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SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS AND CYBER CRIME

The government and the respective agencies are doing their bit; also, the Information Technology
Act, 2000 is meant to deal with crimes such as cyber stalking, cyber trolling, phishing, hacking,
etc. However, we should also monitor ourselves about what type of content we are putting on social
media, and with whom we are sharing the content.

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INTRODUCTION

“Cyber bullies can hide behind a mask of anonymity online, and do not need direct physical access to their victims to do unimaginable harm.” — Anna Maria Chavez

T he term cyber is a prefix which denotes a relationship with IT (information and technology), in other words, anything related to computers such internets, cloud storage, etc. falls under the category of cyber. Whereas the term crime refers to an illegal act which causes harm either to person physically, mentally or in any other way; or it harms the reputation of an individual. When these two terms cyber and crime meets and forms a single term “cybercrime” it is deadliest combination. Now-a-days cybercrime is the most reported crime in the country and we often see that not only teenagers but people of almost all age groups are present and connected on social media. People usually use social media to share their pictures, videos, thoughts, wishes, etc. with the friends staying far away and to get in touch with their friends with whom they have lost their touch years back and this is the purpose for which it is meant. But the people with evil mind anyhow manage to find that how they can misuse it and do the mischief. The people who either put spam comments or comments defaming others on social media or create fake accounts or follows any person or texts any person uselessly for the purpose of fun, but they seriously don’t know that they are committing serious crimes and can be prosecuted and punished under either the Indian Penal Code, 1860; or the Criminal Procedure Code, or; the Information Technology Act, 2000; or under any other law as per circumstances and facts of the case.

SOCIAL MEDIA DEFAMATION

For any person or any organization, his/her reputation is utmost important as an individual or an organization is recognized after its name or goodwill only, but if that goodwill or name only gets spoiled then the value of that thing often falls, trust of people gets migrated and many such things happens. For example if we think of clothing brand, then suddenly names like Adidas, SuperDry, Wrangler starts coming to our minds; if we think of mobile brand, then names like Apple, OnePlus, Xiaomi, etc. starts flashing into our minds, why is it so? This is because they have very good reputation in the market and their goodwill is very high because people have trust on them, and in case, if they breaks the trust of even a single customer, it’s pretty sure that no one is going to come back to them. But in case, if any person knowingly tries to spoil either the name of any person or any organization in the market on the false and ruthless basis, then under law, it is termed as defamation and it is illegal. The term defamation has been defined under section 499 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. In short, if any person who by either by writing, or speaking, or by making gesture tries to publish or do any act which harms the reputation, then that person will be charged for act of defamation.

Now-a-days, we often get to see good number of cases of defamation on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. But no one is interested in taking action as they enjoy it and feels it’s a good time pass and let it go on. But the person who is being defamed for an unnecessary cause only knows through which time he is passing. Some people are enough brave that have no effect on what people are saying about them but there is a majority of people who are very delicate and starts thinking of future consequences of it. This social media defamation has a very negative effect on each and every person who is being defamed especially on people who are very delicate, as starts suffering from diseases such as severe depression, overthinking, stress, etc. and some people thinks that they now they can’t face the society and there is now is worth of living more and at the end they take their own lives by hanging themselves to death.

Social media defamation is one of the most common crimes now-a-days that we see. Now the question is what is it exactly and where we see this? The answer to this question is very simple, lets understand with the help of an easy example:

There are two person namely Jatin and Yatin, both are very good very friends. One day Yatin clicked some funny pictures (in which he was made a girl with the help of an application) of Jatin on his mobile, and he posted that pictures on social media using hashtags suitable to the pictures, and that images got viral. Jatin was unaware of it and when he came to know, he was completely shocked to see them. He became totally upset after seeing the comments of the public on his pictures and decided to quit his life as his reputation was completely destroyed everywhere, in the eyes of his family, friends, university, etc. He feels that if he goes out, he will not be able to stand or face the people as they will laugh. Later one of his friend named Kunal stopped him to do so and said that it is defamation and instead of committing suicide, he should file a suit against Yatin for the same.

