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ONLINE LEARNING HAS PUT THE SECURITY OF CHILDREN AT STAKE

In a bid to digitalise education in Covid times, the issue of the privacy of young students seems to have slipped under the radar. If left unchecked and unregulated, this will have long-term negative ramifications on the lives of many.

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The swift lockdown of the entire world was unprecedented, unheard of, and took industries and institutions the world over by surprise. However, some sectors responded swiftly, and education was one of them. Universities, colleges, schools and coaching centres quickly switched to delivering lectures online through digital means. Camera surveillance, video recordings and online chats became the norm. However, issues of privacy, the safety of the data being collected, how it is being used and where it is being stored took a back seat.

To showcase its ‘Digital India’ objectives and how committed the government was to not let a pandemic dampen spirits, the Government of India also jumped on the bandwagon and pushed forth its own e-learning initiatives such as ‘Swayam’, ‘Diksha’, ‘E-Pathshaala’, Free/Libre and Open Source Software for Education and a few more. These online platforms quietly but surely have been able to collect huge amounts of data and generate different types of datasets. These platforms, which work under the beck and call of the government of the day, have become a massive repository of data, which the government and private players can exploit to build and control the society.

Such vast tracts of data in the hands of unregulated entities can be used to suit nefarious ends. They can be used for profiling, which in turn can be used to deliver targeted content to mould impressionable minds or make students the target for certain kinds of advertisements and thought processes. And the impact of these activities can be long term.

The weakness of the current infrastructure of cybersecurity of both government and private institutions in the country is highlighted almost every day. In the month of October, a data breach of the official website of the Prime Minister affected 5 lakh users. Earlier, a popular online education company’s website was breached and sensitive information pertaining to students and registered members was compromised. Very recently, there was news of the breach of security measures of a popular grocery delivery app, which resulted in the email IDs, phone numbers and addresses of its users being stolen. There are numerous such instances which reiterate the point that the data security infrastructure in India is still far from satisfactory and the government and private institutions will do well to go slow on the ‘Digital India’ campaign and first ensure that data is not jeopardised.

LEGAL FRAMEWORKS

In the US, laws such as the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and California Consumer Privacy Act have been enacted specifically to protect children’s privacy and the regulation of data collection from them. The Federal Trade Commission of the US saddled with the regulation of trade and consumer protection in the US even brought out Covid-specific COPPA guidelines. Further, these laws require service providers (in this case, schools) to educate parents/guardians about privacy matters and privacy measures, to notify guardians about their privacy practices and to take explicit consent before collecting their wards’ data.

Institutions have also stepped up to the challenge. The MIT Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has put out age-appropriate modules which can be used to educate students on the appropriate ways of being online and giving control to students to determine the correct use of media for themselves. The University of California, Berkeley has also come with the Teaching Privacy project to teach the basic tenets of online privacy.

In India, the absence of appropriate laws and regulations has let everyone run amok and formulate their own rules and policies without much regard for the accompanying issues of privacy, data abuse and misuse. The Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill is yet to see the light of day and the existing legal framework comprising the IT Act, 2000 and the 2011 Rules issued under this Act governing these digital platforms are inadequate to handle issues of privacy pertaining to children specifically. Since there are no clear-cut laws related to these matters yet, it is confusing for institutions and service providers, which contribute partly to breaches and inappropriate processing.

THE WAY AHEAD

To tackle security breaches and issues of children’s privacy online, it would be wise to incorporate appropriate provisions in the pending PDP Bill, which should lay down procedures, acceptable practices and standard operational procedures for online platforms and websites engaging in students’ activities. A rich and well thought out resolution released in the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners of European countries on E-Learning Platforms (Resolution) may be referred to while drawing up a legal framework.

On the ground, certain procedural safeguards may be put in place for schools and institutes to strictly adhere to. The data collected should be processed only for the purposes for which it was collected, complying with the purpose limitation principles. The data collected should not be used for any kinds of targeting or profiling. Material such as video recordings should be stored only for a very limited period of time and, prior to recording, clear unambiguous consent from parents or guardians must be sought. The platform should also ask permission for access to the device’s camera and microphone before each lecture, the video feed be relayed only to the child and her parent and not to the entire class, and parents/guardians be given the right to turn off video recordings. The explicit consent of guardians/parents should also be taken in case of any dire need for the recording being shared by any third party.

