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Congress sharpens attack on Facebook issue, BJP hits back

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The row over social media giant Facebook’s alleged “nexus” with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) intensified as the Congress reiterated its demand for the JPC probe. On Monday, the main Opposition party fielded its spokesperson, Supriya Shrinate, to step up the attack on Facebook and accused it for inaction on hate content.

In a virtual press conference, Shrinate alleged, “With all responsibility, I will say that Facebook’s inaction destabilised our democracy. More often than not Facebook takes no action and even worse, allows objectionable content to continue despite being brought to notice.”

She also claimed that Facebook has different rules for different countries, which is not acceptable. “The rules for India are dramatically different and are bent as per their convenience. In Singapore, while deposing before policy makers, Facebook said they were a social media platform and can’t take down content unless it was brought to notice. Ironically in India, despite external complaints and red flags raised by their own trust and safety teams, hate content has been allowed to wilfully continue,” she added.

Shrinate also claimed that there is enough and more objectionable content that exists on the platform, some of which incites violence, some of which is abusive against women, and some which targets particular communities and groups. She also said, “The social media company has removed pages and issued press releases across the world including the US and Turkey, citing ‘coordinated inauthentic behaviour’, but wondered why it has never done something similar in connection with rumour mongering and hate speeches in India.”

Meanwhile, Facebook has issued a statement on the current controversy, saying, “We prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position or party affiliation. While we know there is more to do, we’re making progress on enforcement and conducting regular audits of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy.”

BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya hit back at the Congress, saying: “It is ludicrous to suggest that Facebook is amenable to the BJP and the wider conservative ecosystem. If anything, the reverse is true. In the run up to the 2019 general elections, Facebook unilaterally took down over 700 pages, most of them sympathetic to a nationalist narrative. This trend of targeting large pages and groups run by volunteers and special interest groups, with communities running in millions, hasn’t stopped since. No reasons are assigned and appeals aren’t entertained either.”

 Talking about alleged hate speeches, Maiviya said, “What constitutes hate speech in India will be decided by our constitutional framework and extant rules. It must be applied fairly to all irrespective of their political affiliation. Sonia Gandhi, whose divisive speech streamed live on Facebook, which led to widescale rioting, death and destruction, is equally guilty as is someone else. We can’t have double standards.”

Taking a dig at Congress’ poor performance during the two back-to-back general elections Malviya further said, “Shaping public discourse can’t be the exclusive purview of the Left, who have since lost their monopoly and public support. Social media has democratised discourse and that is something they haven’t come to terms with. They often use friendly media to push inconsistent and incoherent narrative to remain relevant. But it is unlikely to yield any political dividend to the Congress, which is struggling with a discredited leadership and waning popular support.”

On Sunday, citing an American publication’s report, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi had accused Facebook and popular messaging app, Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook, for being used by the BJP to influence the electorate of India. While replying to these charges, on Sunday, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had lashed out at the Congress over the issue and called Rahul Gandhi a “loser” while reminding the party of the Cambridge Analytica issue.

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Centre increases dearness allowance for govt workers by 4%

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The Centre on Wednesday increased the dearness allowance for retirees and government workers by four percent. Anurag Thakur , an union minister, revealed that as a result, the dearness allowance is now up to 38 percent.

The revised dearness allowance will be given to government employees and pensioners in arrears starting on July 1. The Centre typically announces the DA hikes in March and September before implementing them on January 1 and July 1. Dearness allowance is essentially the portion of central government employees’ monthly salaries that is paid to offset the rise in living expenses brought on by compensation.

The dearness allowance had been raised to 34 percent by the Center in March of this year. The new DA went into effect on January 1 of this year. The Odisha government announced a 3 percent increase in daily allowance (DA) for its employees and pensioners on September 19.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik approved the proposal for increasing DA from 31 per cent to 34 per cent, effective from January 1, 2022. Four lakh employees and 3.5 lakh pensioners will be benefitted, according to an official release.

