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How Pandemic Changed Indian Restaurant Industry Forever?

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Indian Restaurant Post Covid | News Aur Chai

The people of India express their culture through cuisine and celebrate every little occasion with a splash of food and drink. The participation of food in culture makes restaurants and small eateries an integral part of the social setting in India. Before the pandemic took over the world, one might have presumed, and rightly so, that restaurants in India will never face a setback. However, the onset of the pandemic brought with it a stringent set of government-imposed restrictions on various everyday events. It finally leads up to a complete shutdown of economic and social activity as of March 2020. The Food & Beverage (F&B) industry, which thrives on social gatherings, was one of the worst affected. Most restaurants in India and globally usually run on a hand-to-mouth cash flow. It accounts for almost 3% of the Indian GDP, being one of the largest employers in the service sector. It has over 70 lakh people working in eateries ranging anywhere from a roadside stall to a palatial seven-star establishment.

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) calculates the cumulative losses of nationwide restaurants to be as high as INR 1 lakh crores. The losses are owed to the pandemic pushing more than 22 lakh people over to unemployment. Additionally, concerns over sanitation and health slowed down consumption from restaurants and hotels massively. While dining-out was entirely out of the question, ordering-in was reduced by more than 50%. As of May 2020, some eateries were operating at only 30% of their original business, and many went into complete hibernation. Clubs and bars saw a vanished customer base and faced the same fate.

As the lockdown ensued, many restaurants faced tremendous losses. A new worry took over the gastronomic sector as home-cooked meals, and cooking experiments became a trend online. Anyone with a little free time on their hands was trying out new recipes and engaged in the worldwide phenomena of kitchen experiments. Soon it became a normal part of life to eat at home every day, and restaurants were a thing of the past. Restauranteurs’ dilemma was twofold: consumers would now either long for outside food or make eating-out a rarity because of the healthy and conscious home-cooking.

To make up for losses in the pith of the pandemic, many businesses offered their menus on online ordering apps such as Swiggy and Zomato. These apps even welcomed grand restaurants from hotels like Radisson, ITC Maurya, and Shangri-La. This frenzy pushed businesses to be innovative and use technology to their advantage.

Restaurants took to smart online marketing strategies on social media. Some spread awareness about health and hygiene, while some uploaded videos on customer-favourite recipes to increase visibility and engage in consumer relations. The pandemic also saw the emergence of delivery-only restaurants that were an entirely new concept in the country. The NRAI shifted its focus to digital platforms to offer vouchers, loyalty programs, appropriate food delivery, and contactless payment options to diners to keep the businesses alive.

However, the F&B industry breathed a sigh of relief when India launched its Unlock process in the latter half of 2020. Yet, the restaurants practised social distancing and operated at 50% of their seating capacity. Scannable barcodes containing menus, online and contactless payments, social distancing, temperature checks, sanitisation, and service staff clad in PPE kits were now mandated at every eatery. These regulations and precautions made the experience safe and comfortable for the diners. The months following November 2020 saw some policy changes in many states. These changes helped the F&B industry pick up the pace again, lifting curbs that restricted working hours.

As the sector experienced significant business growth going into early 2021, the second wave of infections halted this recovery. With India clocking a sudden surge of more than 1.5 lakh cases per day in April 2021, a fresh set of restrictions and lockdowns came into place. It created an aura of an eerie déjà vu, digging up bitter memories from the previous year. Night curfews, reduced seating capacities, and rising concerns over health and sanitation pushed the industry into a corner yet again.

Being a non-essential service, the F&B industry has faced an extreme and treacherous journey in the past year. It has lost lakhs of employees and revenue. The health hazard of Covid-19 can prove disastrous for the restaurants which are barely making ends meet. If the situation continues till late 2021, it will cause many more shutdowns, leaving hundreds more unemployed. Such deep losses will take years to recuperate.

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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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