The HINDU Notes – 11th July 2018 - VISION

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The HINDU Notes – 11th July 2018

📰 ‘Choosing a partner is a person’s fundamental right’

‘Choosing a partner is a person’s fundamental right’
He or she can be from the same sex, says SC judge at hearing on Section 377 case

•Choice of a partner is a person’s fundamental right, and it can be a same-sex partner, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said on Tuesday.

•The observation came on the first day of hearing by a Constitution Bench of petitions challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial era provision that criminalises private consensual sex between adults.

Violation of privacy

•Justice Chandrachud, who is part of the five-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, was reacting to a submission by senior advocate Arvind Datar, for hotelier Keshav Suri, that the right to sexual orientation was meaningless without the right to choose a partner.

•Justice Chandrachud drew his observations from the March 2018 judgment in the Hadiya case, which held that neither the State nor one’s parents could influence an adult’s choice of partner. That would be a violation of the fundamental right to privacy.

•Hadiya, a Hindu girl from Kerala, converted to Islam and chose to marry a Muslim man.

Differing views

•Chief Justice Misra said the test was whether Section 377 stood in conformity with Articles 21 (right to life), 19 (right to liberty) and 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.

•At one point, the judges appeared to differ in their approach to the case. Justice Chandrachud said the court should not confine itself merely to a declaration whether Section 377 was constitutional or not. It could examine the wider concept of “sexuality” to include co-habitation etc., he said.

•But Chief Justice Misra observed that the Bench should first decide the constitutionality of Section 377. “Let us get out of this maze. We cannot now give an advance ruling on questions like inheritance to live-in partners, whether they can marry, etc. Those are individual issues we cannot pre-judge,” he said.

📰 Poll position: on electoral reforms beyond simultaneous elections

There are meaningful electoral reforms beyond simultaneous elections

•It is perhaps no surprise that political parties are deeply divided over the idea of holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies. During consultations initiated by the Law Commission of India, nine parties opposed it, arguing that it went against the constitutional fabric and that it would be impractical. Four parties backed the concept. The BJP has sought time for a detailed response, though it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has been advocating the idea. The Congress has now spoken out against the proposal. In principle, there are obvious advantages to the ‘one nation, one election’ idea — election expenditure will be drastically cut and ruling dispensations will be able to focus on legislation and governance rather than having to be in campaign mode forever. However, as many of the naysayers have pointed out, the idea is fraught with practical difficulties. Also, some parties fear that a simultaneous poll, particularly in this era where news is easily and widely disseminated, will privilege national issues over regional ones even if, arguably, the reverse may happen too. The issue is that synchronisation would involve curtailment or extension of the tenure of a House — the legal propriety of which is questionable.

•The key proposal is that Assemblies be bunched into two categories based on whether their terms end close to the 2019 or the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Elections could be held for one group in 2019, and for another in 2024 so that subsequent elections could be synchronised. Or, polls could be held for one group along with the 2019 election,and for the rest 30 months later, so that there is a round of elections every two and a half years. An attempt at solving the problem of regimes falling due to lack of majority is the proposal for a ‘constructive vote of no-confidence’. This means that when passing a motion expressing lack of trust in a regime, legislators must necessarily propose an alternative. If a mid-term election has to be held, the term of such a House would only be for the remainder of its tenure. These two recommendations may partially address the question raised by the DMK on whether all Assemblies would be dissolved too if the Lok Sabha has to be prematurely dissolved. However, it is unclear if it will be palatable for all parties to invest their time and resources in an election that would win them only a curtailed term. Allowing a one-time waiver of the anti-defection law to enable the House to elect a leader in the event of a hung House is another proposal. However, these reforms can be adopted even without simultaneous elections. Also, there are many pressing reforms needed in the electoral space including curbing the use of black money to fund elections and tackling the staggered manner in which elections are held in many States.

