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Alia and I can say no to Karan Johar for a film: Varun

MUMBAI, Feb 28:  Karan Johar launched Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt in 2012 with “Student of the Year” but the actor says it is not essential that they sign every film with the director-producer.

Varun and Alia’s upcoming film “Badrinath Ki Dulhania” has been produced by Johar’s Dharma Productions.

“It took a year-and-half to come up (with) ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’. We did not settle for just anything. We both are in a strong place in our career, we will not do a film just for the sake of it, no matter who is making it,” Varun said in an interview here.

“We share a very comfortable relationship with Karan Johar. If we don’t like something we can say no to him. He has kept that option open. But Karan will never offer us anything that is not good enough,” he said.

The 29-year-old actor praised Alia for her dedication towards her craft.

“She (Alia) won’t settle for anything. She wants to make sure everything is perfect and not just with her but with everyone else in the film. There was one scene that we had to re-shoot as she was unhappy. She puts her best foot forward.”

Varun is hopeful that the audiences will like “Badrinath Ki Dulhania”, which is a romantic drama set in the heartland.

“Our director (Shashank Khaitan) is from a small town and his way of seeing romance and love story is very different from the way an urban person like me would see it,” he said.

According to Varun, “Humpty Sharma Ki Dhulania” was a hit because it had a lot of heart and people connected with the purity of the love story.

The actor said if the sequel does well, it will be only because of the emotional connect of the people with the two characters.

The romantic-comedy is set to release on March 10. (AGENCIES)



Dogs, toddlers have similar social skills: study


Dogs and toddlers show similar patterns in social intelligence, according to a new study which paves the way for better understanding human evolution and disorders like autism.

Researchers looked at how two-year-olds, dogs and chimpanzees performed on comparable batteries of tests designed to measure various types of cognition.

Researchers from University of Arizona in the US studied 552 dogs, including pet dogs, assistance-dogs-in-training and military explosive detection dogs, representing a variety of different breeds.

Social cognition was assessed through game-based tests, in which researchers hid treats and toys and then communicated the hiding places through nonverbal cues such as pointing or looking in a certain direction.

They compared the dogs’ results to data on 105 two-year-old children who previously completed a similar cognitive test battery and 106 chimpanzees assessed at wildlife sanctuaries in Africa.

The study found that chimps performed well on tests involving their physical environment and spatial reasoning but they did not do as well when it came to tests of cooperative communication skills, such as the ability to follow a pointing finger or human gaze.

Dogs and children outperformed chimps on cooperative communication tasks, and similar patterns of variation in performance between individual dogs and between individual children was observed.

“What we found is that there’s this pattern, where dogs who are good at one of these social things tend to be good at lots of the related social things, and that’s the same thing you find in kids, but you don’t find it in chimpanzees,” said Evan MacLean, from the University of Arizona.

One explanation for the similarities between dogs and humans is that the two species may have evolved under similar pressures that favoured “survival of the friendliest,” with benefits and rewards for more cooperative social behaviour, researchers said.

“Our working hypothesis is that dogs and humans probably evolved some of these skills as a result of similar evolutionary processes, so probably some things that happened in human evolution were very similar to processes that happened in dog domestication,” MacLean said.

“So, potentially, by studying dogs and domestication we can learn something about human evolution and could even have the potential to help researchers better understand human disabilities, such as autism, that may involve deficits in social skills,” he added.

The study was published in the journal Animal Behaviour. (AGENCIES)



Nissan’s total exports from

India crosses 7 lakh units

NEW DELHI, Feb 28:

Japanese auto major Nissan today said it has crossed 7 lakh units milestone in cumulative exports from its Indian operations.

This landmark has been accomplished in a span of seven years since the company began exports from India, Nissan Motor India said in a statement.

The company exports cars to 106 countries under the Nissan and Datsun brands manufactured at the Chennai plant of Renault-Nissan Automotive India.

Commenting on the milestone, Nissan India Operations President Guillaume Sicard said the achievement clearly indicated the recognition of Indian production quality and its appeal to customers on the global stage.

“We are happy to play our part in promoting ‘Made in India’ cars across the world by exporting 700,000 cars to 106 countries in seven years,” he added.

