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Will Coronavirus Lockdown Leave The Indian Economy Crippled?

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Will Coronavirus Lockdown Leave The Indian Economy Crippled?

With more than 2,600 positive cases of coronavirus reported and over 68 deaths as on April 4, India is now struggling to contain the fatal virus.

Condition in India after lockdown

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced nationwide 21 days lockdown starting from March 25, to prevent the community spread of the virus.

A nation consisting of 1.37 billion population, is now counting the days for the quarantine to get over. As many people worry about their job and others worry about their survival due to lack of availability of food and other essential supplies.

Out of the total population, almost 94 per cent are employed in India’s unorganised, informal industries, and this contributes to 45 per cent to its overall output.

Relief Package by the government

Considering this fact, the Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, 36 hours after the Prime Minister declared the lockdown announced Rs. 1.7 lakh crore worth relief package to sustain the weaker section. While announcing the package, she stated that “No-one will be allowed to go hungry.”

The relief package is a combination of direct cash transfer benefits to individual bank accounts and food security measures.

However, the economic fallout of this unprecedented lockdown has been dreadful. Businesses have closed, with thousands being unemployed overnight, and productivity has fallen; as a result, the whole economy shows a downward trend.

Result of lockdown

India’s growth engine was actually stumbling well before the threat of outbreak arrived. Once one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, its growth slowed to 4.7 per cent last year – the lowest level in the past six years.

If we take the case of unemployment, it was at its highest level last year since 1972-1973 (45-year). The industrial output from the eight-core sectors at the end of last year fell by 5.2 per cent – the worst in 14 years.

Small businesses had only just begun to recover from the controversial 2016 currency ban (demonetisation) that came as a blow to the cash-consuming informal economy.

Now, experts state the coronavirus outbreak is likely to cripple the already sick economy further.

So, while people quarantined welcomed the government’s relief package announcement, several measures are yet to be taken to reduce the effect of the pandemic on the economy.

However, the question which is still unanswered is–how the government is going to pay to people who don’t have a bank account? How far will this distribution be effective?

State of Indian farmers after lockdown

If you think that lockdown has affected the industries alone, then you are WRONG. India being an agriculture-based country, wherein more than 50 per cent of the population depends on agriculture, farmers are also vulnerable to a potential economic shock from the lockdown. This very same agriculture industry contributes around 15 per cent of the total GDP of India.

The government have announced that it will give farmers Rs 2,000 in April as an advance payment from Rs. 6,000 annual pay-out to cope up with the situation. However, this money is inadequate as the export have entirely stopped due to lockdown.

Furthermore, experts say that prices in the urban area will rise because of profiteering and in rural areas, it will drop because farmers won’t be able to sell their crop.

Impact of lockdown on other sectors

The outbreak and lockdown have come untimely as it is the critical farming time where the new crops are set to be sold in the market.

Economist warns that amidst the lockdown, it will be challenging for transporting these farm products from villages to cities. If the supply chain does not work suitably, there will be a colossal waste of food leading to a massive loss for farmers.

Experts caution that India is also at the rim of a major unemployment crisis. Employees will either have to bear the salary loss or lose their job or both. However, this situation will be seen mostly in the small business organisation.

Apart from this India’s fast-growing aviation industry, will also be pushed to peril as the flights are suspended until mid-April. The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) has estimated that the Indian aviation industry will have to bear a loss worth nearly 4 billion dollars this year.

This will further have a cascading effect, on the hospitality and tourism industries. Hotels and restaurant chains across the country are likely to remain shutdown for a while, sparking concerns of large-scale layoffs.

The automobile industry a vital indicator of a country’s economic growth, has also been forced to kick the brakes – experts are expecting a loss of nearly 2 billion dollars.

What should the government do?

Experts say that the government should devise a way of using the army and state machinery to physically distribute food to the poor.

As there are thousands of migrants employees who are stuck in other parts of the country far away from their hometown, the government need to take the seamless distribution of cash and food at top priority.

So will this relief package be enough?

Experts say that it is like a drop in the ocean compared to the aid provided by countries such as the US, China and Singapore. They further say India now needs a larger stimulus package soon to help businesses and farmers to withstand this unusual crisis.

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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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