embark on long rides on a daily basis to share journey with a fellow commuter headed in the same direction and recoup the costs — is also picking up.

“If we aspire for every journey in India to be a shared journey, we need to use private cars for the public good. How do we encourage people who own a car to carpool more often with Uber technology making the experience seamless?,” asked Dalal who has previously led the Google India Development Centre.

There are over 2.7 million cars in Delhi but less than 100,000 are eligible to use ridesharing apps.

“Similarly, we have hundreds of thousands of riders in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai who can be encouraged to share their rides with appropriate government support for this,” Dalal told IANS.

According to the Uber executive, more cars that are eligible for ride-sharing and more passengers per car is the only way to get rid of the congestion on city roads.

“Cities in India suffer from some of the worst congestion in the world. For example, on an average, we have 1.2 people in one car at any given point, with the average asset utilisation rate as low as five per cent. There is an appetite for more options for reliable and efficient ways to get to and from work,” Dalal noted.

Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, who was recently in India, also spoke at length about how to decongest mega cities in the country.

“Our journey in India started three years ago with Bengaluru; the growth since then has been phenomenal. We started with three employees and are now a 700-people team operating across 29 cities with over 400,000 driver-partners on our platform, of which 50 per cent are active at any given point in time,” Dalal informed.

The company has also ramped up its engineering centre in Bengaluru — the only one in Asia — to tap into the deep tech talent pool in the country.

The centre’s aim is to innovate on transportation technology for India, many of which (innovations) are then rolled out in other markets around the globe. Additionally, it has also set up a Centre of Excellence in Hyderabad.

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“We are also investing aggressively in India especially in the areas of research and expansion. We are confident that ridesharing is going to be the future of urban mobility and are going to focus our efforts a lot more in helping build awareness of this mode of transportation,” Dalal stated.

Uber has also introduced a lot of firsts in India.

UberGO — a new range of low cost, chauffeur-driven hatchbacks (like Etios Liva and Maruti Ritz) that was first rolled out for riders in India — is now available in Turkey.

Cash as a payment option was first piloted in Hyderabad in May 2015. The option is now available in various parts of the world, including Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia.

“We recently launched a new rider app, rebuilt completely from the ground up for the first time, since the last redesign in 2012,” Dalal said, adding that the India experience shows that carpooling and ride-sharing will sure make a tangible difference when it comes to helping with pollution and congestion.

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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‘Operation Taxi’ Finds Out that How Unsafe App based Cabs Can be in India!

 Are cab based companies in India lacking business ethics?

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Woman hiring taxi. Pixabay

New Delhi, August 3, 2017: Did you just book a cab because you fear of reaching home late? Well give it a second thought, the App- based cabs may not be as safe as you think!

Recently an extensive investigation carried out by CNN-NEWS18 reveals that safety parameters that the companies promise to the Indian customers are questionable.

A fortnight-long investigation carried out by 25 reporters in 4 cities across the country took over 300 rides to reach this conclusion. It was found that despite being promised by the companies of top-notch security to the Indian customers, there were shocking loopholes in the system. Apart from Chennai and Bengaluru, the cities included Delhi as well as Kolkata.

In the national capital region, over a period of 4 days, they took over 20 Uber and Ola rides and recorded the conversations with a spy camera. The whole idea of this investigation was to get the insight of the cab business from the drivers.

This is one of its kind investigation where you will hear your cabbies uncensored spilling the secrets and how your cab is a ticking-time-bomb. Undercover reporter Saahil Meghani and video journalist Vikas Kumar found out is quite shocking-

  1. One registered cab has multiple unregistered drivers. If you notice carefully, you will find out, that the cab driver whose picture comes in your app is not the one who is driving you to your destination. The reason is they have never been registered to drive this cab.

2. There is also a possibility that the driver of your cab is using fake driver’s license. There is no verification before they are registered with the company and also may be they are presenting fraudulent papers. This means after any crime they cannot be traceable. Did the apps keep you informed about this? Certainly not!

3. Another strange thing if you have noticed before- Try booking a cab as a female customer from any party destination- chances are it will be difficult to book a cab post 11 pm  If you are a woman, Chances are you will not get a cab post 11 pm but your male friend may get it immediately. The video explains why?

 

Even after repeated attempts by the two media houses, both Ola and Uber didn’t respond to these sort of menace. Are cab based companies in India lacking business ethics? You be the judge!

– prepared by Naina Mishra of NewsGram. Twitter @Nainamishr94

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393