Infosys And Microsoft Collaborate For Adoption Of Generative Artificial Intelligence
In a significant move towards revolutionizing the landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) applications, Infosys, one of India’s leading IT majors, has announced a strategic collaboration with tech giant Microsoft. The partnership aims to develop cutting-edge solutions harnessing the combined prowess of Infosys Topaz, Azure OpenAI Service, and Azure Cognitive Services. This collaborative effort seeks to bring AI capabilities to the forefront of enterprise functions across various industries, promising to enhance productivity and drive new revenue growth.
Infosys: Pioneering AI in Diverse Applications
Infosys is no stranger to the world of AI, having already ventured into various application areas such as semantic search, document summarization, contact center transformation, AI-augmented software development lifecycle (SDLC), and marketing content creation.
A noteworthy instance involves the effective deployment of an AI-driven solution for a leading financial services firm. This solution, driven by generative AI, produced concise document summaries and facilitated semantic search functionalities, resulting in automated document management, decreased workloads, and heightened productivity for financial advisors.
Infosys Topaz Meets Microsoft Azure
Now, with the collaboration between Infosys and Microsoft, Infosys Topaz is set to leverage the capabilities of Azure OpenAI Service and Azure Cognitive Services to further enhance its offerings.
The goal is to assist enterprise customers in transitioning from traditional digital solutions to AI-powered innovations.
The resulting integrated solutions are poised to boost operational efficiency, reduce turn-around time, future-proof investments, and pave the way for new business models.
Leaders’ Perspectives on the Collaboration
Balakrishna D. R. (Bali), Executive Vice President and Global Head of AI and Automation, Application Development & Maintenance at Infosys, emphasized that Infosys Topaz plays a pivotal role in empowering businesses by streamlining operational processes, reducing time-to-market for new products and services, and infusing AI capabilities to deliver cognitive solutions and intuitive experiences.
Nicole Dezen, Chief Partner Officer at Microsoft Corp, noted that by harnessing the power of generative AI through Azure OpenAI Service and Azure Cognitive Services, Infosys is well-positioned to help customers accelerate growth and innovation. Dezen highlighted the potential for customers to develop new business models and unlock new revenue streams.
The collaboration between Infosys and Microsoft represents a significant milestone in the journey towards AI-driven solutions. By combining their expertise and resources, these IT powerhouses are poised to reshape enterprise functions across industries, setting the stage for enhanced productivity, accelerated growth, and innovative business models.
Asian Games 2023, India wins gold medal in women’s 25m pistol team event
In an impressive display of marksmanship, the Indian trio of Manu Bhaker, Esha Singh, and Rhythm Sangwan secured the gold medal in the women’s 25m pistol team event at the Asian Games held in Hangzhou, China. With a total score of 1759, Team India outshone the competition, narrowly edging out China for the top spot. This victory adds to India’s growing medal tally at the ongoing Asiad, where they have notched up an impressive haul of 16 medals, including four golds.
Golden Triumph in Team Event
Team India exhibited their prowess in the women’s 25m pistol team event, capturing the gold medal. Their cumulative score of 1759 was enough to secure the top position, albeit by a narrow margin of three points over the silver medalists, China. Republic of Korea claimed the bronze with a total score of 1742.
Individual Excellence in Qualification
Manu Bhaker’s Stellar Performance
Manu Bhaker led the charge for India, topping the qualification round with a remarkable score of 590. Her precision and accuracy were on full display as she finished the last rapid-fire series with 98 points. Manu’s total score after both the precision and rapid stages stood at 590, including an impressive 28x inner 10s.
Esha Singh’s Contribution
Esha Singh made a significant contribution to the team’s success, securing the fifth position in the qualification round with a score of 586 points, including 17x inner 10s. Her consistency and skill played a crucial role in India’s gold medal win.
Individual Excellence Leads to Finals
Manu and Esha Qualify for Individual Finals
The stellar performances by Manu Bhaker and Esha Singh in the qualification round earned them spots in the finals of the individual event within the same category. Both shooters demonstrated their talent and composure on the international stage, showcasing India’s strength in the sport of shooting.
