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Year in Review 2016: E-commerce rode on mobility, digitisation, demography

Kolkata/Bengaluru: The increasing use of digital technologies in buying and selling merchandise for convenience and mobility pushed e-commerce in India to an inflection point in 2016.

The rapid growth of smartphones and internet connectivity across the country, especially in tier-II and III cities, has given greater access to virtual shopping and e-tailing for the tech-savvy generation and millennials.

Even as e-tail behemoths Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon vied for a greater pie of the growing e-commerce market, enterprises and businesses in diverse sectors have joined the bandwagon to hard-sell their products by leveraging digital technology.

“E-commerce in India is at an inflection point, thanks to robust growth in consumer demand. Mobile penetration and increasing use of smart phones have led to the emergence of m-commerce, which accounted for about 40 percent of the sector’s sales this year,” Tata CLiQ Chief Executive Officer Ashutosh Pandey told IANS.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

According to a study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI), transition to mobile shopping is faster in India, which overtook the US this year in terms of active mobile users (220 million) and next only to China in user base.

The emergence of the Omni-channel model in e-tailing has also enabled netizens shop across e-portals, web sites, apps and in stores as per their convenience.

“As a result, e-commerce players are looking at seamless integration of online and offline stores to offer consumers a unique shopping experience in the virtual and real worlds,” Pandey asserted.

With digital payments increasing through multiple gateways for online and offline buying, the push for cashless transactions in the aftermath of the November 8 demonetisation has driven more and more consumers to e-shopping and m-shopping.

Greater use of cloud computing, data analytics and artificial intelligence has made e-commerce players not only competitive and smart in retaining their mass user-base but also map shopping trends and predict purchasing patterns to consolidate their dominant position for sustaining growth.

“The sector, however, continues to face a trust-deficit and last-mile delivery issues persist despite having robust logistics networks and partners. Lack of trust in online transactions makes many shoppers prefer cash on delivery, which is risky and time consuming,” Pandey lamented.

The sector is also bedevilled by infrastructure woes across cities and towns, increasing operational cost for timely delivery and expanding the customer base.

Though demonetisation has impacted the retail sector due to the cash crunch, digital transactions have enabled e-commerce firms to weather the crisis.

Growing at about 40 percent cumulative average growth rate (CAGR), the country’s e-commerce market is projected to touch a whopping $38 billion this fiscal (2016-17), with the online travel segment alone accounting for 70 percent, followed by e-tailing, financial services, classifieds, job searches and matrimony.

“The key drivers of the sector’s growth have been increased internet penetration, growing acceptability of online payments and an increase in per capita income,” a Snapdeal spokesperson said.

Favourable government policies and improving infrastructure have also contributed in connecting consumers and sellers across the country.

“The start-up ecosystem has gone through a phase of consolidation, indicating maturity in the sector for achieving scale, building capabilities and increasing the market share,” the spokesperson explained.

Given the demographics and rapid adoption of the internet, it’s advantage for all the stakeholders to grow and consolidate.

Global audit firm KMPG’s e-commerce partner Sreedhar Prasad said demonetisation had impacted the sector with a 30 percent dip in sales and, as a result, the annual growth may not show a big spike.

“The cost of business, including that of supply chains, remains a challenge. Unless the cost is regulated, profitability will be difficult in the sector,” Prasad added.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 13:04 IST

Kashmir: Cashless villages remain offline as poor internet mars adoption

Demonetisation and “cashless” are currently the hot topics for discussions at the shopfronts in Kashmiri villages, where people gather every evening and morning to discuss and debate all sundry things.

The Kashmir Valley along with rest of India is still reeling from the aftereffects of demonetisation which Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on 8 November. Now, there are reports emerging from the region that some of the villages in the valley have gone completely cashless.

Manzigam is one such village which has been recently declared cashless in Kashmir. It is around 25 kilometres from the main town of Anantnag.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

On 20 December, the village of Manzigam received a team of state government officials from the Common Service Centers (CSC) e-governance division. As part of central government’s “Digital India” campaign, CSC provides various services, mostly electronic, to the general public along with training them on how to use those services. The CSC team trained about 20 villagers for cashless transactions and provided information on various digital payment systems.

But going cashless is a slow process, more so, because some habits are hard to change.

A week since the training, most people in the Manzigam village are yet to understand the idea of cashless payments. They are still carrying cash in their pockets and it is evident that there is no implementation of cashless transactions on ground.

In one of the morning gatherings at a shopfront, few of the villagers described their experience when the government team visited.

Most of the villagers still look confused when they hear about their village becoming cashless. Many have heard the term cashless, but they have no idea about what exactly it is. Yet, they are quick to point out its effects. “Now we have to carry ATM cards like we used to carry our identity cards in the early 1990s to prove our identity to the security forces,” said one of the villagers who got in the middle of the discussion to offer prayers in a nearby mosque. However, another man in the early 30s said, “It would be beneficial.” Many nodded.

Some have no idea what payment swipe machines are or what was taught in the training. While talking to Firstpost, a villager named Arif Ahmad said, “Shopkeepers have to submit some forms (not knowing what exactly) to get the machines. I was busy and couldn’t attend the training class.”

He said that only around 30 people among the 300 families in the village attended the CSC camp.

Shopkeepers are the key enablers for implementation of the cashless monetary system in any village. Manzigam has around 10 shops which are yet to install payment swipe machines. They have been told to open Current Accounts so that they can accept payments through the machines. But many are reluctant, so they are still insisting on cash payments.

These problems aside, there are other logistical challenges too.

Manzigam has few smartphone users, poor internet connectivity, fluctuating electricity and the only broadband internet connection is at the only Khidmat centre.

Hamid, a 20-year-old shopkeeper from Manzigam doesn’t have a 4G-enabled smartphone which is the foremost priority for using mobile wallets in Kashmir these days as prepaid 3G mobile internet services are yet to resume after the 8 July killing of militant commander Burhaan Wani.

“I don’t have the internet on my phone yet, as I have a 3G phone. I somehow connect to Wi-Fi hotspots of my friends’ phones to access the internet.”

Hamid is, however, optimistic of having his own internet as he is expecting that Reliance Jio, a 4G service provider, may introduce internet services on 3G phones in near future. When asked about the internet speed in his village, he is quick to answer: “There is a cellular network in our neighbouring village. We go in the fields for faster internet speed, otherwise, it is frustrating.”

It’s a similar story with Lanura village in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district, which was the first village in Kashmir to go cashless. Various media reports say that the village has only got the tag of cashless, but on the ground, its implementation is zero.

The story repeats in other such villages of Kashmir which were declared and tagged as cashless villages. There seems to be no solid sign of practical adoption of cashless payment mechanisms by the villagers so far.

Talking to Firstpost, district manager of the CSC, Rayees Ahmad admitted that it is not easy to make villages go cashless. “It’s really hard to say how much time it will take to go cashless. No one can say,” he said.

Ahmad also pointed out the problem of poor internet connectivity and ban on prepaid mobile internet services. “Mobile network is not that good. Reliance Jio has brought some relief. But everybody cannot afford a 4G smartphone. It is necessary to lift the ban on prepaid mobile internet for going digital,” he added.

Many Kashmiris are of the opinion that it is not easy to implement and promote cashless transactions in the Valley as long as internet access remains susceptible to the law and order situation in Kashmir.

Mohammad Ishaq who hails from Anantnag while talking to Firstpost said, “In Kashmir, where prepaid internet is banned for more than five months, how can the government claim to have cashless villages.”

“If it is possible to go cashless amid these prevailing circumstances, then it will take no time for the whole Kashmir to go cashless,” he remarked sarcastically.

The author is a freelance journalist based in Srinagar. He focuses on the socio-political issues of the Kashmir Valley.

(Firstpost is from the same stable as Reliance Jio)

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 13:10 IST

‘Internet connectivity still out of reach for 950 mn Indians’: Assocham-Deloitte study

New Delhi: India may have the world’s second largest internet user base, but connectivity remains out of reach for nearly 950 million citizens, a report said today.

“Even with the internet data plans in India being among the cheapest in the world and the average retail price of smartphones steadily declining, connectivity is still out of the reach of nearly 950 million Indians,” according to the Assocham-Deloitte joint study. India currently has about 350 million internet users, second only to China.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Internet penetration is increasing in India and the access to affordable broadband, smart devices and monthly data packages are required to spread digital literacy to make their ends meet, the study titled ‘Strategic national measures to combat cybercrime’ said.

Existing government infrastructure assets should be further leveraged for provision of digital services at remote locations, it said.

The study added that digital literacy needs to be increased by providing institutional trainings in schools, colleges and universities. It pitched for accelerating
partnerships with global technology leaders and using the workforce trained under Skill India to impart trainings.

An integrated approach between Digital India and Skill India needs to be constructed to design programmes and impart training, it said.

The report called for incentivising private sector players for developing infrastructure, providing services and promoting digital literacy as part of the Digital India programme.

“Start-ups should be involved to create and customise apps to local needs to increase adoption of digital technology,” it said adding that a framework needs to be defined for participation of private sector in skill development programs defining their role, expectations in terms of investments, content and job guarantees.

Besides, integration of local language and technology is also required to drive digital literacy.

The report said fear of cybercrime and breach of privacy have been deterrents in adoption of digital technologies in the country.

In order to encourage people to switch to digital means, it is important to provide awareness and education on cyber security, risks and safeguarding of information on the internet, it said.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 19:31 IST

Manipur: Internet services shut down in Imphal West dist following three blasts

Manipur: Internet services shut down in Imphal West dist following three blasts

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Imphal: Taking serious note on the prevailing situation following three blasts on Friday, the state
Cabinet has decided to shut down Internet service in Imphal West district with immediate effect.

The Imphal West District Magistrate issued an order directing telecom operators to shut down mobile data service in the district immediately until further orders.

Manipur police. Representational image. PTI

Manipur police. Representational image. PTI

Major areas of the state capital fall in Imphal West district where the three blasts had taken place within an hour on Friday evening.

The Cabinet decision came after analysis of the prevailing law and order situation and to halt spreading of rumours through social networking sites, officials said.

The move was preceded by a 24-hour bandh called to protest hill based militants’ attacks on Manipur police in the last few days in different parts of the state that left three policemen dead and 14 others injured. The militants also snatched several weapons from the IRB personnel.

All measures were being taken to contain violence by deploying a large number of police personnel at sensitive areas of the state, a police officer said.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 12:57 IST

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Demonetisation impact: Onion rates halve, farmers have no cash, but can’t go cashless

By Swagata Yadavar

Pimpalgaon/Lasalgaon, Nashik (Maharashtra): Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be happy with 26-year-old Deepak Patil, an onion farmer from the village of Valwadi in Malegaon Taluka, about 300 kilometres north of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital. Patil, dressed in a grey jacket, over his white shirt and jeans, said he has a bank account, a cell phone, and receives payment for his onion produce in cheque.

But Patil, who sells his produce in Pimpalgaon, a market in India’s onion heartland, Maharashtra–producing a third of all onions in the country–is not happy with demonetisation, or notebandi as it is colloquially called, and does not believe he can go cashless.

Onion farmer Deepak Patil. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

An onion farmer. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

After 9 November, when Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes — 86 percent by value of Indian currency in circulation — were declared invalid, the government pushed for cashless transactions and digital payments. Patil — with access to banking and a cell phone — could, in theory, move to cashless transactions, but in reality there is no Internet access where he lives, the closest ATM is at least 25 kilometres away, the closest nationalised bank 15 kilometres away, and the government has currently placed restrictions on the district cooperative bank that hosts his account.

Nashik district, which contains Lasalgaon and Pimpalgaon, two of India’s busiest onion markets, contributes 10.4 percent of Maharashtra’s gross state domestic product, the highest of any agricultural district in the state, according to this 2014 Economic Survey 

report

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Patil’s trials with the banking system, and the effect of demonetisation on the rural economy of Nashik, show how 800 million Indians, who depend on the rural economy, have been affected by the ban on notes over the last 35 days.

Hours in queues at a bank, only Rs 2,000 in hand

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) barred the bank where Patil’s account is–Nashik District Central Cooperative Bank (NDCC), and all other district central cooperative banks (DCCBs)–from exchanging defunct notes for Rs 100 notes or for new notes of Rs 500 and Rs 2,000.

Patil deposited Rs 21,000 by cheque in his NDCC account, hoping he could withdraw some money to pay labourers who work on his farm, repay lenders and buy groceries–transactions that still take place in cash.

“It takes more than two weeks for the cheque to be deposited,” said Patil. “All we can do till then is wait.” Even when the money was deposited in his account, it was no easy feat to withdraw it.

“I have to stand in line at the bank from 10 am to 6 pm, and all I get is one Rs 2,000 note,” said Patil, who doesn’t have any other bank account. He needed Rs 4,500 to pay labourers and Rs 4,000 for the mini truck that carries his produce to the market in Pimpalgaon, 100 kilometres from his village. These days, he buys food on credit from the local grocer.

Onion farmer Deepak Patil (centre) has a bank account, a cell phone, and accepts payments in cheque. Patil could, in theory, move to cashless transactions, but in reality there is no Internet access where he lives. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

Onion farmer Deepak Patil (centre) has a bank account, a cell phone, and accepts payments in cheque. Patil could, in theory, move to cashless transactions, but in reality there is no Internet access where he lives. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

Patil is one of many farmers who bank with district cooperative banks. As many as 371 such banks with over 140,000 branches across the country provide banking access to 2.5 million account holders, according to the 2015 annual report of the National Federation of State Cooperative Banks.

“Seventy percent of farmers in Nashik district have their accounts with NDCC, and many have no other account,” said Shirish Kotwal, director and former chairman of NDCC.

The RBI feared that district banks, which are not under the RBI’s purview, could be used to route black money back into the system, the Indian Express reported in December 2016. Seventy two hours after the announcement to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, DCCBs reported deposits of old currency eight times that of nationalised banks.

Patil, the only earning member in a family of six, does not own a vehicle, and chose the closest bank for an account. The closest nationalised bank is 15 kilometres from his village, the district cooperative bank 10 kilometres.

Low rural Internet connectivity

Like 83 percent of Indians who do not own a smartphone, Patil too does not have an Internet connection on his cell phone. So, even though he has a bank account, he cannot access Internet-based banking services.

When asked if he has an ATM card, he laughed and said: “The nearest ATM is 40 kilometres away (IndiaSpend found the closest was 25 kilometres away, but it is unclear if that worked).”

Onion prices halve, stressing rural economy

Mini truck after truck of red onions entered Lasalgaon onion market, the largest in Asia, as a sense of gloom pervaded the air. Farmers huddled in corners as traders decided the price of onions at auctions.

“Ever since notebandi, the rates have decreased by half,” Patil said.

Onions, which were sold for Rs 1,000-1,200 per quintal (100 kg) in the weeks before notebandi, are now sold for Rs 600-700 per quintal.

There were no auctions for ten days after demonetisation because of a lack of valid notes in the market. Onions stored in the market stayed unsold and when markets reopened, new produce flooded the market reducing onion prices.

Farmers have no choice but to sell the red onion at whatever price it sells, as it does not last beyond 10 days, unlike the lighter coloured ‘unhal’ onion that can be stored for three months.

Madhavrao Thorat, another marginal farmer, has no time to spare to stand in the lines outside banks as he is sowing onions in his field, in the village of Devgaon, more than 200 km north of Mumbai. The nearest nationalised bank is eight kilometres away, and the nearest ATM 15 km away. He has not been able to pay his labourers because of a lack of cash.

