The Union Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tells NewsX’s Managing Editor on how telecom networks have held despite many people staying at home.
Q. Why is it important to download the Aarogya Setu App?
A. We must understand Digital India is an important program of Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is himself tech savvy and understands the power of technology. India has a population of 130 crore plus and home to nearly 120 crore mobile phones. Aarogya Setu is an app you download which gives you a system whereby you know you are okay if it is green, if you come in contact with some person who is likely to be impacted, the colour will change. If you come in contact with someone afflicted, it will turn red. Therefore, you can digitally map your Covid-19 condition. How it works is that if a person is detected positive usually later on, this process alerts everyone he has met or come in contact. They will be told that you have come in contact with a person who has tested positive, be on guard, undertake isolation and take appropriate measures. Let me clarify, the privacy issue has been taken good care of. You have to give your consent before installing it on your mobile phone. Therefore, the world bodies and WHO are appreciating this development by my department in IT, NIC
Q. How we can mobilise AI and technology and use it for national service? How will this benefit people? We were also discussing how difficult is to do contact tracing with share labour involved with this app. How would that become easier?
A. This is an innovative product which is homegrown, no foreign element and developed by Indian innovators with Indian administrators and an Indian system. The alert system will be completely sensitized. Suppose one person goes to Patna or Lucknow and returns, and is found to be positive. Then the system will alert them on the movement part because they will be also captured in this. This works on smartphones and for feature phones, we have got Aarogya IVRS that also is an automatic system. If you give a missed call, it alerts you, guides you and counsels you. It is available in all languages and started with Tamil Nadu Government and the rest are following it. The third thing which I wanted you to know is that working from home is a new norm. We have facilitated by relaxing rules and I am happy to tell you that as per Nasscom projection nearly 85 to 90% work of India›s IT services is now being done from home. I have asked my department in the IT to come with robust architecture whereby working from home becomes new norm. And lastly one thing, more video conferencing must be an innovation of India. Therefore, I approve the scheme where we are launching a competition where start-up entrepreneurs can join. We will pick 10, give them a grant of Rs 5 lakh, of which we will pick up 3 and give them a grant of Rs 20 lakh and the best would be selected. They will be given a further Rs 1 crore incentive so that video conferencing can become a new norm.
Q. Despite the increase in working from home, our telecom networks and our ISPs have not failed since the lockdown started. How has this been managed and what needs to be done to replicate this?
A. Tough monitoring and incentivizing them right through the occasion. Since people are at home, they are using internet more now and there was a lot of load on video. We sensitized all players to relax high definition a little so that it takes lesser load. I am happy to share that they incorporated this and the load on mobile data consumption has come down to nearly 50 to 60%.
Q. You made the announcement a few days ago and from our understanding, you are sensitizing postal workers so that medicine sent by post is prioritised. How will this work out?
A. It is already working out. Let me explain, I held a meeting by video conferencing with the chief post master general and chief general manager of BSNL and also the other postal departments. I told the postal department that please ensure the delivery of food to the needy and poor of the country and I want to place on record my deep appreciation to postal operators from postmasters to postmen, all of them worked enormously. Whenever they got a complaint that people are hungry, they reached the areas because postal department has the reach. Then I found that they are already delivering medicines and other equipment through cargo planes. They are doing a good job and I found that life-saving drugs are becoming a big problem because normal drugs are available. For instance, a man was sending a life-saving drug to his retired army major father in the hills of Uttarakhand. Now he approached me and asked how will I send this life-saving drug to my father, who has kidney ailments. I asked my postal department to work it out and later it was delivered. Similarly in Madhya Pradesh, a cancer patient was not getting his drugs from Mumbai. I ensured that the medicine should be delivered, thereafter I asked postal secretary to have a suitable mechanism where if someone wants to transfer or send life-saving drugs to an area where it is needed, and where the lockdown prevents its sending, to use speed post or other system and deliver.
Q. How does one avail this facility, should we mark on the envelope that these are life-saving drugs or essential medicines? How will post offices know that this is important and are on high priority, how should we inform them?
A. First of all, it is for emergency drugs. Suppose it›s a cancer drug or any particular person is delivering drugs to them. We take the drugs from the person when the people who wants the drugs approach this system and at a legitimate cost, a minimum cost, this system delivers the drugs. We are doing it like this because postal operation is exempt from lockdown.