From the above example, we can conclude how serious crime defamation is. No doubt, defamation is just a one word, but it has that power that any can take his/her life, if it comes to him. People will have to understand that there’s a huge difference between defamatory statement and free speech. People also very well knows that have the Right of Speech, but they don’t know that how to use it. There are various crimes associated with the case of social media defamation and the same are as mentioned below:

CYBER STALKING

Basically the term ‘stalking’ refers to act of following a specific person from a long period of time whereas the term, cyber stalking refers to the act of the stalking that is done using internet. It includes harassment as well as threatening. In crime of cyber stalking basically there are two parties, where the person whoever do the act of stalking is called as the stalker or the attacker and the person on whom the attack is being made is called as the victim. Usually the under cyber stalking the stalker is the friend or known the person of the victim, he later starts following that person on his social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. in order to view his profile and pictures and in some cases the stalker becomes so violent that he starts harassing or threatening the victim by sending inappropriate pictures or videos or messages which makes them feel uncomfortable. Sometimes the stalking becomes so serious in nature that it even leads to murder or rape or some sort of physical assault on the victim. Now the question is how the act of stalking is dealt within the boundaries of the India? The answer to this question is very simple, in India, the act of stalking is governed under the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013. Section 67A of the IT Act, 2000 states that if any person circulates or publishes any restricted con tent on internet, then such act will be considered as crime of obscenity and if it committed for the first time then the same is punishable with the imprisonment which may extend to the period of 5 year alongwith the fine of amount upto Rs. 1,00,000/- and if the same person commits it for the second or subsequent time, in that case it is punishable with the imprisonment which may extend to the period of 10 year alongwith the fine of amount upto Rs. 10,00,000/-

For the women who are the residents of Delhi and feels that they are being stalked, they can call 1096 and report the same whereas for women residing in the other parts of India, they can contact National Commission of Women by calling 011- 23219750. Women can also the report the case of cyber stalking by filing an online complaint on the portal of National Commission of Women (NCW) by visiting their website i.e. http:// ncw.nic.in/ and the same will taken by the commission with the help of cyber crime department and police of respective areas.

SOCIAL MEDIA TROLLING

“Sticks and Stones can break only bones. But words can kill you.

Why is said so? This is because if you got hurt by sticks and stones you will recover within sometime and the wound will be healed, but the if you are hurt by the words of someone, it is more dangerous as it can cause severe depression and can also take your life too. They hurt caused by the words of someone can also destroy your inner confidence, your selfrespect, your spirit and you might not even be able to stand in group. This was the blur picture of meaning of trolling, now moving to the actual meaning of trolling, it is somewhat similar to defamation, but is not exactly defamation. It is basically circulating the picture or video or message on famous and most surfed social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. which insults any individual or any group or any organization, or make them feel uncomfortable, or puts them under severe depression is known as social media trolling. Trolling also includes putting some text which is totally controversial in order to start unwanted debate, comments, etc. and the end result arising out of it always flags off the disputes between religions, genders, etc. Also sometimes this dispute crosses all the limits and becomes the spot of crimes. In short, we can say that trolling is the direct character assassination of an individual or any group or any organization, because it spoils the whole goodwill or reputation of the person or any group and they feels so insulted or gets so destroyed from inside that don’t even feel comfortable to stand in some group or some public place.

f Instagram – Suppose there’s a video posted, now on every comment thread there are users who say something like “this video sucks,” and these are those people who even don’t know what the video is mentioning about or sometimes we see people fighting uselessly in comments just to gain the attention of the audience on their profiles, and to do this they forget all the standards or common sense and falls to such a level, that no one can expect. But now the question is how can we report this type of users or posts trolling someone? It very simple to report such users or posts that create nuisance on social media. In order to report a post or user, we simply have to click on option of ‘more options’ and then we have to choose report, after clicking report, we have to choose whether its spam or inappropriate, and then have to select the best matching options (like what sort of content is posted) from the options available and then we have to click. It will directly be sent to the community, where they check that the post has actually adhered the guidelines or not, and then they take the appropriate actions against that particular post or user.

