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Assam: Suffers From Flood, Oil Well Explosion Amidst Global Pandemic

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Assam: Suffers From Flood, Oil Well Explosion Amidst Global Pandemic

The sixteenth largest state of IndiaAssam— is now going through a challenging time due to the global pandemic coronavirus, the yearly trauma flood, and the latest explosion near Oil India Limited. However, no media is ready to bring this dreadful situation of the northeastern state into the limelight.

Assam 2020 Flood

The state is drowning! The heavy rainfall, which began in May 2020, has flooded the Brahmaputra River, which in turn submerged the surrounding districts along with its inhabitants. Barpeta is the worst-hit region with over 5 lakh people suffering. The Central Water Commission keeps track of the rise in Brahmaputra’s level consistently.

The Chief Minister, Sarbanad Sonowal, said that “This is the third wave of flood in Assam. This is a recurring problem in the state. People are fighting several problems. On the one hand, there is COVID-19, and on the other, there are floods and landslides.”

After-effects of Assamese Flood (as of July 23, 2020)

  • 89 people are reported dead, with over 26 lakh people affected;
  • 27 districts and over 3,000 are affected;
  • Lakhs of houses are submerged; with over 44,000 people are currently living in relief camps;
  • More than 1.28 lakh hectares of cropland are submerged underwater;
  • A sub-divisional civil hospital in Barpeta district is flooded, forcing the patients to be shifted;
  • Above 10 lakh, domestic animals have been affected.

Impact on Kaziranga National Park (K.N.P.)

Spread across the floodplains of Brahmaputra river, this famous park is a protected area in Assam. It is known for being home to two-thirds of the world’s total population of the one-horned rhinoceros, along with elephants, tigers, the Ganges River Dolphins, and various migratory birds. This World Heritage Site is swarmed by flood every year during this time of the year.

Latest Statistics

  • 116 animals (including 11 Rhinos) died;
  • Over 90 per cent of the land and forest areas are flooded by rainwater.

The death toll of the animals is not a surprise, as many Rhinos and other animals die annually due to the flood in this park.

‘Sleepy’ Rhino

On July 18, K.N.P. had shared a heart-melting video of a Rhino sleeping on a National Highway in the flood-hot state. The 35-year-old Rhino, made the National Highway it’s home for 72 hours before giving vet support. It is partially blind and was not mentally prepared to return to the park because of the high water level. However, it did not stray out the park’s area. The officials instructed the vehicles to drive slowly in that area

On July 19, the K.N.P. and Tiger Reserve announced that the Rhino was keeping well and was moved into the park’s territory.

Explosion near Oil India Limited (O.I.L.) Well

An official statement from O.I.L. on Wednesday, had stated that, “Today in the afternoon, three experts from M/s. Alert namely Anthony Steven Reynolds, Doug Dallas, and Craig Neil Duncan, suffered minor burn injuries while removing the spool from the wellhead. The three experts were provided immediate medical attention by a doctor at the well site, and later on, they were taken to burn unit section of Astha Nursing Home at Dibrugarh. They have been released after dressing of the burn injuries. It is expected that operations will resume at Baghjabn tomorrow.”

M/s. Alert Disaster Control is a Singapore-based firm. The above mentioned well has been spewing gas since May 28, 2020.

Effect of coronavirus on Assam

As of today, the state’s official website, recorded 27,744 virus confirmed cases with 66 deaths, and 19,350 recovery cases. It is an indication that the state is doing well in terms of containment and prevention strategies.

Assam has so far tested nearly 7 lakh swab samples. The Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Mr. Himanta Biswa Sarma, held video conferences with the doctors of all medical colleges and district hospitals, wherein he said: “Our very impressive #COVID19 recovery demonstrates the resolve and dedication of our healthcare staff.” He also added their response had been sterling.

Response from public

The public is outraged by the media’s lack of attention to the pleas of the affected people.

https://twitter.com/Muziris/status/1284678808801439750

Recognized celebrities have also raised their voice in bringing awareness about the current situation in Assam.

