Tag Archives: India

India court ends hearings on disputed religious site, decision in weeks

India court ends hearings on disputed religious site, decision in weeksIndia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered an end to hearings in a long-running dispute between Hindus and Muslims over a place of worship, laying the ground for a verdict that could lead to further divisions. Hindus believe that the site in the northern town of Ayodhya is the birthplace of god-king Lord Ram and want a temple built on the ruins of a mosque that was torn down by zealots in 1992, triggering riots across the country. Muslims want the 16th century mosque be rebuilt and leaders from the two sides have been arguing over the matter for decades.



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India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killedText messaging services were blocked in Indian Kashmir just hours after being restored when a truck driver was killed by suspected militants and his vehicle set ablaze, authorities said Tuesday. Separately, Indian officials said a 24-year-old woman died in the latest exchange of artillery fire with Pakistan over their de-facto border dividing the blood-soaked Himalayan region.



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UPDATE 1-Grenade attack in Kashmir injures 10 amid India clampdown

UPDATE 1-Grenade attack in Kashmir injures 10 amid India clampdownA grenade attack on Saturday in Kashmir’s southern city of Anantnag injured 10 people, including a traffic policeman and a journalist, police said on Twitter, blaming “terrorists”. Many people in Kashmir have been seething since India stripped its portion of the Muslim-majority region of autonomy on Aug. 5, shutting off phone networks and imposing curfew-like restrictions in some areas to dampen discontent. Some of those curbs have been slowly relaxed, but mobile and internet communications in the Kashmir valley are largely still blocked.



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Doctors in India are stunned by baby born with 4 legs and 3 hands

Doctors in India are stunned by baby born with 4 legs and 3 handsThe mother was expecting triplets, but ended up delivering twins — one of which seemed to have absorbed extra limbs from the third unborn fetus.



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India Is Planning a Huge China-Style Facial Recognition Program

India Is Planning a Huge China-Style Facial Recognition Program(Bloomberg) — India is planning to set up one of the world’s largest facial recognition systems, potentially a lucrative opportunity for surveillance companies and a nightmare for privacy advocates who fear it will lead to a Chinese-style Orwellian state.Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will open bids next month to build a system to centralize facial recognition data captured through surveillance cameras across India. It would link up with databases containing records for everything from passports to fingerprints to help India’s depleted police force identify criminals, missing persons and dead bodies.The government says the move is designed to help one of the world’s most understaffed police forces, which has one officer for every 724 citizens — well below global norms. It also could be a boon for companies: TechSci Research estimates India’s facial recognition market will grow sixfold by 2024 to $ 4.3 billion, nearly on par with China.But the project is also ringing alarm bells in a nation with no data privacy laws and a government that just shut down the internet for the last seven weeks in the key state of Kashmir to prevent unrest. While India is still far from implementing a system that matches China’s ability to use technology to control the population, the lack of proper safeguards opens the door for abuses.“We’re the only functional democracy which will set up such as system without any data protection or privacy laws,” said Apar Gupta, a Delhi-based lawyer and executive director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, a non-profit group whose members successfully lobbied the government in 2015 to ensure net neutrality and reject platforms like Facebook Inc.’s Free Basics. “It’s like a gold rush for companies seeking large unprotected databases.”Black MarketA draft data protection bill presented to the government last year still hasn’t been approved by the cabinet or introduced into parliament. The country has already had problems implementing Aadhaar, one of the world’s biggest biometric databases linking everything from bank accounts to income tax filings, which been plagued by reports of data leaks and the growth of a black market for personal information.So far, not much is known about which companies might bid on the facial-recognition system. Minutes of a meeting with potential bidders, obtained by the Internet Freedom Foundation through a right to information request, showed unidentified companies sought clarifications on integrating facial recognition data with state databases and whether it should be able to identify people with plastic surgery.Vasudha Gupta, a spokeswoman for the Home Ministry, didn’t respond to an email seeking comments about the system.For some in the police force, the system will be an essential tool to fight crime if implemented properly. India has seen more than 100 terrorist attacks in the last three decades, including one on luxury hotels and a train station in Mumbai that killed 166 people in 2008.‘Powerful Tool’Nilabh Kishore, who headed a unit fighting organized crime in the state of Punjab until last year, had success against gangsters after he set up a system linking data from police stations across the state.“A system that can identify criminals is invaluable — facial recognition is a powerful tool,” said Kishore, who is now deputy inspector general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. “But human intentions are also very important. You can make the best of technology, but if human intentions are wrong it can be a tool for misuse.”That’s particularly a worry for vulnerable minority groups that have long faced discrimination in India. Lower castes and tribals account for about a quarter of the population but constitute 34% of India’s prisoners, according to the National Dalit Movement for Justice.In January, the Delhi High Court said it was “unacceptable“ that facial recognition had not helped trace any of the 5,000 children missing from the city in three years. Earlier this month, photos and phone numbers from a Madurai city police facial recognition database in the southern state of Tamil Nadu were leaked online.Surveillance ThreatThe threat of foreign spying is also persistent. Last month a federal government think tank criticized the local administration in Delhi for hiring the Indian arm of Chinese firm Hikvision to set up 150,000 CCTVs, saying the move could spur illegal hacking and data leaks to the Chinese government.Foreign surveillance companies operating in India include CP Plus, Dahua, Panasonic Corp., Bosch Security Systems, Honeywell International Inc., and D-Link India Ltd. Many Indian companies won’t be able to bid on the facial-recognition system because the current tender requires them to meet standards established by the U.S. National Institute of Science and Technology, according to Atul Rai, chief executive officer of Staqu Technologies, an Indian startup.Rai, whose company has developed facial recognition for eight local police forces, said India doesn’t have the same quality cameras as China — making it harder to meet the goal of being able to identify any person with an integrated system. He also said it would be more difficult to implement a national network in India because state governments are responsible for law and order under its constitution.“But if this one happens in line with the government’s plan, it should be a China-like system,” Rai said. “Any powerful country wants to be like China when it comes to using technology to monitor people — even western countries.”\–With assistance from Santosh Kumar.To contact the reporter on this story: Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at achaudhary2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Cash-starved Air India putting crews on low-fat diet