“With our plans to launch eight new products for the Indian market by 2021 as announced earlier, the future is bright and exciting for Nissan in India,” Sicard said.

Besides exporting cars, India also plays a key role in Nissan’s global parts supply. Nissan India exports over 2,500 types of manufactured parts to 25 Nissan and Renault plants in 18 countries, ranking in the top four in volume of parts shipped within Nissan global operations, the company said.

Nissan started shipping cars from Chennai to various markets, including Europe, Middle East, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and other destinations in Asia and Africa, in 2010.

Hatchback Micra is the company’s most-exported model out of India while other models include Nissan Sunny, Datsun GO, Datsun GO+ and the Datsun redi-GO. (AGENCIES)



New computer method to

predict time of body clock


Scientists have developed a novel computer method called ZeitZeiger that uses a sample of blood to accurately predict circadian time – the time of day according to a person’s body clock.

“Our study demonstrates a method for predicting a person’s ‘internal’ time of day that could eventually be used to help diagnose and monitor circadian- and sleep-related disorders, and also to personalise treatments,” said Jake Hughey from Vanderbilt University in the US.

“This is the first study to use genome-wide expression data from many individuals to develop a biomarker of the circadian clock in human blood,” Hughey said.

“Previous efforts to monitor the circadian clock in human tissues were based on a small number of individuals and/or a small set of pre-selected genes. Our method, ZeitZeiger, uses 15 genes from across the human genome to predict circadian time,” he said.

The researchers were surprised to find that 13 out of these 15 genes were not ‘core’ genes of the human circadian clock.

Core genes are necessary for the generation and regulation of circadian rhythms. They can be compared to the gears of a mechanical watch.

“Most of the genes that were selected for ZeitZeiger seem to be outputs of the clock; that is they are not the gears controlling the clock, but the hands telling the time.

“This shows that when given data for almost every gene in the genome, the algorithm can figure out which set of genes gives the best predictions, even if they are not core clock genes,” Hughey said.

In addition to predicting circadian time, the researchers demonstrated that ZeitZeiger can also be used to show how disruptions to sleep-wake and light-dark cycles affect the circadian clock.

The rhythms produced by the circadian clock differ widely between individuals at any given time of day and they are often disrupted by modern environments, for example due to shift work or reduced exposure to sunlight.

Circadian dysfunction is linked to conditions such as cancer, depressive disorder and obesity.

Knowledge of an individual’s circadian rhythms could be used to optimise the timing of therapeutic interventions, which is known as chronotherapy.

Improving circadian function itself, which is called chronomedicine, could also benefit human health.

However, both chronotherapy and chronomedicine depend on the ability to monitor the state of an individual’s circadian clock.

Current methods, which include measuring melatonin – the hormone that helps control sleep-wake cycles – require multiple samples and are impractical for widespread use, according to the researchers. (AGENCIES)



75% new car buyers do online research before purchase: Study

NEW DELHI, Feb 28:

Three out of four new car customers research on Internet prior to the purchase, while 43 per cent make the choice online itself even before their first visit to a dealer, according to a study.

As per the study by BCG-CarDekho, about 42 per cent of all car buyers consider the Internet as the primary source of information for researching and shortlisting cars.

Moreover, newer car models see a disproportionately high digital traffic of around 53 per cent in comparison to their market share of around 37 per cent, it added.

Commenting on the findings, Boston Consulting Group India Partner and Managing Director Sharad Verma said digital medium is fundamentally changing the consumer journey in the automobile segment.

“This is going to increase further as consumers become more mature on Internet. The plethora of consumer data which this is generating presents very interesting innovation opportunities to auto players,” he added.

The study said new car buyers are increasingly straddling between online and offline channels in the purchase process. Such a development is pushing various players in the automotive industry to remodel their strategies.

“Change in consumer preference, coupled with the availability of huge data about the consumer, requires original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to challenge their conventional approach,” it added.

With expanding digital influence on the purchase journey and increasing expectations of customers, there is a need for OEMs to step up on what they are offering on their digital platforms, the study said.

The findings are based on data analytics on CarDekho platform data, a survey covering around 1,200 respondents pan India and past proprietary researches conducted by BCG and CarDekho, it added. (AGENCIES)




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