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Latest coronavirus update: Here's why Indian users can't use the tracing tech developed by Google and Apple

Last week, Apple and Google phone received support for exposure notifications meant to trace COVID-19 infections. These notifications are sent by compatible apps developed by local governments.

While India, too, received messages from Android and Apple about the notification app, but the Aarogya Setu app that has been developed by the Central government, is not compatible with the Google-Apple Application Programming Interface (API), and therefore you cannot use the feature on your smartphone yet. However, there isn't an official word from the Centre as yet on future plans to make it compatible.

There are two fundamental differences between Aarogya Setu app and the app that is based on the Google and Apple API are as follows:

- The Google-Apple API allows contact-tracing apps to use features such as Bluetooth technology

- Secondly, user privacy is a key factor. While Aarogya Setu requires your location, the exposure notifications is strictly against collecting GPS info.

Notably, the Google-Apple API is not an app, but rather a framework within the operating system that will allow a government-built app to function if you decide to install it.

It follows this statement from Google and Apple from May 2020.

One of the most effective techniques that public health officials have used during outbreaks is called contact tracing. Through this approach, public health officials contact, test, treat and advise people who may have been exposed to an affected person. One new element of contact tracing is Exposure Notifications: using privacy-preserving digital technology to tell someone they may have been exposed to the virus. Exposure Notification has the specific goal of rapid notification, which is especially important to slowing the spread of the disease with a virus that can be spread asymptomatically.

To help, Apple and Google cooperated to build Exposure Notifications technology that will enable apps created by public health agencies to work more accurately, reliably and effectively across both Android phones and iPhones. Over the last several weeks, our two companies have worked together, reaching out to public health officials, scientists, privacy groups and government leaders all over the world to get their input and guidance.

Starting today, our Exposure Notifications technology is available to public health agencies on both iOS and Android. What we’ve built is not an app—rather public health agencies will incorporate the API into their own apps that people install. Our technology is designed to make these apps work better. Each user gets to decide whether or not to opt-in to Exposure Notifications; the system does not collect or use location from the device; and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to report that in the public health app. User adoption is key to success and we believe that these strong privacy protections are also the best way to encourage use of these apps.

Today, this technology is in the hands of public health agencies across the world who will take the lead and we will continue to support their efforts.


Coronavirus in Delhi: Containment zones rise from 261 to 417; COVID-19 cases cross 83,000-mark

The COVID-19 containment zones in the national capital have increased by 156 within a span of a week. On June 21, there were 261 containment zones in Delhi, now there are 417 containment zones, reported The Indian Express.

The increase was because of breaking up of 13 large containment zones across West, Southeast, Shahdara, North and Central districts, the report added. “Several new areas will also be sealed over the next few days, pushing up the number further,” a senior district official said. The authorities are reportedly attempting to contain large scale outbreaks of the COVID-19 infection in densely populated residential colonies.

Meanwhile, Delhi recorded 2,889 fresh coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the tally in the city over the 83,000-mark, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 2,623, authorities said. Delhi had recently eclipsed Mumbai as the worst-hit city by the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The death toll due in Delhi has risen to 2,623 and the total number of cases mounted to 83,077.

According to the bulletin, 52,607 patients have recovered, been discharged or migrated so far. The number of active cases in the national capital stood at 27,847. It said 4,98,416 tests have been conducted so far.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Raghav Chadha on Sunday said the COVID-19 situation has come under control in Delhi. "For the people of Delhi, the Chief Minister asked for help because he understands that this virus cannot be fought singlehandedly and it is a collective effort. Upon his request, people came together and the situation in Delhi is coming under control," Chadha told ANI.

"The Centre has also contributed to this as well by helping us to deploy the ITBP upon our request. They have fulfilled many of our demands and all are fighting against the pandemic collectively," he said.

(With input from Agencies)


Delhi hotels boycott Chinese people: When liberal hero Nehru sent thousands of Chinese-Indians to internment camps

Last week, there was a violent clash at the Indo-China border that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and others injured. The attack came even as the two countries were attempting to de-escalate a border dispute, and has triggered a rallying cry to boycott Chinese goods and services.

