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World’s leading Internet TV network? Netflix signs strategic partnerships with Airtel, Videocon d2h and Vodafone

Under the agreement, Bharti Airtel will integrate the Netflix app into its direct-to-home service throughout the country

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New Delhi, March 6, 2017: Global video streaming service Netflix on Monday announced strategic partnerships with Airtel, Videocon d2h and Vodafone — making it the world’s leading Internet TV network.

With these partnerships, Netflix’s critically-acclaimed programmes like ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Narcos and The Crown’ will be easily accessible to consumers across direct-to-home and mobile platforms throughout the country.

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“India is one of the most important and vibrant countries in the world and we are delighted to be teaming up with three of its leading companies to make it much easier for consumers to enjoy Netflix,” Reed Hastings, Co-founder and CEO of Netflix, told reporters here.

“In the months and years to come, we look forward to bringing our Indian members more compelling stories from all over the world, an ever-improving viewing experience and incredible joy,” Hastings added.

Under the agreement, Bharti Airtel will integrate the Netflix app into its direct-to-home service throughout the country.

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“Airtel has been a pioneer in bringing the best of global content and products to its customers. We are delighted to partner Netflix to bring their popular content to our customer on one of our key digital platforms,” said Gopal Vittal, managing director and CEO (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel.

Netflix will also be integrated into the Videocon d2h set-top box, allowing viewers to instantly access Netflix by clicking a dedicated Netflix button on the remote control.

“We are delighted to have Netflix as a partner on our HD Smart Connect STB. This partnership strengthens our DNA of innovation by providing an instant TV screen experience for Netflix users in a seamless manner,” added Saurabh Dhoot, Executive Chairman, Videocon d2h.

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In the mobile space, Netflix will partner with Vodafone on pre-paid programmes and will enable payment integration, allowing Vodafone customers in India to pay for their Netflix subscriptions via their monthly bill.

“We are proud to be the first mobile partner of Netflix in India and look forward to offering its rich content to further delight our millions of customers”, said Sandeep Kataria, director commercial, Vodafone India.

Netflix launched its service globally in January 2016, including India.

“In 2017, we’ll be working on making our Indian service better in every dimension,” said Hastings.

“Working with some of India’s top artists, we cannot wait to bring more locally-produced series and films to our more than 93 million members households around the world,” he told reporters. (IANS)

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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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Apple is soon coming up with a Video Streaming service like Netflix

Netflix launched its groundbreaking video streaming service in 2007

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Apple
Apple losing out AI race to Google, Amazon: Report
  • Netflix beat Apple to the punch with its groundbreaking video streaming service
  • Follow-on rivals of Netflix- and Hulu also boast of popular video streaming services
  • Apple has periodically upgraded its Apple TV, which isn’t a television, just a video streaming player that connects to TVs

San Francisco, USA, September 9, 2017: Television is one of the few screens that has Apple hasn’t conquered, but that may soon change. The world’s richest company appears ready to aim for its own Emmy-worthy programming along the lines of HBO’s Game of Thrones and Netflix’s Stranger Things.

Apple lured longtime TV executives Jaime Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg away from Sony Corp. in June and has given them $1 billion to spend on original shows during the next year, according to a Wall Street Journal report quoting unnamed people.

The programming would be available only on a subscription channel, most likely bundled with the company’s existing Apple Music streaming service. Apple declined to comment.

While $1 billion is a lot of money, it’s a drop in the bucket for Apple and its $262 billion cash hoard. But it’s still enough to vault Apple into the top tier of tech-industry outsiders producing their own slates of television shows.

iTunes came first

Hollywood has long shuddered at the thought of Apple training its sights on TV the way it once did on the music business.

Almost 15 years ago, Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs convinced record labels to let the company sell digital music on its iTunes store for 99 cents a single, a deal the music industry was happy to take in the face of growing music piracy enabled by Napster. Over time, though, Apple’s dominance in digital music chafed music executives, who saw the company siphoning off a chunk of their profits.

Movies and television have proven much harder for Apple to crack. The company’s interest in transforming television has been an open secret for years, but Hollywood has so far spurned Apple’s efforts to make itself an indispensable digital middle man for video.

In a way, Netflix beat Apple to the punch with its groundbreaking video streaming service. Launched in 2007, that service pioneered “binge watching” of entire TV seasons on any device with an internet connection. That gave new life to existing shows such as Breaking Bad, whose creator credits Netflix with its survival, and spawned the creation of other series tailor-made for bingeing.

Netflix also helped unleash a crescendo of creativity in Hollywood. Follow-on rivals Amazon and Hulu also boast popular video streaming services, and mainstream broadcasters such as CBS and Walt Disney Co. — the owner of ABC and ESPN, among other networks — are also jumping in.

Pressure to act

All of that has increased the pressure on Apple to step up its game in TV — not least because the increasing popularity of streaming is hurting its business of renting and selling video from iTunes.

Apple “doesn’t want to be left behind,” said Debby Ruth, senior vice president of consumer research firm Magid. “This is a way for them to put a stake in the ground.”

This year, the company released its first two original series, Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, on its Apple Music service, which has 27 million subscribers. But neither show has generated much buzz or critical acclaim.

The recent hiring of Erlicht and Van Amburg signaled Apple’s intent to make a bigger splash. The executives have helped orchestrate several TV hits, including AMC’s Breaking Bad, and more recently branched out into video streaming with The Crown, which landed on Netflix last year and is up for 13 Emmy nominations in this Sunday’s ceremony.

Apple also has a not-so-secret weapon: hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads already in the hands of faithful fans. It could easily transform those into a marketing platform to lure users to its TV service.

But the company has a steep hill to climb.

Bigger players

Netflix has more than 100 million worldwide subscribers and a video library that will add 1,000 hours of original programming this year alone. And HBO has become the Emmys’ pacesetter since branching into original programming 20 years ago.

Both companies vastly outspend Apple’s reported $1 billion production budget. HBO spends about $2 billion annually on its programming, which garnered 111 nominations in this year’s Emmy Awards, more than any other network. Netflix, which boasts the second most Emmy nominations with 91, expects to spend $6 billion on programming this year.

Apple is still experimenting in TV, said Gene Munster, a longtime Apple watcher and managing partner with the research and venture capital firm Loup Ventures.

“In five years, I bet Apple will either be investing $10 billion a year in content or zero,” said Munster. “It’s going to be one or the other.”

Jobs’ legacy

Jobs discussed his ambitions to shake up TV with his biographer, Walter Isaacson, shortly before his death in 2011.

 “He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: Make them simple and elegant,” Isaacson wrote.

 

But no Apple television ever materialized. Instead, Apple has periodically upgraded its Apple TV, which isn’t a television, just a video streaming player that connects to TVs. That device has been losing market share to other streaming players made by Roku, Amazon, and Google, according to the research firm Park Associates.

Building a successful programming lineup could give Apple more leverage to license shows from other Hollywood production houses. It might even embolden the company to finally release its own streaming TV set.

Apple will presumably also want to emulate Netflix’s ability to exploit usage data to determine what it thinks audiences want to watch. Netflix’s data analysis has helped it attract 25.5 million more subscribers in the U.S. alone since the February 2013 debut of its first original series, House of Cards.

But if Apple decides it needs a little more help in video streaming, Munster thinks there’s a 1-in-3 chance that it will buy Netflix to instantly gain the cachet and expertise in TV programming that it craves. (VOA)

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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