STEALING OF IDENTITY AND VIOLATION OF PRIVACY

Stealing of identity is also known as identity theft or identity fraud, so from its name itself i.e. identity theft we can presume the meaning. It is the combination of two words i.e. identity and theft, where identity means who or what a person is and theft means stealing, so, it’s basically stealing of identity of some person. Now-a-days, stealing of identity is a very common crime but is very serious in nature as an identity of an individual is being robbed by some person and then it gets misused. It is commonly of two types i.e. true name and account takeover. The true name identity theft means that the thief will use the name or identities of another person and can get issued SIM Card, open bank account, get debit or credit card issued for himself, whereas incase of account takeover he will just use steal the already issued stuff such debit cards, credit cards, etc. In both cases, it’s not going to cost him anything because the identity is of that another person and in case if he commits any subsequent crime, that person whose identity was originally used will be the accused once.

On social media also the cases of stealing of identity are increasing day by day as people create fake accounts of some other person, sometimes to take revenge from someone or to make fun. The person who creates such accounts is very familiar with the person whose account they are creating because they have all information like date of birth, place of residence, religion, etc. which is 100% accurate, so that it pretends to be the original identity of that person only. And this is absolutely an invasion on the privacy of the public getting connected to that account. Let’s clear this with an easy example.

 “Tanu is a student of BBA and is also very beautiful girl. Mandeep is one of her best friend. One day one some matter they had a fight in the college and itself and their friendship came to an end as Tanu slapped Mandeep in front of whole college, so at that moment didn’t told Tanu anything but he felt he was insulted and in order to take revenge from Tanu, he one day created a fake account of Tanu on Instagram and started posting her pictures which depicts that her account was original. He started posting sexual content from her fake account and started sending obscenity contented messages to all her known, also at late in the night he as Tanu started chatting with boys and girls for long hours and asked for them their pictures and day by day the image of Tanu originally was getting spoiled and people started thinking she was a girl with bad nature. But in real life she was not.

From the above example we can conclude that the privacy of all the people who were chatting with Mandeep (who was pretending to be Tanu) was completely invaded as Mandeep was having all the sensitive information and pictures of all those persons with whom he used to chat. And also the personal identity and her privacy of Tanu have been attacked badly and she in a moment has become a girl with bad character in the eyes of the people.

So it rightly said that, “Think Once Before You Act, Twice Before You Speak and Thrice Before You Post on Social Media!

CONCLUSION

Whenever we post something on social media, we have always have to be vigilant, it’s not the matter that whether the user is a girl or a boy, he/she is wearing short length or long length clothes, he/she is fair or dark in complexion; instead the user should know the people on social media, who all are connected/ added with him on that platform. The government and the respective agencies are doing their piece of work, also, the Information Technology Act, 2000 is meant to deal with crimes such as cyber stalking, cyber trolling, phishing, hacking, etc. Moreover, we should also monitor ourselves that what type of content we are putting on social media and with all whom we are sharing the content such.

We should also keep our accounts secure by the way of changing the passwords regularly, updating the security policies made the respective agencies, not adding unknown people to the list of your known, not sharing the personal details such as OTP, passwords, etc. and the most important thing if you ever feel that you are being stalked or getting into the claws of such traps then all the true information shall be reported to the nearest police station or cyber crimes department of the city

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Policy & Politics

TELANGANA WELCOMES TESLA TO SET UP SHOP IN STATE

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Years after Tesla tried to make an entry into the Indian market, Industry and Commerce Minister of Telangana, KT Rama Rao invited Tesla CEO Elon Musk to set up shop in the state in a tweet.

“Hey Elon, I am the Industry and Commerce Minister of Telangana state in India. Will be happy to partner Tesla in working through the challenges to set shop in India/Telangana,” Rao said in a reply to Musk’s tweet.

