As the number of globally infected cases due to COVID-19 has now crossed 9,00,000 and the count of death is above 47,000 as, on April 2; several questions are being raised, which is yet to be answered.
Will China takes over the pre-eminent global power the United States, as recently no new deaths have been reported, while the US is now the epicentre of the virus. US President Donald Trump’s injection of 2 trillion dollars into the economy an assertion of not giving up the power to China? Will the European Union, the hardest hit by this pandemic survive in the current condition?
While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi extending helping hands to other Asian countries emerged as a regional leader in front of the world.
However, Is India in a condition to extend aids to other countries? Well, the answer is simple. India is far too overburdened with its own health challenges, inadequate protective gears, economic slowdown, and the crisis facing its migrant labourers to be able to reach out to anyone right now.
Although India has reached out to South Korea, Maldives and other countries with assistance, we still are standing in a very vulnerable position as the death rate, and infected cases are increasing at a high pace.
US swapping stance
Let’s move back to the Big Two on the world stage-the US and China. The world is looking forward as to how these two superpowers are going to utilize this situation to leverage their position to stand high among other countries.
Interestingly, Donald Trump, who will be facing re-election within eight months, had considerably piped down his speech from two weeks ago when he described COVID-19 as the “China virus”.
Nonetheless, this was not a surprise to anyone who knows about the unstable relation between the two countries.
It seems like the US president is already overburdened with his own Coronavirus Task Force, which remains obsessed with both statistics. As on April 1, the US has crossed 4,000 deaths and above 2,00,000 positive cases of COVID-19.
However, indications are that Trump is already bending his aggressive attack against Beijing because he doesn’t want China to backtrack on its trade deal commitments of buying agricultural produce from the US. According to reports, Trumps seems to understand that the US economy is critical to his own re-election. He is also worried that China might repudiate from the trade deal to buy 80 billion dollars worth of farm and seafood products.
China’s diplomatic attack
Only last week, Trump refused to allow a G-7 response to the coronavirus pandemic because the group did not agree to describe the virus as the “Wuhan virus.”
As for Chinese President Xi Jinping, he is letting his officials do the talking. First to speak out was Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lijian Zhao who blamed the US of bringing the virus to China during the military games in Wuhan in October 2019.
In a strongly-worded tweet, he accused that it was the United States that lacked transparency.
2/2 CDC was caught on the spot. When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation! pic.twitter.com/vYNZRFPWo3
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) March 12, 2020
“When did patient zero begin in US? How many people are infected? What are the names of the hospitals? It might be the US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation!” Zhao wrote.
Furthermore, China’s ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian also countered against Trump’s description of the “Chinese virus,” tweeting “When the flu broke out in the US, we never called it the ‘American Flu.’ Some US’ politicians blame game by calling it the ‘Chinese virus’ is groundless and unacceptable,” Lin said.
When the flu broke out in US, we never called it “American Flu”. Unfortunately American is American! Some US politicians’ blame game by calling it “Chinese virus” is groundless and unacceptable. Scientists with justice in the world will show us the evidence of its true origin. https://t.co/zsgyjhvU7n
— AmbCHENXiaodong (@ChinaAmbSA) March 18, 2020
COVID-19 diplomacy of Beijing
Amidst all this blame game, Beijing is rooting its position by utilizing the crisis to expand its influence abroad. Thousands of mask and testing kits were sent across to several countries in Southeast Asia as a helping aid. It also had sent medical teams to Iran and Iraq, and a 500 million dollars loan has been extended to Sri Lanka.
China has also extended its help to Italy that are miserably hit by the pandemic with planeloads of medical supplies.
The US was pressed when the Chinese media reported about the first planeload of medical supplies from China flew into New York, the current epicentre of the outbreak in the US. The plan carried 12 million gloves, 1,30,000 N95 masks, 1.70 million surgical masks, 50,000 gowns, 130,000 bottles of sanitizers and 36,000 thermometers.
Experts have already started notifying about the US response towards coronavirus pandemic and are comparing with the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. They compare the fact the during Ebola US had send not only medical teams and supplies, but also troops. However, in the case of COVID-19, out of the 2 trillion dollars of the stimulus, only 1.5 billion dollars are allocated for the expenditure outside.
As for India, PM Modi is celebrating his friendship with Trump has evoked some interesting comments among Chinese mandarins. However, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi after having a conversation with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar in a series of tweet said that India “agreed not to label” the virus as the “China virus”.
With the US along with other countries blaming China for the virus, will it be able to improve its position and take-over the US?
All You Need To Know About 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.
लोकसभा में आज, राष्ट्रीय खाद्य प्रौद्योगिकी, उद्यमिता और प्रबंध संस्थान विधेयक, 2021 (निफ्टेम विधेयक, 2021) को पारित किया गया।
इस विधेयक के पारित होने पर इससे जुड़े हर व्यक्ति को बधाई देता हूँ और साथ ही खाद्य प्रसंस्करण से जुड़े छात्रों को भी बधाई देता हूँ। @MOFPI_GOI
— Pashupati Kumar Paras (@PashupatiParas) July 26, 2021
Fake News: Accountability Of News Organisations
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.
Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained
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.
Project Zaraat by Enactus DCAC
Retake 2022 is on its way!
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