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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.

Ten ducks found dead in Hauz Khas deer park

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The national capital recorded more avian deaths On Monday with 10 ducks found dead at the Hauz Khas deer park which the Delhi government described as a “sign of worry”. Delhi Animal Husbandry Minister Gopal Rai also confirmed that three crows, that were found dead in the Sunder Nagar area, succumbed to the H5N8 avial influenza strain and that the total number of avian deaths stands at around 58. He visited the deer park along with DDA officials and doctors where the death toll due to suspected H5N8 viral strain climbed to 43 and formed a 10-member team to spray anti-virus in the area, including on birds. “Things are in control in the zoo (National Zoological Garden) but 10 more ducks died in the deer park today. So we decided that areas where birds are dying, anti-virus will be sprayed on them as well. Vitamins and garlic will be mixed in their food to boost immunity,” Rai told reporters. Both the zoo and the DDA-run deer park continue to remain shut due to the bird flu scare. The city government’s coordination committee, formed to tackle the situation, will meet tomorrow. Rai said the water of the deer park will be sent to the Bhopal laboratory to be tested. “The strain (H5N8) is not as dangerous for humans as it is for birds. There has been no report of it affecting humans across the world. Monitoring is being done across Delhi’s parks and bird sanctuaries. The government is planning to issue a health advisory as well,” Rai said. The Union Environment Ministry has formed a three-member panel to keep a watch over the developments.

Love child gets passport after mother moves Bombay High Court

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After a long legal battle, a child born to an unmarried woman has received passport. The woman had moved the Bombay High Court after passport authorities rejected the application of her minor girl child, contending that it was mandatory that the name of the child’s biological father be mentioned in the application form.The passport authorities informed the court on Wednesday that since the passport has now been issued to the child, the petition has become infructous. Accordingly it was withdrawn.In her plea, the woman stated that she was lured into a relationship by a man on the pretext of marriage. He also promised her that he will take care of her family. Believing the assurances to be true, she entered into a relationship with him and conceived soon. The child was born on October 19, 2010.Gradually, the man stopped visiting her and the child. She later found out that the man was already married and has a child. The woman eventually got married to another man and the couple had a boy. Things turned sour, however, when the girl’s father sought her custody. A family court heard the matter and granted access to the biological father.The HC stayed that decision, according to the petition, which further stated, “When the woman filled an application with her husband’s name in the column where father’s name has to be mentioned, the passport official demanded biological father’s name. ” Aggrieved by the authorities’ stand, the woman moved the court, seeking directions to the passport authorities to issue a passport in the name of her husband.A division bench of justices SC Dharmadhikari and BP Colabawala allowed the petition to be withdrawn and asked the passport authorities to observe caution in future, so that the authorities were not used by estranged couples to settle scores, using their minor children.

Flipkart, Infosys, AskMe: Why recent spate of job cuts should worry us

New Delhi – In the last few days, newspapers have had screaming headlines of loss of thousands of jobs across the services sector.

On Monday, The Indian Express reported Infosys, the country’s second largest software exporter, has cut 500 jobs after the company recorded poor quarterly results were and lost a contract from RBS.

Over the weekend, reports said about 4,000 people were about to lose their jobs due to a suspension of operations at e-commerce website AskMe. Earlier Flipkart had asked about 700 underperformers to leave. Meanwhile, Snapdeal is shutting down a luxury fashion portal which could lead to loss of hundreds of jobs. Taxi aggregator Ola has shut down operations of TaxiForSure, a company it had acquired in March 2015, again resulting in hundreds of lay-offs.

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Should a few thousand jobs getting axed in the services industry worry us? It should, indeed. The services sector has been the key jobs creator in India, since manufacturing has not been a big draw. Remember, about a million Indians reach the employment age every month. Finding employment for them is in itself a daunting task and the enormity of the problem becomes larger when seen in the context of job cuts in the sectors which were seen as most employment friendly.