Madhavrao Thorat, a marginal farmer, has no time to spare to stand in the lines outside banks as he is sowing onions in his field, in the village of Devgaon, more than 200 km north of Mumbai. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

Madhavrao Thorat, a marginal farmer, has no time to spare to stand in the lines outside banks as he is sowing onions in his field, in the village of Devgaon, more than 200 km north of Mumbai. Image courtesy: IndiaSpend

Excess produce due to good monsoon further reduces prices

Prices have further fallen because of excessive onion production, a consequence of the good monsoon this year.

A drop in prices particularly hits marginal and small farmers, who, like Patil, own less than two hectares, or 4.94 acres of land. These farmers own 78.6 percent of all land holdings in Maharashtra.

Patil, who owns four acres of land which he farms with his brothers, has made a loss of Rs 30,000 because of low onion prices. “Farming for small farmers like us has become unaffordable,” he said.

In 2015, onion farmers from districts around Nashik brought 0.4 million metric tonne of onions to the agricultural market in Lasalgoan–called an Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC)–between April and August. Onions brought rose 150 percent to 1 million metric tonne, over the same period in 2016, according to the Lasalgaon APMC.

Lasalgaon Agricultural Produce Market Committee is Asia’s biggest onion market, and most Indian onion is exported from this market. Onions brought rose 150 percent to 1 million metric tonne, between April and August, 2016, compared to the same period last year–further reducing onion prices.

“There has also been enough production of onions in Haryana and Karnataka which has led to a further drop in demand and prices,” said N S Vadhavne, an accountant at Lasalgaon APMC.

“I want to quit farming”

Profits from agriculture have been declining as costs have tripled over the last few years, IndiaSpend reported in March 2016. Coupled with a crash crunch due to demonetisation, and falling prices, Patil is ready to quit.

“Given a choice, I would like to find a job and migrate. Farming is a loss-making business,” said Patil, who enrolled in college, but never completed his bachelor in arts degree.  His wife has a diploma in education, but no job.

“Right now, I don’t have a choice as I am supporting my younger brother,” he said. “But very soon, I will quit farming and look for another job.”

IndiaSpend-Logo11

Yadavar is a principal correspondent with IndiaSpend

Indiaspend.org is a data-driven, public-interest journalism non-profit

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 08:35 IST

Hyderabad: 47 minors caught watching porn at cyber cafes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 47 minors have been caught watching porn and other objectionable content, and browsing internet at the cyber cafes in the city without parental supervision, police said on Thursday. The action was taken as part of a special drive on internet cafes to check cyber offences and restrict minors from watching porn and other objectionable content online.About 37 cases have been registered for alleged violation of different rules and regulations, in the drive conducted on Wednesday, a city police release said. To curb cyber offences and to restrict minors involved in watching porn content, objectionable videos, pictures etc, and to prevent them from indulging in criminal activities against women and girls and spoiling their life in internet cafes, the South Zone cops conducted a special drive on cyber cafes under 17 police stations limits, it said.Around 47 minors were taken into custody for counselling as they are watching porn and also browsing the internet without supervision of the parents, the release said.

India bewafa for Sonam Gupta: Fictional woman becomes third top trend on Google in 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A story of ‘betrayal’ which went viral on social media has earned its fictitious protagonist Sonam Gupta a leading spot in this year’s list of top 10 trending personalities in India on search giant Google. She features in the tally at the third spot, right behind US President-elect Donald Trump and Olympic medallist P V Sindhu. Sonam Gupta’s name first appeared on a torn Rs 10 note the image of which went viral online earlier this year. The words, written in Devanagari, said: “Sonam Gupta bewafa hai” meaning Sonam Gupta is unfaithful.However, the phrase #SonamGuptaBewafa made a comeback on social media, and later became a rage after November 8, when the government announced scrapping of old Rs 500/1000 notes.Images of currency notes from various countries with the phrase made an appearance across Internet with many users also jumping into the buzz defending the mysterious Gupta.Others in the Google list include Dipa Karmakar, Disha Patani, Urvashi Rautela, Vijay Mallya, Pooja Hegde, Sakshi Malik and Arnab Goswami.

Hackers operated Rahul Gandhi, Congress Twitter handles from 5 countries: Police

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Twitter handles of Rahul Gandhi and the Congress which were recently hacked were operated from five countries including the US, Delhi Police said.The Economic Offences Wing (EOW), which is probing the matter, received a reply around three-four days ago from Twitter headquarters on the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses used by the hackers to send derogatory tweets from these accounts, a senior police officer said.”We have got to know that the IP addresses from where the accounts were accessed don’t fall under our jurisdiction. The Twitter handle logs show both the accounts were operated from five countries – Sweden, Romania, the US, Canada and Thailand. We will write to the Internet service providers of these countries to share details of users with us and that is how the investigation will proceed,” the officer said.Analysis of the data shows that the accounts were accessed from these countries on November 30 from 9.15 PM to 9.30 PM and from 10:30 AM on December 1, the officer added.In case, police do not get the necessary details, they might have to initiate the process of sending Letters Rogatory to competent courts in these countries for assistance, sources said.According to the officer, police are yet to get log details of the Congress website from the party’s server.Police had lodged two FIRs in connection with the hacking of the two Twitter accounts, the party website and the email accounts of Congress and Rahul on December 1 following two complaints from Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala to the EOW.Rahul’s Twitter account was hacked on November 30 and some remarks full of expletives were posted.On December 1, his email account was also hacked, the party had claimed.Two cases under section 66 of IT Act were registered, police had said.

Shashi Tharoor’s house burgled, stolen valuables include award from PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor’s house in the posh Lutyens area here was burgled and valuables including an “antique Nataraja idol” have been stolen, police said on Wednesday.The burglary took place on the intervening night of November 28 and 29 at Tharoor’s Lodhi Estate residence and he was informed about the incident by his servants on November 29, a senior police officer said.A case has been registered at the Tughlak Road police station on Tharoor’s complaint. In his complaint, the MP told police that thieves climbed the wall of his official residence and took “an antique Nataraja idol, 12 small Ganesha idols, and 10 small Hanuman idols”. Tharoor’s office has also been burgled with a dozen pen drives and an Internet dongle being stolen.The award that he had been given for his involvement in the Swachh Bharat campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also stolen, the officer said.Police have started probing the incident and has lifted fingerprints from his house. Special teams have been formed to identify the accused, who are suspected to be vagabonds roaming in the area. The patrolling has also been stepped up in the area that house residences of several politicians.Police are questioning the staff of nearby houses to find any clues that could lead them to the burglars. There is no CCTV footage that could be found from Tharoor’s residence but cops are scanning the footage from nearby houses to identify the accused.

Congress Twitter handle @INCIndia hacked hours after Rahul Gandhi’s; party blames BJP

The official Twitter account of Indian National Congress was found to be hacked on Thursday, hours after party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s verified twitter account was hacked.

Gandhi’s Twitter account was hacked at around 8.45 pm on Wednesday and some obscene remarks were put out online for around an hour. The tweets posted through the party handle were also laden with expletives and profanities.

INC Congress hacked cropped


INC india hacked cropped 2
INC India hacked 3

The messages were deleted soon thereafter. And after the hacking, Congress raised questions on the digital safety of all Indians, saying it reflects the disturbing insecurities of the prevalent “fascist culture” in the country.

The Congress has filed a complaint with the cyber cell of Delhi Police on the hacking of its vice-president’s twitter account, by the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, demanding strict action against those behind the hacking.

According to Times Now, the Delhi Police has emailed Twitter to find out the Internet Protocol address, and all the senior officials, including the commissioner are aware of the developments.

According to CNN-News18, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has sought a report on Rahul’s Twitter activity for the last week.

CNN-News18 says that the Congress has accused the BJP for the incident and has further criticised the demonetisation move by the government, questioning the safety of a cashless and digital society where such activites take place. Congress has mentioned that all the unauthorised tweets have been retweeted by BJP ‘bhakts’ shortly after its posting and thus it could be the work of BJP.

“Such lowly tactics will neither drown the sane voice of reason nor deter Gandhi from raising people’s issues,” Surjewala had said.

“Such unscrupulous, unethical and roguish conduct of venal trolls to hack Gandhi’s Twitter handle reflects disturbing insecurities of prevalent fascist culture,” he added.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi‘s political secretary Ahmed Patel also tweeted about the incident.

Rahul Gandhi, through his twitter account has responded too.

However, according to CNN-News18, BJP spokesperson Zafar Islam has retaliated saying that no one takes Gandhi or the Congress seriously. Subramanian Swamy too was quoted as saying: “Rahul has angered a lot of people. This could have been done from someone on the inside.”

The same report goes on to say that the two accounts lacked the additional security features that Twitter provides and it is possible that the accused have access to the email addresses linked with the accounts.

With inputs from PTI

First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 12:20 IST

Demonetisation: RBI sets stiff riders for Rs 2.5 lakh withdrawal for weddings

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India RBI on Monday imposed stiff conditions for withdrawal of up to Rs 2.5 lakh in cash from bank accounts for marriages, saying the money can be withdrawn only from the credit balance as on 8 November, the day demonetisation was announced.

While notifying norms, RBI said the cash withdrawn should be used only to make payment to those persons who do not have bank accounts and the names of such recipients should be mentioned while applying for withdrawal of the cash.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The application for withdrawal should also provide names of bride and groom, their identify proofs, addresses and date of marriage. The amount can be withdrawn only if the date of marriage is on or before 30 December, 2016.

With a view to enabling people to perform weddings of their wards, it has been decided to allow higher limits of cash withdrawals from their bank deposit accounts to meet wedding-related expenses, RBI said in a notification.

“A maximum of Rs 2,50,000 is allowed to be withdrawn from bank deposit accounts till 30 December, 2016, out of the balances at credit in the account as of close of business on 8 November, 2016,” the notification said.

“Withdrawals can be made by either of the parents or the person getting married. (Only one of them will be permitted to withdraw).”

The application for withdrawal should be accompanied by evidence of the wedding, including the invitation card, copies of receipts for advance payments already made such as marriage hall booking and advance payments to caterers.

Further, there should be “a detailed list of persons to whom the cash withdrawn is proposed to be paid, together with a declaration from such persons that they do not have a bank account. The list should indicate the purpose for which the proposed payments are being made”.

The RBI also said banks should encourage families to incur wedding expenses through non-cash means through cheques or drafts, credit or debit cards, pre-paid cards, mobile transfers, Internet banking channels, NEFT/RTGS and the like.

“Therefore, members of the public should be advised, while granting cash withdrawals, to use cash to meet expenses which have to be met only through cash mode,” RBI told banks.

Banks have been asked to keep a proper record of the evidence and produce them for verification by the authorities in case of need.

The scheme will be reviewed based on authenticity or bona fide use thereof, RBI added.

First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 21:15 IST

Internet on postpaid mobiles restored in Kashmir after 4 months

Fri, 18 Nov 2016-11:59pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mobile Internet services on postpaid connections were restored tonight in Kashmir four months after these services were snapped due to the unrest in the Valley.Mobile Internet services, which were snapped on July 15, have been restored on postpaid connections, an official said here. The official said the decision to restore mobile Internet services was taken following considerable improvement in security situation in the Valley. Mobile Internet services were snapped following violent protests across Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter on July 8.

Demonetisation: After curfew, cash crisis and internet blockade brings Kashmir Valley to grinding halt

Ghulam Ali, a resident of Anantnag, is running from pillar to post to get his money exchanged even as banks in the area are running out of cash. He impatiently waits outside a bank in a nearby village. “I need money to book a ticket for my daughter who studies outside Kashmir,” he said. Ghulam used to book her tickets from home when internet services were functional in the valley.

Amid the ongoing cash crisis, Ghulam is also reluctant to send his daughter outside, as he doesn’t have enough cash to cover her expenses. “Her exams are approaching and I am worried whether she would be able to attend those,” he told Firstpost.

Ghulam said that his problem will be solved if he gets internet access as he would be able to make online payments. People like him are the worst affected by the internet ban and now the demonetisation crisis.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The central government’s move last week to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes has caused chaos in Kashmir, adding to people’s woes.

Almost everyone in the valley was affected in one way or the other due to the prolonged agitation, particularly people associated with transport, business and labourers. They have been living a miserable life for the last four months due to the absence of livelihood. And now the currency ban has added to their woes.

Businesses, which were looking to make some money after the four-month long agitation, are now distraught. Markets in cities and towns were shut on 9 July while public transport vehicles have remained absent from roads till date.

People, who have been going outside the state for business during winter, are reluctant to leave the valley this time due to the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Many have decided to wait till the cash crisis settles down. “I had planned to leave the valley by 11 November, but due to this cash crisis, I have been forced to wait till the chaos is over,” said Manzoor Ahmad, a businessman, told Firstpost.

The government has undertaken steps to address the situation and has urged people to adopt online payment platforms to reduce reliance on cash-only transactions. However, for Kashmiris, it is a double whammy as internet services were blocked after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani on 8 July and they continue to remain suspended. As a result, people in Kashmir Valley have been unable to make online transactions.

Not only businesses, but students who are preparing for their exams are very upset due to the internet blockade. “I completely rely on the internet for my exam preparations, but due to the internet ban, I fear I will fail in the exams,” said Azhaq Ibrahim. Not only Ibrahim, but many other students have similar faced hardships due to the internet ban.

Aijaz Ahmad is another such example. He lives in the rural area of south Kashmir and has been preparing for the Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) for the last four years. But this time, when the vacancies were announced for the KAS, Ahmad couldn’t submit his form online due to the internet blockade. He is visibly frustrated. While talking to Firstpost, he said, “They should at least understand students’ problems. I have a dream of becoming a civil servant, but it seems with each passing day my dream is shattering. During these modern times, the internet is the major source of information, if that is blocked how can anyone prepare for any examination?” he asked.

Not only Ahmad, but many other job aspirants, are also facing similar difficulties in preparing and submitting their job applications due to the internet blockade and now due to the chaos at the banks.

Since there is no solution in sight, all those who can, are now curtailing their expenses, bracing for difficult times and preparing for a long harsh winter ahead.

(The author is a freelance journalist based in Srinagar. He focuses on the socio-political issues of the Kashmir Valley.)

First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 08:27 IST

Examine if soft porn being shown on Hotstar: Delhi HC to Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre has been asked by the Delhi High Court to examine the allegation that objectionable content, including soft pornography, was being made available for download from hotstar.com website, run by a subsidiary of Star India Pvt Ltd, and take appropriate action.Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to Star India and its subsidiary, Novi Digital Entertainment Pvt Ltd, seeking their reply to a plea alleging that they were operating an illegal Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) distribution platform without following the uplinking and downlinking guidelines.Besides the two companies, the court also sought response of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for allegedly not regulating content provided on the IPTV platform website hotstar.com. The court directed the ministries to “look into the issue and, in case, the content, being made available through the website hotstar.com is objectionable or prohibited, appropriate action shall be taken by them in accordance with law”.The court’s direction came on a plea by Un-Canned Media Pvt Ltd, alleging that the two companies in connivance with each other, have been operating an illegal distribution platform, by illegally providing content through their Hotstar IPTV platform in violation of the guidelines stipulated under the applicable laws. It has contended that the company, which owns and operates digital properties like hotstar.com, is not being regulated by the ministries, in as much the contents being provided on the website is uncensored and uncontrolled by them.Un-canned Media claimed the objectionable content was being made available for download by the companies. “Some instances have been pointed out whereby it is contended that even soft pornography is also being permitted to be downloaded from the services being provided by the firm on its website hotstar.com,” the court noted in its order.