With each passing day it becomes clearer that the pandemic—and consequently, online learning platforms—is here to stay. Thus, privacy and data protection, which were earlier resigned to intellectual discussions, have to come to the fore and be handled with deliberation. We cannot cut corners now. The very future of our coming generations is at stake.

The author is a Delhi-based lawyer specialising in technology and IT. The views expressed are personal.

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When Vikram Bhatt called me for Sanak, I was taken aback: Rohit Bose Roy

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Actor Rohit Bose Roy recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of NewsX India A-List . As part of the interview, Rohit opened up about his latest series Sanak-Ek Junoon, what attracted him to the character, to the show and much more.

Speaking about the new series, which is now streaming on MX Player, Rohit said, “Quite honestly, the major attraction was Vikram Bhatt and his writing. I’ve been a longstanding fan of the way he writes, the kind of content that he creates. I’ve just done a show with him before this called ‘Memories’, which was one of the most anticipated shows. Unfortunately, at that time, it was another OTT. So, not many people got to see it but that’s where I got addicted to Vikram Bhatt. I’ve been addicted to him since Holland but I love the way he writes. He is a dear friend and when he calls, I don’t ask him what I’m doing. When he called me for Sanak, I was actually taken aback because it is not the kind of show that you would associate with me. It is not the kind of character that you would associate with me. If I’m going back to what I’ve done, I’ve never really did a character who is like this. It is not really about greys. I have played grey characters. He is a character who believes that there’s nothing wrong in what he is doing. Greys are decided by various people. What is right for me might not be right for you, which is what actually eventually drew me to the role.”

“Ajay, as a character, believes that there are certain compromises to be made and they are absolutely fair to make those compromises in life, if you want to move ahead . When we reach a a cross road, we have to decide whether I am going to make a compromise with my morals to get ahead to the next stage or should I trudge along till I need the next stage without compromising my morals. In real life, Rohit Bose Roy would never compromise on his morals to reach ahead in life or in his career. I’d rather work hard and keep at it, which is why it took me to be 25 years to get here,” he continued. “I would have been in a different space otherwise. Ajay doesn’t think there is anything wrong and you can’t fault him for that. You can’t sit on judgment and say what Ajay is doing is wrong. That was the challenge for me as an actor to take up Sanak because when people watch it, you realise that you can’t say does anyone do like this ? You will actually be in a conundrum whether to call him white or black.”

When asked does he as a viewer also like thrillers, he responded, “I love thrillers. I have two point of views here. Unfortunately right now, there is an overkill of thrillers on OTT. I feel there should be a little bit of everything. There should be comedy, there should be human interest drama, there should be romance. I miss romance on OTTs. Having said that, I love thrillers. That’s my major consumption, whether it’s on television or film or OTT worldwide. Thriller is a genre, which I am never tired of because there’s always constantly something happening. When I’m tired, I’d like to watch thrillers because it ups my BMR and my blood starts flowing. Vikram makes all those kind of shows. Even making the same genre, his writing is so different in all the shows. What I did earlier was memories, it was different. Sanak is totally different as far as my character is concerned and the show is concerned.”

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We were the first ones to take a chance with OTT: Vidyut Jammwal

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Actor Vidyut Jammwal recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. As part of the interview, Vidyut opened up about his latest film Sanak, taking a chance with the OTT last year and much more. Read excerpts:

Speaking about the shift to the OTT space, Vidyut said, “It is quite good. I have a lot of people, who are working now. I have had friends, who really had the talent, but never got the work. I think OTT is doing a great job with a lot of talent, to start with. We were the first ones to take a chance with OTT last year and what chance we took. It just changed everything for good.”

“We are working on Khuda Haafiz 2. We are aiming for a theatrical release now. Sanak was made for the theatres. Everything was ready and we could not just hold the movie. We do lose a lot of money at the movies. We decided why not just get the best out of it. I’ve grown up watching Jackie Chan films and I believe that this is the time for everybody to go on the platform Disney plus Hotstar, press the pause button, slow it down, see what I’ve done, how I have I’ve done it, the way I’ve always done from Jackie Chan and just try to do it,” he added.

Giving more insights about his latest film Sanak, Vidyut shared, “It has been different because Kanishk Verma, the director of the film, is a friend of mine. I have always believed in him. He was a director. He’s a friend of mine. Every time he sat and I used to look at him, like wow look at this idea! I love the way you think about music and then I got a chance in life where I thought I could get to work with people who I believe in. Kanishk was one of them. I made him meet Vipul and they just enjoyed each other’s company. That’s how the journey started. We came up with an idea and we thought it was phenomenal.”