Some however have taken it a step further. While Rajya Sabha MP Ramdas Athawale recently urged people to stop eating Chinese food, others have apparently decided to ban Chinese people altogether. As per an Indian Express report, the Delhi Hotel and Restaurant Owners Association has now decided that in more than 3,000 hotels and guesthouses across the national capital, Chinese nationals are no longer welcome to stay. This comes, even as the novel coronavirus outbreak forces hotels to stay shut, and causes great financial loss to the business owners.

And while the organisation now insists that Chinese nationals are not welcome, this viewpoint is not exactly new. The current turbulence with the neighbouring country has brought the Sino-Indian War in 1962 to the minds of many, and the parallels cannot be overlooked.

What seems to have been forgotten, however, is the way Chinese-Indians were treated at the time. Now, in case you were wondering, by 'Chinese-Indian' we are talking about people of Chinese origin who have lived in India for many years and made it their home.

In the aftermath of the 1962 war, the Indian government passed the Defence of India Act which in turn permitted the "apprehension and detention in custody of any person [suspected] of being of hostile origin." And based on this, several thousand Chinese Individuals were carted away from their homes to be kept in an internment camp in Delhi. While the two countries had been at war for roughly a month, the last of the camp's residents were not released till 1967.

BBC article that includes first hand accounts of people who have stayed in these camps recounts the experiences of a Mr Cheng who, along with his family, was taken from their home in Darjeeling to Deoli. Reportedly, every compartment of the train that had the word 'enemy' scrawled on the side, was filled with Chinese families such as his. As the article notes, at that time Cheng was a third generation Indian.

He adds that even after being released, they were sent to Kolkata, but were not allowed to return to their homes and livelihoods. Their movement was also restricted.

With them displaced, there are reports that suggest the properties of these Chinese-Indians were sold or looted.

In 2013, Yin Marsh published a book called "Doing Time With Nehru", where she recalls how her family and she were taken to Deoli, being assigned the very same bungalow where Prime Minister Nehru had been imprisoned during the India's rebellion against British rule. She too had been born in Calcutta and raised in Darjeeling.

"Yin Marsh was only 13 when, first her father was arrested, and then Yin, her aged grand-mother, and eight-year-old brother were all taken to the Darjeeling jail, then sent on to Deoli," notes the Goodreads page for the book.


India sees highest single-day spike of 19,906 COVID-19 cases, tally reaches 5,28,859

New Delhi: With 19,906 new cases, highest single-day spike so far, India's COVID-19 count touched 5,28,859 including 2,03,051 active cases, 3,09,713 cured/discharged/migrated, according to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

410 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours and the cumulative toll reached 16,095 deaths. Coronavirus cases in Maharashtra have climbed to 1,59,133 while Delhi's tally stands at 80,188. 2,31,095 samples were tested yesterday and the total number of samples tested up to 27 June is 82,27,802, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

JP Nadda asks 10 'burning questions' which the nation wants Sonia Gandhi and Congress party to answer

Intensifying his attack on the Congress, BJP president J P Nadda has asked the Congress party 10 questions, including about alleged links between the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and China, and said that his party will leave no stone unturned in "exposing double-faced politicians".

"I want to tell Sonia Gandhi that under the garb of China and COVID-19 crisis, one should not shy away from answering the questions the nation wants to know... It's a shame. It's a sacrifice of national interest by accepting money from foreign powers in personal trusts," Nadda told reporters while attacking the Congress president.

Asking 10 pointed questions to Gandhi, Nadda started with, "The nation of 130 crore people wants to know about the deeds done by the Gandhi family, what work you did while in governance and how you betrayed the people." Nadda alleged cast insinuation while he went on using, "What was the need to be a part of RCEP? How did India's trade deficit with China rise from $1.1 billion to $36.2 billion?"

Here are the 10 questions J P Nadda has asked Congress:

1. Why did Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF), headed by Sonia Gandhi, accept money from the Chinese government and Chinese Embassy? Isn't it a shame, sacrificing national interest by accepting money from foreign powers for personal trusts?

2. Why did the Congress weaken India's economic position by the East-Asia FTA? Was this the quid pro quo for accepting Chinese money by RGF?

3. What is the exact relationship between INC and the Communist Party of China and what are the signed and unsigned terms of their MoU?

4. Sonia Gandhi must answer how much influence and infiltration of Chinese agencies happened in India via the RGF?

5. Why did PMNRF divert money every year from 2005 to 2008 to RGF? Did they feel no shame siphoning off people's hard-earned money?