Watch: Rahul Gandhi says BJP knew about demonetization, then adds Jaitley was unaware

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “laughing” when 18-20 people died in queues outside banks and ATMs and termed the demonetisation of high currency notes as a decision sans rationale. “Nearly 18 to 20 people died in queues (outside banks/ ATMs) and PM Narendra Modi was laughing. He should clarify whether he was laughing or crying,” he said, in an apparent reference to Modi’s remarks in Japan and Goa.He also claimed that BJP people were alerted beforehand about the demonetisation. “How can one explain the BJP people in West Bengal depositing crores in high-denomination notes just before PM’s announcement on November 8?” Rahul asked. “BJP workers were seen holding up bundles of the new Rs 2000 notes, as seen from images on the Internet, before Modi announced this decision,” he told reporters in suburban Bandra tonight.”This move by the Modi government will turn out to be a big scam,” Rahul said.He also claimed that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was kept in the dark about the announcement.”I don’t think even Finance Minister knew about the demonetisation announcement,” Rahul said. “The PM took decision without thinking. We don’t want to reverse it, but at least resolve the difficulties people are facing,” he said.”Many economists say there is no rationale to this decision. They say it’s a decision based on political calculation,” he said. “The entire Opposition united against Modi government’s demonetisation move which has resulted in massive inconvenience for people,” Rahul said. “Go after the big players in black money. I don’t see that happening. We cannot let farmers and labourers stand in queues for months,” he said.Asked to comment on Modi’s mother standing in a bank queue, Rahul quipped: “Mine and Narendra Modi’s styles are different. I won’t speak about his mother.””The entire Opposition is united against Modi government’s demonetisation move which has resulted in massive inconvenience for people,” Rahul said.”We want the government to sort this out expeditiously. The rural population has borne the maximum brunt. What will happen to a farmer who might have saved cash for daughter’s marriage? Banking network is not very strong in remote areas. The transition should have been smooth,” he said. “The real black money players like Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi are out of the country. The big players are going scot free,” he said.”Go after the big players in black money. I don’t see that happening. We cannot let farmers and labourers stand in queues for months,” he said. Asked about his own visit to a bank to exchange old notes, Rahul said, “My sense was to be with the people in their hardship and be with them.” On Modi’s jibe at him and Congress that those involved in 2G spectrum scam were now standing in queue to exchange Rs 4,000, Rahul said, “Modiji is always attacking me. Those waiting in line outside banks are poor, small traders, government employees. Are they thieves?” “Some planning should have been there. What to do when crores of people line up outside banks to withdraw cash and new 2,000 rupee notes don’t fit into the ATMs,” he said.

Rs 500, Rs 1,000 notes banned: Nobody explains it like RBI; 25 points to remember

The NDA government on Tuesday announced that it is banning use of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, in its fight against the corruption, fake currency and black money. As soon as the the announcement was made, the Reserve Bank of India came out with a ready reckoner on the government’s move.

Here’s how the central bank explained the whole scheme in most simple terms:

1) Why is this scheme?
The incidence of fake Indian currency notes in higher denomination has increased. For ordinary persons, the fake notes look similar to genuine notes, even though no security feature has been copied. The fake notes are used for antinational and illegal activities. High denomination notes have been misused by terrorists and for hoarding black money. India remains a cash based economy hence the circulation of Fake Indian Currency Notes continues to be a menace. In order to contain the rising incidence of fake notes and black money, the scheme to withdraw has been introduced.

The RBI logo. ReutersThe RBI logo. Reuters

The RBI logo. Reuters

2) What is this scheme?

The legal tender character of the notes in denominations of ₹ 500 and ₹ 1000 stands withdrawn. In consequence thereof withdrawn old high denomination (OHD) notes cannot be used for transacting business and/or store of value for future usage. The OHD notes can be exchanged for value at any of the 19 offices of the Reserve Bank of India or at any of the bank branches or at any Head Post Office or Sub-Post Office.

3) How much value will I get?

You will get value for the entire volume of notes tendered at the bank branches / RBI offices.

4) Can I get all in cash?

No. You will get upto ₹4000 per person in cash irrespective of the size of tender and anything over and above that will be receivable by way of credit to bank account.

5) Why I cannot get the entire amount in cash when I have surrendered everything in cash?

The Scheme of withdrawal of old high denomination(OHD) notes does not provide for it, given its objectives.

6) ₹4000 cash is insufficient for my need. What to do?

You can use balances in bank accounts to pay for other requirements by cheque or through electronic means of payments such as Internet banking, mobile wallets, IMPS, credit/debit cards etc.

7) What if I don’t have any bank account?

You can always open a bank account by approaching a bank branch with necessary documents required for fulfilling the KYC requirements.

8) What if, if I have only JDY account?

A JDY account holder can avail the exchange facility subject to the caps and other laid down limits in accord with norms and procedures.

9) Where can I go to exchange the notes?

The exchange facility is available at all Issue Offices of RBI and branches of commercial banks/RRBS/UCBs/State Co-op banks or at any Head Post Office or Sub-Post Office.

10) Need I go to my bank branch only?

For exchange upto 4000 in cash you may go to any bank branch with valid identity proof. For exchange over 4000, which will be accorded through credit to Bank account only, you may go to the branch where you have an account or to any other branch of the same bank.

In case you want to go to a branch of any other bank where you are not maintaining an account, you will have to furnish valid identity proof and bank account details required for electronic fund transfer to your account.

11) Can I go to any branch of my bank?

Yes you can go to any branch of your bank.

12) Can I go to any branch of any other bank?

Yes, you can go to any branch of any other bank. In that case you have to furnish valid identity proof for exchange in cash; both valid identity proof and bank account details will be required for electronic fund transfer in case the amount to be exchanged exceeds ₹4000.

13) I have no account but my relative / friend has an account, can I get my notes exchanged into that account?

Yes, you can do that if the account holder relative/friend etc gives you permission in writing. While exchanging, you should provide to the bank, evidence of permission given by the account holder and your valid identity proof.

14) Should I go to bank personally or can I send the notes through my representative?

Personal visit to the branch is preferable. In case it is not possible for you to visit the branch you may send your representative with an express mandate i.e. a written authorisation. The representative should produce authority letter and his / her valid identity proof while tendering the notes.

15) Can I withdraw from ATM?

It may take a while for the banks to recalibrate their ATMs. Once the ATMs are functional, you can withdraw from ATMs upto a maximum of ₹2,000/- per card per day upto 18th November, 2016. The limit will be raised to ₹4000/- per day per card from 19th November 2016 onwards.

16) Can I withdraw cash against cheque?

Yes, you can withdraw cash against withdrawal slip or cheque subject to ceiling of ₹10,000/- in a day within an overall limit of ₹20,000/- in a week (including withdrawals from ATMs) for the first fortnight i.e. upto 24th November 2016.

17) Can I deposit withdrawn notes through ATMs, Cash Deposit Machine or cash Recycler?

Yes, OHD notes can be deposited in Cash Deposits machines / Cash Recyclers.

18) Can I make use of electronic (NEFT/RTGS /IMPS/ Internet Banking / Mobile banking etc.) mode?

You can use NEFT/RTGS/IMPS/Internet Banking/Mobile Banking or any other electronic/ non-cash mode of payment.

19) How much time do I have to exchange the notes?

The scheme closes on 30th December 2016. The OHD banknotes can be exchanged at branches of commercial banks, Regional Rural Banks, Urban Cooperative banks, State Cooperative Banks and RBI till 30th December 2016.

For those who are unable to exchange their Old High Denomination Banknotes on or before December 30, 2016, an opportunity will be given to them to do so at specified offices of the RBI, along with necessary documentation as may be specified by the Reserve Bank of India.

20) I am right now not in India, what should I do?

If you have OHD banknotes in India, you may authorise in writing enabling another person in India to deposit the notes into your bank account. The person so authorised has to come to the bank branch with the OHD banknotes, the authority letter given by you and a valid identity proof (Valid Identity proof is any of the following: Aadhaar Card, Driving License, Voter ID Card, Pass Port, NREGA Card, PAN Card, Identity Card Issued by Government Department, Public Sector Unit to its Staff)

21) I am an NRI and hold NRO account, can the exchange value be deposited in my account?

Yes, you can deposit the OHD banknotes to your NRO account.

22) I am a foreign tourist, I have these notes. What should I do?

You can purchase foreign exchange equivalent to ₹5000 using these OHD notes at airport exchange counters within 72 hours after the notification, provided you present proof of purchasing the OHD notes.

23) I have emergency needs of cash (hospitalisation, travel, life saving medicines) then what I should do?

You can use the OHD notes for paying for your hospitalisation charges at government hospitals, for purchasing bus tickets at government bus stands for travel by state government or state PSU buses, train tickets at railway stations, and air tickets at airports, within 72 hours after the notification.

24) What is proof of identity?

Valid Identity proof is any of the following: Aadhaar Card, Driving License, Voter ID Card, Pass Port, NREGA Card, PAN Card, Identity Card Issued by Government Department, Public Sector Unit to its Staff.

25) Where can I get more information on this scheme?

Further information is available at our website (www.rbi.org.in) and GoI website (www.rbi.org.in).

When the Internet becomes your BFF

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Last week we had a crisis. How serious depends on whom you ask. Measured on my internal Richter Scale, I’d have said the magnitude was 4.5. Aaliya, Nisha and Naima pegged it at 7.5 at least.What happened was mundane. Our Internet went on the blink.Sometime in September, the modem light began wobbling. Overnight, the Internet turned from a fleet-footed messenger into a hunched, hobble-toed creature with a bad attitude.We were all hassled. I had articles to write. My three daughters had online homework to complete. But Aaliya – my eldest who is on the cusp of 13 – was destroyed. “How’re we supposed to live?” she demanded, gasping as if we were depriving her of oxygen rather than just a peek into a friend’s second-cousins’ party pics. “This is just so unfair.” “Things stop working sometimes,” I replied, determined to impart a Lesson for Life. “We grew up without mobile phones and Internet. Our landlines went dead for months at a stretch. We managed.” All I got for my trouble was a disdainful look and a “Yeah, whatever.” For the next few weeks we lurched along the slow lane in cyberspace till one fateful Saturday, something worse happened. The little green light went off. Totally and completely. And no amount of button bashing and moaning made a difference. The connection was dead. Just like the dodo and dingbat. For the rest of the day, the girls stabbed at their devices. “When will it come back?” Nisha and Naima asked every hour. “This is like so unfair,” Aaliya wailed every three minutes. “Why don’t you like DO something?” I should have attempted another round of Lessons for Life. Instead, I called 198 a few dozen times, only to be informed repeatedly that, “Thees number is under cable fault.” Next, I called a local MTNL functionary who explained.“We’ve cut the cable, so how can you have connection?”“When will you put it together again?” I gasped. “Do chaar din mein,” he said airily. That sounded ok, and I rushed to communicate the happy news to the girls. Only to be met with shock and awe. “Four days,” Aaliya squawked. “That too when we have holidays. This is so unfair.”“You people expect everything immediately,” I snapped back. “You’re too dependent on technology. Why do you need to be on your screens all the time?”“We need to know what’s going on,” Aaliya retorted. “We need to check Instagram and Musically and Snapchat. You won’t understand.”“You can read. You can play,” I suggested. “We can bake if you want?” “How?” Nisha and Naima contributed to the growing hysteria. “We need the Internet for recipes.” “Let’s make your power-point for school.” “How? We need the Internet for pictures and facts.”Things were getting ridiculous. I shrieked a bit, lunged for a pile of books and got down to business. A couple of hours later, the PPT was ready. And the lesson that there is life beyond the Internet was learnt–I hope.For a few days we survived the old-fashioned way. What I didn’t know was that one bored evening, Aaliya rebelled against her hermit-status, turned on the data in her phone and binged on Snapchat and Instagram – running up a biggish bill. My husband was livid. I was zapped. “What can possibly have been so important?” we demanded.“I just had to see all the new photos posted on Instagram,” Aaliya replied, assuming the expression of a martyr being basted in blood before being fed to the lions. “You can cut the money from my birthday present.”Vivek and I are still wondering whether to impart this cruel Lesson for Life. Meanwhile the light on the modem is back. “I almost cried for joy,” Aaliya exclaimed after a long session doing God-knows-what on her phone. “But, of course, you won’t understand.”For once, we agreed.

Maharashtra to buy tablets for paperless functioning of Legislature

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra government has given rpt given a go-ahead for procurement of tablets for paperless functioning of the state Legislature.With this move, the upcoming session of the Legislature to be held in Nagpur from December 5, will go paperless.The committee set up for procurement of tablets has given a go-ahead for it along with financial sanction, MLC Manikrao Thakre, one of the committee members, told PTI.States like Goa and Haryana are already using tablets during sessions of their respective Legislative Assembly, he added.”The tables are going to be used in the upcoming Winter Session. The Maharashtra government spends around Rs 50 crore annually for publication of various committee reports, official surveys, reference reports and daily reports for the members of Assembly and Council. Compared to it, at present the tablet cost is not over Rs five crore. Once the tablets are procured, the cost of (publishing) documents will be saved forever,” Thakre said.There are 288 members in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly while there are 78 members in the state Legislative Council.”The high speed Internet service will reduce the waste of time in searching the information and presenting it before the House”, Thakre, a senior Congress leader said, adding the government needs to ensure higher Internet speed through Wi-Fi service.”All the modalities including whether to fix the tables inside the both houses will be finalised at the Committee meeting after Diwali,” Thakre added.A committee of administrative officers had already studied the functioning of Haryana and Goa Assemblies and hence the state government gave its nod to the proposal, said the MLC.The Budget and the Monsoon session of the Maharashtra Legislature are held in Mumbai while the Winter session is held in Nagpur.

Cops identify "merchants" of Mira Road call centre racket

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Thane police, investigating the multi-crore-rupee Mira Road call centre racket that duped many US nationals by impersonating as US Internal Revenue Security officials, have come across a few “merchants”, who were important links in the entire chain.These merchants used to get the money for the syndicate with a 30 per cent cut. Most of these merchants, the police said, are based in Gujarat.Explaining the role of these merchants, a police officer said: “When a caller is on one line talking to a victim in the US, he (caller) would be on a parallel line with a merchant. Once the caller gets the 16-digit code of iTune cards or Target Gift cards from the victim, he would share the code with the merchant. The merchant, in flat 15 minutes, would confirm receipt of money from the US. Only when the merchant confirms receipt of money would the caller disconnect the call with the victim.”At least 10 such merchants have come under police scanner. “We have the names of some merchants. How they used to transfer money from the US to India would be known only when we get hold of Sagar Thakkar alias Shaggy, one of the five kingpins, or when we question the merchants. Our teams have fanned outside the state for further probe,” Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh told dna.The police have launched a hunt to nab Thakkar and the four other kingpins — Ali, Jimmy, Akhil Singh and Tapesh. Thakkar, the Ahmedabad kingpin of the racket, owned about 70 call centres. The average monthly turnover of each call centre was about Rs 2 crore. Ever since the Thane police raided the call centres run by Thakkar at Mira Road on October 4, he has been on the run. It is suspected that he and his sister Reema might have fled to Dubai.How the racket workedA few bogus call centres were set up in Mira Road and those working there had got hold of a list of certain tax defaulters in the US from their US-based counterparts. They used to call up these defaulters through Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and threaten them that if they don’t pay up the fine of $10,000, they would be put behind bars for three months. The victims were also told that they would be blacklisted by the department, their motor driving licences impounded and Social Security Numbers blocked if they fail to pay up. Once the victims agree to pay up, the fraudsters would tell them to make the payment through Target Gift cards or through the iTunes money transfer system. Nine call centres in Mira Road were raided and 72 persons were arrested and 700 others have been served notices.

