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Quantum computing, data analytics, AI to transform Indian Railways

Indian Railways is set to adopt the latest technologies and innovations for its mega transformation across the country. In this context, to catch up with the rest of the world, the railways will now focus on using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Quantum computing technology for its modernization. Speaking at a technical seminar for the Ministry of Railways, Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw stressed the need to adopt the latest technologies for the development of the national transporter. He also emphasized exploring the options of integrating data analytics to transform the railway network. The seminar has been organized by the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) at New Delhi’s National Rail Museum. For live tracking of trains, the CRIS has collaborated with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) under the Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) project. This will help the national transporter as well as the passenger to locate the trains. The railways are also deploying Satcom & Satnav-based IoT devices on the trains. The integration of data analytics will improve maintenance, enhance the efficiency of train schedules, and reduce operational costs. By analyzing data, the railways can predict the demand for trains and plan to provide adequate resources, thereby reducing congestion and minimizing delays. 

Telehealth expected to revolutionize Medical Tourism in India in 2023

India is leading in Health care with its world-class hospital infrastructure, highly advanced Medical technology, Expert skills, Compliance with international quality standards, and reduced cost compared to many countries. With USD 5-6 BN size of Medical value travel (MVT) and 500000 International patients With USD 5-6 BN size of Medical value travel (MVT) and 500000 International patients annually, India is among the global leader destinations for international patients seeking advanced treatment. To boost Indian Health care globally and to make MVT size 13 BN by 2026, Union Govt has launched Heal In India campaign, which aims to promote India’s medical facilities and infrastructure globally with plans to standardize processes and treatment packages for foreign nationals. To promote Medical Value Travel in India, Telehealth can make a paradigm shift in India’s healthcare industry. Patients with no geographic boundaries can engage with healthcare professionals making it an efficient way to access healthcare. During the pandemic, in April 2020, telehealth consultations grew from less than 1 percent of primary care visits to a remarkable 43.5 percent. The current trajectory of virtual care has created a new model of medical care after the crisis. It has helped reduce the number of incidents of hospital-acquired infections by up to 80 percent, making it the safest mode of patient care. Integrated healthcare delivery provides services such as TeleConsultations, TeleRadiology, Tele Cardiology, Tele Condition Management, and Tele-ICU services, among others.Telehealth Is the remote delivery of healthcare and health-related information services through electronic methods such as video calls, email, chat, or other electronic means. The Patient and Doctor Team can communicate face-to-face in real-time through Video calls with prior bookings. TeleHealth reduces the burden on Healthcare Resources and Workforce. The telemedicine division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare tied up with CDAC (the Center for the Development of Advanced  Computing) to launch the eSanjeevOPD portal. The national telemedicine service was an instant hit in India, serving over 100 MN patients. With over 200,000 providers, 15,000 hubs, and 115,000 operational spokes, this is the world’s most comprehensive implementation of a public telemedicine system. 

Indian women see positive impact of digital solutions on health, childcare

Rapid adoption of smartphones and online tools in India have transformed the way people manage significant aspects of information, support, and guidance, their lives, including maternal care and parenting. To understand digital solutions’ efficacy in providing mothers with the right information, Mylo, a leading pregnancy and parenting solution provider, conducted a survey with over 4,600 women across India. When asked about how they find tips and resources on parenting and childcare, 61 percent of women reported relying on mobile apps, social media and online parenting forums, due to instant access to the information and more personalized responses from peers. What women emphasized the most when elaborating on the use of digital platforms for managing health and childcare was the ease of communicating with other mothers and the strong sense of community (43%) one builds. Using the power of the internet to ask questions anonymously in a judgement-free zone likely helped users better address any concerns with parenting and healthcare. Information accessibility (32%) also played a role in managing their time and responsibilities. Personalized content and remote medical consultations (12%) were equally reported as important elements to digital platforms. 72 percent of the women reported that technology has in fact improved their and their child’s overall health and wellness experience.