“Our state is a champion in sustainability initiatives and a top notch business destination in India,” he added.

This statement has come days after Elon Musk said that Tesla “is still working through a lot of challenges with the government” in India to launch electric cars. Musk wrote in a post giving an update to a query on Twitter on Thursday. Tesla wants to begin selling imported cars in India this year but says taxes in the country are among the highest in the world, said Elon musk in a tweet

With a $39,990 global price tag, Tesla Model 3 may remain as an affordable model in the US but with import duties, it would become unaffordable in the Indian market with an expected price tag of around Rs 60 lakh.

Tesla’s request for tax cuts was first reported in July 2021, when sources told Reuters that the company had written to Indian ministries seeking a big reduction in import duties on electric vehicles. Soon after, Musk tweeted that Tesla was likely to set up a factory in India if successful with imported vehicles.

Another reason for the delay was that India treats clean energy vehicles the same as diesel or petrol vehicles, “which does not seem entirely consistent” with its climate goals, said Elon Musk as a reply to a tweet.

Lat year Rao helped in catalyzing a deal between the Telangana government and Kitex Group to get MD Sabu Jacob to invest Rs 2,406 crore in his state after Kitex pulled out of Kerala, withdrawing Rs 3,500 crore project from the state

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INNOVATION FOR INDIA, FROM INDIA, SAYS PM

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PM Modi called for a new mantra, that of innovate for India, innovate from India. This mantra came up to tackle challenges facing the country in the start-up industry. He counted the steps taken by the government in freeing entrepreneurs and innovation from bureaucratic silos. “The start-ups of India are changing the rules of the game. I believe that startups are going to be the backbone of the new India,” he said interacting with the youngsters from the world of startups. “Let us innovate for India, innovate from India”, he added. India, he said, has over 60,000 startups with 42 unicorns.

The government is focusing on three aspects to strengthen innovation, entrepreneurship and startup ecosystem- “Freeing entrepreneurship, innovation from government and bureaucratic silos; setting up institutional mechanisms to promote remodelling and innovation and handholding of youth innovators”, he said.

He also narrated the successes of startups during the recent years. “28,000 patents were granted last year as compared to 4,000 patents in 2013-14. In terms of trademarks, in 2013-14, 70,000 trademarks were registered in comparison with 2.5 Lakh trademarks in 2020-21”, he said.

He added, “India’s ranking on the Global Innovation Index is improving because of the programme on innovation started in the country. India’s ranking in the index in 2015 was 81 and now it is number 46.”

He lauded the efforts of startups in not only bringing innovation but also evolving as major job creators. As startups evolve and grow, the requirements of credential-bearing workforce with suited skill sets also increases. This leads to major job creation opportunities. Therefore PM Modi added that startups can be the ripe matrix for jobs and work opportunities to develop and blossom.

He said that the year 2022 has brought new opportunities and avenues for startups and January 16th will be celebrated as National Startup Day to help seep in the startup culture at the grassroot level in the society. Naming of the National Startup Day came in as big news because with the naming of the day, the entire culture of startups will get a new and rejuvenated boost. As people will be able to discern the day for startups and get to celebrate it the boost to the startups will be multiplied manifold.

Modi said that easier access to funds as well as making self-certification for compliance of nine labour and three environmental laws is also helping promote startups. Innovation and technology based solutions are being encouraged for finding solutions to facing the country.

Some of the famous startup unicorns of India include: UpGrad, CRED, Pharmeasy, PhonePe, OYO Rooms among others.

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ECONOMIC REVIVAL, EXPANSION ON CARDS: SURVEY

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There is no doubt that India is already under the grip of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. The country recorded at least 2.68 lakh new cases today, including 6,041 cases of Omicron; taking the total tally to 3.67 crore. Notwithstanding, the third wave spreading like wildfire, a significant percentage of industry leaders are optimistic about India’s economic revival with confidence ruling high amongst Indian businesses, finds a pre-budget survey conducted by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP).

