Gratuity for private sector employees raised to Rs 10 lakh

Bringing cheer to thousands of private sector employees, the government on Thursday approved raising the ceiling for payment of gratuity to them from Rs 3.5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The move will bring about parity between government and private sector employees in enjoying equal gratuity benefits. The Sixth Pay Commission recommendation had raised the limit for Central government employees.

Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge had earlier said his Ministry was holding consultations with various stakeholders to arrive at a consensus for raising the ceiling.

They lost their lives for Rs.10

A mound of slippers on the site bore a grim testimony to the tragedy that occurred at the Kripalu Maharaj’s ashram on Thursday

Twelve-year-old Kishori was lost in a daze outside the ashram, unsure of the fate of her mother and two aunts who were separated from her in the stampede that left at least 65 people dead on Thursday.

The four were among thousands of people – the poorest of the poor – who had gathered to eat food at a community kitchen and collect a steel plate, Rs. 10, a laddu and a handkerchief – distributed by popular godman Kripalu Maharaj at his ashram on the “Shradh” (post-death rites) of his wife every year.

Policemen make records as the bodies of victims are seen after a stampede at Kripalu Maharaj’s ashram in Kunda near Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday

But this year, police claimed, the function saw an unprecedented crowd leading to the stampede. A mound of slippers on the site bore a grim testimony to the tragedy.

Eyewitnesses said there were separate lines for men and women leading to the ashram. But as a gate fell due to pressure from the surging crowd at around 9.30 a.m., the ashram officials allegedly started pushing back the crowd. The women panicked and ran with their children, triggering the stampede.

Locals claim there were no police personnel present during the function. However, Inspector General of Police (Allahabad Range) Chandra Prakash said it was an annual function and that an adequate deployment had been made but the turnout was much more than expected.

Police cordoned off the ashram site, 60 kms from here.

Women mourn after a stampede at an ashram in Kunda, Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday

Unable to get any information about the fate of their loved ones, hapless family members were seen wailing outside the ashram long after the incident – their hope of seeing their relatives diminishing with every passing moment.

Though the district administration said it had released a list of those killed, people claimed it was not made available to them.

Temple stampede kills 63 people – police

At least 63 people, more than half of them children, were killed in a stampede triggered by a massive rush for free food and clothes at a temple in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, police said.

Thousands of people had gathered at the old temple at Kunda village for free food and clothes being distributed by a monk, but panicked after a wooden gate collapsed.

“At least 37 among the dead are children and 26 of them are women,” said Mahesh Mishra, a senior police officer.

Some people were crushed to death under the gate, while others tripped and came under the feet of the rushing crowd as they tried to escape through a narrow corridor. More than 200 people were injured.

“The children fell first and the women in their attempt to save them fell on them,” said Shiv, a witness, who only gave his first name. “The crowd just trampled on whoever fell on the ground.”

Local residents in Kunda helped police carry the injured to nearby hospitals, police said.

Witnesses said a handful of policemen found it difficult to control the crowd which wanted to enter the temple premises.

In the country, stampedes are relatively common at temples, where thousands of people gather to pray during festivals.

In 2008, at least 285 people died in two temple stampedes in northern India.

Chile keeps shaking, rattling survivors

Frightened by more heavy aftershocks, coastal residents in Chile camped out on hillsides on Thursday, five days after one of the strongest earthquakes in a century killed more than 800 people.

An emotional President Michelle Bachelet, a popular leader who steps down next week, pleaded with Chileans to stop hoarding supplies as aid reached central Pacific coast towns that were hardest hit by Saturday’s 8.8 quake and surging tsunamis.

Panicked over a possible repeat of the ferocious tide, people scurried up the hills near hard-hit Concepcion after one particularly strong aftershock, and yet another 6.1 magnitude tremor jolted the country late on Wednesday.

The original quake broke bridges and highways, cracked modern buildings in the capital’s suburbs, shattered vats at Chile’s famous vineyards and briefly shut down the country’s vast copper mines, the biggest in the world.

Retailers were left reeling after looters sacked shelves and burned some stores.

While the death toll stood at 802, hundreds more were unaccounted for. Families in coastal areas were camped on hillsides, scared to return to their homes.

Very few survivors emerged from the water after enormous waves sucked them out to sea on Saturday.

“It’s amazing to be alive,” said 43-year-old non-swimmer Bernardita Vives, who was tossed back on shore with broken bones after the sea dragged her away from Constitucion, a picturesque coastal town that was devastated and lost an estimated 350 people.

Infosys planning wage increase in April

Infosys Technologies, India’s No. 2 IT services exporter, plans to raise wages for all its staff in April on a rebound in demand for outsourcing services, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Infosys and its rivals such as Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro had put off their annual wage hikes in April last year as global recession crimped investments on technology services by their clients.

Nasdaq-listed Infosys, which has a market value of more than $33 billion, announced wage rises in October last year for this fiscal year ending in March.