Rhythm Sangwan’s Outstanding Performance
Despite delivering an outstanding performance, Rhythm Sangwan narrowly missed out on an individual qualification due to the rule that only allows two shooters from one team to advance to the finals. Rhythm, who is a world record holder in the discipline, finished in the seventh position. Her strong performance was crucial in helping India secure the gold medal in the team event.
Impressive Medal Tally for India
India’s victory in the women’s 25m pistol team event adds to their remarkable medal tally at the ongoing Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. With four gold medals, five silver medals, and seven bronze medals, India’s athletes are shining on the international stage, showcasing their dedication, talent, and determination.
The Indian trio’s gold medal win in the women’s 25m pistol team event at the Asian Games is a testament to their exceptional skills and teamwork. Their achievements, along with India’s impressive overall medal tally, underscore the country’s growing prominence in the world of sports. As they continue to compete on the international stage, these athletes inspire the nation with their remarkable performances and dedication to excellence.
India Maintains Unchanged Borrowing Plan and Introduces 50-Year Bond
The Indian government has chosen to keep its borrowing plan unchanged for the second half of the fiscal year 2023-2024 (H2FY24). The government’s projected gross market borrowing for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, stands at Rs 15.43 lakh crore. Between April and September, the government successfully borrowed Rs 8.88 lakh crore.
Introduction of 50-Year Bond
In a significant move, India has introduced a new security with a 50-year tenure, aiming to raise Rs 30,000 crore through this instrument.
Bond Tenure Diversity
The government’s borrowing strategy involves issuing bonds with various tenures, including three, five, seven, 10, 14, 30, and now 40 years.
As part of the borrowing plan for the second half of the fiscal year, the government will issue government green bonds worth Rs 20,000 crore, which will include a new 30-year security.
Economic Affairs Secretary Ajay Seth noted that there is a considerable interest from investors in longer-term bonds, which reflects strong confidence in the Indian economy.
Weekly Borrowing Range
The government intends to borrow between Rs 30,000 crore and Rs 39,000 crore per week during the second half of the fiscal year.
The Indian government’s borrowing has steadily increased since 2019, primarily to finance a widening fiscal deficit resulting from extensive social spending during the pandemic.
Fiscal Deficit Target
Despite the increased borrowing, the government is targeting a fiscal deficit of 5.9% for the current fiscal year, a decrease from the 6.4% recorded in the previous year.
Economic Affairs Secretary Ajay Seth emphasized the government’s commitment to sticking to this fiscal deficit target.
Reserve Bank’s Support
The Reserve Bank of India has set Ways and Means Advances, temporary advances provided by the central bank to governments to bridge financing gaps, at Rs 50,000 crore for the October-March period to support the government’s financial operations.
Ministry of Home Affairs Extends AFSPA in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to extend the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in certain regions of Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh for an additional six months, commencing from October 1. This move comes after a previous extension granted in March.
The AFSPA extension applies to specific districts and police station areas, with distinct regions identified in both Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
In Nagaland, the AFSPA has been extended across eight entire districts and areas encompassing 21 police stations in five additional districts. The eight districts where AFSPA remains in force are: Dimapur, Niuland, Chumoukedima, Mon, Kiphire, Noklak, Phek, and Peren.
Nagaland Police Stations Under AFSPA:
Khuzama, Kohima North, Kohima South, Zubza, and Kezocha police stations in Kohima district.
Mangkolemba, Mokokchung-I, Longtho, Tuli, Longchem, and Anaki ‘C’ police stations in Mokokchung district.
Yanglok police station in Longleng district.
Bhandari, Champang, and Ralan police stations in Wokha district.
Ghatashi, Pughoboto, Satakha, Suruhuto, Zunheboto, and Aghunato police stations in Zunheboto district.
Arunachal Pradesh Extension:
In Arunachal Pradesh, the AFSPA extension applies to the districts of Tirap, Changlang, and Longding, along with areas falling under the jurisdiction of Namsai, Mahadevpur, and Chowkham police stations in Namsai district, near the Assam border.
This decision is a continuation of the MHA’s earlier order issued in March, demonstrating an ongoing need for heightened security measures in these regions.
What is AFSPA?
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) grants extensive powers to security forces deployed in “disturbed areas.” These powers include the authority to use lethal force against those violating the law, make arrests and conduct searches without a warrant, and enjoy protection from prosecution and legal actions without requiring the sanction of the Central government. AFSPA is aimed at maintaining law and order in areas facing significant security challenges.