📰 Deep state, deeper problems: Pakistan

Pakistan has been ill-served with the ‘corruption is the only problem’ oversimplification, as elections beckon

•Whatever their outcome, Pakistan’s general election scheduled for July 25 is unlikely to change four fundamental realities. First, Pakistan’s military-led establishment will continue to wield effective power, drawing strength from allegations of incompetence and corruption against civilian politicians. Second, civilian politicians will continue to justify their incompetence and corruption by invoking the spectre of military intervention in politics. Third, jihadis and other religious extremists will continue to benefit from the unwillingness of the military and the judiciary to target them as well as the temptation of politicians to benefit from their support. Fourth and finally, Pakistan’s international isolation and economic problems, stemming from its ideological direction and mainstreaming of extremism will not end.

•The conviction of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by an accountability court last Friday has set the stage for him to portray himself as the latest martyr for democracy. He has argued, as others have done before him, that he is being punished not for corruption but for standing up to Pakistan’s invisible government — the military-intelligence combine that has dominated the country effectively since 1958.

•His supporters are willing to ignore the fact that Mr. Sharif’s own political career was launched by the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the likelihood that allegations of unusual expansion of the Sharif fortune since the family’s advent in politics are true.

Spotlight on the judiciary

•The conduct of Pakistan’s judiciary in the matter has been far from judicious. The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Saqib Nisar, views himself less as an adjudicator in accordance with the law and more as a super policy maker. He has expressed interest in everything — from water scarcity to running of mental hospitals and prisons. He has taken to touring various government facilities and has even created a fund for the construction of dams. The fund will receive public contributions because the Chief Justice knows the exchequer does not have enough money to build the dams he wants built.

•None of these actions is part of a Chief Justice’s job description, even after recognising that some judges are more activist than others. Justice Nisar has made his political biases well known and the case against Mr. Sharif proceeded in reverse order. Instead of beginning in a trial court where evidence of his wrongdoing was established beyond reasonable doubt, he was first disqualified by the Supreme Court and then put on trial.

•But perceptions and common knowledge of political corruption cannot be a substitute for following legal principles. Elsewhere in the civilised world, the Pakistani practice of accusing someone of criminal conduct first in the highest court and then demanding that they prove their innocence would be deemed grossly unjust. The fact that this happens only in political cases further strengthens the view that politics, not corruption, is at the heart of such ‘prosecutions’.

•Moreover, the Supreme Court invited representatives of the Military Intelligence and the ISI to help investigate the money trail for Mr. Sharif’s alleged properties in London. This highly unusual procedure itself casts doubt on the real motives behind the former Prime Minister’s trial. The military-led prosecutions of politicians, even when their malfeasance is well known, helps the politicians in building their case that their political conduct is the source of their troubles.

•Pakistan is, therefore, unable to hold the politically powerful accountable through its politicised judiciary. The cynical view of Pakistani politics would be that three decades ago the deep state advanced Mr. Sharif’s political career while portraying Benazir Bhutto’s spouse, Asif Zardari, as corrupt; now Imran Khan is the ‘chosen one’ while Mr. Sharif’s alleged corruption is being targeted.

Problem with this ‘narrative’

•The military, which now refers to itself as ‘the institution’, has helped build a simplified narrative to justify its constant intervention in political matters as well as to explain Pakistan’s myriad problems. According to this narrative, civilian politicians are incompetent and corrupt, which is the only reason the military needs to periodically intervene to set things right. There is no explanation for how politicians would ever learn the art of governance if they are to be constantly corrected by unelected generals and judges.

•Another part of ‘the narrative’ is the notion that Pakistan’s dysfunction and periodic economic crises are the result of the massive corruption by civilians. Imran Khan and his supporters have been advancing that simplified narrative. Their message finds resonance with those who want to believe that once kickbacks on large projects and their corrupt practices are eliminated, Pakistan would somehow become the land of milk and honey.

•There is, of course, no justification or excuse for corruption but Pakistan has been ill-served with the ‘corruption is the only problem’ over-simplification. Since at least 1990, it has become an excuse to gloss over more significant policy issues that hold Pakistan back. Corruption has been exposed in many countries, from Iceland to China but none of them is as dysfunctional as Pakistan.