When asked if he enjoyed the action in the film, he responded, “I enjoyed it. I had to surpass everything that I have done in the past. Today, I was watching the news by these international action critiques and I was very proud of myself being an Indian. They loved what they saw. I have enjoyed everything I put in the effort. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to use every things in my movie because he’s not a trained fighter. He’s just a martial artist and how he could depend on his wife and the whole everybody in the hospital. I have to be creative with ideas and people have enjoyed it.”

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Remote work has been our culture from day one: Vipul Amler, Founder, Saeloun

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Vipul Amler, Founder, Saeloun recently joined us for an insightful conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. Before diving deeper into his company Saeloun, Vipul introduced himself as saying, “I am a software developer, who works on web and mobile applications. We primarily use technology called Ruby On Rails and React JS, which are used by major companies like Facebook, Flipkart, Instagram and so forth. I have been in this industry for the last decade or so. At the same time, I also have written books on the same. Other than that, recently I have also been doing small angel investments.”

Talking about Saeloun and his journey to start the company, Vipul shared, “This is my second company in the last couple of years. Saeloun was started as a way for being a company, which is employee owned as well as having a very open transparent culture. We started off with that so that employees have more input in the growth and so forth. Saeloun specialises in the same thing- Ruby On Rails and React.Js and we help a bunch of different clients in various fields from e-commerce, healthcare and so forth. That was the primary purpose of starting Saeloun. “

When asked about the services they offer and their primary clientele, he responded, “Many clients, which are established clients, they contact us and reach out to us for our expertise on Ruby On Rails and React.Js, which I use for building applications. Like you might have seen Airbnb or Amazon or Flipkart. We help them to build the web applications. We also have expertise in helping them build mobile applications that you use. For example, if you are using PayTm or Google Pay, these kind of applications. We help our clients spread out. At the same time, when the clients were growing a lot, they come to us for helping them to scale or a bunch of different things.”

“There has been a huge growth since the last year. A lot of people last year, after the pandemic started coming up online, which for us has been a very busy time,” he added. 

Speaking about the founding principles on the basis of which he started Saeloun and what sets apart Saeloun from others in the market, Vipul said, “Profit sharing was one part of the thing. This is before the pandemic. Last year, everyone started to do work from home or remote work but we have doing or I have been doing remote work since 2011 or 2012. That was the same principle as well, which sets Saeloun apart. We have been doing remote work and remote work has been our culture from day one since we started in 2019. In terms of profit sharing, we are a services company so we provide consulting with various different companies. For employees to have more ownership in the company, that was one of the ways. Whatever profits we have, we actually announce them publicly as well and share the financial data with everyone, so that they are aware of how we are doing and also equitably distribute 25% of all of our profits with our employees.”

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ELVISA COSMETICS LAUNCHED TO PROVIDE PERSONALISED BEAUTY EXPERIENCE

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Renowned International model Elvisa has recently launched her new venture Elvisa cosmetics. Elvisa revealed she’s been working on the brand for the past few years and that her friends and family have been testing out the products. Amongst its many firsts, the Elvisa Cosmetics offers an innovative range of different makeup products including different shades of foundations, lipsticks, primer, and other beauty essentials where you can mix and match to create your desired signature shade in trendy tones. Besides personalised skincare consultations from beauty advisors, the brand also offers mini makeovers and makeup tutorials by Elvisa that consist of diamond lips, smokey eyes, charcoal glitter lids, golden glam eye shadow, sculpt and contour, tips to get perfect eyebrows and iconic eyeliner looks. The various categories of products have been divided into convenient sections enabling shoppers to pick their favourites with ease. Commenting on the launch, Elvisa, CEO, Elvisa Cosmetics said, “We are thrilled to launch our first-ever cosmetic range for the most diverse women across the world. We are extremely delighted with the response we are getting for our unique products. With this launch we are also unlocking the potential of our online store to create an endless aisle shopping experience for our loyal customers and deepen our bond with them.” Currently, she has an online family of 721K followers on her Instagram page. She loves to experiment with her clothes, it’s colour shades. She loves to travel and keeps her social media handle regularly updates about her whereabouts. She loves pink, black and brown colours and we can see her trying on different attires of these particular shades. The latter has earlier been seen on various fashion runways and shows flaunting her unique clothing style and walk. She started her journey on Instagram, a photo and video sharing online app which has given a breakthrough to numerous fashion icons. “I wanted to start my own cosmetics line because I want to build my own unique brand and leave a legacy behind. My goal wasn’t to always wear brands, it was to become one.”