Cash-starved Air India putting crews on low-fat dietCash-starved Air India is putting its crew on a diet, changing their inflight menu to special low-fat meals. Dhananjay Kumar, the state-run airline's spokesman, said Wednesday that the objective is to provide healthy and cost-effective meals to crews on domestic and international flights. Kumar declined comment on media reports that the cost per meal, mostly vegetarian, will fall to one-third of the current 500-800 rupees (up to $ 11) per meal.



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A flight in India was delayed when a swarm of angry bees covered the cockpit window and attacked staff who tried to remove them

A flight in India was delayed when a swarm of angry bees covered the cockpit window and attacked staff who tried to remove themFirefighters were eventually brought in to get the plane, with 135 passengers and Bangladesh's information minister on board, to take off.



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Archbishop of Canterbury apologizes for massacre in India

Archbishop of Canterbury apologizes for massacre in IndiaThe archbishop of Canterbury said Tuesday he regrets a massacre by British colonial forces of hundreds of Indians participating in a peaceful demonstration for independence 100 years ago. Archbishop Justin Welby spoke at a memorial for victims of the attack in northwest India. The massacre took place at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar on April 13, 1919, when the British Indian Army opened fire at a crowd demonstrating for independence, killing more than 300 and injuring 1,200.



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India Criticizes Chinese Trade Policies

India Criticizes Chinese Trade Policies(Bloomberg) — Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Monday criticized China for what he described as one-sided trade policies, casting doubt over the progress of negotiations for a pan-Asian free trade agreement.Speaking during a panel discussion in Singapore, the minister said India remained skeptical over “unfair” market access and “Chinese protectionist policies” that have created a significant trade deficit between the two nations. India’s trade deficit with China was $ 53.6 billion in the fiscal year ended March 2019.“The big concerns of India are of course, one, its relationship with China because we have an enormous trade deficit with China,” Jaishankar said in response to a question regarding the ongoing negotiations for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP.Negotiators have expressed hope that RCEP — which includes all 10 of Southeast Asia’s Asean countries, as well as Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India and China — would be delivered by the end of the year. While ministers from the 16 participating countries reaffirmed their commitment to reaching a deal this year following negotiations in Bangkok over the weekend, it is unclear whether such a goal will be met.Jaishankar said he was unsure what was discussed in the latest round of negotiations, but noted that India’s involvement would hinge on a mutually equitable, depoliticized arrangement.“RCEP at the end of the day is an economic negotiation. It has a strategic implication, but the merits of the RCEP outcome have to be economic,” said Jaishankar. “It has to be sold for its strength and I think if that was more self-evident to Indians I think you would get clearly a much stronger resonance.”Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who was also on the panel, urged India to reconsider its position on RCEP, saying that Beijing and New Delhi would have to come to terms on trade eventually.“I am making the argument that it is worth making the effort, because this would be a game changer,” Balakrishnan said.To contact the reporter on this story: Philip J. Heijmans in Singapore at pheijmans1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Karthikeyan SundaramFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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India locates lander lost on final approach to moon

India locates lander lost on final approach to moonThe lander module from India’s moon mission was located on the lunar surface on Sunday, one day after it lost contact with the space station, and efforts are underway to try to establish contact with it, the head of the nation’s space agency said. The Press Trust of India news agency cited Indian Space and Research Organization chairman K. Sivan as saying cameras from the moon mission’s orbiter had located the lander. “It must have been a hard landing,” PTI quoted Sivan as saying.



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