•Limiting national discourse to a discussion of corruption makes it impossible for Pakistanis to discuss how jihadi ideology and religious extremism are leading to Pakistan’s isolation. Similarly, Pakistan’s slow growth in exports, for example, is hardly a function of corruption. It reflects low productivity and inadequate value addition which are consequences of poor human capital development and failure to attract investment, among other factors.

•Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world in terms of population, has the sixth largest army in the world, and possesses one of the largest nuclear arsenals. Yet, it has the highest infant mortality rate; more than one-third of its children between the age of 5 and 15 are out of school. The country’s GDP on a nominal basis ranks 40 out of nearly 200 countries while its GDP per capita stands at 158 out of 216 countries and territories, according to World Bank data.

•None of these facts, however, has found any mention in the election campaign of any Pakistani political party. Although Mr. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have at least cared to publish detailed manifestos, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) published its manifesto on Monday, July 9, less than 20 days before the election. The party feels it only needs Mr. Khan’s charisma and the outrage against corruption or enemies of Pakistan to claim voters’ loyalty.

Economic woes

•The anti-corruption enthusiasm has sometimes added to Pakistan’s economic woes. Pakistan is currently burdened with compensation payments running into billions that must be made to foreign companies whose contracts were cancelled as part of investigations into corruption of officials involved in awarding those contracts. But fighting corruption is a useful slogan if the deep state wants to avoid fighting all jihadis and does not wish to acknowledge the flaws of its national narrative.

•It is ironic that Mr. Sharif faces jail ahead of an election that opinion polls indicate his party would win, if voting was free and fair, even as a long list of internationally designated terrorists is free to seek votes. That contradiction is at the heart of why the outcome of the elections is unlikely to change any of the fundamentals of the Pakistan crisis. If the PML-N overcomes all odds and still manages to win, the corruption cases will continue to cast their shadow. If someone like Imran Khan wins with the help of invisible hands, he would start his term under a different cloud.

•Pakistan will, unfortunately, not emerge stronger after an election whose winner lacks credibility and whose loser is likely to initiate confrontation with the winner right after polling day.

📰 Rhetoric and reality: on the UNHRC and human rights

By ceding a role at the HRC, a state foregoes a chance at genuine engagement in human rights monitoring

•The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Human Rights Council (HRC) of the United Nations in June this year sent shock waves through the international community, foreign-policy think-tanks and human rights non-governmental organisations. However, some feel this was the right decision and are now advocating withdrawal by other countries; this includes those in India.

•The antecedents and functioning of the much vilified HRC are worth examining. The main criticism against it is that it is made up of states not known for their human rights records; that many are in fact egregious violators of human rights. Current members include Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom — a few of the 47 states elected by the General Assembly, based on geographic quotas. So why is the HRC still important despite this crisis? There is much disinformation and confusion as to the origins of the HRC and its role, so setting the record straight is important.

Integral to rights system

•The HRC was established in 2006, as part of the UN’s reform process, replacing the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Council members are elected by the General Assembly with three-year terms, with a maximum of two consecutive terms. It was to serve as a forum for all states to examine and ‘peer review’ the record on human rights. The ‘Universal Periodic Review’ process, where all states are scrutinised, is currently in its third cycle (2017-2021). No state is exempt from this process, including Security Council members. Politics is unavoidable, with states using the opportunity to highlight the records of other states. However, an overly simplistic reading of the HRC paints this as purely partisan theatre, which is not the entire picture.

•What gets lost in all the rhetoric regarding the HRC is the actual track record — the overt manner in which a human rights agenda and the evolution of human rights norms are facilitated — and also less tangible gains from having such a body composed of states and actually engaging with them. Resolutions adopted have highlighted egregious violations despite efforts to the contrary by some members of the HRC. The situation in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, and North Korea are but a few. Subject areas that have been the source of much controversy have been addressed at the HRC, including LGBTIQ rights and discrimination on the basis of religion.