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Why only PFI? A Congress MP calls for a ban on RSS Published

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People protesting on PFI ban

A Congress MP, Kodikunnil Suresh, from Kerala on Wednesday compared the Popular Front of India with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). This statement came after a ban on PFI by the central govt. He demanded a similar ban on RSS for perpetuating “Hindu communalism.”

Lok Sabha MP’s remark came in the wake the in the wake of the ban by the central government issued through a notification late on Tuesday on Popular Front of India and its affiliates for having ‘terror links.”

The MP further said that the ban on PFI is not a remedy and demanded a ban on RSS as well for spreading Hindu Communalism throughout the country.

“So both the RSS and PFI are equal. The government should ban both. Why only PFI? RSS is also doing the majority communalism,” he said.

“Wherever majority communalism is there, then minority communalism is also coming up. So ultimately both (majority and minority) communalism is dangerous. It is dangerous for the country. So the government should ban both. Otherwise no result,” the Congress Lok Sabha chief whip added.

The NIA had arrested over 106 members of the PFI during its largest-ever raids spread across 15 states on September 22.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday night made the announcement through a notification declaring “the PFI and its associates or affiliates or fronts as an unlawful association with immediate effect”.

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Don’t visit Indian parts that border Pakistan, warns Canada, due to “landmine threats”

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Canada has issued a bizarre travel advisory to its citizen regarding travelling to India. It advises not travelling to parts of Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan which share a border with Pakistan due to the “presence of landmines” and “unpredictable security situation.”

The advisory states, “Avoid all travel to areas within 10 km of the border with Pakistan in the following states due to the unpredictable security situation and presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance: Gujarat, Punjab Rajasthan,” The travel advisory put out by the Canadian Govt also asks its citizens to be extra cautious while travelling in India due to “threat of terrorist attacks throughout the country.”

It also urges people to avoid non-essential travel to Assam and Manipur “due to the risk of terrorism and insurgency.”

Incidentally, India had on September 23 issued an advisory for Indian nationals and students in Canada to remain vigilant amid increasing incidents of crimes and anti-India activities in the country.

“There has been a sharp increase in incidents of hate crimes, sectarian violence and anti-India activities in Canada. The Ministry of External Affairs and our High Commission/Consulates General in Canada have taken up these incidents with the Canadian authorities and requested them to investigate the said crimes and take appropriate action,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

“In view of the increasing incidences of crimes as described above, Indian nationals and students from India in Canada and those proceeding to Canada for travel/education are advised to exercise due caution and remain vigilant,” the statement added.
The advisory also said Indian nationals and students from India in Canada may also register with the High Commission of India in Ottawa or the Consulates General of India in Toronto and Vancouver through their respective websites, or the MADAD portal madad.gov.in.

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Owaisi opposes PFI ban, says ‘every Muslim youth will now be arrested’

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The leader of AIMIM, Asaduddin Owaisi, criticised the Popular Front of India’s five-year suspension while making it clear that his stand is not in favour of PFI either.

From his opposition to the UAPA, he said a draconian ban of this kind is dangerous as it is a ban on any Muslim who wishes to speak his mind. “The way India’s electoral autarky is approaching fascism, every Muslim youth will now be arrested with a PFI pamphlet under India’s black law, UAPA,” he tweeted.

Muslims have spent decades in prison before being acquitted by courts. I have opposed UAPA & will always oppose all actions under UAPA. It runs afoul the principle of liberty, which is part of basic structure of the constitution,” Owaisi tweeted. 

Owaisi claimed that this case will follow the timeline of Siddique Kappan, a journalist from Kerala who was detained in 2020 while heading to Hathras, where any activist or journalist is unjustly imprisoned and it takes two years to even obtain bail. To report the gangrape and murder of a Dalit woman, Kappan was heading to Hathras. The Uttar Pradesh government filed charges against him under the UAPA. After serving two years in prison, Kappan was released on bail in 2022.

“How come PFI is banned but organisations associated with convicts of Khaja Ajmeri bomb blasts aren’t? Why has govt not banned right wing majoritarian organisations?” Owaisi said.

Owaisi said he always opposed PFI’s approach but he can’t support the ban on the PFI. “Actions of some individuals who commit crime does not mean that the organisation itself must be banned,” the Hyderabad MP said.