Digital payments market in India will more than triple to $10 trillion by 2026

In a country witnessing rapid growth, it comes as no surprise that India also has one of the fastest-growing fintech landscapes in the world, driven primarily by the advancement in the digital payments segment. A recent report by PhonePe and Boston Consulting Group concluded that India’s digital payments market will more than triple from $3 trillion to $10 TRN by 2026. In 2015, the Indian government launched its Digital India programme, with one of the objectives to achieve a “faceless, paperless and cashless” status for financial transactions at grass-root level. In line with this, the use of digital payments continues to be promoted so that each citizen of the country can access digital payment facilities that are affordable, convenient and secure. The introduction of innovative reforms and technological advancements are further accelerating growth at an unprecedented pace. Now, a global leader in the fintech space, India does not seem to be slowing down its pace in terms of disrupting traditional financial services. When one thinks of digital payments, UPI – India’s payment gateway – instantly comes to mind. The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has been the flag-bearer of India’s fintech revolution – launched in 2016 by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). In a span of just six years, India, primarily a cash-based economy, now leads the world in real-time digital payments, accounting for almost 40 percent of all such transactions. The mass adoption of UPI during the COVID-19 pandemic has extended far beyond the urban to even rural India, an effect that left the experts in amazement.As the success of the UPI grows, so does its attractiveness and acceptance by other countries; for instance, on February 21, 2023, India and Singapore launched cross-border connectivity between UPI and its equivalent in Singapore called PayNow, enabling low-cost and faster cross-border transactions. Along with this, the coming together of the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) trinity is further fuelling financial inclusion in India like never before. The Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana aims to provide bank accounts to the unbanked and Aadhaar — the flagship product of the Unique Identification Authority of India–is a simple and effective method to verify individuals and beneficiaries based on their biometric information. These two programmes are closely linked with the mobile. The success of these programmes is evident by the numbers they reflect — the Jan-Dhan Yojana initiative has seen the opening of more than 460 MN bank accounts and nearly 99 percent of the Indian population now has an Aadhaar number. The Reserve Bank ofIndia’s (RBI) latest concept note highlights the digital rupee’s potential design choices and implications. In December 2022, RBI announced the launch of the first pilot for the retail digital rupee; this pilot will test the robustness of the entire process of digital rupee creation, distribution, and retail use in real time. Different features and applications of the eRs-R token and architecture will be tested in future phases of the pilot, based on the insights gained from this one. In addition, the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) system has also witnessed substantial growth. With the FASTag now mandatory for all four-wheeler vehicles across the country at highways for toll collection, digital payments have received and are likely to record a further boost. The NETC is live across at least 429 toll plazas across the country, and more than 36 MN FASTags have been issued to date. The utility service provider, Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS), offers online and on-ground bill payment services to customers. These include the payment of utility bills, increasing the customer base of BBPS users. As per a PwC report, by 2025-2026, new biller categories are expected to reach an estimated value of $14.5 BN with existing categories still accounting for a majority of the transaction value at an estimate of $27 BN. While the vast majority of these payment solutions work in online mode, geographical barriers and lack of access to internet connectivity can hamper their growth. Realizing this, fintech companies are exploring the concept of offline payments. For instance, India’s largest private sector lender HDFC Bank is attempting to execute digital payments in offline mode under the RBI’s Regulatory Sandbox programme.

Meta building a Twitter-like social media application

Facebook parent Meta is reportedly building a dedicated Twitter-like social media application for people to post text-based updates. The project is codenamed “P92“, which will let users log in through their existing Instagram credentials. “We’re exploring a standalone decentralized social network for sharing text updates. We believe there’s an opportunity for a separate space where creators and public figures can share timely updates about their interests,” the company was quoted as saying. Instagram head Adam Mosseri is leading the project. Moreover, several rival platforms have launched or gained traction in the months since Elon Musk took over Twitter — among them include Mastodon, Post.news, and T2. In December last year, Instagram introduced a new feature called Notes, allowing users to share short posts of up to 60 characters using only text and emojis.

37% spend more than 1 hour on OTT

Axis My India, a leading consumer data intelligence company, released its latest findings of the India Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI), a monthly analysis of consumer perception on a wide range of issues. The March report highlights that consumption of media such as TV, Internet, Radio has increased for 19% of the families. Moreover, the survey on media consumption reveals a deeper penetration & time spent on OTT platform amongst Indian viewers. The sentiment analysis delves into five relevant sub-indices – Overall household spending, spending on essential and non-essential items, spending on healthcare, media consumption habits, entertainment & tourism trends. Over-the-top (OTT) consumption has been steadily growing among Indian consumers in recent years, particularly with the increasing availability of affordable high-speed internet connectivity and the widespread adoption of smartphones. The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to the growth of OTT consumption in India, with more people spending time at home and seeking entertainment options online. Many OTT platforms have reported a surge in viewership during the pandemic. Overall, the trend towards OTT consumption among Indian consumers is expected to continue in the coming years, driven by the growing demand for digital content, and the convenience of watching content anytime, anywhere, on any device.” According to the survey, 29% spend 1-3 hours watching content on OTT platforms, while 26% spend upto 30 minutes on OTT platforms. 23% watch content for 31 minutes-1 hour and interestingly there are 8% who watch it for more than 3 hours. Moreover, the survey also discovered that 24% share their OTT passwords with their friends & family.

YouTube to remove ‘overlay ads’ on videos from April 6

These are legacy ads and are displayed only to desktop users. These ads appear at the video’s bottom or top as pop-up cards. The viewers can remove them by clicking on the ‘X’ icon at the top of these ads. Users who click on these ads are redirected to an external page. The change is not expected to have much impact on the user experience of the viewers. According to the announcement by the company, this step is being taken to improve the viewer experience. The overlay ads are a popular ad format for desktop users. “The ‘Overlay advertisements’ ad format will no longer show on YouTube beginning April 6 to assist improve the viewer experience and transfer interaction to higher performing ad formats on desktop and mobile devices,” the company said in a YouTube Help Forum post.