One lakh blocks in India to be digitalised soon: Telecom Minister

Sat, 22 Oct 2016-02:31pm , Basti , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One lakh blocks in the country will be digitalised in the coming days, Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha has said. “Some one lakh blocks in the country will be digitalised in the coming days to ensure that people do not have to run to tehsils for getting their work done,” the minister said here on Friday.Sinha also said that his ministry was working in a big way to fulfill the promise of ‘Digital India’ made by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The minister said after mobile revolution, work is on for digital revolution in the country.”The result is that last year government saved Rs 34 thousand crores…the manner in which people are using Internet will have far-reaching results,” the minister said.He also lauded the efforts of one of his official developing website for sale and purchase of cattle which he said will go a long way in helping rural population.

The drive to bring internet to rural India

The BBC takes a look at Google’s efforts to boost internet outreach across India.

In a bid to prevent malpractices Gujarat govt bars internet use in state, revokes order later

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Gujarat government decided on Thursday to suspend mobile Internet services for four hours on October 16 during the clerk-level competitive examination in a bid to prevent adoption of any unfair means by candidates but revoked the order hours later.Earlier in the day, Gujarat Subordinate Service Selection Board (GSSSB) chairman Asit Vora had informed the media that district collectors have been asked to take steps to suspend mobile Internet services on October 16 to prevent adoption of unfair means by candidates sitting for the examination.However, an official statement quoting Minister of State for Home Pradipsinh Jadeja later said, “The state Home department has decided not to ban mobile Internet service in connection with the subordinate service competitive examination on Sunday, October 16.””Mobile Internet services will continue as usual across state,” it added. Vora had earlier said, “On our request, district collectors have been asked to ban mobile Internet services between 10 AM and 2 PM on Sunday so that mobile phones are not used for unfair means during the written examination for the post of class IV non-Secretariat clerks and office assistants for cheating.”Ahmedabad in-charge collector AB Gor had also said that district administration has been asked to do the same if it is required to prevent malpractices during the examination. As many as 7.67 lakh aspirants will sit for the test at various centres located in district headquarters across Gujarat, for around 3,000 vacancies.

Delhi Police to ‘up its game’ in tackling online stalking

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Delhi Police has decided to “up its game” in tackling online stalking and child abuse by taking help of some of the most advanced software used by US law enforcement agencies. According to a study released by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), one of the greatest gaps in fighting online child abuse is lack of skilled and dedicated personnel among law enforcement agencies in key investigative areas. Sundari Nanda, Special Commissioner of Police, Women Safety, Airport and Modernisation, made a similar point and stressed that police personnel need to know about online mediums since they are approached by people in distress. “Many of the crimes against women and children are happening in the online space. We have to up our game when we are dealing with such criminals. It is essential for our officers to know about online platforms and social media and the threats posed by them,” she said. Bearing this in mind, a three-day training programme was organised by Delhi Police’s Special Police Unit for Women and Children (SPUWAC) in collaboration with Data Security Council of India (DSCI) and International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) to train police officers about how the Internet is being used to target children. At the programme, police officers were told that they might be given access to software used by the FBI and other premier investigative agencies. “During the three-day training programme, we were told that ICMEC has developed software in collaboration with the FBI, other law enforcement agencies in the US and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that might be made available to us. “These softwares are quite advanced and can track online predators, how they are accessing child pornographic images, where all the images have been circulated, from where these were uploaded. They can lead you to the IP address from where the abuse might be happening,” said a senior police officer who attended the programme. While there are laws to tackle child abuse in India, there are not sufficient figures on the issue, a fact pointed out by UNICEF India in its report titled ‘Child Online Protection in India’ that was released last month. According to the report, despite the presence of close to 400 million Internet users in India, a majority of them being the youth, there are no reliable figures on child online abuse and exploitation. The report also stated that even though cyber crimes against children, have various forms like sexting, online grooming, child pornography and cyber bullying, they are under-reported and not included in the National Crime Records Bureau statistics as a separate category. Last month, a 29-year-old man was arrested in the national capital for harassing more than 50 minor girls in the age group of 9-16, by sending them their morphed photos and abusive messages through WhatsApp and Facebook.

Kashmir unrest: Curfew imposed in Handwara; parts of Srinagar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curfew was on Saturday imposed in Handwara town of north Kashmir, while the curbs were in force in three police station areas of Srinagar, even as normal life remained affected in the Valley for the 78th consecutive day.”Curfew has been imposed in Handwara town of Kupwara district, while it remains in force in three police station areas of downtown (interior city) Srinagar,” a police official said.He said the curbs on the movement of people remained in force in Nowhatta, Khanyar and M R Gunj police station areas of the summer capital of the state. “Curfew has been imposed in view of the apprehensions of law and order problems,” the official said.He said the curbs have been lifted from four police station areas of the city, where they were imposed on Friday in view of the apprehensions of law and order problems after Friday congregational prayers.The official said restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPc would remain in force in the rest of the Valley.The separatists, who are spearheading the current agitation in the Valley, have extended the protest programme till September 29, but have announced periods of relaxation in the strike on some days, unlike the previous week’s protest programme where there was no relaxation.They have called for marches to various tehsil headquarters across the Valley on Saturday and have announced a 12-hour relaxation from 6 pm.Meanwhile, normal life continued to remain disturbed in Kashmir for the 78th straight day due to restrictions and separatist sponsored strike.Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps continued to remain shut in Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley, while public transport was off the roads. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions also continued to remain shut.Mobile Internet services also remained suspended, while the outgoing calls on prepaid numbers continued to remain barred across the Valley.As many as 82 people, including two cops, have been killed in the unrest that broke out a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir on July 8.

Tamil Nadu government to launch 50 Amma Free Wi-Fi zones

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In yet another people-friendly initiative, the ruling AIADMK government on Friday issued orders to set up ‘Amma Free Wi-Fi’ zones in 50 places across the state.Cashing in on the ‘Amma’ brand, the state government had earlier introduced several people-friendly schemes like Amma Water, Amma Cement, Amma Medicine besides launching Amma Canteen offering food at subsidised rates.”In a move to implement the Free Wi-Fi zone scheme as announced in the party manifesto, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa issued orders to set up Amma Wi-Fi zone in 50 spots, comprising larger bus terminuses, commercial complexes and parks,” a release from Chief Minister’s office said.Similarly, higher secondary school and college students would also be given free access to Internet as per the poll promise, it said.In the first phase, 50 schools will be covered at a cost of Rs 10 crore.Jayalalithaa is fondly called ‘Amma’ (Mother) by her cadres.Meanwhile, Jayalalithaa has issued orders to construct an integrated IT complex, spread across 2 lakh sqft at the Electronic Corporation of Tamil Nadu Special Economic Zone in Sholinganallur at a cost of Rs 80 crore, another release said.The proposal to construct the complex was against the backdrop of exports from the Special Economic Zone constituting 25%, valued at Rs 16536 crore, it said.The government said, 650 permanent e-registration centres will be set up by the Tamil Nadu e-governance Agency allowing people to access the services offered by government departments. “The Centres will be set up at a cost of Rs 25 crore,” it said.For customers who opt to make use of government services through mobile applications, the release said, a new scheme, Assured Multi-Modal Access, would be launched offering the services of government department in mobile phones.”Initially, 25 government schemes will be launched through this facility at a cost of Rs 1 crore,” it added.Noting that the offices of Tamil Nadu e-governance agency and the Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation were operating in rented premises, the release said new buildings at a cost of Rs 5 crore would be constructed to house the government offices.

India not doing enough to protect kids from online abuse: UNICEF

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>UNICEF on Thursday released a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive report analysing the use of the Internet and mobile phones among children in India. The report has presented a scathing commentary on the lack of preparedness of Indian agencies to tackle online abuse of children. There are currently 40 lakh Internet users in India. The report estimates that 13.4 lakh Indian children use mobile phones.Social networking site Facebook and cross-platform application WhatsApp are increasingly posing a threat to the security of children online.A 13-year-old Indian boy was targeted by one of his classmates who used a fake identity to create a Facebook account to send out offensive messages to other children in the school. The victim did not have a Facebook account. He was hauled by his parents and teachers for misbehaviour. In another incident, a girl was forced out of a school WhatsApp group where a morphed obscene picture of her was shared.The report states the police and judiciary in India fail to appropriately respond to complaints of online harassment of children. “Such cases are often not registered or investigated due to limited understanding of child online offences system. Also, there is inadequate forensic capacity to investigate online offences and inadequate cooperation by India for investigating international offences,” the report states.It also states that the conviction rates for child online abuse are extremely low due to poor quality of evidence and the lack of police capacities to handle cyber evidence. The report goes on to say, “Police have often not been trained to preserve e-mails as evidence in child sexual abuse case. They also often do not attach a 65-B certificate due to which the evidence cannot be admitted in court. As a result, victims of online abuse are denied justice, while perpetrators enjoy impunity.”Weighing in on the effectiveness of the judiciary, the report states, “Even as the cyber appellate tribunal, to appeal in case of online harassment cases was formed in 2006, a judge to preside and decide on the cases has not been appointed since 2011,” stated the report.Picking loopholes in Indian law, the report states that emotional harassment, cyber-bullying, sexting, social exclusion, ideological indoctrination or exposure to inappropriate content do not constitute legal offences under Indian law.In 2015, a survey carried out by a private IT company threw up shocking results. About 43 per cent of children active on social media claimed to have witnessed cruel behaviour, while 52 per cent of children indicated that they had themselves bullied people over social media. This included being mean to other children, the bullies saying they did not like them and taking a dig at someone by calling them ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’, making fun of someone’s physical appearances or tagging them in mean pictures. Such emotional harassment under cyber-bullying is not considered a ‘legal’ offence under Indian law, making it impossible to bring perpetrators to book.The report recommends to make priority interventions in formulating a national framework for child online safety in India. It also recommends the review and revision of cyber laws in India pertaining to child abuse and exploitation.

Kashmir: Curfew in parts of Srinagar for 74th straight day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curfew was today lifted across Kashmir, except from six police station areas of Srinagar, in view of the improving situation, even as normal life remained disrupted in the Valley for the 74th straight day. Curfew remains in force in five police station areas of downtown (interior city) and Harwan in Srinagar, while the curbs have been lifted from elsewhere in the Valley, a police official said.He said curfew was clamped in Harwan Police Station areas today in view of the fourth day of mourning of a boy killed in security forces’ action on Friday. The official said the curbs on the movement of people were lifted, from other areas where curfew was in force yesterday, because of the improving situation.Barring stray incidents of stone pelting in Sopore and Shopian, overall situation remained under control across the Valley yesterday and there was increased traffic and movement of people between various districts and towns of the Valley including in some areas of Srinagar city, the official said. He, however, said that restrictions on the assembly of people under Section 144 CrPc continued to remain in force in the Valley. Meanwhile, normal life continued to remain paralysed in Kashmir for the 74th consecutive day due to restrictions and separatist sponsored strike.The separatists, who are spearheading the current agitation in the Valley, have extended the protest programme till September 22. They have also asked people to observe today as Women’s Day. They have not announced any period of relaxation in the strike for the week. Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps continued to remain shut, while public transport was off the roads.Schools, colleges and other educational institutions also continued to remain shut. Postpaid mobile telephony services were restored last night, while the outgoing calls on prepaid numbers continued to remain snapped across the Valley. Mobile Internet services also remained suspended. As many as 81 people, including two cops, have been killed in the unrest that broke out a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir on July 8.

Curfew clamped in Pulwama, Baramulla districts of Kashmir as separatists call for protests

Srinagar: On Monday, curfew was clamped in Pulwama and Baramulla districts of Kashmir, while it remained in force in some other areas of the Valley including in parts of Srinagar, in view of the separatists call for a protest march to the three districts.

Normal life also remained disrupted in the Valley for the 73rd straight day.

A police official said that curfew has been imposed in Pulwama and Baramulla districts on Monday, while it remains in force in Shopian and five police station areas of downtown (interior city) along with Batamaloo in uptown Srinagar.

He said the curbs have been imposed to maintain law and order in view of the separatists call for a march to the three districts of Baramulla, Pulwama and Srinagar.

The official said restrictions on the assembly of people continued to remain in force in the rest of the Valley.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The separatists, in the weekly protest programme, have called for a march to the three districts Baramulla (in north Kashmir), Srinagar (in central Kashmir) and Pulwama (in south Kashmir) on Monday.

They have asked the people of north Kashmir districts of Bandipora and Kupwara to march towards Baramulla, people of south Kashmir districts of Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag to march to Pulwama and people of Central Kashmir districts of Ganderbal and Budgam to march towards Srinagar.

Meanwhile, normal life continued to remain paralysed in Kashmir for the 73rd consecutive day due to restrictions and separatist sponsored strike.

The separatists, who are spearheading the current agitation in the Valley, have extended the protest programme
till 22 September.

Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps continued to remain shut, while public transport was off the roads. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions also continued to remain shut.

Mobile telephony, except the postpaid connections of BSNL, and the mobile Internet services continued to remain snapped across the Valley.

As many as 81 people, including two cops, have been killed in the unrest that broke out a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces in South Kashmir on 8 July.

Kashmir unrest: Dialogue must, need to find permanent solution: Modi tells J-K opposition leaders

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing deep concern and pain over the prevailing situation in Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told Opposition parties from Jammu and Kashmir that there is a need to find a permanent solution to the problem within the framework of Constitution.Opposition parties led by Omar Abdullah had called on Modi and appealed that a political approach needs to be adopted for resolving the present crisis in the Valley and to ensure that the ‘mistakes’ of the past are not repeated.During a 75-minute-long meeting, Modi said, “Those who lost their lives during the unrest are ‘part of us, our nation’. Whether the lives lost are of our youth, security personnel or police, it distresses us,” reported PTI.Appealing for restoration of normalcy, the PM said, “There has to be a dialogue and we need to find a permanent solution to the problem within the framework of Constitution.”The delegation also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister, expressing ‘its anguish, grief and sorrow over the painful loss of lives in the Valley’ and to express ‘dismay at the lack of a political approach to deal with the situation.’ “We are of the firm opinion that the central government should waste no further time in initiating a credible and meaningful political dialogue with all stakeholders to address the unrest in the state,” the memorandum said.As many as 65 persons, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the clashes that began on July 9.Meanwhile, normal life remained paralysed for the 45th consecutive day due to curfew, restrictions and separatist sponsored strike following Wani’s killing in an encounter with security forces.Shops, private offices, educational institutions and petrol pumps remained closed while public transport continued to be off roads.The attendance in government offices and banks was also affected.Mobile Internet also continued to remain suspended in the entire Valley, where the outgoing facility on prepaid mobiles remained barred.

Curfew in force in Srinagar, normal life disrupted in Valley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Srinagar remained under curfew on Monday after a teenager was killed by a teargas shell here yesterday, even as normal life in the Valley was paralysed for the 45th day due to restrictions and strike in the wake of violence following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. Curfew continues to be in force in entire Srinagar district as well as in Anantnag town.Curfew has also been clamped in Khansahib town of Budgam district of central Kashmir as a precautionary measure, a police official said. He said curfew was lifted from Pampore town today in view of the improving situation.However, the official said, restrictions on the assembly of four or more people under Section 144 Crpc have been imposed in the town and elsewhere in the Valley where there is no curfew. This is to maintain law and order, he said.A youth, Irfan Wani, was killed in downtown area of the city yesterday after he was hit by a tear gar shell. The official said restrictions around Lal Chowk city centre in the summer capital here, which were imposed on August 14, were also eased out today. People with curfew passes are being allowed to move around Lal Chowk, he said.The separatist camp, which is spearheading the agitation in the Valley over the civilian killings during the protests against Wani’s killing, has asked people to march towards Tehsil headquarters today. As many as 65 persons, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the clashes that began on July 9.Meanwhile, normal life remained paralysed for the 45th consecutive day due to curfew, restrictions and separatist sponsored strike following Wani’s killing in an encounter with security forces.Shops, private offices, educational institutions and petrol pumps remained closed while public transport continued to be off roads.The attendance in government offices and banks was also affected.Mobile Internet also continued to remain suspended in the entire Valley, where the outgoing facility on prepaid mobiles remained barred.The separatist camp, headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, has extended the agitation till August 25.