Q. Apart from Aarogya Setu app, what more can we do?
A. In fact, I would like to tell you that we have got MyGov platform, which is open for all Indians in which we are offering the people of this country to come up with innovative ideas. You have seen the Prime Minister appealing to young scientists and young professional innovators to come up with ideas and medicines to combat this virus. During these tough times, you must create hope. We shall overcome and the leadership of the Prime Minister and the entire country. We must put on record that it›s a rare moment in the history of India that Team India is working as one. Prime Minister and Chief Ministers regardless of the political divide. Other people also, including the civil society, and you have seen how lockdown is causing inconvenience. But the people of India have themselves accepted that if the lockdown needs to be extended for their life, they must continue to generate hope. I am sure the inherent talent and sense of enterprise of Indians will surely overcome the danger posed by coronavirus.
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ICDMA FOUNDER TO INTRODUCE AI PLATFORM FOR IDENTIFYING AND MITIGATING DIGITAL RISKS
ICDMA is a provider of IT services such as Cyber Forensics, IT Audit, IT Risk Evaluation, and Digital Security. In recent years, it has become a tried-and-true standard for businesses looking to defend their brands, enterprises, and reputations from crippling cyber attacks. They develop and deploy information security platforms and services, both standard and personalised, to protect, evaluate, and respond to cyber threats such as security breaches that occur in your systems and networks. The services they provide include Application and Web Development, Graphic Design, Security Audits, Cyber Security Services, Vulnerability Assessments, Fraud Risk Management, and IT Consultancy.
In addition, the firm achieved awards for being the best Cyber Forensics firm preventing businesses from external threats. A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business, or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible and practical solutions to protect you.
Being a cyber security expert and analyst, Dheeraj Kumar has years of experience and stays up-to-date with the current crimes and security trends. He believes that like many other professions, this is a never-ending learning field. They monitor your networks and then analyse them to find common threat patterns or trends. Further, they design software that suits the needs of the problem at hand and ensures that these measures are maintained properly. If, in any case, they encounter a new problem, they utilise their years of experience and knowledge to produce a unique solution.
Witnessing the increased cyber threats, Cybersecurity analyst Dheeraj advises people to use the Internet wisely and productively. Dheeraj is currently working on an Al-driven platform for identifying and mitigating digital risks and counteracting brand impersonation attacks with the company’s patented technologies at its core. Dheeraj’s experience in threat hunting and cyber intelligence has been fused into an ecosystem of highly sophisticated software and hardware solutions designed to monitor, identify, and prevent cyberattacks.
A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible solutions.
EXPO 2020 A GLOBAL PLATFORM TO HIGHLIGHT ACHIEVEMENTS OF SPACE SECTOR: EMM PROJECT MANAGER
The six-month Expo 2020 Dubai is a crucial window for the participating countries to present their accomplishments across different sectors, and the space sector is one of them. The event will shed light on the development of this sector around the world, emphasising its importance for humans in particular and the planet in general.
Expo 2020 has devoted a full week to space, from 17 to 23 October, during which a dialogue session will be held with Emirati astronauts along with entertainment, art and science activities. Also, information related to space sciences will be disseminated among other related space activities. In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), said, “This year, the UAE has achieved milestone accomplishments in the space sector by its arrival to Mars, and before that, it had played a key role in stimulating this sector besides the science and technology sectors.”
On the role of Expo 2020 Dubai as a prominent global platform to highlight the country’s achievements in the national space sector, Al Sharaf pointed out that Expo is not only a global event to showcase the cultures of other countries, but rather a platform for presenting scientific, technical and cultural achievements around the world.
He added that one of the reasons for the quick establishment of the space sector in the country “is because this sector depends on international cooperation, and the UAE did not consider its space programme as a race with other countries, but viewed it as an opportunity to cooperate with different nations, which contributed to activating the role of the sector and speeding its development, thus placing the UAE at the forefront of countries in this sector.”
Regarding the most nationally prominent projects in the space sector during the current period, Sharaf said, “The space sector is going through a very important and sensitive stage today, as the UAE has previously invested through the ‘Hope Probe’ project and other related projects to attract knowledge to the country from abroad and build on the capabilities of Emirati youth through knowledge transfer programmes.”
“Today, after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, announced the upcoming mission, which is a new space programme to explore planet Venus and seven other [asteroids] in the solar system, the focus will be on transferring knowledge from the UAE space sector to the private sector to create a stimulating environment and support the science and technology sector in the country, and at the same time serve the UAE’s economy is facing various challenges, including water resources and food resources, among others,” he added.
When asked regarding the sector’s participation in the Space Week at Expo 2020, Sharaf said that the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the various specialised authorities have a great role in Expo. As for Space Week, there are various participations, including lectures, seminars, or receiving various delegations to discuss cooperation in the space sector.