DTTILLP assembled a total of 163 responses from 10 industries. It was found that more than 75 per cent of respondents were positive about India’s economic revival as economic activities pick up steam with a healthy GDP growth.

The survey further finds that around 91 per cent of respondents believe that the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative (Self-reliant India), coupled with monetary policy actions by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) played an instrumental role in driving back the economy from gloom last year.

“The industry leaders expect the Union Budget FY 2022-23 to build on to this momentum,” DTTILLP said in a release. The Union Budget is scheduled to be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1.

On the other hand, 55 per cent of business leaders believe that providing extra tax incentives to long-term investors for infrastructure investment can encourage growth in the country.

While, 45 per cent of respondents believe that the upcoming budget should focus on announcing incentives for increased R&D spending that can boost sectors like automobile, technology, telecommunication, life sciences and capital goods.

Industry leaders, through the Deloitte survey also conveyed some other expectations like enhancing export competitiveness, putting in place competitive import tariffs, and reducing administrative inefficiencies.

“The economy has witnessed a steady recovery during 2021-22”, said, Sanjay Kumar, Partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP, while commenting on the survey findings.

“The Indian economy will continue to witness the growth momentum if the government is able to sustain the efforts on implementation of reforms such as asset monetisation for the infrastructure growth, and PLI schemes,” he further added.

Also, most of the business intellectuals foresee an increased start-up activity fostered by the Centre’s stimulus packages (ECLGS) and policies, which will brighten up the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) culture in the country, resulting in a faster economic revival, Kumar said.

The survey also finds that 59 per cent of respondents believe in the fact that India can be a favourable atmosphere to run a business. With this regard, they touched on three things: promoting digitalisation, simplifying tax regimes and, improving land and labour laws that would also help enhance the EoDB in India.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today announced that January 16 will be observed as ‘Start-up day’ as they are the game changers, whereas small businesses are the spine of country’s economy.

“This partnership (between small businesses and start-ups) can benefit both, the society and the economy, especially women employment will get strengthened because of this,” Modi said as he interacted with start-ups via video conferencing on the occasion of Start-Up India Innovation Week.

The survey conducted by DTTILLP aimed at analysing the industry’s expectations from the upcoming ‘Budget 2022’, where focus will be on EoDB, self-reliance (start-ups) and economic growth.

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46 STARTUPS ANNOUNCED WINNERS OF THE NATIONAL STARTUP AWARDS 2021 ALONG WITH 1 INCUBATOR AND 1 ACCELERATOR

Startup India is about realising millions of dreams: Piyush Goyal

Tarun Nangia

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“Startup India is about realising millions of dreams,” said ShriPiyush Goyal today. Presenting the National Startup Awards 2021, the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, he said the Startup Mission is a symbol of Self-Reliant & Self-Confident India.

“Be it a fisherman’s son from Chennai or a boatman’s daughter from Kashmir, they all want to bring prosperity to their families and to their people, and therefore are thinking bigger and bolder,” said Shri Goyal.

Shri Goyal said, realising the contribution of Startups towards nation-building, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today announced that January 16 will be celebrated as National Start-up Day, to take the Startup culture to the far flung areas of the country.

“Prime Minister Modi is a very firm believer in potential of Startups to contribute significantly to the growth of the nation during the Amritkaal, the next 25 years. He recognises Innovation to be the strongest pillar in making India ‘Aatmanirbhar’,” said Shri Goyal.

Shri Goyal said the PM has focused on three sutras (pillars) to strengthen innovation:

Liberating entrepreneurs from the web of Govt processes & bureaucratic silos, – over 25,000 compliances reduced, decriminalization of laws, etc, but what more can be done to help businesses grow & prosper in an easier environment?