Rio 2016: A few mistakes in the third set proved crucial, says PV Sindhu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Indian woman has finally won a silver medal at the Olympics. While a billion people back home burst into spontaneous celebrations, all she wanted to do was binge on junk food, catch the latest movie and talk to her near and dear ones on phone.Emerging from the shadow of her equally celebrated compatriot, Saina Nehwal, the 21-year-old PV Sindhu is India’s new heart-throb, the toast of a grateful nation after forging new pathways for girls back home.Sindhu is now pursuing an MBA degree from St. Ann’s College in Mehdipatnam, Hyderabad. Talking to dna, she shares her dreams and her journey thus far to make her dream a reality. Excerpts:How does it feel after winning silver in your very first Olympic outing?I’m really happy. The feeling is indescribable! No words can adequately describe what it feels to win an Olympic silver in your first attempt. My aim was to win a gold, but never mind, it was a good game and Carolina (Marin) played extremely well. In a match, one should win and one should lose. So it was her day on Friday. Overall, this was a wonderful week for me as I played some really good matches against some of the top players in the world.After winning the first game, you only won two points in your service. Did that cause concern?I don’t think that should matter because Carolina was playing so well in the second. I made some mistakes and conceded a huge lead. I covered it up a few times, but again let her gain a big lead. In the second game, I was just like “let’s play”, but even then I didn’t leave it like that and put in a lot of effort.You were almost matching her in the third one…After she started off well, I did well to catch up with her at 10-all. It was then I believe I made 2-3 mistakes: to let her off the hook which proved crucial ultimately.Was conceding early points in all three games that made the difference in the end?May be in the final game it mattered. I gave her that extra start. But then, she was also not leaving any shuttle. She was going for everything. I was playing with aggression. We both wanted to win and we fought hard till the end. It was anybody’s game and she won.Carolina (Marin) said that she was changing shuttles frequently to irritate you?It’s part of the game. I knew that she would do that and I only complained to the chair umpire that ‘she has not been asking me before changing shuttles in between’. Ups and downs are always going to happen in any match.When did you feel that the match was out of your hands?I never gave up till the very end. I came back from 16-19 to win five straight points to win the first game. So, it was always playing in my mind that anything could still happen.You must have made many sacrifices to reach this far?No doubt, one has to make sacrifices to see this day. But I am very thankful to my coach and my parents for being always there for me.We hear that you used your phone only to talk to your parents for a limited time so that you could focus on the game here? Did you miss that?For the last three months, I had no access to the phone or Internet. I finally got my phone back from the coach after reaching the Games Village on Friday. Now I am planning to wake up everyone back home from their sleep, or may be they are awake after watching this game, and talk to them for long. I do not think it is a sacrifice because badminton is more important to me than the Internet, and I chose what I love best.What really changed after the Australian Open where you lost in the first round (first week of June)?For the last one-and-a-half month, we didn’t have any tournament. We were just working on our game. We made many sacrifices because getting an Olympic medal is definitely every player’s aim. My aim was also the same. I got a tough draw here but then I had belief in myself. Gopi sir had faith in me. He told me to just take one match at a time and not look at others. We kept working hard, no matter what the result would be.At what point did you feel that you had a chance to win a medal?I was not thinking about the medal from the beginning. Looking at the tough draw, I knew I had to think about one match at a time and that’s what I did from the first match against Michelle (Canada) till the final with Carolina.Have you been around the city, to the beaches, like the famous Copacabana here?No, because I was busy playing. May be now I will get a chance to go sightseeing.How do you relax and unwind after a gruelling day like this?If I have an off day, I like to watch a movie, go shopping or even chill out with my cousin sister. I am certainly looking forward to doing all this, once I reach home. I want to celebrate this medal with my family.Who is your favourite actor?Hmmm… Ranbir Kapoor and Hrithik Roshan (Laughs).Do you listen to any motivational song to pep you up?Not really. I love music. I listen to all kinds of music, depending on my mood.

Rajasthan Minister Gajendra Singh says porn sites responsible for rapes

A Rajasthan minister on Wednesday said incidents of rape happen because of porn sites and demanded that access to such sites should be banned.”These incidents are happening…thanks to Internet…porn videos etc. Access to these porn sites should be banned as these are not good for the society,” Minister for Industries Rajasthan Gajendra Singh said.He said porn sites were easily accessible and people should come together to fight against them.”Rape and similar incidents are rising. West is influencing and it is very bad,” Singh said.

Jammu internet services suspended after temple desecration

Jammu: Authorities decided to suspend all Internet services across Jammu region on Friday to stop spread of rumours on social networking sites following the desecration of a temple here Thursday evening.

All mobile and broadband-based Internet services have been suspended, a district official said.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“To stop rumour mongering on social networking sites in the wake of the desecration of Shiv temple in Nanak Nagar area, the authorities decided to temporarily suspend all Internet services including mobile and landline Internet services,” the official said.

One more temple was allegedly desecrated in Jammu on Thursday, leading to tension briefly in parts of the city.

“A man entered a temple in the Nanak Nagar area and tried to vandalise it. The man has been identified and arrested,” Deputy Commissioner of Jammu Simrandeep Singh had said.

A large number of people came onto the roads after news spread. Shopkeepers in the area downed their shutters and held a protest demanding action against the accused.

“Though some people held protest in the area, the situation is normal and under control. Adequate police personnel have been deployed to foil any untoward incident in the area,” Singh said.

The incident took place even as normalcy had returned to Jammu following alleged desecration of a temple in another area Roopnagar on Tuesday by a man who was described by police as “mentally disturbed”. The city had witnessed violence and arson over that incident.

This is how the government can crack down on Shaadi.com, Bharat Matrimony, others

In late 2015, the Women and Child Development ministry, Home ministry, Department for Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and the representatives of matrimonial websites came together to create a panel. Their purpose? To regulate portals like Jeevansathi, Bharat Matrimony and Shaadi.com.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Now, this panel and the recently-announced regulations might not seem like Big Brother material because, on the surface, they seem to target pernicious defrauders who use these websites to cheat and exploit others. Many such instances have been reported recently, and the proposed steps do seem helpful to curb this.For example, the guidelines require websites to have an IP address registry of site-visitors, and for users to upload ID proof docs when they join — probably useful for reducing fake profiles and identifying culprits in case of cyber crime.
ALSO READ These are Modi govt’s strict new rules for matrimonial sitesBut when a part of the advisory reads: “Service providers should make a declaration that website is strictly for matrimonial purpose only and not a dating website and should not be used for posting obscene material,” one is hard-pressed to wonder if the government’s intentions are that pure.The Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad posted on June 2:
ALSO READ Notes from disastrous ‘matrimonial dates’Twitter responses to the announcement were caustic:Can the Internet, the domain of free speech and expression, be subject to this much regulation? Can the government shut down matrimonial websites over this?Maybe.The Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000 is a double-edged sword. Where it protects, it also prevents.It gives the government a lot of power, including the power to block public access to information under Section 69A, if it is a threat to public order or incites anyone to the commission of offences listed in Sections 65-67, including sending offensive messages, cheating by impersonation, identity theft and publishing obscene content. All of which is being found a-plenty on these websites.The government can also make rules, including any about reasonable safety practices, which is what it’s doing.Matrimonial websites could easily fall into the sinkhole of ‘obscene content’, if users attempt to use these sites for hook-ups, or post anything that could be deemed even mildly objectionable. Obscenity is notoriously hazy as a legal concept, not only in India but world over, with no firm consensus as to what is ‘obscene’.Obscenity is dealt with under Section 67 of the IT Act (also S 292-294 of the Indian Penal Code.) In cases involving obscenity, Indian Courts have moved from applying the ruling in the English case Regina vs. Hicklin (the Hicklin test) to using the vague determinant of contemporary community standards. A tricky proposition in a society that is conservative and hypocritical at the same time. For example: this survey by a leading daily found that while 61% of India doesn’t believe pre-marital sex is taboo, 63% wants their spouse to be a virgin.But would websites pay the price for the shenanigans of the Internet’s lowlife?They generally don’t.Websites take the stand that they are platforms and not publishers of content, and so can’t be liable. It’s not always a solid argument though as this Guardian article says.In fact, Shaadi.com in its Terms of Use calls itself an ‘advertising platform providing targeted advertising services for matchmaking alliances,’ a replacement for a newspaper classified ad.Facebook, for example, says in its Statements of Rights and Responsibilities:‘Facebook is not responsible for the actions, content, information or data of third parties, and you release us, or directors, officers, employees and agents from any claims and damages, known and unknown, arising out of or in any way connected with any claim you have against any such third parties.’A matrimonial website, as an Internet service provider, is an ‘intermediary’ under Section 2(w) of the IT Act. It can probably not be held liable under Section 79 for third party data it hosts, as it merely provides a platform for persons to communicate.But that doesn’t mean it gets a free pass under Section 79 if it fails to exercise due diligence, or aids or abets the commission of an unlawful act. If it isn’t verifying profiles and weeding out the creepies, it’s failing on both counts.An intelligent lawyer would also tack on Section 43A which says that corporates having any sensitive personal information on their computers are liable to pay damages if they don’t maintain reasonable security practices.Plus, the guideline to maintain an IP address registry is validated by Section 67C under which intermediaries need to preserve any information that the government thinks necessary in whatever manner it believes they should. In short, matrimonial websites had better solve their own problems before the Government steps in to solve them out of existence.

Google denied permission to launch Street View app in India

Those who were looking forward to get a panoramic street view on their Google app are in for a disappointment. The Union home ministry has denied the Internet giant the permission to launch the Street View service in India. The increasing bonhomie between India and the US had raised hope of many, who expected Google to get permission for the popular app.Top government sources said that after considering Google’s proposal at length for nearly a year, both Union home ministry and defence ministry decided unequivocally that permission for the street view service cannot be granted, as it could have serious security implications.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The street view can be used by terrorists to set coordinates for launching terror attacks with precision. We cannot afford to have such a service. The geospatial bill, which is under process, will elaborately dwell on this issue,” said the source.The Union home ministry officials also spoke to some India-based app providers before taking the decision, and they also raised similar red flags, sources said.Google representatives had given a detailed presentation of their Street View app to the Union home ministry in April 2015 and explained how the platform could be extremely useful in promoting tourism and in times of disasters.Later in July 2015, they submitted a formal proposal to shoot images through high-end cameras mounted on cars, bikes and on foot. Earlier, a pilot project was undertaken by Google in collaboration with the tourism ministry, wherein it shot 360-degree panoramic view of famous tourist sites such as Qutub Minar, Thanjavur temple, Varanasi river bank, Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Nalanda University, Mysore Palace and Chinnaswamy Stadium. They can still be seen on Google Street View app.

Modi in US: Bilateral Cyber relationship accord to be inked soon

Ushering in a new era of collaboration in the cyber sphere, India and the US will sign a framework for the bilateral cyber relationship between the two countries within the next two months.The announcement in this regard was made in a joint statement after the White House meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama. During the meeting the two leaders emphasised that cyberspace enables economic growth and development, and reaffirmed their commitment to an open, inter operable, secure, and reliable Internet, underpinned by the multi stakeholder model of Internet governance.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They committed to deepen cooperation on cyber security and welcomed the understanding reached to finalise the Framework for the US-India Cyber Relationship in the near term,” the joint statement said.
ALSO READ Modi in US: Full Text of the India-US joint statement after PM Modi met President ObamaA fact sheet issued by the White House said the framework would be signed within 60 days. During the meeting Modi and Obama committed to enhance cyber collaboration on critical infrastructure, cyber crime, and malicious cyber activity by state and non-state actors, capacity building, and cyber security research and development, and to continue discussions on all aspects of trade in technology and related services, including market access.They have committed to continue dialogue and engagement in Internet governance, including in ICANN, IGF and other venues, and to support active participation by all stakeholders of the two countries in these arena.
ALSO READ In PM Modi, Obama has found partner to boost Indo-US ties: White HouseKey component of the bilateral relationshipObama and Modi committed to promote stability in cyberspace based on the applicability of international law including the United Nations Charter, the promotion of voluntary norms of responsible state behaviour during peacetime, and the development and implementation of practical confidence building measures between states. According to the White House fact sheet, cooperation on cyber issues is a key component of the bilateral relationship between India and the United States. The two countries have a strategic cyber relationship that reflects their shared values, common vision, and shared principles for cyberspace.
ALSO READ India to be new engine of global growth: PM Modi at US India Business CouncilBoth sides recognise the value of enhancing and further institutionalising their broad-based cooperation on cyber issues, and in that respect, intend to complete a framework based on the following shared principles and intended forms of cooperation, it said. The fact sheet said the two countries committed to voluntary norms under which a state should not conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages critical infrastructure or otherwise impairs the use of critical infrastructure to provide services to the public.”A state should not conduct or knowingly support activity intended to prevent national Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) from responding to cyber incidents. States should also not use CSIRTs to enable online activity that is intended to do harm,” the fact sheet said.Cooperation in cyber activitiesThe two countries agreed that a state should cooperate, in a manner consistent with its domestic law and international obligations, with requests for assistance from other States in investigating cyber crimes, collecting electronic evidence and mitigating malicious cyber activity emanating from its territory. They also agreed that a state should not conduct or knowingly support ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.Shared principles for the US-India cyber relationship include, a commitment to an open, inter operable, secure, and reliable cyberspace environment; a commitment to promote the Internet as an engine for innovation, economic growth, and trade and commerce; and a commitment to promote the free flow of information.It also includes a commitment to promote cooperation between and among the private sector and government authorities on cyber crime and cyber security; a recognition of the importance of bilateral and international cooperation for combating cyber threats and promoting cyber security; and a commitment to respect cultural and linguistic diversity.

Mumbai: Four of cyber crime gang members held

The cyber crime police have arrested four Indian members of a gang for duping a businessman to the tune of Rs 4.20 lakh through phishing fraud. Investigation revealed that the gang, consisting of Nigerian nationals as well, obtained bank password details of victims by hacking their Gmail accounts and then withdrew the money.The arrested quartet was identified as Himanshu Nagdev (36), Sandip Lekhwani alias Sonu (31), Rajesh Kanojiya alias Sandeep Kapadia alias Rupesh Gupta (36) and Chandrakant Kambale alias Jayesh (25).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the police, on April 19, the complainant received two emails from Google for password and security change. The next day, his SIM card stopped working. The victim bought a new SIM card from a mobile gallery. “Since he was not getting any mails on his Gmail ID, he used the recovery mail option and realised that he had received an email from his bank, stating that he had made money transfers. Rs4.20 lakh had been transferred from his account to banks in Bhopal and Vasai in two installments,” said additional commissioner of police (crime) KMM Prasanna.On the basis of technical intelligence, the police first nabbed Nagdev, a watchman in Khar. Nagdev admitted to be a part of the gang and said his cousin Lekhwani, who operated from Chandigarh, was running the racket along with Gupta and Kambale.Explaining the gang’s modus operandi, an officer said, “Kambale is the ring leader. He remains in touch with their Nigerian counterparts. After studying accounts of potential victims on Internet, the gang hacks into their Gmail accounts. The password and other online details are then given to Kanojiya, whose job is to seek account holders through Lekhwani and Nagdev. Armed with all the details, they simply withdraw or transfer the money.”The police are now on a lookout for three other members of the racket, identified as Mohan Iyyer, Amit and Arun.