“This is a great opportunity for countries to work together, and we, as the Emirati space sector, have decided to take advantage of this opportunity at Expo to build and strengthen these relations, and it will be the beginning of greater cooperation and ambitious projects across the world and the region.”
IIT KANPUR STUDY EXPLAINS THE SUCCESS OF COVID-19 CONTROL MODEL OF UTTAR PRADESH
The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.
The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the health system across India. Most states struggled to prevent the surge in cases and ensure adequate supply as the virus created a situation of upheaval. However, a recent study led by Padma Shri Awardee Prof. Manindra Agrawal of IIT-Kanpur elaborates that with careful planning, multiple strategies and close monitoring Uttar Pradesh’s Covid-19 response model turned out to be more effective in comparison with many other states.
TABLE 1: NTPR DURING THE SECOND WAVE
The data points out that the daily case count was brought down to just 1,497 on 31 May after the peak of 38,000 was recorded on 24 April. It can be noted that the reduction in numbers happened quite fast in the state as compared with many other ones, for example, Maharashtra and Kerala, which supports the study’s arguments.
Beginning with the foremost concern of reducing the spread, the UP model followed the Test, Trace, Treat, Tackle (TTTT) approach. Under the strategy, the TTTT teams were instated in rural UP to conduct door to door testing, enabling early detection and ensuring isolation and treatment. These TTTT teams covered around 97,941 villages. Niti Aayog and WHO also lauded the efforts of the state in conducting a mammoth house-to-house testing and tracing drive, supported by micro-planning and concurrent follow-ups. As highlighted by the IIT-Kanpur study, other measures of the state involved capacity building through intensive training on all major aspects of Covid-19, provision of infrastructures like ICU beds, ventilators, and creation of safety nets and incentives via state and central funding schemes (PMJJBY, PMSBY, AKBY, etc.).
While preventing the surge in cases was one aspect of the model, the government also managed the high demand crisis of oxygen resounding throughout the nation then. To tackle the surge in demand the government set up an oxygen monitoring system to track oxygen tankers and rolled out a stringent oxygen audit which saved around 30 MT of oxygen per day. Also, the state’s strategy to airlift empty tankers with the help of IAF lessened the turnaround time saving 10 hours. Apart from ensuring these, the model also addressed the concerns regarding the livelihood of the people. With the commitment to save the lives and livelihoods of people, the UP government did not resort to strict lockdowns and opted for partial curfews to break the Covid-19 chain. And, adapting to the situation of the pandemic, the government supplied policies for ease of mobility (separate buses and trains for migrant workers), employability (DBT 1000 to migrants) and sustenance (cash transfers to marginalised sections). The study also states that such measures helped in keeping the unemployment rate below the national average as depicted in the graph below.
Formulated on the four essential pillars of protection of livelihood, optimisation of economy, facilitation of healthcare services and restriction of virus spread, it has been pointed through the study that the UP Covid-19 model has created a benchmark. The study then draws a comparison among the states based on the Normalised Test Positivity Rate (NTPR) which is the ratio of Test Positivity Ratio and percentage of active cases. It shows that the strategy of the UP model was to aggressively change the pandemic which helped in the control.
Furthermore, the study also found that the timing of the containment measures was near-optimal, which in any other situation could have caused a peak of more than 70,000 daily cases as shown in the graph below.
Nonetheless, the second wave has dealt a heavy blow to not just India’s but globally existing health infrastructure, unveiling a systemic failure that led many to conclude that no model or strategy is perfect. This points towards a large scope of improvement for all state administrations and governing bodies.
The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.
58 abstracts pertain to research in Covid-19 at PGIMER
Out of 576 abstracts received for showcase, 58 abstracts pertain to research in COVID 19. Only research conducted in the last three years in Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research has been included for the showcase for the 8TH Annual Research Day at the institute.
“With 576 abstracts received, the highest so far, there has been an overwhelming response for the 8th Annual Research Day of PGIMER which is being celebrated on 22nd October. Another first this year is the compilation of H index from all the departments, which measures both the productivity and citation impact of the publications. Basically, through this, the intent is to monitor our strengths as well as our areas of improvement in the domain of research in the institute,” stated Prof. A.K.Gupta, Dean (Research) & Medical Superintendent, PGIMER while briefing at the curtain-raiser organised for the upcoming Annual Research Day here at PGIMER today.
“With the two more categories added this year from NIPS and NINE in the earlier categories of medical, and surgical and para clinical, 47 awards will be given to the best entries including all categories,” shared Gupta.
Detailing about the mandate of the Annual Research Day, the dean (Research) further shared, “The end objective of any research is to bring in more and more innovation and translate them into excellent clinical services for the masses. With the remarkable research contributions by the participants, we are hopeful of further upskilling our clinical services, thereby, helping our patients.”