Taliban Seeks Economic Support and Recognition from India Ahead of Moscow Format Meeting
Ahead of the upcoming Moscow format meeting in Kazan, Russia, the Taliban has called upon India for economic support and recognition. This development is significant in light of China’s increased engagement with the Taliban and the recent appointment of a new Chinese Ambassador to Kabul.
India has previously refused to recognize the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate” and has emphasized the importance of respecting human rights and protecting minority communities.
This development comes ahead of the Moscow format discussion scheduled to be held in Kazan, Russia, on September 29, which holds regional significance.
It is the first such meeting after China increased engagement with the Taliban and appointed a new Ambassador to Kabul.
Taliban’s Appeal to India
The Taliban, represented by Suhail Shaheen, the head of the Political Office of the Taliban administration in Kabul, has expressed a desire for positive traditional relations with India.
They seek India’s support for economic stability and international recognition.
A Taliban delegation, led by their ‘Foreign Minister’ Amir Khan Muttaqi, is engaging in discussions with Kremlin officials in Moscow before heading to Kazan.
The upcoming Moscow format meeting is significant due to the deepening engagement between the Taliban-led government in Kabul and Moscow and Beijing.
India has not officially recognized the Taliban’s government and continues to emphasize human rights and minority protection.
The Taliban has been strengthening diplomatic ties with Russia, China, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan, but no country has accepted a full-fledged Ambassador from Kabul under the current circumstances.
India’s Involvement and Response
India is reported to be sending representatives to the Kazan meeting, but the External Affairs Ministry has not provided official confirmation at the time of this report.
The Moscow format is a dialogue platform involving Russia, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran, and India. It was initiated to promote reconciliation in Afghanistan.
India has maintained a “technical team” in its embassy in Kabul to assist with humanitarian efforts but has not allowed the Taliban to appoint diplomatic staff in the embassy in New Delhi.
The mission in New Delhi has faced financial challenges since the fall of the Ghani government.
The Kazan meeting gains added importance as China appointed a new ambassador to Kabul earlier this month, becoming the first major power to do so.
India evacuated its embassy in Kabul in August 2021 and has faced challenges in maintaining the mission’s operations.
There have been concerns about the whereabouts of Ambassador Farid Mamundzay, and there appear to be internal issues within the Afghan mission in New Delhi.
Despite diplomatic challenges, trade ties between India and Afghanistan remain intact, as evidenced by the successful India International Mega Trade Fair in Delhi.
13th Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference in New Delhi: Key Highlights
The 13th Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (IPACC) took place from September 26 to 27, 2023, at the Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi. This biennial event, co-hosted by the Indian Army and the US Army Pacific, brought together army chiefs from 30 Indo-Pacific nations to deliberate on security cooperation, collective strategies, and pressing regional issues.
13th Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference: Key Discussion Points:
1. Security Cooperation and Collective Strategies:
The primary objective of the IPACC was to foster security cooperation among participating nations in the Indo-Pacific region.
Army chiefs discussed and formulated collective strategies to address regional security challenges.
2. Military Diplomacy and Crisis Mitigation:
A crucial focus of the conference was the role of military diplomacy in mitigating crises within the Indo-Pacific region.
Army leaders deliberated on the potential contributions of their respective armed forces in crisis management.
3. Display of Domestic Defense Manufacturing:
Indian vendors showcased a wide array of locally-produced weapons and systems to representatives from 30 countries.
The exhibition featured advanced drones, artillery guns, unmanned ground vehicles, surveillance equipment, and armored personnel carriers, highlighting India’s advancements in defense manufacturing.
4. Drone Technology Showcase:
The exhibition highlighted various drone technologies, including loitering munitions, UAVs for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, multi-payload drones, and nano UAVs.
Notably, the ALS-50 loitering munition, manufactured by Tata Advanced Systems, was featured, with deliveries to the Indian Air Force underway.
5. Nano UAVs for Counterterrorism:
The Indian Army acquired nano UAVs, named Doot and Parush, built by IDR Research and Development for its counterterrorism units deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Doot UAV, weighing 350 grams, is palm-sized.