AI powered Bhashini to break the internet’s language barrier

More than half of India’s population is unable to access internet content in English–they will be the major beneficiaries of the Bhashini project. But the country is home to 122 major languages and 1,599 dialects and mother tongues. Despite the rich linguistic diversity, much of the internet content in the country is available only in English. The Central Government plans to break the language barrier of the internet through an AI powered translation system called Bhashini. Part of the National Language Translation Mission, Bhashini is a translation system that will connect Indians, who use local languages, with the internet. The non-English speaking masses in the country will be able to access global content and upload their own content in their own language. Bhashini is also expected to encourage the participation of startups and individual innovators by giving them easy access to AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) resources. RS Sharma, who has headed the National Health Authority, TRAI and UIDAI in the past, sees Bhashini as a landmark project that will lead to digital inclusion and digital empowerment. He says, “the AI powered Bhashini project will transform the way people in India access the internet. Instead of accessing internet content in English, they will do so in their own language. There will be an increase in content in Indian languages.” The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) will soon place the Bhashini project before the Union Cabinet. The idea of an AI powered national language translation system is one of the key missions identified by the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC). The technologies that the project will use include: Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Natural Language Understand (NLU), Machine Learning (ML), and Text to Speech (TTS). RS Sharma, has said  “With the proliferation of smartphones throughout the country, and 5G technology being round the corner, the scope of the Bhashini project is staggering. The project has the potential to catalyze a new kind of internet– one that is in local languages.”

Digital and tech ‘propel’ Retail and FMCG sectors to reinvent in the new normal

Deloitte in collaboration with FICCI advocated a six-step strategy called ‘PROPEL’ in the 6th edition of the Massmerize report launched. As FMCG and retail brands rebound post-pandemic with increased consumer spending, there is an evolving consumer behaviour influenced by technology and digital providing quick access, delivery, and convenience and consumption patterns are more non-linear backed with constant connectivity. As per the report, by re-aligning the business priorities, India Inc. will be able to focus on a robust digital supply chain that will help in enhancing consumer and shopper experience, towards ESG and Sustainability impact.

The six-step ‘PROPEL’ stands for:

P- Phygital retail and omnichannel

R- Redefining the role of technology in retail

O- Orientation towards health and wellness

P-Positioning of talent in the new normal

E-Embracing sustainable business practices

L- Leveraging Industry 4.0 for supply chain

As per the report, with e-tailers seeing an ever-increasing demand, the Retail and FMCG sector must ensure personalized conversations, enhanced customer loyalty programs, hassle-free online payment options and a robust cybersecurity regime for data protection. To meet the challenges of supply chain disruption, shifting business models from Business to Consumer (B2C) to Consumer to Business (C2B), this year’s report suggests strategic themes to be the way forward for the FMCG and retail sector.

From marketing to design, brands adopt AI tools despite risk
Mattel has put the AI image generator DALL-E to work by having it come up with ideas for new Hot Wheels toy cars. Used vehicle seller CarMax is summarizing thousands of customer reviews with the same “generative” AI technology that powers the popular chatbot ChatGPT. Meanwhile, Snapchat is bringing a chatbot to its messaging service. And the grocery delivery company Instacart is integrating ChatGPT to answer customers’ food questions. Coca-Cola plans to use generative AI to help create new marketing content. And while the company hasn’t detailed exactly how it plans to deploy the technology, the move reflects the growing pressure on businesses to harness tools that many of their employees and consumers are already trying on their own. Indeed, some AI experts warn that businesses should carefully consider potential harms to customers, society and their own reputations before rushing to embrace ChatGPT and similar products in the workplace.

Amazon partners with ‘Womennovator’ to enable 200 Indian women entrepreneurs ‘Go Global’

Amazon India announced its association with Womennovator – a global incubator for women entrepreneurs and it supports them in scaling operations across India and the world – to enable 200 women entrepreneurs to launch their products on Amazon’s international marketplaces/websites and create global brands from India. This includes businesses like Kidsy Winsy, Vishaala Naturals, Gems & Jewels and Bunko Jungo, among others. These entrepreneurs come from diverse products categories including Apparel, Beauty, Jewellery, Spices, Sanitation, Handicrafts, Home Décor and office products etc. Over the next 24 months, Amazon will onboard these entrepreneurs associated with Womennovator on its eCommerce exports program – Global Selling. Amazon will provide them with all the necessary support as well as tools and technologies as they take their first towards creating a robust ecommerce exports business. This includes skill development workshops on nuances of e-commerce exports as well as training on listing of products, pricing, global logistics and more at no additional cost. Bhupen Wakankar, Director, Global Trade at Amazon India said, “We are excited about this association with Womennovator and the potential it has to programmatically help 200 of their members to create global brands from India. Ecommerce is rapidly opening up the export opportunity to lakhs of Indian entrepreneurs by taking scale of business out of the equation. Our focus at Amazon India is to continue to make exports easier and more accessible for businesses of all sizes as we work towards our commitment of enabling $20 BN in cumulative e-commerce exports from India by 2025.”



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