The purpose of education seems to get lost in its present incarnation

Political Science is about cooking and the most reactive element in the periodic table is “aluminium”. Incredible? Perhaps not, if you have heard about the Class 12 toppers from Bihar. Videos of shocking gaffes by Humanities topper, Ruby Rai, and Science topper, Saurabh Shrestha, are going viral on the Internet.Those familiar with the state of school education in Bihar are not surprised. About a year ago, a photograph capturing relatives of candidates appearing for an examination scaling a school building to help them cheat in Bihar’s Vaishali district focused international attention on the visually hilarious but sad drama.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Strict rules to assure meritAfter Bihar brought in stringent checks at examination centres this year, only half the students appearing for Class 10 examination could pass. “The results are not as expected. But they show the actual merit of students. Those who have passed will be able to clear competitive exams,” state education minister Ashok Choudhary told reporters.The challenges of studying in a government-aided school, however, has often been overcome by personal endeavour. Krishna Veda Vysa, the son of a truck driver, who took to selling newspapers to pay school fees. A class topper, lack of finances forced him to drop out from school. Today, he is an IIM-Calcutta graduate.His case is one of triumph over a systemic, deep-rooted malaise which has crippled the education system in India.India’s investment in educationIndia spends Rs 54,893 crore or US $8,210 million on education every year with 7,40,000 schools, making it one of the world’s largest.In last year’s budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reduced overall allocations in education but increased higher education budget by nearly 22 per cent, which meant a shift in focus away from school. In 2015-16, about Rs69,074 crore was allocated for education — out of which Rs 42,219 crore was for school sector and Rs26,855 crore for higher education — as against Rs70,505 crore in 2014-15.Yet the state of education in government-run institutions is so abysmal that one would have trouble finding a person of means, including the Minister of Education, who would send their kids to a government school. Any person who pays for this system to run will never use it for himself or for his family.Imparting poor education a pan-India problemStandards of learning are low across India. A survey by non-government organisation Pratham says educational standards of students in English and Mathematics have fallen in the past eight years, up to the upper primary level in government-run schools. Low quality teaching is a major reason for this.Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014 — studying learning outcomes among children – found 26.1 per cent of class V students could solve simple math and half the class could not read class II level texts.As far as global standards are concerned, a look at 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey helps. It had placed India in the second last position, just ahead of Kyrgyzstan, in a survey of children in 74 countries on their reading, math and science abilities. India has refused to participate in the survey since then.Comparative global educational modelsIndia has the third-largest education system after China and United States, but fails to make the cut when it comes to exposure, industry-relevant exercises and innovative teaching techniques.Countries like the United States and Germany focus on curriculum-based teaching when it comes to business. Academics interact with corporate companies and look at what the future trend will be, paying adequate attention to economic charts and train students accordingly.Recently, there has been a debate on the Finnish education model where researchers claim that there has been exemplary progress. The ‘No homework, no stress’ policy, extended recess and late age of joining elementary school are the advantages cited in the model, giving children space and time to learn.India, on the other hand is known for mindless learning by rote and over emphasis on marks rather than practical-based learning or skill training.Rote learning vs skill developmentA good score is important for admissions at the college level to earn an undergraduate degree – often the basic requirement for an office job. Students who have no interest in academic pursuits have to put up with years of rote learning to get over these traditional thresholds to employment. When that fails, organised rackets step in to help them.The Indian government is now looking at skill development as a way out for those who are not academically inclined to make them employable.According to the Indian government, 1.04 crore youth have been trained under Skill India Mission in 2015-16. This is an improvement of 36.8 per cent from the previous year’s recorded data.The Skill India Mission is aimed at providing technical training to students to do away with the almost unavoidable nature of a university degree in the current education-employability paradigm. The government plans to train manpower and send them abroad for work to encourage skill training and is adding 5,000 new Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to the existing pool of over 13,000.Given that 41 per cent of India’s population is under 19 as per the 2011 census and the demand for jobs is on the rise every year, this may be the only way out.Are we prepared to learn our lessons?The Bihar ‘prodigal’ incident is a wake-up call which has once again exposed the inadequacy of our education system where the marksheet wins over actual learning. India can learn from education systems around the world — especially from models which emphasise skill learning so as to keep up with the growing demand globally as well as in the domestic sector. It will take a combination of training, efficient management and adequate funds to root out the malaise within the country’s public education system.

Soon, Railways to launch free Wi-Fi service at 7 stations including Allahabad, Sealdah

In a move to provide unhindered Internet facility to rail users, Railways will soon launch free Wi-FI service at seven more stations, including Allahabad and Sealdah.”We will provide free Wi-Fi service in association with Google at seven more stations soon for passengers,” a senior Railway Ministry official said.Railways currently provides the service at eleven stations: Mumbai Central, Bhubaneswar, Kacheguda, Vijayawada, Raipur, Bhopal, Patna, Ranchi, Visakhapatnam, Jaipur and Guwahati.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said the work for providing Wi-Fi facility is underway and the stations, including Pune, Ernakulum, Lucknow, Ujjain and Gorakhpur, will get it soon.Supported by Google technology, RailTel, a railways PSU, is providing state-of-the-art high-speed Internet network at the stations for visitors and rail users.Travellers passing through these stations will now be able to easily stream a high definition video while they are waiting. They can also download a book or a new game for their journey.”Our target is to provide the facility at 100 major stations in the current year,” he said.The service built over the fibre network of RailTel is designed to offer high speed broadband-like experience to any user with a mobile connection on a smartphone.

Google faces record 3 billion euro EU antitrust fine: Telegraph | Reuters

LONDON Google faces a record antitrust fine of around 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) from the European Commission in the coming weeks, the British newspaper Sunday Telegraph said.

The European Union has accused Google of promoting its shopping service in Internet searches at the expense of rival services in a case that has dragged on since late 2010.

Several people familiar with the matter told Reuters last month they believed that after three failed attempts at a compromise in the past six years Google now had no plans to try to settle the allegations unless the EU watchdog changed its stance.

The Telegraph cited sources close to the situation as saying officials planned to announce the fine as early as next month, but that the bill had not yet been finalized.

Google will also be banned from continuing to manipulate search results to favor itself and harm rivals, the newspaper said.

The Commission can fine firms up to 10 percent of their annual sales, which in Google’s case would be a maximum possible sanction of more than 6 billion euros. The biggest antitrust fine to date was a 1.1 billion euro fine of chip-maker Intel in 2009.

The Commission declined to comment, while Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan in London and Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Editing by Clelia Oziel)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Delhi High Court slams centre for not doing anything for revising pay of prosecutors

The Delhi High Court has pulled up the Centre for “not doing anything” on the proposal sent by the AAP government for revision of pay scales of public prosecutors of the district courts here.”You (Centre) are not doing anything on the proposal,” Justice J R Midha said, adding the revised salaries are to be paid by the Delhi government then why the central government was not giving its go ahead to it.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The manner in which the file is moving, shows that the Centre is not interested in doing anything,” it said, adding the file was sent to the LG in September last year, after which it was sent to the President of India for his approval as the Delhi government does not have power to decide service related issues.”This is a minor thing, You resolve it,” the court advised Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, who appeared for the Centre.The Judge said he was “disturbed” after reading the file, as the Centre had put hundreds of objection in it, which was “not warranted”.The judge also asked why the Finance Ministry was sitting over the file since six months.Delhi government counsel Rahul Mehra submitted that they had sent the cabinet note in December last to the LG approving hike in the salary of the prosecutors.Mehra contended that the LG has put a stay on the proposal and sent it to the President on the ground that service matters do not lie in Delhi government’s domain.The court was hearing a petition filed through advocate Ashish Dixit seeking contempt action against Home Secretary for not complying with the court’s September 9, 2015 order.The court in its September 2015 order had directed the Delhi government that the decision to increase the pay scales of Delhi public prosecutors be implemented without any delay.The contempt petition filed by Delhi Prosecutors Welfare Association alleged “deliberate and willful disobedience” on the part of the Centre and city government in complying with the court order.The association, in its petition, has said assurances to the court by Delhi government on providing Internet facilities to the prosecutors have also not been done.”It is submitted that despite there being explicit directions by this court for implementing the cabinet decision dated September 1, 2015 the respondents (Centre and Delhi government) have till date not complied with the directions.”The respondent 1 (Centre) and respondent 2 (Delhi government) have demonstrated an attitude which violates the majesty of this court. The respondents deliberately and willfully have not complied with the directions of this court,” the petition has said.

Facebook releases employee guidelines amid accusations of political bias | Reuters

Facebook (FB.O) on Thursday emphasized that it does not permit its employees to block news stories from its “Trending Topics” list based on political bias, amid a controversy over how the social media superpower selects what news it displays.

Technology news website Gizmodo on Monday reported that a former Facebook employee said workers “routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers” while “artificially” adding other stories to the trending list.

The Gizmodo story triggered a reaction on social media, with several journalists and commentators raising concerns about alleged bias, and prompted a U.S. senate inquiry.

The social media company, whose reach is global, had over a billion daily active users on average in March, according to statistics the company posted to its newsroom.

In a post published to Facebook’s media relations section on Thursday, a senior company official outlined its “Trending Topics” guidelines at length.

“Facebook does not allow or advise our reviewers to discriminate against sources of any political origin, period,” wrote Justin Osofsky, vice president for global operations. “We have a series of checks and balances in place to help surface the most important popular stories, regardless of where they fall on the ideological spectrum.”

The post went on to explain how certain topics emerge in Facebook users’ trending feeds. Potential trending topics are identified by an algorithm, or formula, Facebook said, then reviewed by a “Trending Topics” team.

Gizmodo Editor-in-Chief Katie Drummond responded to the post with an email saying, “I don’t see anything that contradicts our reporting–do you?”

Gizmodo’s story sparked a Senate committee inquiry.

Republican U.S. Senator John Thune, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said in a statement on Tuesday that Facebook needed to respond to “these serious allegations.”

“Any attempt by a neutral and inclusive social media platform to censor or manipulate political discussion is an abuse of trust and inconsistent with the values of an open Internet,” said Thune.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Rajdeep walked out from an uneven battlefield: Time bells tolled for trolls

There is a kind of unspoken conspiracy that says, leave the trolls alone, they have nuisance value and can be ignored. Just like the Norwegian wood creatures of the same name who were perceived as having supernatural powers and were ugly as sin.

Fine. But the trolls on the internet have no supernatural powers. It is not possible to have any magic potion for those who are cowardly, hide their identity and spew filth and venom and vituperative on to the comments page and do so because it is easy to be crass and coarse and vicious when you are anonymous.

Rajdeep Sardesai. Image courtesy: IBNlive

Rajdeep Sardesai. Image courtesy: IBNlive

The question then arises; why do we tolerate these people, if you can call them that? Are we afraid they will conduct a campaign against us? They already do that so what is the worst they can do: add more filth to their mountain of sheer muck?

Do you blame Rajdeep Sardesai for walking away from the uneven battlefield? There is nothing to be romanticised in having your mother attacked and attacked so blatantly in public forums. Who are these creeps and how can we advocate hanging in there and fighting the good fight when the trolls are in concealment? It is a hidden enemy, one that has no rules.

Ask yourselves. What would you do if your family members were attacked so viciously. Be sporting about it? What rubbish.

One old hand who has crossed the line and simply ignores this tribe cautioned me by saying that it is a safe outlet for people with severe mental problems. They can use foul words, create perverted imagery and get it out of their systems without actually harming anyone.

Does that make a kind of convoluted sense? Trolls, having no pride of achievement and living, like their Norwegian originals in the dark side of the woods and bathed in self-loathing and low esteem, would be otherwise dangerous if they did not have this internet bylane (pakdandi) where they could exhaust their energies and let off steam. Consequently, by letting the trolls hijack social platforms and fill them with venom what the websites are doing is a social and psychological service. As I have already said, rubbish.

The first time the word troll was used was on “14 December, 1992 in the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban, which was dedicated to discussing and debunking urban legends.”

Expert Don Trylan says, “Trolls live for one purpose: to irritate and enrage as many people as possible, usually through some form of deception. And though they achieved their greatest infamy on the net, trolls have existed in real and mythical form for thousands of years, plaguing everyone from Plato to the Pope.”

Trolling was coined to indicate someone going on a hunt looking for a prey. In the beginning, trolls were actually self-appointed policemen who wanted to right the wrongs they saw around them. They augmented the main media that was afraid to say things because of the vested interests that controlled the media. This phase was short-lived. The troll army became known for interrupting normal conversations and invading privacy. From that phase to becoming hostile was a tiny step.

Wikipedia refers to them with odd sentimentality. In internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the internet by starting arguments or picking up fights.

Mostly, the subject becomes secondary and trolls fight among themselves which deteriorates into a free for all.

Somewhere out there must be a can of pesticide available that one do pffft pfffft and be rid of them.

Mamata’s close aide and Minister Firhad Hakim describes Kolkata port area as ‘mini Pakistan’ to Pakistani journalist

Just a day before the all important fifth phase of elections in West Bengal, Mamata’s key aide Firhad Hakim, popularly known as Bobby Hakim, attracted massive controversy by reportedly calling the Kolkata Port area as “mini-Pakistan”, to a foreign correspondent. Speaking to prominent Pakistan newspaper The Dawn, urban minister Bobby who is part of Mamata’s cabinet, offered correspondent Maleeha Hamid Sidiqqui a tour of his constituency, which he refers to as ‘mini Pakistan’. The report was published by the newspaper on Friday titled ‘Canvassing in ‘mini-Pakistan’ of Kolkata’, and it immediately became ‘viral’ on social media, with many questioning what message Bobby wanted to convey about Indian Muslims in general and those hailing from Kolkata in particular to the Pak journalist. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the article, Bobby also makes a condescending remark about Muslim women saying they don’t come out to campaign, but Hindu women do. The Kolkata port area from where Bobby is contesting is a cosmopolitan area with people from various strata and religions living together. Bobby Hakim himself is known for harbouring a secular image, being a patron of a club which organises one of the most prominent Durga pandals in the city. But Bobby has been in the eye of controversy recently, being one of the leaders who was caught allegedly taking a bribe in the Narada scam.
ALSO READ West Bengal Elections Phase 5: Will Narada sting TMC’s great South Bengal firewall around Kolkata? Meanwhile, Bobby has obliquely justified his comments after the controversy broke. “It’s a blatant attempt to foment communal tension ahead of the polls. I will not elaborate on this issue because it is beneath my dignity to do so. If PM Modi can visit Pakistan four times, how does it matter if one Firhad Hakim gives a ‘mini-Pakistan’ statement?” he told the Times of India.TMC MP Sultan Ahmed has also been quoted saying that he doesn’t agree with those views, provided Firhad Hakim has said so. Many in TMC though have questioned the timing of the article, alleging that somehow BJP is behind it to foment communal tension in the area.
ALSO READ West Bengal elections 2016: Why Mamata Banerjee’s TMC could retain power despite the hiccupsBJP leader Joyprakash Mandal told TOI, “The statement has been on the Internet for half a day. During the entire period, no Trinamool functionary said anything in protest. This shows that they want to remain silent about it. We have filed a complaint with EC.”In the Dawn article, Bobby takes pride in his Urdu with a Bihari twang. The correspondent, after seeing most of the signboards in Urdu in that part of the constituency, writes in the article that it is truly a “mini- Pakistan”. The straightjacket notion of attributing a religion or language to a certain country often misses the point of how inclusive India is as a nation. Hakim perhaps wanted to get the Pakistani correspondent feel at home by making the reference, but he may have reinforced many of the existing stereotypes about the Muslim community in India.