6. Indigenous Drone Manufacturers:
Prominent indigenous drone manufacturers, such as Kalyani Group and ideaForge, displayed their products, including multi-mission drones and UAVs for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
7. Artillery and Ground Vehicles:
The exhibition featured Kalyani Strategic Systems’ MaRG 155mm/39 caliber artillery guns with shoot-and-scoot capability, as well as other artillery systems.
Additionally, wheeled and tracked unmanned ground vehicles were showcased.
8. India’s Defense Export Targets:
India has set an ambitious defense export target of ₹35,000 crore by 2024-25, reflecting the nation’s growing capabilities in defense manufacturing.
Export figures have risen significantly, while imports have decreased due to policy initiatives and reforms.
9. Multilateral Security Partnerships:
Chief-of-Staff of the US Army, General James C McConville, co-hosted the conference alongside Chief of Indian Army Staff General Manoj Pande.
Two other conferences, the Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS) and the Senior Enlisted Leaders Forum (SELF), were held concurrently to strengthen multilateral security partnerships.
10. Indo-Pacific’s Global Significance:
Lieutenant General M. V. Suchindra Kumar emphasized the critical role of the Indo-Pacific in the global landscape.
He highlighted that the region represents 64 percent of the world’s population, contributes 63 percent of the global GDP, and accounts for 46 percent of world merchandise trade.
Afghani Currency Has Emerged As The Best Performing Currency In The Current Quarter
The Afghani, the currency of conflict-ridden Afghanistan, has taken the financial world by surprise by emerging as the best-performing currency of the September quarter in 2023. This unexpected surge is attributed to a combination of factors, including massive dollar inflow in the form of humanitarian aid and currency control measures imposed by the ruling Taliban. As of September 26th, the Afghani was trading at approximately 78.25 against the US dollar.
Humanitarian Aid Fuels Afghani’s Rise
One of the primary factors contributing to the Afghani’s resurgence is the substantial humanitarian aid pouring into the country. In the wake of the regime change in August 2021, Afghanistan faced a dire humanitarian crisis, prompting international organizations to extend a helping hand. The United Nations, for instance, has provided a staggering $5.8 billion in aid and development since the change in government, with $4 billion of that sum transferred in 2022 alone. This influx of foreign currency has played a pivotal role in stabilizing the Afghan economy.
Afghanistan’s Resource Potential Attracts Investment
Another factor bolstering the Afghani is Afghanistan’s vast natural resources, including significant reserves of lithium. The Taliban has expressed its intent to tap into these resources to attract foreign investments. Additionally, Afghanistan’s inclusion under China’s Belt and Road Initiative in May 2023 has further enhanced the prospects of increased foreign investment, particularly for infrastructure development projects.
Taliban’s Currency Control Measures
Behind the Afghani’s remarkable strengthening are the currency control measures implemented by the Taliban regime. In a bid to exert greater control over the financial system, the Taliban has banned online trading, prohibited the use of US dollars and Pakistani rupees for domestic transactions, and intensified efforts to prevent the exodus of greenbacks from the country. These measures, while controversial, have contributed to stabilizing the Afghani.
Inflationary Pressure and the Role of a Strong Afghani
Amidst global economic uncertainties and surging crude oil prices, the resilience of the Afghani has become a crucial factor in helping Afghanistan tackle inflationary pressures. The fear of oil prices surpassing the $100 per barrel mark has put additional strain on the country’s economy. However, a strong Afghani can help mitigate the impact of rising oil prices and keep inflation in check.
Central Bank’s Response to a Strong Afghani
The revival of the Afghani has allowed Afghanistan’s central bank to adjust its policies. Notably, the bank has eased limits on dollar withdrawals, raising the monthly limit for businesses from $25,000 to $40,000 and increasing the weekly limit for individuals from $600 to $200. These measures aim to facilitate smoother financial transactions and support economic activities.
An Aid To Address Economic Challenges And Fostering Stability
The Afghani’s unexpected rise to become the best-performing currency of the September quarter underscores the complex dynamics at play in Afghanistan’s economy. While humanitarian aid and resource potential have injected much-needed stability, the Taliban’s currency control measures have also played a role. As Afghanistan navigates a path forward, the strength of its currency will continue to be a crucial factor in addressing economic challenges and fostering stability in this tumultuous region.