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Marks & Spencer showcases India Festive Fusion collection

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Celebrating the festive season in style, the iconic British brand Marks & Spencer presented their latest collection, India special occasion wear in a fashion show in New Delhi. Bollywood celebrity Neha Dhupia was seen on the ramp as the showstopper, who looked stunning as ever. The new mom was mesmerising in a deep green embroidered round neck dress with contrast colour paisley print. Accompanying her on the ramp was her handsome actor husband Angad Bedi, looking dapper in velvet teal peak label blazer, black shirt and versatile dark trousers from the new occasion wear collection. Neha, who delivered a baby boy earlier this month, looked tres chic in the India Festive Fusion collection. The actor, being the popular body positive advocate, chose a relaxed fit dress and walked the ramp with no qualms about her post-partum body. Commenting on the newly launched collections, James Munson, MD, Marks & Spencer India said, “Designed in response to an increasing desire among customers for chic outfits that can work hard in their wardrobes, the latest collections can be dressed up for an occasion or paired down for daily wear. Neha looks absolutely fantastic in the collection, especially after recently welcoming her new arrival. It’s great to have her and Angad join M&S this evening,” he further added about the show and showstoppers. Talking about her association with the brand, Neha was ecstatic as she shared, “Marks & Spencer has been a constant in my wardrobe for over a decade now. From my early days, M&S was my go-to for must-haves and fashion staples, and now I am wearing their India special occasion wear. I also love the evening wear for men, like what Angad is wearing. The brand never fails to surprise and delight, and I am glad to be a part of M&S event once again.” Angad added “Evening wear for Indian men from M&S is a sartorial treat. Some pieces like the Bandgala and Bandi jackets are a great addition to their existing product range. This collection helps make dressing up for any occasion easy.” The fashion show tossed up must-have pieces like elevated flowing dresses, chic pant suits, beautiful tops on female models. Male models wore opulent velvet bandh galas, dinner jackets, waistcoats, premium shirts in rich sateen and ornate prints, exquisitely tailored trousers and top-notch polo t-shirts. The presentation also showcased a combination of smart autumn-winter, loungewear and festive fare, as a part of this special celebratory fashion repertoire.

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Drone Spraying in Sangli Sugarcane Cultivation, entrepreneur introduces new trends in MH Agriculture

Social impact entrepreneur Prateek Patil has implemented a line of drone technology for spraying fertilisers which has already covered 3,200 acres of sugarcane area benefiting over 2,000 farmers in Walwa, Sangli.

Sangli District has been grounds for pioneering agriculture and irrigation works in Western Maharashtra. From the cooperative movement to drip irrigation, innovation has been a sign of the cultivation in the region. The drone spraying technology introduced by Prateek and adopted by the Rajarambapu Sugar Factory in Sangli in 2020-2021 has not only reduced time and efforts of the farmers but also increasedprofitability. To launch this initiative, Prateek conducted 22 ‘Shetkari Parisamvads’ where he met over 4,900 farmers to incept the idea and talk about the benefits of this technology. According to him, “acceptance to new methods is often the most difficult step in the Indian agricultural landscape, and to get their willingness to try new schemes is one of the challenging parts.”

Prateek has been involved with agro-innovation and has conducted several initiatives to aid and propagate drip irrigation. These meetings across Sangli propelled the conversation and attracted many farmers to come and test out the drone technology.

SAVING TIME, MONEY AND WATER

Conventionally the farmer sprays his crops physically. Even with hired manual labour, this is a costly and time-consuming affair. In the manual spraying method, for one-acre sugarcane, a farmer would spend around Rs 1000 on spraying labour charges along with 200 L water and a higher quantity of chemicals.

To address these problems, coupled with the lack of labourers during Covid-19, Prateek decided to introduce this technique. He took it upon himself to test the technology and setup a partnership with a regional manufacturing company. The drones are given out on rent at very affordable rates saving almost 40% of total costs. It utilises only 10 L water, saving almost 150 L. Also, now it takes only 5-10 mins to spray fertilisers and permitted pesticides on one acre of sugarcane as opposed to 4-5 hours earlier. Crops at any height can be effectively reached and 4 nozzles guarantee a comprehensive and equal distribution of fertilisers and pesticides.