Already, the government’s own data show job growth slowed to a six-year low in 2015 under the NDA government. There is no data to show if the decline has been arrested in the first six months of this calendar year since the Labour Bureau is yet to release these figures.

Let us look at the IT sector, one of the largest services sector employers. This story points out that India’s IT industry is faced with one of the leanest years of growth in its history and the lower demand for IT services is driving down hiring numbers. Automation is adding to the worries. Companies like Infosys and Wipro have become selective in hiring even freshers — a departure from the traditional “mass hiring” strategy that IT firms have followed for the last two decades.

In the ecommerce space, jobs are being lost in large numbers as the sector begins a painful consolidation drive. Unconfirmed reports have already suggested that one of the poster boys of India’s ecommerce industry may be looking to merge with another biggie – if this were to happen, there could again be a massive realignment of jobs.

D K Joshi, chief Economist at Crisil says India needs to create high-value added jobs as lower level jobs are already getting eliminated on increased automation. Joshi was one of the authors of a 2014 Crisil report on jobs which predicted a slowdown in employment generation in the coming years. The decline in employment creation has been compounded by falling labour intensity in the economy as automation rises.

This is because the GDP growth in recent years has been driven by less labour-intensive services such as IT/ITeS, business and financial services and the capacity of labour intensive sectors such as manufacturing to absorb labour has diminished considerably in face of rising automation and complicated labour laws.

Sectors such as IT/ITeS require only around 1-2 people to produce Rs 1 million of real value-added GDP so that higher growth in these sectors does not create large-scale employment. Also, the labour dependency of the manufacturing sector – which once used to be the most labour-intensive sector barring agriculture – has diminished considerably as automation has increased.

According to this report, the ‘Internet of Things’ is expected to take away close to a lakh jobs in India in the next five years because of technological innovation.

A report by HDFC Bank on India’s tapering jobs growth says that “employment elasticity” in the economy is now close to zero – for every one point rise in GDP, jobs grow only 0.15.

Fifteen years ago, it was 0.39. The economy’s job creating potential has shrunk 60 percent during the last decade-and-a-half. Put simply, we are close to literally achieving “jobless growth.”

The Crisil report has also predicted a sharp decline in employment generation in the non-agriculture sector in the coming years as the economy treads a lower-growth path.

“CRISIL estimates that employment outside agriculture will increase by only 38 million between 2011-12 and 2018-19 compared with 52 million between 2004-05 and 2011-12. Due to insufficient employment creation in industry and services sectors, more workers will become locked in the least productive and low-wage agricultural sector. We estimate that 12 million people will join the agriculture workforce by 2018-19, compared with a decline of 37 million in agriculture employment between 2004-05 and 2011-12.”

Madan Sabnavis, Chief Economist at Care Ratings, had pointed out earlier that job creation has been slow in the last few years because of a virtual stagnation in manufacturing sector growth.

“There has been limited job creation in the last couple of years despite India’s GDP showing an uptrend. This is because in the physical segment, we have not seen similar growth commensurately”. He pointed out that the government has really offered no new jobs in PSUs etc whereas even the private sector has seen layoffs or some replacement jobs at best these last few years.

Already, overall job creation has been suffering under the Modi Government despite India’s galloping GDP, as the government’s own data show. Last available data of the Labour Bureau for the December quarter of 2015 show no new jobs were created but there was actually a decline of 20,000 jobs across eight labour intensive sectors.

Remember, the September quarter of the same year had added 1.34 lakh new jobs across the same eight sectors and was still the slowest quarter in the previous six years (barring 2012 where quarter wise data was not available). Now, with the December quarter data in, the total number of new jobs created across the eight sectors between January-December 2015 stood at just 1.35 lakh. This is the slowest pace of new jobs being created since 2009.
Here’s some easy math for grasping the enormity of this slowdown in jobs under the NDA: The Modi government took charge in mid-2014 and for that full year, 4.93 lakh jobs were added across these eight sectors.

