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COVID-19 Lockdown 2.0 – Indian Economy And Social Life Under Threat

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Socioeconomic Burden And Indian Lockdown

On April 14, during a televised address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “I salute all you citizens,” thanking Indians for their support in the fight against the virus, while extending the lockdown till May 3.

India reported 10,477 active cases and 414 deaths as on April 16.

Under the lockdown, only essential businesses – such as groceries and pharmacies – are allowed to remain open. City transport services are limited to emergency staff and those with special travel passes. All trains and flights have been suspended.

While announcing the extension Prime Minister said that the rules could tighten further over the next week, but he did not give more details. He said the government would issue “guidelines” soon.

He stated that some restrictions in areas further away from infection hotspots would be eased on April 20, to help poor, migrant workers, daily-wage workers and farmers.

As per his speech till April 20, every nook and corner of the nation would be under strict surveillance to make sure the virus is contained to the maximum.

Once the area is free from the virus that is successful in this test can enjoy relaxation from the restriction.

According to official records, South Asian nations have so far been comparatively unscathed by the pandemic.

However, with India having some of the most crowded cities on the planet, there are concerns that numbers could skyrocket and overwhelm its unstable healthcare systems.

Some experts have also claimed that India has not conducted enough tests and that the true picture is yet to come out.

The economic and social cost of Indian Lockdown

India’s crushing lockdown has already caused economic disruption and social distress.

It has hurt the economy immensely. According to various independent assessments, joblessness has risen sharply. As per the World Bank, the already stumbling economy of India is now expected to grow between 1.5-2.8 per cent in 2020-21 – well below the level needed to provide jobs for the millions coming into the labour market every month.

Migrant workers, the backbone of crucial service industries, have either fled their shuttered workplaces or are stranded in homeless centres in cities. The thriving informal economy is in tatters.

The accessibility of necessities like food, medicine and emergency medical care for non-COVID-19 patients has become difficult for the poor.

Even after facing all these fallouts, lifting the lockdown amidst increasing positive cases was out of the option. Nonetheless, the extension of lockdown beyond May will distress the economy as well as the livelihood of the people.

Some key economic activity – farming, transportation of goods, wholesale markets, essential gig economy services – has to reopen by following social distancing and hygiene protocols.

As announced by Prime Minister, the Union Home Ministry on April 15, had released guidelines detailing on economic activities that that will be permitted after April 20, in certain areas keeping in view the interests of farmers and daily wage earners.

As per the guidelines, the economic activities that will be permitted are mostly related to the agricultural sector and job creation while strictly adhering to protocols in those areas where safety is paramount to contain the spread of COVID-19. State/UTs/district authorities will operationalise these based on compliance with existing guidelines. These will not be applicable to containment zones demarcated by respective states and UTs.

However, how far the relaxation can be brought about will depend on the success of the containment of the virus.

India’s Weaker section the worst hit

After the lockdown was announced on March 24, millions of migrants fleed to their villages, wherein some scummed to death on the way, while others were neglected by locals when they made it back to their villages.

Some have been stranded in cities in cramped, unsanitary conditions where the virus could spread quickly.

Every state is trying to do their best to feed these daily workers so that hunger might not overtake the pandemic.

On the one side, farmers are complaining about the lack of workers to harvest the winter crops, while on the other hand there aren’t enough transportation facilities to carry these crops to the markets.

COVID-19: Invisible assassin

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das called the novel coronavirus an “invisible assassin” that could desolate Asia’s third-biggest economy.

The national restaurants association of India, which said its members employed seven million people, warned on April 13, that there could be “social unrest” if it did not receive financial relief.

The commerce ministry has also reportedly urged the government to consider restarting more activities “with reasonable safeguards” even if the lockdown is extended.

Even before the pandemic, the Indian economy was sputtering with unemployment at its highest in decades. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) the urban unemployment rate was at 9.6 per cent, and rural stood at 7.8 per cent in August 2019

Prime Minister’s announcement came amid debates in countries around the world on how to lift restrictions while avoiding a spike in new infections.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned against hastening reckless into lifting restrictions, emphasising that only a vaccine can entirely halt the spread.

Experts around the world are closely watching the virus’ spread in India, which has a population of 1.37 billion. They fear that the country – with its densely-populated cities and weak public health system – is especially vulnerable to the pandemic’s worst outcomes.

Unless the testing is increased an exact picture of India’s infected rate can’t be predicted. Thus the upcoming weeks are crucial as far as India is concerned to know how badly the pandemic has invaded into the population and how dangerously it has affected both economy and social life of people.

Founder @NewsAurChai & @RockShaftIND, | @NMIMS_India | Alumnus | Writer | Passionate Chai Drinker | Political Nerd | Traveller #Beingबंजारा | Optimist । Practical

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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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