Building institutional mechanisms, – strengthen regulatory processes and self-regulation, &

Handholding young innovators & new enterprises, – mentoring will define Innovation in the future

Shri Goyal called upon the Startups to focus mainly on five areas to make India the No. 1 Startup ecosystem in the world:

1. Develop solutions & content in Indic languages

2. Encourage products & solutions that have a larger social & economic impact

3. Promoting Startups in every district across the country, – Establish ‘Startup Access centers’ in every district

4. Creating Innovation zones at the level of Urban Local Bodies, &

5. Adopt best practices from across the globe & enhance India’s global competitiveness

Quoting PM Modi, Shri Goyal said, “Today India is rapidly moving towards hitting the century of unicorns. I believe the golden era of India’s start-ups is starting now…”

“Government is standing with our innovators and so is the entire country…Let’s Innovate for India, innovate from India!” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, DPIIT Secretary Shri Anurag Jain said the Department will handhold the Startup Award finalists across seven tracks i.e. Investor Connect, Mentorship, Government Connect, Capacity Development, Corporate Connect, Brand Showcase and Unicorn Engagement.

“Our journey together doesn’t end here with just awards, we will walk step by step with you in this journey,” he said.

During the ceremony, the Results of the National StartupAwards (NSA) 2021 were declared. A total of 46 Startupshave been recognized as winners of National Startup Awards 2021 along with 1 incubator and 1 accelerator.

The second edition of the awards invited applications across 15 sectors and 49 sub-sectors. The sectors included Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Drinking Water, Education & Skill Development, Energy, Enterprise Technology, Environment, Fintech, Food Processing, Health & Wellness, Industry 4.0, Security, Space and Transport and Travel. Six special categories were also introduced to recognize exceptional Startups contributing to the good of the society. The 2021 edition of the awards also recognized exceptional Startups innovating solutions to promote Indic languages and to compliment national efforts to combat COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 2177 applications were received from Startupsacross the 49 sub-sectors along with applications from 53 incubators and 6 accelerators for the ecosystem enablerscategories. These applicants included 863 Women-led, 414 innovations for combatting COVID-19 and 253 Startupsworking in rural areas.

All applicants were evaluated against six broad parameters namely Innovation, Scalability, Economic Impact, Social Impact, Environmental Impact, and Inclusiveness and Diversity.

After three rounds of detailed evaluation, 175 Startups were selected for presentation before the jury which made presentations before the 16 specialist jury panels, which comprised of domain experts from industry, investors and government.

The recognised entities will benefit from such recognition, not only in terms of being able to attract more business, financing, partnerships and talent, but also enable them to serve as role models for other entities, and to inspire them to be purposeful and responsible about their socio-economic impact.

53 applications were received from incubators and 6 applications were received from Accelerators. Select incubators and accelerators were selected after three rounds of evaluation for presentation before Jury Panel which gave presentations before the Jury.

The felicitation ceremony was accompanied by the release of an e-Report on National Startup Awards 2021 highlighting the year-round handholding support provided to the finalists of first edition of National Startup Awards and the journey of NSA 2021.

The ‘Blockchain-enabled verification for DPIIT tax incentive certificates’, ‘Digilocker enabled DPIIT Startup recognition certificate’ and second edition of the ‘Startup Champions’ programme on Doordarshan were also launched during the event.

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) conceived the National Startup Awards to recognize and reward outstanding Startups and ecosystem enablers that are building innovative products or solutions and scalable enterprises, with high potential of employment generation or wealth creation, demonstrating measurable social impact. The measure of success is not only the financial gains for the investors, but also the contribution to social good.

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Pandemic proves to be good fortune for telecom sector

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While every other sector was doomed during the lockdown, the telecommunication sector has been in high demand. The visible shift towards work from home, online gatherings and classes, streaming services such as Netflix for entertainment brought the telecom sector into the spotlight today. The pandemic has shown the importance of the telecom sector in running business and staying connected.

Contrary to many other industries, the telecommunication sector has been generally exempted from major COVID-19-related restrictions, such as stay-at-home orders and quarantine requirements, as it is recognized as an essential service. The importance of having a strong telecommunications network during this lockdown has also been acknowledged by the government in the guidelines, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which provides that telecommunications, internet services, broadcasting and cable services, IT and IT-enabled services only are the essential services and are exempt from the lockdown.