So job addition in the first full year of this government fell to just a fourth of 2014 and was only a tenth of the growth seen in 2009, when the UPA was in power.

Joshi of Crisil says the government is not oblivious to job creation and points to the recently announced package for the textiles sector to boost jobs. The textile and apparels industry employs over 100 million people directly and indirectly and is thought to have the potential to create 50 million more jobs by 2025. But India lags in competitiveness to even Bangladesh in textiles and reaching the target of 10 million additional jobs over the next three years looks tough.

Employment in the textiles and apparels sector fell 0.11 percent in April-June 2015, rose 0.18 percent in July-September and 0.23 percent in October-December 2015, according to Labour Bureau estimates. Hardly the pace at which the expected job creation will happen.

Jobless growth is a reality staring India in the face. The government and industry must work together to solve this crisis.

In Punjab, drug mafia loves pipelines meant to water farms

After the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM)-led Pathankot air force station attack in January 2016, dna visited Punjab in order to explore, among other things, the drug angle to the attack.dna spoke to a number residents in villages notorious for drug abuse. On one such visit, the tour guide, himself a drug peddler, intended to show routes used by syndicates.”There is a Punjabi movie about the drug problem here. You should watch it,” said the local peddler, who was under the impression that this dna correspondent was a potential client.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Months after this gracious advice by a person, who himself was part of Punjab’s ‘drug problem’, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asked the makers of Udta Punjab to remove all references to the state as well as other areas in Punjab. While references to Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Ludhiana were asked to be removed, there are dozens of places, especially those bordering Pakistan, that continue to be plagued by drugs and yet remain almost anonymous.One such place is Bhadroya, a village at the border of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, and is perhaps one of the most important junctions used by cross-border drug syndicates of Punjab. “To truly understand Punjab’s drug problem, one needs to see how things work in Bhadroya,” said a Damtal- based advocate.With a population of less than 2,000, Bhadroya falls under Nurpur tehsil of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh and is located 5 km from the Pathankot air force station.While villages like Narot Jaimal Singh, Tash, Pharwal and Bamiyal are some places which serve as bases where chitta (local drug) is transported and stored briefly before its subsequent distribution, Bhadroya serves as the nerve centre of drug syndicates – even with the presence of army cantonments and BSF camps in Pathankot,Bhadroya is important for its ‘strategic location’ as drugs that are imported to India through the international border are forwarded not only to different parts of Punjab but also to Himachal and the national capital.Soon after the attack, the Himachal police swept the area ‘clean’ in multiple raids and had rid this village from drug dealers who were operating from one-room hutments built with the only purpose of selling drugs.”Both the Himachal and Punjab police have cracked down on drug smuggling after the attack but it’s a matter of time. There is a lot of media pressure but once everything dies down, business will be as usual,” a local drug dealer told dna en route to avail chitta.His main supplier is a woman known as Bhabhi and given the ‘hard area’ in which she supplies drugs, the woman is considered to be a tough nut to crack among drug smugglers.dna had requested a meeting with Bhabhi after taking the local peddler into confidence that this reporter wanted to sell drugs in Delhi. While waiting for a green signal from Bhabhi in a car parked on the dusty patch of road that led to Bhadroya, the meeting was cancelled after two teenagers on a motorcycle, who had been following our vehicle, informed that Bhabhi had some last-minute work.”You should have come before the attack. Things were better,” a drug dealer told dna. While travelling to Punjab’s villages, one encounters a multitude of police checkpoints and one would assume that, being a high-security border area, transporting drugs through these villages would be difficult. This, however, seems not to be the case. The network seems to have become sophisticated in the past two decades when Pakistani drug peddlers would use simple methods of transportation.The ‘package’ would be thrown over the fence or the same would be handed over after cutting through the electric fencing. In some places, where the border is completely porous, the package would be simply handed over. But as the trade grew, methods of transportation became elaborate.The International Border (IB), which divides India and Pakistan, falls on massive tracts of farming land. There are patches of farming land owned by Indians, which fall on both sides of the IB. Technically, the farming land on the other side of IB is Indian and farmers are even issued a special ID to work on the fields.The pipes meant to water the farms have long been used by drug dealers to transport their product. dna also learnt that pipes have been laid under the fence that divides India and Pakistan. The same pipes are used for transportation is no surprise to anyone here.This was confirmed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as well as a deputy superintendent of Punjab police in Pathankot. While the Punjab administration continues to face criticism over its alleged inaction, the police in the neighbouring state are hoping against hope.”This is not the first time we have conducted raids. We have been doing so for many years. We are determined to stop the influx of drugs into Himachal,” said a senior police officer posted in Damtal area of Himachal. “We will protect Himachal,” the officer said.