Assistance to Assam

Stephanie Dujarric, the Spokesperson for the United Nations’ (U.N.) Secretary-General, recently stated that the organization is ready to lend a helping hand to the ailing state if required. The Indian Central Government has agreed to provide Rs 346 crores in the first phase, under the Flood Management Programme (F.M.P.) Scheme.

Moreover, the Government decided to sort things out with Bhutan, to solve the recurring flood problem in the lower parts of the state. These decisions were taken up in a meeting between the Assamese Chief Minister, Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal, and the Union Minister, Mr. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat via video conferencing.

Several petitions are also being brought up by the ordinary people to raise funds. Both people and animals are trying to ‘keep their heads above water’ to stay alive.

Indian citizens have taken it up to various social media platforms to lash out that the media has no time to cover what is happening in Assam. This state already struck with quite several adversities at the same time, can’t handle any more torment than the existing ones. This very fact is not given much importance by the media, which indeed attracts empathy upon the drowning state.

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All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

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National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021

On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.

Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)

With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.

Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.

The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.

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Fake News: Accountability Of News Organisations

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Fake News II News Aur Chai

Fake news is false news stories or hoaxes, which are deliberately released to misinform and to create chaos in society or among readers. Fake news is one of the main reasons behind the disruption of peace in society and it becomes more dangerous in volatile places. Fake news is generally shared with propaganda to mislead the audience by hiding or twisting the truth. However fake news isn’t new to the web, it recently became an enormous problem in today’s digital world. Fake news mostly comes from sites that are bogus or have sensationalized stories.

Most of the users do not check the facts before sharing the information on their social media, which can be a reason for widespread fake news. So, it is important to differentiate between fake news and authentic news to maintain harmony in society and to avoid false news and its repercussions.

Fake News Stories

  • On 2nd April, a team of doctors, health workers, and revenue officials were attacked by the family members of a 65-year-old man who died of COVID-19 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh because of the fake video which claimed that healthy Muslims were being injected with the virus, reiterating the risks and physical manifestations of misinformation.
  • On March 22, 2020, Mr. Modi’s new term ‘Janta curfew’ has sparked a buzz on the Internet. Social media users started interpreting PM Modi’s concept of ‘Janta curfew’ in their own ways. Social media was flooded with a certain ‘scientific explanation’ behind the curfew as to how it will break the chain of transmissions of the deadly coronavirus infection. The claim was found out to be misleading. PM Modi, while announcing the curfew, didn’t mention this particular ‘scientific’ logic behind it.
  • Rumours were circulated on WhatsApp groups about a kidnapping gang operating in India’s western state of Maharashtra in 2018. The rumors eventually cause a mob lynching, that killed five migrant workers because they were suspected of being kidnappers.
  • On November 13, 2016, when the government of India has demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and planned to replace them with new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes, rumors were spreading about Rs 2000 notes. Rumors claimed the new higher denomination currency comes with a Nano-GPS chip which acts as a reflector, giving precise location coordinates of the currency to permit every note to be tracked. However, the RBI officials had dismissed these as false and said the new Rs 2000 note does not have a Nano-GPS chip as is being claimed on social media, WhatsApp.
  • In the pandemic situation, where vaccination has become crucial, in a series of viral videos it was seen that people are claiming that magnet was attracted to the arms of alleged COVID-19 vaccinated recipients. This kind of fake news can create misconceptions about vaccines and people may not take their jab of vaccines. The Centre has declined the claims that Covid-19 vaccines can make people ‘magnetic’. It has also dismissed theories about microchips in coronavirus vaccines.

Need of Accountability

False information on social media can cause huge problems. It is often done to influence political processes. Need for Accountability increases in such situations because the false information provided by certain news organizations can create a ruckus in society. Before publishing the news, it is necessary to check the facts.

If the news organizations, shared misinformation unintentionally they must remove the content right away and they should apologize to the readers. If fake news is spread with propaganda to create chaos in society, then the news organization should be punished under the law. The information must be checked before sharing it with other people.

 

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Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained

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Pegasus II News Aur Chai

Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.

The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.

Pegasus Spyware and India

According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.

This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.

Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.

According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.

The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’

This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.

Pegasus Spyware and World.

 In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.

At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden.  After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.

If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.

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