The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the Unique
Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has decided to shelve its proposal
to hire a social media agency to monitor online platforms.
The top court was told by the Centre that UIDAI's Request for
Proposal (RFP) issued for a social media agency has not been pursued by it and
as of today there was no plan to have any such an agency.
The top court had last year questioned Moitra, then MLA of TMC
over her claim that the Centre's move of hiring a social media monitoring agency
was aimed at "mounting surveillance on social media platforms" and asked her to
submit material within two weeks in support of her apprehension.
The Centre had earlier told the court that it was willing to
accommodate the suggestions of the TMC leader in UIDAI's proposal to hire a
social media agency to monitor online platforms.
Moitra has alleged that the haste with which the RFP was being
pushed through, with the bids scheduled to be opened less than two weeks after
the publication of the RFP itself, demonstrated the mala fides of the Centre and
The plea had claimed that weekly and monthly reports are to be
prepared by the social media agency, indicating the most discussed topics, top
detractors, top influencers and the net sentiment related to Aadhaar.
The government is planning to upgrade services with
facilities like creche and smart teaching/learning aid at about 2.5 lakh
anganwadi centres across the country in the next five years, senior Women
and Child Development Ministry official said.
Currently, a total of 13.77 lakh anganwadi centres are
operational in the country with a strength of 12.8 lakh workers and 11.6 lakh
helpers, as per the official data.
It is still at a planning stage and is being discussed at
multiple levels in the government. After getting necessary approvals, it will be
implemented most likely next year, he told PTI on the sidelines of the event.
The objective is to make anganwadi centres interactive and "more
child-friendly" by providing additional facilities like creche as well as smart
teaching and learning aid, he added.
The ministry is mulling over upgradation at a time when some of
the anganwadi centres in the country do not even have toilet facility and
drinking water supply.
The official also highlighted the progress made in the
implementation of the 'POSHAN Abhiyan' (National Nutrition Mission) that aims to
reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth weight
babies.The Mission strives to achieve reduction in stunting from 38.4 per cent
to 25 per cent by 2022.
Asserting that India is fighting the war on malnutrition
aggressively, the official shared a recent comprehensive nutrition survey that
found that the level of stunting has come down to 34.7 per cent.
Crop assessment will turn hi-tech from the next crop season
in June 2020 as the government plans to use remote sensing, satellites,
drones and artificial intelligence extensively to get realtime estimates of
crop yields accurately from villages, which will help officials plan food
supply better and speed up insurance claims.
“First we will integrate the new age technology with the age-old
method of crop cutting experiments (CCE) used to assess crop losses. Gradually
we will replace it,” a senior agriculture department official, who is directly
involved in the government’s crop insurance scheme, told.
CCE is performed in the field by marking a specific area (25
square metres) in the field, harvesting the crop in the area and weighing the
produce, which is taken as the yield per acre. The result, despite not
representing the yield of the entire agroclimatic zone, is taken into
consideration while calculation crop damage.
The government is already conducting a pilot study of using
technology for the assessment of crop yield and harvest losses in at least two
districts across states of different agro-climatic zones. It has commissioned
the study to 12 technology companies, including government-owned IASRI, ICRISAT
Another reason for using new age technology, according to the
official, is that in the existing method of crop yield estimation, the
allocation and selection of fields for conducting CCE is based on the
information of crop of previous years due to non-availability of current year
information at the time of survey.
India’s banks are set for a $7.6 billion earnings windfall
this month as the country’s bankruptcy court has made sudden progress in
clearing a backlog of large cases.
The gains will be welcome news for banks, which are facing a
further increase in their $130 billion pile of bad loans thanks to India’s
shadow banking crisis and the slowdown in the economy. Many lenders are expected
to set aside additional provisions in their earnings reports for this quarter.
The total proceeds from the bankruptcy cases should total Rs
54,000 crore ($7.6 billion), according to KarthikSrinivasan, group head of
financial sector at ICRA Ratings, the local arm for Moody’’s Investors Service.
The banks should be able to use a large part of it “to step up provisioning as
bad loans continue to rise,” Srinivasan added.
India has seen slow progress since the bankruptcy court was set
up in 2016 to get to grips with the bad loan crisis. Only 15% of cases admitted
to the court had produced a resolution plan as of September, according to data
published by the insolvency board.
However, the December bonanza will be shortlived as India’s
prolonged economic downturn continues to push up overall bad loans, said Suresh
Ganapathy, who oversees financial research at Macquarie Capital Securities.
The soured debt ratio in India’s banking system will rise above
11% by the end of March, from 9.3% some 12 months earlier, according to a Credit
Suisse note in August.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on
countries to take joint responsibility to care for a surging number of
In his opening speech to the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva
today, Guterres said it is a moment to build a more equitable response to the
refugee crisis through a sharing of responsibility.
The forum will last through Wednesday. It begins exactly a year
after the UN General Assembly adopted a framework aimed at creating a more
predictable and equitable approach to providing assistance to refugees and host
The meeting is the first of its kind, pooling together heads of
state, government ministers but also business leaders, humanitarians and
refugees themselves to offer ideas and pledges for more efficient support.
At the end of 2018, nearly 71 million people were living in
forced displacement due to war, violence and persecution, including nearly 26
million people who had fled across borders as refugees.