It is flexible across climate conditions and allows for uniform spraying of entire fields. A reduction of 25-50% in the quantity of fertilisers and pesticides used has been observed after adapting drone spraying and the quality of yield of crops has been found to increase by 20-30%, which has resulted in more income.

GENERATING EMPLOYMENT

Use of this drone technology also has an additional advantage of generating employment for the local youth in manufacturing and operations. The Sugar Factory has partnered with a company called Chatak Innovations for assembling and operating drones. Labour force hiring for the drone operation facility like Drone Pilots & Co-Pilots, Cars & Drivers for the drone’s transport and the supervision team is facilitated under the leadership of Prateek. Employment numbers for assembling and operating is expected to increase as more farmers adopt drone technology.

Currently, the factory uses a 10 L Octocopter drone. After conducting an initial pilot, this technology is being introduced on a greater scale to farmers of the region. Till date, over 3,200 acres of area have been covered by drone spraying benefiting over 2000 farmers of the region. Each drone is currently covering 9 to 12 acres in a day and this is a first-of-its-kind exercise conducted by a sugar factory in Maharashtra, stated Vikas Deshmukh, Director, Vasantdada Sugar Institute.

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Social impact entrepreneur Prateek Patil has implemented a line of drone technology for spraying fertilisers which has already covered 3,200 acres of sugarcane area benefiting over 2,000 farmers in Walwa, Sangli.

Sangli District has been grounds for pioneering agriculture and irrigation works in Western Maharashtra. From the cooperative movement to drip irrigation, innovation has been a sign of the cultivation in the region. The drone spraying technology introduced by Prateek and adopted by the Rajarambapu Sugar Factory in Sangli in 2020-2021 has not only reduced time and efforts of the farmers but also increasedprofitability. To launch this initiative, Prateek conducted 22 ‘Shetkari Parisamvads’ where he met over 4,900 farmers to incept the idea and talk about the benefits of this technology. According to him, “acceptance to new methods is often the most difficult step in the Indian agricultural landscape, and to get their willingness to try new schemes is one of the challenging parts.”

Prateek has been involved with agro-innovation and has conducted several initiatives to aid and propagate drip irrigation. These meetings across Sangli propelled the conversation and attracted many farmers to come and test out the drone technology.

SAVING TIME, MONEY AND WATER

Conventionally the farmer sprays his crops physically. Even with hired manual labour, this is a costly and time-consuming affair. In the manual spraying method, for one-acre sugarcane, a farmer would spend around Rs 1000 on spraying labour charges along with 200 L water and a higher quantity of chemicals.

To address these problems, coupled with the lack of labourers during Covid-19, Prateek decided to introduce this technique. He took it upon himself to test the technology and setup a partnership with a regional manufacturing company. The drones are given out on rent at very affordable rates saving almost 40% of total costs. It utilises only 10 L water, saving almost 150 L. Also, now it takes only 5-10 mins to spray fertilisers and permitted pesticides on one acre of sugarcane as opposed to 4-5 hours earlier. Crops at any height can be effectively reached and 4 nozzles guarantee a comprehensive and equal distribution of fertilisers and pesticides.

It is flexible across climate conditions and allows for uniform spraying of entire fields. A reduction of 25-50% in the quantity of fertilisers and pesticides used has been observed after adapting drone spraying and the quality of yield of crops has been found to increase by 20-30%, which has resulted in more income.

GENERATING EMPLOYMENT

Use of this drone technology also has an additional advantage of generating employment for the local youth in manufacturing and operations. The Sugar Factory has partnered with a company called Chatak Innovations for assembling and operating drones. Labour force hiring for the drone operation facility like Drone Pilots & Co-Pilots, Cars & Drivers for the drone’s transport and the supervision team is facilitated under the leadership of Prateek. Employment numbers for assembling and operating is expected to increase as more farmers adopt drone technology.

Currently, the factory uses a 10 L Octocopter drone. After conducting an initial pilot, this technology is being introduced on a greater scale to farmers of the region. Till date, over 3,200 acres of area have been covered by drone spraying benefiting over 2000 farmers of the region. Each drone is currently covering 9 to 12 acres in a day and this is a first-of-its-kind exercise conducted by a sugar factory in Maharashtra, stated Vikas Deshmukh, Director, Vasantdada Sugar Institute.

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