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Daily Tech Briefing: Chinese Apps Banned, Jio Gains In Latest TRAI Report, Drones For Locusts & More

Daily Tech Briefing: Chinese Apps Banned, Jio Gains In Latest TRAI Report, Drones For Locusts & More

TikTok, ShareIT, UC Browser, CamScanner among 59 Chinese apps now banned in India

Reliance Jio continued to gain market share in TRAI's delayed Feb 2020 report

India to become first country to officially use drones to tackle the locust swarms

Anti-China sentiments among the public in India have boiled over to the government level now with the Indian IT ministry banning 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, UC Browser, CamScanner and other apps. Besides these three, ShareIT, ES FileExplorer, Mi Community, Clash Of Titans, Helo, Likee, Shein among others on the grounds of threat to sovereignty and data security of the country.

The official statement from the ministry of IT and electronics said that the government had to look into the apps after many complaints in the public domain to take action against apps which are allegedly making it easier for data from Indian users. The order covers apps on both iOS devices by Apple and Android devices as well as any non-mobile counterparts.

However, it is to be noted that this is a press statement yet and still has to be officiated. Would there be new additions to this list? Or will the list get smaller? Only an official ruling in this matter would settle the case. As of now, the concerned apps are still available in India.  

Further, how does the ban work for existing downloaded apps will be an interesting watch, as the last time TikTok was banned from App Store and Google Play Store, the company’s existing users weren’t impacted.

Jio Gains Subscribers In Latest TRAI Report

According to data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), by the end of February, Jio had 383.6 Mn subscribers, Airtel had 328.9 Mn and Vodafone Idea had 325.5 Mn customers. Consequently, the market shares of the three telecom operators, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, were 32.99%, 28.35% and 28.05% respectively.

However, employees of state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) feel that the central government is favouring Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio in awarding state-funded projects to it, and denying opportunities to other players by creating an uneven playing field. Jio was recently allocated INR 50K Cr worth government contract under the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to deploy 54 mobile towers in Ladakh’s rural areas.

Drones Used To Chase Away Locusts 

The Union Ministry of Agriculture said that India is the first country to officially control locusts using drones. According to the information given by the Agriculture ministry, all the groups of locust swarms are being tracked by teams of the state agriculture departments of Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, local administrations and officials of the Central Locust Warning Organisation, and control operations are underway. Similar solutions have been used in the past in Africa and the Middle East, though they have been through the independent or private sector route. 

In line with the same, India’s aviation regulator has approved the Agriculture Ministry’s request to operate drones at night and to use engine-powered drones rather than battery-operated ones in its fight against the spread of desert locusts in the western and central states.

Bounce Layoffs 

Moving on to another impact of Covid-19 pandemic, Bengaluru-based two-wheeler rental startup Bounce has decided to lay off around 22% of its workforce or 130 employees owing to the major Covid-19 impact on the mobility industry.

In a blog post, Bounce cofounder and CEO Vivekananda Hallekere said that the layoffs have come as “an outcome of a change in our business priorities” and is purely a cost-cutting exercise. 

To support the laid-off employees, Bounce has decided to reinstate their salaries to the same level as before the pandemic-induced pay cuts in April and the entire amount — pending dues plus the deducted amount — will be given to these employees. The company is offering three-month severance pay as well, either in one go or credited to their accounts on a monthly basis, as per choice.

BYJU’S Launches Classes

BYJU’S launched a comprehensive online tutoring programme named BYJU’S Classes to offer personalised after school tuition classes. The new programme would allow students to access scheduled online classes, doubt resolution and one-on-one guidance from dedicated mentors, who will be in touch with both parents and students on a regular basis. 

The mentors will also regularly access the students’ performance through home assignments and class tests to assess their performance and counsel them on their learning approach and other concerns.

Paytm Payouts Growth

Paytm announced that it has processed close to INR 1,500 Cr in salaries and other benefits for over 5K medium and large enterprises through its Paytm Payouts service. The Paytm Payouts services, which was launched this year, is a digital money transfer service that offers an API or Paytm for Business Dashboard to make bulk payments to bank accounts, UPI addresses and Paytm wallets instantly. 

Amazon India Eliminates Plastics 

Amazon India announced that it has eliminated all single-use plastic in packaging originating from its over 50 fulfilment centres in India. In September 2019 the company had pledged to meet this goal in an accelerated timeframe by June 2020, in an effort to build an environmentally sustainable supply chain.

All other plastic packaging material originating from the Amazon Fulfilment Centers is 100% recyclable through available collection, segregation and recycling channels. Amazon India continues to educate sellers, who directly fulfil customer orders, to join in this directional change in packaging. 

YC Changes Deal Terms & More

Global startup accelerator Y Combinator has decided to revamp its deal terms in the post-Covid-19 world. Y Combinator’s president Geoff Ralston said that the accelerator would make two changes to its terms for startups.

The first would see the size of the standard deal for YC startups decline from $150,000 for 7% (roughly a $2.1 million post-money valuation) to $125,000 for the same equity (or roughly a $1.79 million post-money valuation). The deal will continue to be offered using a SAFE, which YC and a group of others pioneered as a simpler investment option compared to convertible notes.

Twitter will fix the frequency of the fact-checking labels that is intended only to apply to tweets that link COVID-19 to 5G technology. Twitter has taken a stand against the spread of conspiracy theories that claim 5G is spreading the coronavirus, applying a label on tweets that contain potentially harmful and misleading information related to COVID-19. The label reads “Get the facts about COVID-19,” and links to a Twitter moment titled “No, 5G isn’t causing coronavirus.”

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