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Amazon Alexa Offering Over 30,000 Skills in India: Report

Amazon also announced “Alexa VOXCON”, company’s first conference in India dedicated to all things voice — in New Delhi on September 18-19

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Security guards stand at the reception desk of the Amazon India office in Bengaluru, India, Aug. 14, 2015. VOA

Amazon on Thursday announced that Alexa customers in India can now choose from over 30,000 skills offered by top brands and developers.

The Alexa Skills Store in India features skills across categories like astrology, bollywood, cricket, devotion, entertainment, education, food, homes services and kids, among others.

“With over 30,000 skills in the ‘Alexa Skills Store’ in India, brands and developers truly understand the opportunity that voice presents.

“Today, over 40 devices with Alexa built-in are available to Indian customers, from multiple brands like Sony, LG, Bose, iBall, Panasonic and boat,” Dilip R.S., Country Manager for Alexa Skills and Voice Services, Amazon India said in a statement.

Amazon last month announced that developers can now start building Alexa skills for customers in India with the new Hindi voice model available in Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of free, self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create skills, or capabilities, for Alexa.

Amazon Alexa. Flickr
Amazon Alexa. (Representational image). Flickr

Apart from Hindi, users can respond to Alexa’s English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other regional languages.

Alexa is currently available in over 80 countries and speaks more than 14 language variants.

Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist for Alexa, told IANS recently that the company is working on infusing regional languages capabilities in Alexa for the Indian market but these are early days.

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Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between.

Amazon also announced “Alexa VOXCON”, company’s first conference in India dedicated to all things voice — in New Delhi on September 18-19. (IANS)

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Traders Protest Government Collusion with Amazon, Flipkart: Report

On December 27, traders in various cities will go on a day-long token hunger strike, it added

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Amazon
Amazon Logo is seen at the company logistic center in Lauwin-Planquin, France.

Angry at the reported move of the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) to join hands with Amazon and Flipkart for on boarding of traders on their e-commerce portals, a large number of traders on Thursday staged a demonstration at Jantar Mantar here.

Calling upon Union MSME Minister Nitin Gadkari to reject any such proposed move, traders body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said it will not accept any kind of government “collusion” with Amazon and Flipkart.

“If the Ministry is so serious, let it create an independent e commerce portal and the traders of the country will support such initiative and will do every bit of it to onboard seven crore traders of the country on such e commerce portal,” CAIT said in a statement.

The MSME Ministry earlier deferred its decision to create a government-owned e-commerce portal for MSME entities.

In a letter to Gadkari on December 9, CAIT drew attention to reports of the ministry initiating a move to join hands with e-commerce companies including Amazon and Flipkart.

The traders were also protesting against the alleged violation of the foreign direct investment (FDI) policy by Amazon and Flipkart and said that “it is nothing but a deep rooted conspiracy of Amazon and Flipkart to enter into crony capitalism under the garb of bringing foreign investment which is being used for cash burning in maintaining predatory pricing and deep discounting, controlling inventory, having preferential seller system and exclusivity of products”.

Apart from New Delhi, business leaders from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, among others, participated in the demonstration, CAIT said.

Flipkart Buys Back Shares Worth $350 mn.
New e-commerce norms to impact e-tailers: Flipkart. IANS

The traders of All India Mobile Retailers Association and All India Consumer Products Distributors’ Federation also attended the demonstration in large numbers, it added.

CAIT National President B.C. Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal alleged that Flipkart and Amazon are leading losses of thousands of crores of rupees in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) revenue by artificially lowering the prices and by showing huge losses in their business.

CAIT has already urged Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to conduct an investigation into these charges of tax avoidance.

The trade body has also urged Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal to conduct an investigation into whether there is any violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) or other concerning laws by the e-commerce players.

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Announcing the next phase of the national movement against Amazon and Flipkart, Bhartia and Khandelwal said that the families of traders across the country will protest on December 24.

A postcard campaign will be launched across the country from December 15, under which traders will send postcards to leaders including the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Finance Minister, Commerce Minister and the Chief Ministers of all the states urging for action against these two companies, CAIT said.

On December 27, traders in various cities will go on a day-long token hunger strike, it added. (IANS)