Sign Language: Disha, ‘Ikde Thikde’ to help visitors to JJ, Gateway of India

Maharashtra’s largest public health facility, JJ Hospital, attends close to 3,500 patients everyday, including emergency and accident cases.The biggest challenge to patients and their relatives here is how to locate emergency and casualty wards. The 125-year-old hospital complex is spread over 40 acres, with several buildings far away from each other, and with no clear directions. Things become more difficult during the night.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>That’s all changing. Disha (direction) is on the way. A few first-year bachelor of design students from IIT Bombay have come up with a simple and cost-effective design solution.”Besides putting up signboards, we would be marking the walls from the hospital entrance to the casualty and emergency wards with orange-coloured arrows. At the registration counter, patients would be given a colour-coded band through which they can follow the marks easily,” said Rohan Jhunja, one the 15 students associated with the project.Another group of students from his class are ready with a project for the Gateway of India. This project, ikde tikde (here and there), is aimed at helping tourists and local passengers navigate easily to the jetties and boats faster. The twin projects were developed in a five days.”We have designed a 10-ft-high tower with five different colours, each denoting different destinations: Elephanta, Alibaug, Mandva, JNPT and a half-an-hour sea ride. Tourists can see from afar whether their boat has arrived. The tower would also guide them on which direction to proceed,” said Samarth Bhardwaj, who is associated with the project. At present, jetty staff calls people by shouting and tourists often struggle to find the right jetty.The students have already sought permission from JNPT, BMC and the Colaba police for the pilot test. They were guided by Prof Peer Sarthik, Prof Jayesh Pillai and Prof BK Chakravarthy.

Bengaluru: Fire breaks out at Hotel Chancery Pavilion, none injured

A fire broke out in the basement of a five-star hotel here today causing panic among the staff and guests before it was put out, fire department officials said.”The fire has been doused, but smoke still persists. Things are under control,” an official said on the incident at Hotel Chancery Pavilion.No casualty has been reported in the incident that came to light when some hotel staff saw smoke emanating from the basement, the official said. The guests were evacuated from the building after the staff raised alarm about the fire. Seven fire tenders rushed to the spot.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fire officials suspect electrical short circuit to be the cause for the fire.

Important for scribes, politicians to know the facts: Arun Jaitley

Union minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday emphasised on the importance of knowing facts especially for journalists and politicians, saying that people can’t indefinitely live under the impression that they know most of the things. He was speaking at the launch of India-2016, a book which contains wide ranging details from achievements of the government, its policies, programmes and other aspects related to development.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I think the kind of detail that India 2016 carries is a must read for everyone particularly for journalists and politicians. It is very necessary. Because while we are in ignorance of large number of facts which are contained here, we can’t indefinitely live under the impression that we know most of the things. Because once we go through the book, you would realise how much we don’t know,” he said.Jaitley, who holds Finance and Information and Broadcasting portfolios, said he feels the book would be of great use to Parliamentarians as well as students, including those preparing for competitive exams who are are a natural constituency.Jaitley also launched the e-version of India 2016 in Hindi and English. The e-version would be cheaper than the hard copy and would help in saving paper, he said. The e-version of India 2016 will also be available on e-commerce platforms.Jaitley said the digitised version of collected works of Gandhiji had also been released some time back. The money received by the sale of these publications will go to the Consolidated Fund of India, the minister added.