Government keeps experts out of cyber security discussions

During India’s closed-door discussions on cyber security and Internet policies at the recently-concluded Russia-India-China (RIC) convention, Internet experts fear that the government may be trying to leave out discussions with social stakeholders like social activists, businessmen or the academia. It must be borne in mind that telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in an ICAN meet last year stressed on the role of the government in cyber-security policy measures, despite the need to have an Internet largely unregulated by the government.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Anja Kovacs of the Internet Democracy project feels that India has given away too much, and that India’s multi-stakeholder approach in the context of the role of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is not too clear. “Russia and China have traditionally, since the 90s, wanted a bigger role for the ITU, despite a pushback from the West. The ITU has had a positive role in the recent past. Yet, when they mention multilateralism, the scope for developing nations is not too wide. The US may have the scope to include several stakeholders from the business community, civil society and academia, but how much scope does a developing country have,” says Anja, adding that the mention of internationalising, too, is problematic.The grouping of the three countries could also be to signal an alliance to counter the US’s efforts to ensure the exemption of the UK from the mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) system which is headquartered in the United States, says Chinmayi Arun, policy director at the Centre for Communication Governance at NLU Delhi. Under the MLAT process, any request about data that originates in case of a criminal breach from a country is usually routed via US’s department of justice, which takes time while following due processes.”The concerns expressed, understandably, on the growing concerns of cyber terrorism and the efforts to deal with it are needed, but there is no need to exclude other stakeholders in the process,” said Chinmayi. “Russia and China have also been pushing for a growing role of the state in policing the government, and are keen to use the UN to facilitate that.”Nikhil Pahwa of Medianama, who steer-headed the net neutrality movement by engaging several stakeholders, says that the government’s stance is unclear, as it speaks of both multilateralism and multiple stakeholders, as both are contradictory.Pranesh Prakash of the Centre for Internet and Society says that he is sceptical of the sentiments expressed on internationalisation of internet governance.”For instance, there’s been a two-year process via which the US’s oversight over ICANN and the IANA functions are nominally being removed. But Russia, India, and China have not really pushed for internationalisation, and ICANN and the Internet’s root zone system is going to remain subject to US jurisdiction, including US sanctions. If the ministers truly meant what they say, they should intervene in that process and say that we need to internationalise ICANN in practice and spirit, not just in name,” he said.

Russia-India-China meeting on cyber security may hamper Indian interest, say experts

Even as India is taking the satisfaction to bring down hacking attempts by Beijing, and secure its cyberspace, after the recent meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia India, and China at Moscow, internet policy experts feel that the communique issued at the end of meeting is against India’s national interest. Sources said that external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, in a closed-door meeting with her two counterparts, had taken up the issue of threats to cyberspaces and continued attempts of hacking from across the borders.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is now taking satisfaction that at the communique issued at the RIC meeting has now bound China to share information about hackers. But the internet community think otherwise. The communique stressed on “the importance of providing timely and appropriate responses to requests from one another for information and assistance concerning malicious incidents and activities” to combat international organised crimes. It further spoke of the need for an “international universal regulatory binding instrument under UN auspices” to combat the use of information and communications technology for criminal purposes. Apart from that, it speaks of internationalising internet governance to aid the role of the International Telecommunication Union.Cyber security expert Saikat Datta says that although the discussion may not have a prominent implication, it helps act in international positioning. “Because India, Russia and China are parts of the BRICS, this could also be a measure to counter the hegemony of the US government, and may be a bid to pressurise them,” he says. Raman Jit Singh Chima, global policy director at Internet rights group Access Now and a founding volunteer of SavetheInternet.in, says that India’s stand is surprising. India’s position in calling for a regulatory binding instrument under the UN does not seems to be in line with the national interest. “It also does not seems to take into account the political concerns and constitutional approach of India, and there seems to have been no domestic discussion on the issue,” he says. “It it surprising that India accepted the demands made by Russia and China, as the Indian position on this has never explicitly supported the Internet being regulated by a binding UN instrument under the vague ground of combating criminal acts on ICTs.”Raman adds that there are concerns of Russia’s own regressive domestic Internet laws on cyber security, and many have expressed concerns about aggressive espionage attempts from groups based in China in this context. It is widely believed that the Chinese government has state-sponsored hackers that indulge in massive data episionage. In 2010, NSA MK Narayanan said that computers in his office, and in other government offices have been hacked by Chinese hackers. Later that year, Chinese hackers reportedly broke into classified files of the defence ministry and Indian embassies around the world, gaining access to several missile and armament systems. In 2014, Chinese hackers let loose a virus that collected data from sensitive computer systems at the country’s Eastern Naval Command headquarters and sent the data to Chinese IP addresses. This is in addition to the innumerable attempts to hack into the computers of the Tibetan government in exile functioning in India. Last year in a reply to the Parliament, the minister of communications and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad revealed that in 2014 and 2015 (upto May), 32,323 and 9,057 websites have been hacked, and that Chinese, American, Bangladeshi and Pakistani hackers are most responsible for it.“The speak on the need to enhance the role of the International Telecommunication Union in Internet governance, too, is a take-off from India’s stand two years ago when then IT minister Kapil Sibal said in Dubai that India will not take a stand without discussing it further internally,” said Raman.TimelineJanuary 2010 M. K. Narayanan, India’s National Security Adviser, said his office and other government departments were attacked by China on December 15. The Prime Minister’s office later denied that their computers had been hacked. Narayanan said this was not the first attempt to penetrate Indian government computers. April 2010 Chinese hackers reportedly broke into classified files at the Indian Defence Ministry and Indian embassies around the world, gaining access to Indian missile and armament systems. July 2012 A Shanghai-based group linked to the Peoples Liberation Army and identified as “Byzantine Candor” in leaked U.S. cables collected against a range of targets, including European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, UK Defense research firm Qinetiq, and a commercial entities in the U.S, Europe, and India. July 2012 Indian naval officials confirmed that a virus had collected data from sensitive computer systems at the country’s Eastern Naval Command headquarters and sent the data to Chinese IP addresses. The virus allegedly entered the Navy’s network | Last Modified March 10, 2014 12 via infected USB drives, which were used to transfer data from standalone computers holding sensitive files to networked systems. March 2013 The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation was hacked by an unknown source, believed to be Chinese. Thousands of documents are uploaded to a server with an IP address in Guangdong, China. March 2014 Indian defense sources say classified material may have been compromised when around 50 computers from the armed forces and the Indian defense research organization were hacked. India’s National Security Advisor reiterated the need to keep computers with internet access separate from those used for confidential work. Indian sources say they face mounting online espionage attempts by China and PakistanCourtesy: Center for Strategic and International Studies

Patel agitation: Gujarat bandh call evokes limp response; govt panel meets mediators

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat bandh call given by Patel quota agitators failed to evoke much response in the state and passed off peacefully barring in Mehsana, where a mob torched a minister’s vacant house.

A state committee of ministers, formed to negotiate with the quota agitators, held a “fruitful and positive” meeting in Gandhinagar over the demands with several leaders of the Patel community, who are working as mediators. Another round of talks will soon be held to arrive at a solution.

Police had made elaborate security arrangements in view of the state-wide bandh call given by the Sardar Patel Group (SPG) demanding reservation and immediate release of their jailed leaders. Schools, colleges, public transport and the normal life were not affected by the bandh call.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

“No major incident took place on Monday. We have deployed adequate number of policemen and paramilitary forces across Gujarat today to ensure safety and security of citizens,” DGP in-charge P P Pandey said.

Barring few minor incidents, the situation remained calm throughout the day, he said.

The curfew imposed on Sunday in Mehsana town after violent clashes between protesters and police, was lifted this morning and the bandh call largely went off peacefully, although Gujarat Minister of State for Home Rajni Patel’s vacant home in Mehsana town was set on fire by the Patel agitators, police said.

“Unidentified men stormed into the empty house and set ablaze the furniture and other belongings. The mob also hurled stones on fire tenders trying to reach there. This is the same house which was set on fire in August last year during agitation related violence,” said an official of control room.

According to police, Patel has his official house in Gandhinagar, but sometimes visit his Mehsana residence.

The ban on mobile Internet services imposed in some towns for a day on Sunday, including Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Mehsana, was till midnight.

“We had lifted curfew in Mehsana at 6 am as the situation was under control. No reports of untoward incident came during the bandh call. Mobile Internet services will remain off in the city till this midnight,” Mehsana District Collector Lochan Sehra told PTI.

Patel agitation: Gujarat Home Minister Rajni Patel’s property set on fire in Mehsana

Gujarat Home Minister Rajni Patel’s vacant property was set on fire in Mehsana by the Patel agitators on Monday. On Sunday evening, Rajni Patel’s office in Mehsana was set on fire. A state-wide bandh call was given by the Patel community in Gujarat as they behgan their second agitation demanding OBC quota for the Patidar community. One of the other demands also include the immediate release of Hardik Patel and other Patel leaders. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The curfew imposed on Sunday in Mehasana town was lifted on Sunday morning.
ALSO READ Patel agitation: Curfew clamped, internet services banned in GujaratPolice has made elaborate security arrangements in view of the bandh call but schools and colleges, public transport and trains have remained unaffected.Also, mobile and Internet services have been banned in top towns of the state like Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Mehasana. The restriction will continue till midnight today.

Handwara unrest: Centre deploys additional forces to strengthen security grid in Kashmir valley

In wake of the tense situation in Handwara, the government on Saturday decided to send additional Central Armed Police Forces to strengthen the security grid in the Kashmir valley.Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi convened a meeting, here on Saturday, of senior officials from Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Defence, Central Armed Police Forces and the Ministry of Home Affairs to review the situation and assess the requirements of Jammu and Kashmir Government to bring the situation under control without any further loss of lives.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Ministry of Home Affairs is in regular touch with senior officials of Government of Jammu and Kashmir and has been monitoring the situation on a regular basis.
ALSO READ Handwara unrest: Restrictions remain in force in Kashmir, mobile Internet services snappedMHA has assured full cooperation and support to the Government of J-K to ensure that there is no further loss of lives.The government said that it is concerned over the loss of human lives in the valley during the last four days.

Restrictions, shutdown continue for fifth day as tension grips Kashmir

Srinagar: Authorities have decided to continue the curfew-like restrictions in parts of Srinagar city and north and south Kashmir areas as tension gripped the Valley on Saturday.

With the death of another teenager Arif Ahmad Dar, 18, in army firing on Friday in Kupwara district, the toll in the five-day long unabated violence has risen to five.

File image. AP

File image. AP

A senior police official said a violent crowd attacked the counter insurgency Rashtriya Rifles (RR) camp in Natnusa area of Kupwara district on Friday evening.

“The mob attacked the RR camp in Natnusa (Kupwara) and despite dozens of bullets fired in the air to warn them, the protesters mounted the wall of the camp and tried to enter it.

“In order to protect their lives and the weapons and ammunition inside the camp, soldiers fired hitting four protesters. One of the protesters has died and the injured are being tried in the hospital.”

Authorities said 60 people, including 40 security men, were injured in clashes in north Kashmir.

Violence also spread to other areas of the Valley, including Baramulla town and other parts of central and north Kashmir.

“To maintain law and order, restrictions will continue in areas falling under Rainawari, Khanyar, Nowhatta, M.R. Gunj, Safa Kadal, Kralkhud and Maisuma police stations in Srinagar,” Farooq Ahmad Lone, district magistrate Srinagar, said.

Similar restrictions have been imposed in Baramulla town in the north and Pulwama town in the south.

Separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Muhammad Yasin Malik and others, have called for a Valley-wide protest shutdown o Saturday against the killing of the teenager in army firing.

Authorities have also decided to continue the suspension of mobile Internet services in the Valley on Saturday.

“Mobile Internet services have been suspended to prevent spread of rumours by anti-social elements,” a senior police officer said here.

The board of school education and the University of Kashmir have postponed all exams scheduled for Saturday.

Train services between north Kashmir Baramulla town and Banihal town in the Jammu region have also remained suspended since Wednesday.

Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who expressed anguish over the death of the teenager, is likely to visit Kupwara district later in the day.

Google’s free Wi-Fi service to be launched at Bhubaneswar railway station

Expanding the high speed Internet network facility for rail users, railways will launch the Google’s free Wi-Fi service at Bhubaneswar station on April 17, the second station to be covered under the project.Designed to offer rail users the best internet experience, Wi-Fi will be available to any user who has a smartphone.Trial of the Wi-FI is going on for some time at Bhubaneswar in Odisha and it will be launched on Sunday, said a senior Railway Ministry official.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Mumbai Central, Bhubaneswar will be the second station to have Google’s free Wi-Fi service in the country.Rail users would be able to stream high definition videos while waiting for their respective trains at the railway station with Wi-Fi becoming operational.Under the Digital India initiative, Railways is committed to providing better internet facilities to the passengers at 100 busiest stations by the end of this year.Besides Bhubaneswar, trials are going on at about 10 more stations including Jaipur, Patna, Ranchi, Ernakulum, Allahabad, Lucknow and Guwahati to have the Wi-Fi service shortly.Railtel, a PSU of the Railways, in collaboration with Google is providing free Wi-Fi service at stations.Eventually, the service will be rolled out at 400 stations across the country covering all major rail premises.Railtel owns a Pan-India optic fiber network exclusively on railway track. It has laid out over 45,000 kms of optic fibre networks across the country, which Google will utilise for its Wi-Fi.The network is built for wide coverage and high capacity usage unlike a typical Wi-Fi hotspot which offers connectivity in limited area.As per the plan, Railtel will be the ISP, while Google will provide the Wireless Area Networks (WAN) and will set-up the points of access at platforms.

Facebook’s next frontier: chatbots | Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO Facebook Inc said on Tuesday it has opened up its Messenger app to developers to create “chatbots,” hoping that by simulating one-on-one conversations between users and companies it will expand its reach in customer service and enterprise transactions.

Chatbots are automated programs that help users communicate with businesses and carry out tasks such as online purchases. While chatbots have existed in some form for years, they have recently become a hot topic in the tech business as advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning make them far more capable and potentially able to assume a key role in the way customers communicate with businesses.

Facebook launched chatbots on Tuesday with a handful of partners, including Shopify, an ecommerce site, and cable TV news network CNN.

The chatbots are part of Facebook’s effort to build out its Messenger instant messaging app as the go-to place for customers to contact businesses – a strategy that threatens traditional call centers and may cut personnel costs for some businesses.

“You’ll never have to call 1-800-Flowers again,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco.

Though messaging platforms including Kik, Slack and Telegram already have chatbots, Facebook is seen having several distinct advantages.

For one, Facebook commands a vast trove of data on the estimated 1.6 billion people who use the main service and the 900 million who use Messenger. That allows developers to create chatbots that can personalize tasks, such as making an airline booking or a restaurant reservation.

“From the enterprise or developer perspective, access to those 1.6 billion people is very exciting,” said Lauren Kunze, principal at Pandorabots, which has been building and deploying chatbots for companies since 2002.

“People like a personalized experience and when the chatbot can remember personal details and follow up,” she said.

CNN’s bot, for example, can learn users’ news preferences and recommend articles and summaries accordingly. For a shopping site, users could input price ranges and other preferences before receiving suggestions from the bot.