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Centre orders the blocking of PFI websites, social media accounts, and affiliates

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People familiar with the development said that hours after the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its eight affiliate or frontal organisations were banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the Centre issued a “takedown” order to block these organisations’ websites and social media accounts so that they could not propagate their activities.

The official websites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts, YouTube channels, or any other online presence of PFI, Rehab India Foundation (RIF), Campus Front of India (CFI), All India Imams Council (AIIC), National Confederation of Human Rights Organization (NCHRO), National Women’s Front, Junior Front, Empower India Foundation, and Rehab Foundation (Kerala) are being permanently blocked as part of the “takedown” order, and contents posted by them are being removed.

PFI, RIF, and AIIC websites had already been blocked at the time of filing this report. Others are being processed on the orders of the Department of Telecommunications, based on referrals from central agencies, according to an unnamed official.

According to this source, references are being sent to social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to remove their accounts and any content related to PFI, which is now a terror organisation.

PFI, as an “illegal association,” will not issue any press statements through any official channel.

Furthermore, according to a second official familiar with the situation, official WhatsApp accounts linked to PFI, CFI, RIF, and other affiliates will be monitored, and any anti-national activity will be prosecuted.

According to the second officer, if the PFI or any of its affiliates open any proxy social media accounts or websites for their activities, those can now be blocked as well.

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Why Whatflix is the best LMS for corporate training?

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corporate insolvency

For a considerable period of time, the concept of corporate training has evolved, around LMS that turn out to be functional in nature. It would be good for compliance, along with formal training, as it is not taking the level of learning to the next level. Companies are experiencing a visible drop in learning rates. With skills gaps widening, it has gone on to become inevitable, and the best LMS for corporate training would be of help. The term AI would be for most of us could conjure the image of robots capable of serving. Let us figure out the benefits

The learning pathway is personalized

As far as the future of learning and development is concerned the future appears to be personalization. No longer the one-size-fits approach is bound to work for all. With the aid of machine learning and artificial intelligence, learning and development would be able to figure out human behaviour. There are certain types of behaviour that warrant a better response from the end of the users. Apart from this, there are intelligent content creation systems that collect data from multiple web and internal sources. With an AI-based module it would be able to share feedback and cater to the needs of each and every employee.

Training is to be reinforced and goes on to enhance the competition rate

A trend that emerges is that learners end up forgetting 90 % of the things that they have gone on to learn. The worst part is that all of them tend to be within a week. It is with the aid of micro tools like Whatflix that does help to address the gaps in a major way. Just imagine a session where an employee is taking part in a video session and they do not have an idea on how to use them. Then an interactive whatflix video will guide them about the process in detail.

They are also able to figure out the learning obstacle of the user and the guided walkthrough goes on to provide them with relevant information catering to their tastes. The best part is that their integration is possible with your LMS tool so that you are in a position to track on how the users are engaging with an inbuilt app. AI is bound to make learning concise and personalized so that it has a major role to play in enhancing competition rates.

Content is to be developed in terms of a scale

The creation of content at a dynamic scale works out to be important for a business that follows an agile approach. Tools like whatflix would go on to integrate with the various sources and goes on to provide the best form of content for your app. It is helpful when it goes on to automate the entire content in a series of steps. But come the next wave of content would focus more on developing machine learning. AI is expected to cope up with the demand of fresh content for the needs of your organization.

The focus is more on human interactions

Due to the fact that skills tend to have a shorter life than before the need of the hour is to be conducing training sessions on a regular basis. Here the game changers turn out to be AI virtual monitoring tools that go on to automate repeated tasks. What it does is that provide free time to the L and D department as they can divert their time on tasks that require attention. An example in this regard would be a face to face training session.

The effectiveness of the training is measured

It goes on to track the progress of the learner on a recurring basis. Hence the need of the hour is to formulate a program based on the needs of the learner that incorporates MI and AI. The leaders are able to obtain inputs on key parameters, such as employees learn and obtain feedback in an amicable manner.

An example is that if you find that there is a  drop in the value of a course, AI can figure out the reasons on why this turns out to be the case.

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