“Yes, we are considering a wage hike in April. We expect business to be normal in the coming year and as in a normal year, we give hikes every April,” the Infosys spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement.

“The hikes will be across the board,” she said, adding the quantum of the hikes would be decided in April.

The Business Standard daily reported, without quoting sources, Infosys was planning 8-12 percent wage increase.

Shares in Infosys fell as much as 1.7 percent, also weighed down by a rise in the rupee to a six-week high.

High wages and a stronger rupee can crimp the profit margins of the IT services exporters, who get bulk of their revenue from the United States.

The Infosys spokeswoman said the Bangalore-based firm would not be able to quantify now the impact of wage inflation on the profit margins.

Google China hackers stole source code – researcher

BOSTON  – The hackers behind the attacks on Google Inc and dozens of other companies operating in China stole valuable computer source code by breaking into the personal computers of employees with privileged access, a security firm said on Wednesday.

The hackers targeted a small number of employees who controlled source code management systems, which handle the myriad changes that developers make as they write software, said George Kurtz, chief technology officer at anti-virus software maker McAfee Inc.

The details from McAfee show how the breach of just a single PC at a large corporation can have widespread repercussions across the broader business.

Google said in January that it had detected a cyber attack originating from China on its corporate infrastructure that resulted in the theft of its intellectual property. Google said more than 20 other companies had been infiltrated, and cited the attack, as well as Chinese Web censorship practices, as reasons for the company to consider pulling out of China.

The Chinese government has said that Google’s claim that it was attacked by hackers based in China was “groundless.”

Kurtz said on Wednesday that he believes that the hackers, who have not been apprehended, broke through the defenses of at least 30 companies, and perhaps as many as 100.

He said the common link in several of the cases that McAfee reviewed is that the hackers used source code management software from privately held Perforce Software Inc, whose customers include Google and many other large corporations.

“It is very easy to compromise the systems,” Kurtz said.

Turn your body into a touchscreen -Skinput

According to an article in the New Scientist, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (Chris Harisson) along with Microsoft’s lab (Dan Morris and Desney Tan) claim to be able to turn your skin into a touch-screen. Innovatively called ‘Skinput’ (a combination of the words ‘skin’ and ‘input’), it uses a bio-acoustic sensing array in combination with a wrist-mounted pico-projector to turn your arm into a display and input device, without any implantation

How does it work? The pico-projector (which can be mounted in other places than just your wrist) will project images onto the skin of your arm (or on any part of your body in line of sight of the projector), and as you press these image buttons, particular vibrations/sounds will ripple through your skin, muscles and bones, which will be picked up and interpreted as signals by special software in the bio-acoustic sensing array. Specific locations/images/buttons can be mapped for specific functions.

What is interesting is that the projector itself is not critical to the process, only the sensing array and software is, enabling you to ‘tap’ the chosen area without any images on it, and still cause an effect. From an observer’s perspective though, this might look quite ridiculous, with a person touching himself for no apparent reason. It also gives new meaning to the term logging off, when a touch could trigger anything from a song to a search.

This application joins the ranks of real-world digital-interfaces, along with the Microsoft Surface, Project Natal, and Pranav Mistry’sSixthSense. Recent work on Microsoft’s Surface will also soon make the device a portable one, similar to SixthSense. Pranav Mistry, whose device certainly seems to have the most potential applications as well as portability, warns that the Skinput device will have to be very precisely placed each time, so that the images and sounds are nearly identical each time, thereby limiting the functionality of the device.

U an just checkout the video for more details


Other NEWS article regarding this:

*Sixth Sense technology is coming, Microsoft demos Surface-based NUI


Aiming to bring the world to a level of ubiquitous integrated mobile computing, the Microsoft Research team have demonstrated a shrunken Mobile Surface application where a projection of a motion-touch interface can be placed on almost any flat object turning it into a responsive active display screen.

The system uses a small webcam and digital projector to project a seamlessly integrated interface where the user can respond with gestures creating interactions with the system.   Similar to the concept used in the film Minority Report, shown by PrimeSense at CES this past January, this technology will be the next wave in computer manipulation.

Gesture-based interfaces have been imagined by many great minds, like the ‘Sixth Sense’ technology shown by Pranav Mistry.  The video demonstration on TED India shows his technology creating a mobile interface that will integrate into many parts of your life, giving you access to information for making optimal decisions throughout your day.

Microsoft’s demo uses similar technologies, just less exciting in respects to its actual presentation.  A video by TechFlash shows researchers playing a simulated drum set which is projected on a table, allowing the user to tap his fingers or drumsticks to initiate the drum sounds.

Plans to integrate this technology in future games for the Project Natal game control system for Xbox 360 have led to advancements in natural user interfaces (NUI) and is essentially the Wii of the future.

Checkout the video for more details…