Wednesday July 17, 2019
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Modi to Putin: Russia trusted friend of India in hour of need

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Moscow: India sees Russia as a reliable friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin as the 16th annual summit between the two countries got underway here on Thursday.

After exchanging greetings at the start of the talks with the Putin, Modi said India and Russia were now cooperating in the international and political arenas more actively, TASS news agency reported.

The prime minister said he saw Russia as a reliable friend that had always supported India at difficult times, adding that his country aimed to continue its strategic partnership with Russia.

Putin, on his part, said that Russia and India were consistently and confidently developing the strategic partnership.

“I am pleased to note, and I am happy to do that, that we are consistently and confidently developing the privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia,” Putin said.

The Russian president noted that the bilateral relations were developing in all directions – in international politics, economy and the humanitarian area.

He added that a number of issues required special attention, “especially in today’s challenging economic environment.”

According to Putin, Modi’s visit was very timely and would make it possible to “synchronise watches” on the main areas of cooperation between the two countries.

Modi also offered his condolences to Putin over a terrorist attack against a Russian A-321 passenger airliner in the Sinai and the downing of a Su-24 warplane over Syria saying the Indian people were mourning together with Russia.

Russian Kogalymavia Flight 9268 came down about half-an-hour after leaving the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh while on its way to St. Petersburg in a terrorist attack on October 31. All 224 people on board the plane were killed.

In another tragic development on November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter jet brought down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber, which, Ankara alleges, violated the country’s airspace near the Syrian border. The Russian defence ministry said the warplane was flying over Syrian territory and had never violated Turkey’s airspace.

Ahead of Thursday’s talks, Modi laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier located by the Kremlin wall in the Alexandrovsky Garden.

Earlier in the day, Modi visited Russia’s National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC), also known as EMERCOM, in Moscow and was given a rundown on how its works.

Modi and Putin are scheduled to meet a delegation of Indian and Russian CEOs in the Kremlin.

Modi will address a gathering of Friends of India and also meet members of the Indian community in Russia.

Modi arrived in Moscow on Wednesday and was hosted for a private dinner by President Putin.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Developers Can Now Start Building Hindi Skills for Alexa in India

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

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Alexa, Amazon, Virtual Assistant
Amazon Echo led the Indian smart speakers market with 59 per cent share in 2018 (Representational image). Pixabay

Amazon on Tuesday 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).

Developers would get a headstart and submit skills for certification as the company prepare to offer engaging experiences for Alexa users in one of the most spoken languages in the country, the company said in a statement.

Commercial hardware manufacturers who want to develop Alexa Built-in products for Hindi-speaking customers in India can request early access to the invite-only Alexa Voice Service (AVS) developer preview.

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 last year launched a new category of skill called “Cleo” that enables customers in India help Alexa learn Hindi and other languages. The idea was to improve Alexa’s language model and help her gradually speak in local languages.

Lawsuit, Amazon, Alexa
The lawsuit alleges Amazon of saving ‘voice prints’ of millions of children by unlawfully recording their conversations around Alexa-enabled smart devices. Pixabay

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.

One can sign up for the first webinar on Hindi skill building scheduled on July 24. Developers in India who have their Hindi-language skill certified for publication in India before July 31 would receive exclusive early bird Alexa merchandise.

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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.

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