Tech companies will have to approach chatbots more carefully, however, after an experimental Microsoft Corp bot, called Tay, unleashed a barrage of racist and sexist tweets after being manipulated by Twitter users last month. The company quickly pulled Tay from the Internet.

A PLACE FOR BUSINESS

Facebook has been steadily adding features to Messenger since it was spun off as a separate app in 2014.

Last year, it partnered with Uber [UBER.UL] and Lyft so that users can order a car without having to go through the ride-sharing apps. It also recently partnered with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines so that customers can receive flight updates and booking confirmations through Messenger.

Chatbots could eventually automate such interactions and eliminate customer service calls.

“You’re offloading the pain of navigating those phone systems,” said Chris Fohlin, director of client strategy at consulting agency Engine Digital.

Last year, Facebook partnered with online shopping sites Zulily and Everlane to send customer receipts and order updates through Messenger. It now sees 1 billion messages sent between users and businesses every month, said Seth Rosenberg, Messenger’s product manager. That prompted the company to begin experimenting with chatbots.

“Our goal is to make personalization available at scale for businesses,” Seth Rosenberg, Messenger’s product manager, said in an interview. “It’s giving them ways to deeply engage with their consumers as everything becomes more competitive.”

By making Messenger the go-to place for business-to-person interactions, Facebook hopes people will spend even more time using the app and increasingly rely on it for day-to-day tasks.

Facebook’s chatbots could also threaten businesses’ individual apps. Although there are millions of apps, users spend nearly 90 percent of their time on five apps, according to research firm Forrester. In the United States, two of those apps are typically Facebook and Messenger.

(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; editing by Jonathan Weber, G Crosse and Meredith Mazzilli)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

dna Afternoon Must Reads: From updates on drought relief in Maharashtra to Varun Dhawan dubbing for ‘Captain America’

1. Live | Assembly elections: Clashes in many parts of West Bengal; Gogoi violates model code of conduct in AssamVoting for 61 seats in Assam and 31 seats in West Bengal began on Monday morning, which will seal the fate of 688 candidates for 92 seats. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Kerala temple fire: Five people detained, crime branch takes over probeFive people have been detained in connection with the deadly inferno at the Puttingal temple in Kollam district in Kerala that killed at least 106 people and injuring more than 380. Read more here3. Maharashtra drought: First water train with 10 wagons leaves Miraj for LaturA ‘water train’ with 10 wagons carrying water for parched Latur in Marathwada region, which is battling the worst drought ever, on Monday left from Miraj in Sangli district of western Maharashtra. Read more here4. A dream come true: Boman Kohinoor meets Will and Kate!’Britannia Uncle’ has finally met Prince William and Kate Middleton, thanks to the Internet! Read more here5. IPL 2016: Going strong at 45, bowling with Brad Hogg was fun for Piyush ChawlaKolkata Knight Riders leg-spinner Piyush Chawla says it was fun bowling in tandem with veteran Brad Hogg and the Australian’s performance made life easier for him from the other end. Read more here6. After Priyanka Chopra’s ‘Ka’, now Varun Dhawan to dub for Chris Evans’ role in Captain America: Civil WarVarun Dhawan will be dubbing for Captain America’s role in the Hindi version of the Marvel super-hero flick. Read more here

Tamil Nadu polls: Like AIADMK, DMK too assures total liquor prohibition

DMK on Sunday promised total prohibition, setting up Lokayukta, a cut in state-run Aavin Milk price by Rs 7 a litre, revival of the Legislative Council, and implementation of the Sethusamudram project in its manifesto for the May 16 Assembly polls. DMK did not, however, announce any populist freebie schemes on the scale of free colour televisions it had made in 2006, though it promised a slew of concessions and waivers, catering to various sections of people. It includes mobile phones for the poor at concessional prices, free wi-fi Internet for students, waiver on crop and educational loans, inclusion of free milk in nutritious meal scheme, and Rs 60,000 assistance to women for marriage. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>DMK also promised improvisation in some ongoing schemes like marriage assistance plan. Currently, the AIADMK government provides Rs 50,000 assistance and gold for mangalsutra. It assured ‘Anna (on the name of DMK founder and former Chief Minister CN Annadurai) Unavagam,” in the place of Amma Unavagam, a cost-effective chain of state-run canteens.Releasing the manifesto, Karunanidhi attacked AIADMK chief and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa over her promise of implementing prohibition in a phase manner and dismissed it as “deceitful”. He said the state-run liquor outlet – TASMAC – employees will be provided alternative employment. He said Tamil will be introduced as “co-official language” in central government offices too in Tamil Nadu. He promised waiver of crop loan for small and micro farmers, and a separate budget for agriculture. A separate farm budget is a pet theme of the PMK. DMK also promised waiver of educational loans for students.

India cuts rates to five-year low

India’s central bank trims its key interest rate to a five-year low, in a move that had been widely expected.

Hyderabad university protest: Bail hearing postponed for 27 students and faculty arrested

The troubled campus of Hyderabad Central University (HCU) remained simmering on Thursday even as some basic facilities have been allotted once again to students and faculty locked inside the grounds. The 27 students and two professors who had been detained by the police on the evening of March 22, whose whereabouts remained unknown since then, were produced at the Miyapur court on Thursday. Their bail plea has reportedly been postponed till March 28, leaving the students and faculty in prison till Monday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They have been booked on 11 charges, pertaining to rioting, voluntarily causing hurt, voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty, among others. One of the students picked up is Dontha Prashanth, a Dalit scholar, who had been expelled from the hostel along with the deceased PhD student Rohith Vemula. WiFi facilities and electricity were back on campus after 48 hours, banned ever since protests erupted against Vice Chancellor Podile Appa Rao rejoining the university on March 22. Drinking water, too, was made available in hostels earlier in the day, as students took to social media to inform each other and the world. The non-teaching staff that had been on strike, reportedly against the students manhandling some of their colleagues during their protest at the VC’s office, also came back to work. It was their absence that had caused a shortage of food across the campus, leading students to cook for themselves and others. According to a statement released by the student collective formed in the wake of Vemula’s death, the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice, “The moment Podile Appa Rao entered the campus, the first thing that happened was an absolute Internet shut down for students. Then they closed down the messes, water and sanitation… After an entire day of lathi-charge, physical and sexual assault on us, we slept without food and water; today we are cooking together and preparing our own food. Apparao has suspended all classes until Monday.”Though the campus that houses 5,000 students in its 20 hostels is far from normal, it is limping away from the state of siege it was in on Tuesday and Wednesday. As there had been no Internet on campus, those standing vigil at its closed gates used social media as effectively as possible to spread news of the unfolding events. Students had been lathi-charged by the police who were called on campus to break up the anti-VC protests. Students have alleged that the male police beat up male and female students brutally, and threatened the women with sexual abuse.The most visible act of violence is what’s been perpetrated on Uday Bhanu, a student who was, reportedly, beaten up by the police so badly for cooking food for the students that he landed in the ICU.Those in Hyderabad rallying in support of the students, responded in a manner similar to that of a natural calamity. Social media was again put to good use to gather food and water packages to be dropped off at the gates. Pleas were sent out to gather bail money for the 27 in jail. Vemula’s mother, Radhika, along with JNU student president Kanhaiya Kumar sat in protest at the campus gates The police presence on campus has further aggravated student anger against the university authorities. The protest against Appa Rao took place as he is seen by students and the JAC as complicit in the death of Vemula, who had committed suicide a month after his expulsion. Appa Rao currently has a non-bailable charge against him under the SC/ST Atrocities Act. The violence has been condemned publicly by the JNU Teachers Association and by the HCU alumni and faculty.

Internet, water facilities on campus were ‘never’ disconnected but ‘temporarily’ halted, claims Hyderabad University

Hyderabad Central University (HCU) on Thursday claimed that water and Internet facilities on the campus were “never” disconnected by the authorities but “temporarily” halted as these were affected by the ongoing protests.Refuting the allegations by a section of students that varsity authorities disconnected these facilities for the past two days, the officials today said water supply was temporarily stopped as some miscreants damaged the pump.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The university never cut off water nor electricity on the campus. Some miscreants damaged the pump on the campus and (it) has been since restored. It may also be noted that there is a general water shortage to the campus for the last two months,” the officials said in a statement.With regard to Internet service being cut off, HCU faculty member Bipin Srivastava told PTI that “Internet facilities are managed by non-teaching staff. Since the non-teaching staff went on strike, Internet services were interrupted for that time.” The HCU administration officials said, “The varsity did not disconnect Internet facility on the campus. The Internet facilities have been restored on the campus.” After the violence by some students, the varsity administration is making all efforts to restore normalcy on the campus. The Vice-Chancellor has already declared that the classes will resume from Monday, the statement said.There is no restriction of movement on “legitimate or authorised” members of the university community. The administration has decided to restrict the entry of only the outsiders on the campus, it added.

Andhra Pradesh launches 15 Mbps broadband Internet at Rs 149 per month, 100 Mbps at Rs 999

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday launched the first phase of Fiber Grid project to provide broadband connectivity at cheap rate.Andhra Pradesh government signed an MoU with Cisco company as part of the inauguration of India’s first statewide broadband project ‘AP Fiber-Net’ here.Naidu said that digital transformation was the most transformative means to ignite sustainable growth and improve society. His government’s aim was to provide internet connection to all households in the state as part of Digital India campaign, he said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under the project, internet connections would be provided at cheap rate in districts of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram by April. It will cover the rest of the state by end of July this year.Under the project, 15 Mbps broadband connection will be provided at Rs 149 per month to households and 100 Mbps connection for offices at Rs 999 per month.Electrical poles will be used to lay overhead fiber net cable instead of underground cable to save on the cost.Executive chairman of Cisco John T Chambers said Cisco will set up an Internet of Everything (IoE) Innovation Centre in Visakhapatnam to foster regional innovation and will enable partners and startups to build solutions around IoE and engage in rapid prototyping.

Terrorism impinging on economic growth: Sushma Swaraj

Spread of terrorism and violence inspired by “medieval beliefs” as well as threat of use of force by nations in territorial disputes have disrupted connectivity impinging economic growth of the South Asian region, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Tuesday.In her address at the inaugural session of Raisina Dialogue, a conclave on geo-economics and geo-politics, Swaraj said modernisation of connectivity besides an environment of trust and confidence were integral to growth and development. Talking about threat of disruption in connectivity, Swaraj said, “In its most radical form, this emanates from the spread of terrorism, which has mutated to keep pace with the march of technology. As a result, we confront the spectre of cyber attacks even as we struggle with violence inspired by medieval beliefs.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Without naming any country, Swaraj said use or threat of use of force by nations in territorial disputes is another source of concern, adding it remains India’s conviction that the logic of larger regional cooperation will prevail over vested interests. India has been pushing for improved connectivity among the SAARC countries. A key pact to ensure better connectivity among the nations of the bloc could not be finalised in SAARC summit in Nepal last year due to opposition by Pakistan.”We bring to bear a cooperative rather than unilateral approach and believe that creating an environment of trust and confidence is the pre-requisite for a more inter-connected world. This is in our DNA; after all, we are the inheritors of two powerful connectivity legacies – the message of Buddha and the Spice Route,” said Swaraj. The inaugural session was attended by former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, former President of Seychelles James Mancham, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali besides a host of diplomats, intellectuals and foreign policy experts.The Minister said modernization of connectivity was an integral element of the Asia’s revival. “Where India itself is concerned, whether it is domestic, external or regional, connectivity will determine how we meet our promise of growth, employment and prosperity. Both literally and metaphorically, it is an enabler of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’!” she said.Complimenting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Swaraj said there is a widespread impression today that a “decisive, energetic and action oriented” leadership is in charge in India and that since coming to power in May, 2014, the NDA government has brought a “new sense of purpose” to India’s foreign policy. “As a consequence, India has become a natural participant in most important global conversations,” she said.Swaraj said meeting “traditional and non-traditional threats”, contributing to a climate of trust and transparency, ensuring respect for international maritime rules and norms, resolving maritime disputes without threat or “use of force” are key to promote connectivity in maritime sector. “India preaches what it practices and the agreement with Bangladesh on our maritime boundary should stand out as an example to others,” she said.She also gave an account of India’s development assistance and projects being implemented in some of the neighbouring countries. Referring to government’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, Swaraj said there has been enhancement of India’s cooperative ties with its our neighbours in the the last year and a half. Underlining importance of security of connectivity, she said the rivalry for influence among nations today is often expressed in terms of their competition in infrastructure connectivity and that there was need to remove hurdles to ensure easy flow of trade.The External Affairs Minister said cyber connectivity was of growing importance. “It is connected to the question of how the contemporary global order should be governed and regulated so that it remains a free medium but yet allows governments to protect their citizens. “India has supported a multi-stakeholder approach aimed at preserving a free and integrated Internet, but has also asked for a more democratic distribution of critical Internet infrastructure and for closer international cooperation on cyber security and cyber crime to build trust and stability among the various stakeholders.”On maritime connectivity, Swaraj said the vast sea space to “our south means that connectivity is as much maritime as it is territorial”. “The oceans around India and the associated blue economy link security and prosperity as strongly in the maritime domain as they do in other spheres. “Our vision was articulated by Prime Minister as SAGAR-Security and Growth for All in the Region. It is a commitment to safe, secure, stable and shared maritime space,” she said.

Jat agitation: Govt announces compensation but violence continues; audio clip embarrasses Congress

Three persons were killed and nine injured as stone-pelting protestors clashed with army and paramilitary personnel who were trying to clear a road blockade on Ambala-Delhi National Highway at Ladsoli village in this district, taking the toll in the Jat agitation to 19.The mob attacked personnel of army and paramilitary forces who were trying to clear the road blockade leading to a clash in which three persons were killed and nine others were injured, a police spokesperson said. The nine injured have been admitted to PGI, Khanpur near Sonipat, the spokesman said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former CM Hooda’s aide in troubleAmid the ongoing Jat agitation, a 90-second audio clip of a purported conversation between a close aide of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and a Khap leader, allegedly to incite violence, has gone viral on the Internet, prompting the BJP government to say it will order an inquiry.Prof Virender, advisor to former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of Congress, accepted that the voice in the clip is his but alleged the conversation has been “doctored”.On Monday night, Congress sought explanation from Prof Virender over the audio clip. “We have sought an explanation from him (Prof Virender). We have sent the clip circulating in social media and allegations have been levelled that he has been instigating protests to start in other districts which were completely peaceful, that too seeking support from our rival party INLD,” Haryana Congress President Ashok Tanwar said.Health Minister Anil Vij said when despite government’s attempts the stir intensified it was suspected some forces wanted it to flare up.”We suspected there was some director behind the scene who who was trying to inflict damage on the state to reap political benefits. Our government will order an inquiry into the clip which has gone viral. Anyone who is found guilty of inflamming passions won’t be spared,” Vij told reporters.Rajnath Singh briefs PM Modi on situationHome Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation in Haryana. During the half-an-hour meeting, Singh gave a detailed presentation about the agitation and subsequent violence as well as the steps taken to restore normalcy in Haryana, official sources said. The Home Minister also told the Prime Minister about the meeting he had with a delegation of Jat leaders yesterday and the decisions taken in it, sources said.Haryana govt announces compensation for kin of victimsHaryana government on Monday announced full compensation for damage caused to private properties as well as ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of the 19 killed in the Jat agitation for reservation. The state government has decided to give full compensation to the loss of properties, both commercial and residential, in the Jat stir, state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma saidAn ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh will be given to the next of kin of the persons killed in the ongoing agitation and employment to a member of the family of the deceased. Also, no false cases would be registered against anyone, he said.

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