Many telecom players from broadband to mobile to data center operators have benefitted from a surge in the traffic of data and voice. As a result, the telecom sector is performing well compared to other infrastructure sub-sectors. Telecommunications has been directly contributing around 6% of the GDP and during the lockdown, this has gone up 5-6 times, which is huge. According to our India Telecoms Report, India’s internet consumption rose by 13% since the nationwide lockdown. Indians consumed 308 petabytes (PB) of data daily on an average for the week beginning March 22. This sudden overnight surge in demand caught the industry off guard with mobile network operators (MNO) struggling to augment capacity and manage data traffic. The forecasts are that mobile subscriptions and fixed broadband subscribers will continue to fuel the telecoms sector growth in the 2019-25 period.

A recent report by Kantar highlighted that India’s rural areas have witnessed a 45% growth in internet penetration in 2019 as compared to urban India’s 11%. Sector regulator TRAI has asked telecom operators to extend the validity period of prepaid users to ensure that subscribers get uninterrupted services during the 21day nationwide lockdown. Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has also sought details of the steps being taken to ensure availability of uninterrupted telecom services to such customers on a priority basis.

Telecom sector is continuously adapting to the changes caused due to COVID-19 crisis. Being the sole distributor of Internet infrastructure to other industry verticals, telecom operators have made several amendments in their operations and offerings to serve their customers in a better way.

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Policy & Politics

WFH and its impact on affordable housing

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With the Covid-19 pandemic becoming endemic across the country, people have gradually learnt to accept the ‘new-normal’ and imbibe it to their lifestyle. A notable change that came to existence, since the pandemic struck is the concept of work from home (WFH). It started with the focus solely on keeping employees safe at home and gradually became the most popular work trend all over the country.

This led to companies stepping away from large real estate construction projects and lease deals. The workplace environment began to bear a scanty look with a depleted staff. The focus now has shifted primarily to an employee’s health followed by better communication while WFH.

The pandemic ensured that people begin to seriously consider homeownership where the idea is to own a home and give it an office-like makeover alongside a homely touch. Instead of going for multipurpose projects and erecting skyscrapers, developers and real estate firms have begun to cash in on this trend; by tapping the consumers’ minds. There was also a faster adoption of digital technologies by builders. On the other hand, some developers in partnership with architects are even going an extra mile to infuse business centres to give WFH population an office-like look.

This new trend of WFH also ensured that a major chunk of the middle class that is city-centric (based in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune to name a few) flies back to their respective homes as the pandemic-induced-WFH is here to stay. The developers have begun to shift their attention to tier-II and tier-III cities as the demand for affordable living increased during the pandemic with more and more people wanting to stay indoors while kids attending online classes.

REALTORS PIN HIGH HOPES THIS YEAR

The realty sector like most of the sectors staged a rebound from 2020’s economic downturn. It also stands at firm ground after tackling the pandemic gloom. Housing sales have witnessed a rise of over 50 per cent, thanks to a sharp rise in WFH. However, it is yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. This uptrend has ensured the property dealers pinning their hopes from 2022 beginning with the Budget (that is scheduled to happen on February 1).

Economic revival is on cards as the real estate sector is projected to reach $1-trillion-mark by 2030 from $200 billion in the pre-pandemic year.

The year 2021 began on a positive note for the real estate sector as the sales were strong during the January-March period, assisted by low-interest rates on home loans, pent up demand, discounts offered by cash-starved developers and lower stamp duty offered by some states.

NAREDCO President Rajan Bandelkar described 2021 as a “year of recovery”. He said, “The declining number of cases and resurgent homebuyers’ interest paved the way for a sustainable recovery”.

The central government also extended an additional tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on interest paid on housing loans for the purchase of affordable homes by one more year to March 31, this year; thereby facilitating recovery to the real estate sector. The additional deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh over and above Rs 2 lakh was brought in Budget 2019.

The government should focus on demand stimulation measures to sustain economic recovery. It should look for ways to boost private consumption and incentivise the real estate sector in the upcoming Budget.

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