17-year old held for murder could be first juvenile to be tried as adult under new law

New Delhi: A 17-year-old boy, apprehended for strangulating an elderly woman two months after he was released from a correction home, could be the first juvenile to be tried as an adult under a new law passed by Parliament in December.

The Delhi Police has urged the Juvenile Justice Board to treat the boy as an adult as he allegedly murdered the woman just five months after kidnapping and killing a 13-year-old boy for which he was sent to the correction home.

The boy was released from the juvenile home in December last year for his “good behaviour” after his parents applied for bail, saying he had to appear for Class X exams. He was apprehended again on Thursday on the charge of killing the woman at South Delhi’s B K Gupta Colony.

If the Juvenile Justice Board accepts the recommendation of the Delhi Police, then the boy will be the first to be tried under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.

Representational image. Image courtesy: ibnliveRepresentational image. Image courtesy: ibnlive

Representational image. Image courtesy: ibnlive

The new legislation was cleared by the Parliament on 22 December. It was passed after a prolonged debate on whether juveniles involved in heinous crimes should be tried as adults.

The demand for the new law had grown following release of the juvenile offender in the 16 December, 2012 gangrape case.

“We have submitted a written application to the Juvenile Justice Board, urging them to treat the juvenile, who is around 17 years and 11 months old, like an adult. This teenager could be the first to be tried under the amended Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act,” a senior police official said on Friday.

The juvenile was apprehended from his residence in Faridabad yesterday for allegedly strangulating to death a 65-year-old woman, and then robbing her of cash, jewellery and other expensive articles, at her residence in south Delhi’s BK Dutt colony.

In September 2015, The juvenile, along with his girlfriend, had allegedly abducted and murdered a 13-year- old boy for money which he needed for participating in a popular reality dance show, police said.

After being released from a correction home around two months ago, he targeted the elderly woman, identified as Mithilesh Jain, a widow.

The woman was found dead on Monday by her son-in-law but the police had then claimed that it was a case of natural death. Things took a turn when Jain’s relatives informed police that some jewellery, cash and expensive items, including two mobile phones, were missing from her residence.

Meanwhile, the post-mortem report also suggested that she was strangulated, following which police registered a case at Lodhi Colony police station.

PTI

Digvijay Singh takes on PM Modi as Indo-Pak talks look in jeopardy

Asserting that the nation?s security has become a joke, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh on Thursday said it is a matter of deep concern that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not able to take decisions with regard to the dialogue with Islamabad and asked New Delhi to make its stand clear on the issue. “It is surprising that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister could not take any decision because Ajit Doval was not available. It makes it clear that who is deciding the policy, it is neither the Prime Minister not the Foreign Minister, it is a matter of concern. The person who is not answerable to the Parliament, who is not an elected representative, is taking such decisions,” Singh said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Where did the news of Masood Azhar’s arrest came from? Who gave this information? This has to be found out. Things have become a joke. Country’s security has become a joke. Things ought to be made clear,” he added.Earlier, the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that they have no information about the arrest of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar in connection with the recent Pathankot terror attack. When asked about the Foreign Secretary level talks between the two countries, MOFA spokesperson Khalilullah Qazi said that the two governments remain in touch to firm up the date for the meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries.Reports earlier suggested that Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies had yesterday arrested 12 suspects of the banned Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), including its chief Masood Azhar, over links with the attack on Indian Air Force base in Pathankot.The reports also suggested that a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was informed on Wednesday that offices of JeM that allegedly conducted Pathankot attack were secretly operating in four cities of Punjab.The offices had reportedly been sealed in Bahwalnagar, Bahawalpur, Multan and Muzafargarh cities and the suspected members of the group were also held, top officials briefed Sharif.