Another senior faculty present included Prof. Vishali Gupta, Deptt. of Ophthalmology, Prof. K. Gaba, Sub-Dean (Research) & Head, Deptt. of Oral Health Sciences, Dr Arnav Pal, Faculty In-charge, MERC and Prof. Ramandeep Singh, Deptt. of Ophthalmology.
Citing personalised medicine as the future, Prof. Vishali Gupta from Deptt. of Ophthalmology, PGIMER called the event a landmark opportunity for collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas and knowledge among the luminaries within the institute.
While giving her perspective on Annual Research Day Prof. K. Gaba, Sub-Dean (Research) & Head, Deptt. of Oral Health Sciences shared, “The Research Day connotes the need for teamwork, mentorship and synergy among various departments and institutes.
Dr Arnab Pal, Faculty In-charge, MERC, who has been closely involved in putting together the Annual Research Day stated, “Out of 576 abstracts received for showcase, 58 abstracts pertain to research in COVID 19. Only research conducted in the last three years in PGIMER has been included for the showcase.”
“Annual Research Day instils a sense of competition among the young fellow doctors and makes them more aspirational by raising the bar for them’, said Prof. Ramandeep from Deptt. of Ophthalmology.
Briefing further, Prof. A.K.Gupta, Dean (Research) & Medical Superintendent, PGIMER informed, “The Annual Research Day will have the august presence of two eminent medical scientists of the country, Prof. Y.K. Chawla, former Director and Prof. Digambar Behera, former Dean (Research) of PGIMER as Chief Guest and Guest of Honour respectively.”
PM Modi showers praise on Haryana CM Khattar
JHAJJAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi remotely inaugurated the newly constructed Infosys Foundation Vishram Sadan in the National Cancer Institute campus located in the Badsha area of Jhajjar district.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated Vishram Sadan at Badsa NIC, Jhajjar to the nation, through video conferencing.
Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal, Health Minister Anil Vij, BJP State President Omprakash Dhankhar, and MP from Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency, Dr Arvind Sharma were present in the inauguration ceremony at Badsa NCI campus.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy joined the video conference. During the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praise on Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
“Haryana has got the most honest Chief Minister in the last five decades. I have been with Manoharlalji for a long time but after becoming the Chief Minister, his talent has shone even more,” Prime Minister Modi said.
“The Central government on several counts has learnt from the methods of the Haryana government. I congratulate Manoharlalji for his successful efforts,” added the Prime Minister.
AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria was also present at the opening ceremony.
PUNJAB CM URGES POLICE TO ENSURE EFFECTIVE, TRANSPARENT POLICING ACROSS THE STATE
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Thursday asked the Police force to ensure effective, efficient and transparent policing across the state to instil confidence of the general public in the law and order machinery.
Prioritising the challenges being faced by the state, Channi asked the entire police force right from top brass to the bottom to work in unison to eradicate corruption, break the drug supply chain, illicit liquor trade and curb the sand mafia with heavy hand. The Chief Minister categorically said that the police should develop a system to identify the drug peddlers/smugglers who were supplying drugs to our youth so as to fell prey to this menace.
Chairing the first meeting after assuming the charge as Chief Minister here at CMO this evening, Channi asked the officers to discharge their duties with utmost dedication; honesty and professional commitment so that the people should feel the difference and a message to this effect must go down the line.
Showing grave concern over the adulteration of food products like milk, cheese and other dairy products, the Chief Minister asked the police department to launch a vigorous campaign in tandem with the health department to crack down on such unscrupulous elements, who were playing havoc with the health of the people. He also asked the ACS Home to rope in the vigilance teams to trap these adulterators indulging in such inhuman practices.
The Chief Minister further said that all the officers who have been recently posted on new assignments strictly on their merit and track record should now perform their duties diligently to effectively deliver the goods in terms of reposing the trust of common man in the policing. Channi categorically said that none of any person without any fault should be implicated in false cases or harassed unnecessarily by keeping them under illegal custody.
The Chief Minister also asked the SSPs to issue detailed directions to all the DSPs and SHOs to ensure that the petty shopkeepers especially the vendors should not be fleeced by taking money from them in lieu of allowing them to put stalls for selling crackers and other items during the coming Diwali. He also asked the police to firmly deal with those anti-social elements indulging in the malpractices of betting/gambling and be given the exemplary punishment as deterrents for others without showing any laxity. He however said the patrolling especially at night during the festival season should be intensified to avoid any untoward incident.
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