6. RGF took hefty donations and rewarded heavy contracts to corporates but always indulged in pro-poor rhetoric. Why were so many deals given as quid pro quo?

7. Why was a Congress man's (Rameshwar Thakur) company auditing PMNRF?

8. How did RGF get Jawahar Bhawan, worth crores, as its office on perpetual lease? It has regularly received donations from the government and ministries, but refuses to be audited by the CAF or come under RTI ambit. Why?

9. Why did RGF in turn donate money to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust controlled by the family and Christian Missionary organizations like World Vision?

10. Mehul Choksi was a donor for the RGF. Sonia Gandhi must answer that how the Congress helped the fugitive get loans and then blame honorable PM Modi for it?

End of bad hair days: Barbershops, salons gear up to reopen today in Mumbai

Barbershops and salons are set to reopen from Sunday in Mumbai with the Maharashtra government issuing a notification to reopen them in the State under its 'Mission Begin Again Phase IV'.

Shahid Hussain, a salon owner, said, "We will record customers' temperatures and provide them with hand sanitisers when they enter our shop. We will use a new towel and haircut seat for each customer." Hairstylists will wear PPE kits like masks and gloves.

"Use and throw products will be used. Without a prior appointment, we will not attend any customer. We will only use four to five staff at the maximum," he said.

A barber in the shop said, "We will use gloves, sanitiser and try to maintain distance." The barbershops and salons have to adhere to strict rules and regulations for their functioning.

According to the government notification, barbershops, salons, and beauty parlours will be allowed to function with prior appointments only. Only a few services such as haircut, dyeing hair, threading, etc are allowed. Skin related services will not be permitted presently. This should prominently be displayed in the shops.

The order also said the salons should adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) on hygiene and cleanliness and employees must wear protective gear including gloves, aprons, and masks.

Rasbhari scene: Swara Bhasker responds to Joshi’s objection

Mumbai: Bollywood actress Swara Bhasker has responded to an objection raised by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Chief Prasoon Joshi, over a scene in her latest web series “Rasbhari”.

Irresponsible content
Prasoon Joshi had tweeted on Friday, pointing out a scene in the web series has “irresponsible content.”

Swara Bhasker took to Twitter to explain the purpose of the scene to the CBFC Chief and pointing out that maybe he misunderstood it.

“Respected sir, maybe you are misunderstanding the scene. The way you are describing the scene, it is just the opposite. The child is dancing at her own will. Her father feels embarrassed after seeing this. The dance is not provocative. She is simply dancing and has no idea about how society will sexualise her too. This is what the scene shows. #Rashbhari,” tweeted Swara Bhasker in Hindi.

Swara’s tweet comes as a response to Prasoon Joshi’s tweet which reads: “Saddened by Webseries #Rasbhari’s irresponsible content portraying a little girl child dancing provocatively in front of men drinking. Creators and audience need to seriously rethink Freedomof expression or freedom of exploitation? Let’s spare children in the desperate need for entertainment.”

Netizens’ view on Rasbhari

Netizens are divided in their opinion. Commenting on the tweet, while some expressed that Joshi is misunderstanding the scene, some trolled the actress. Some users felt it is high time that web series content should be regulated by the censor board.

Source: With inputs from IANS


India’s economy is in deep trouble: S&P

New Delhi: S&P Global Ratings said on Friday that the Indian economy is in deep trouble with growth likely to contract by 5 per cent this financial year.

 Growth to fall
“India’s economy is in deep trouble. Difficulties in containing the virus, an anaemic policy response, and underlying vulnerabilities, especially across the financial sector, are leading us to expect growth to fall by 5 per cent this fiscal year before rebounding in 2021,” S&P said in an update.

In its report titled ‘Asia-Pacific losses near $3 trillion as balance sheet recession looms’, S&P projected the region’s economy to shrink by 1.3 per cent in 2020, but grow by 6.9 per cent in 2021 with a loss of $3 trillion output over these two years.

“Asia-Pacific has shown some success in containing Covid-19 and, by and large, responded with effective macroeconomic policies,” said Shaun Roache, chief economist for Asia-Pacific at S&P Global Ratings.

“This can help cushion the blow and provide a bridge to the recovery. The recovery looks set to be weighed down by indebted balance sheets, however.”

Balance sheet recession
It flagged one risk in another “balance sheet recession” in which at least one important sector of the economy — the government, firms, or households — tries to bolster its weak financial position by saving more, paying down debt, and spending less, S&P said.

“The downturn caused by Covid-19 did not start as a balance-sheet recession but may end up as one,” Roache said. “This means less investment, a slower recovery, and a permanent hit to the economy that will last even after a vaccine is found.”

Banks may lend less than they normally would in a recovery to focus on the overhang from the pandemic. Private firms may prefer to stabilise debt rather than ramp up spending on new investments, even though demand is improving.

The economy is healing but private sector confidence remains fragile. If private sector spending does not improve quickly, more stimulus may be unleashed, S&P said.

Inflated electricity bills issue: Discom sets up redressal cell to deal with inflated bill complaints

Mumbai: After rising resentment among consumers, especially residential users over hefty power bills they have received this month, the distribution company (discom) providers like state run Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution company Ltd (MSEDCL) and private- TATA Power, Adani, BEST, have set up quick redressal cell to deal with the problem.

The MSEDCL Public Relation Official (PRO) Anil Kamble told the Free Press Journal that those who believe, they have received inflated power bills their grievance will be handled by our team of employees. "To make the process quick, our employees will conduct meetings in big cooperative housing societies by maintaining the social distancing norms and make them understand the power tariff that have been applied. While in the rural areas at district level such meeting will be held in market areas or other places so to create awareness. Moreover, for consumers in city webinars will also be conducted,” he informed.

Similarly, Adani Mumbai Electricity Ltd (AMEL) has its dedicated 24x7 toll free helpline 19122 where the customers can register their complaints. Besides, one can also send an email to its helpdesk.

While the Tata Power has developed a guide on its portal to allow consumers to assess additional consumption due to higher use of household appliances. The table includes all typical household appliances like fan, lights, refrigerator, television and washing machine and air-conditioner. One is required to input the number of appliances in the house and personal judgement on how much additional hours one might have used them during lockdown. The guide will indicate approximately how much the consumption would go up each day.

TATA Power believes it would help address their concern of high consumption to a great extent. In case customer who still have any questions can call on the 24x7 Helpline 19123, write to or visit any of its operational customer relations centre, informed TATA PR through its press release.

Reportedly there is widespread discontent among consumers over high power bills issued by these discoms. Most consumers feel that the company is overcharging. However, all discoms have clarified that due to Covid-19 pandemic, meter reading was discontinued in March (as per MERC’s directive) and has been gradually resumed from June onwards. In the absence of meter reading, electricity consumers were receiving estimated bills basis their average consumption of the previous three months (December, January and February) during the lockdown period. These are winter months with considerably lower consumption. The electricity consumption typically increases from April till onset of Monsoon. Moreover, a large number of individuals also refrained from going out, as well as worked and studied from home during this pandemic. Therefore the rise in electricity consumption was witnessed.

The buck stops here: Era of dollar to end sooner than anticipated

The era of the United States dollar is about to end soon, stated Stephen Roach, Yale University senior fellow and former Morgan Stanley Asia chairman. He predicates a 35 per cent decline in the U.S. currency against its major rivals.

During CNBC’s ‘Trading Nation’, Roach stated, “The U.S. economy has been afflicted with some significant macro imbalances for a long time, namely a very low domestic savings rate and a chronic current account deficit.”

He added the dollar is going to fall very, very sharply. “These problems are going from bad to worse as we blow out the fiscal deficit in the years ahead,” said Roach.

He is not the first one to make such a comment. This conversation was on for quite some time. However, the recent wave of COVID-19-induced recession is expected to expedite this process. Roach pointed out the trillions of dollars the US government is spending to tackle COVID-19 has also increased the deficit of the country.

“In a COVID era everything unfolds at warp speed,” Roach told MarketWatch. He pointed to the contraction of the US economy from an employment rate that was hovering around a 50-year low at around 3.5 per cent near the start of 2020. Since March, about 49 million people have been unemployed in the country.

The rise of China and the US moving away from globalisation is weakening the US currency even further.

“Generally, it is a negative implication for U.S. financial assets,” he added. “It points to the probability of higher inflation as we import more higher cost foreign goods from overseas, and that’s a negative for interest rates.”

He went on to explain that the Chinese currency, yuan, has got an appeal among investors. This is mainly because the country is undergoing a structural change.