•The HRC is also a forum to monitor international obligations of a state based on international law that states themselves have undertaken. Engagement on their track record, in defence of rights is critical. This forum for advocacy and scrutiny, with its pitfalls, is an important component of the UN rights system.

Multiple strands

•Another aspect overseen by the HRC is the appointment of special rapporteurs — independent mandate holders — on issues including internal displacement, torture, racial discrimination, as well as country specific mandates. In addition, there are distinct international commissions of inquiry and fact-finding missions into particular violations. It is also worth pointing out that the role of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is often confused with the HRC. It is a separate institution which presents reports independent of the HRC, the recent report on Kashmir being an example. The conflation of the HRC and the OHCHR is incorrect and confuses their separate mandate and functions. Hence, there are multiple strands in the monitoring functions of human rights by UN institutions, one of which is the HRC. In the promotion of human rights, all these play a critical role.

•Coming back to the U.S., the factor that precipitated its withdrawal is the alleged targeting of Israel by the HRC. However, the background to this is also one of impatience and a failure to stay the course on an important multilateral process — that of HRC reform. Discussions and reform proposals are already in the works, with engagement by states and human rights organisations indicating a consensus building approach. However, while ostensibly committing to reform, the impatience of the current U.S. administration and its disdain for multilateralism has resulted in the impetuous decision to withdraw. By ceding a role at the HRC, a state reduces its ability to influence the agenda, and if it is so inclined, a genuine engagement in the monitoring of human rights. Invoking sovereignty as the basis to disengage is specious at best and malafide at worst.

•Ultimately, we are all the poorer for such actions. Not just states but also individuals who are in need of a more robust defence of their rights stand to lose much. It is worth instead contemplating the need to reduce rhetoric and, rather, increase substantive engagement with issues concerning the rights of individuals.

📰 India a stakeholder in Korean peace: Modi

Prime Minister praises South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s efforts; Delhi, Seoul sign agreements on trade, research, railway technology.

•Praising South Korean President Moon Jae-in for his role in talks with North Korea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is also a stakeholder and beneficiary of the Korean peninsula peace process.

•The two leaders addressed a press after official talks on Tuesday during President Moon’s four-day state visit to India, where the two sides signed 11 MoUs and agreements between them.

Proliferation fears

•“During our talks, I told President Moon that proliferation linkages between North-East Asia and South Asia is a matter of concern to India,” Mr. Modi said, in a veiled reference to China and Pakistan, who had helped build Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

•“Therefore, India is also a stakeholder in the peace process. We will do our bit to ensure peace,” Mr. Modi added.

•Briefing Mr. Modi on the talks between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un as well as the denuclearisation talks with the U.S., Mr. Moon reportedly said there will be “bumps and bruises” along the way, but he was “confident of the outcome,” Indian Ambassador to South Korea Vikram Doraiswami told journalists after the meeting.

Boosting trade

•Chief on the bilateral agenda was improving business and investment ties, said officials, including taking bilateral trade, that slumped between 2014-2016 to more than double its current levels of $20 billion to $50 billion by 2030. India has been worried about its trade deficit with South Korea that stood at $12 billion last year, while Korean businessmen have complained about problems in the “ease of doing business”.
India a stakeholder in Korean peace: Modi
•In addition to the agreements on upgrading their economic partnership CEPA, trade remedies, railway safety research, cyber strategy, and cultural exchanges, India and South Korea signed a joint vision statement on strategic ties in the region.

•“RoK and India will enhance military exchanges, training and experience-sharing, and research and development including innovative technologies for mutual benefit. We also agreed to encourage our defence industries to intensify cooperation in this regard,” the vision statement read, in a reference to discussions on encouraging Korean defence manufacturers to “Make in India”, one of whom, Hanhwa Techwin, has partnered with Larsen and Toubro to produce K-9 Vajra artillery guns for the Indian Army at a factory near Pune.

•The bilateral vision document also committed to building a “peaceful, stable, secure, free, open, inclusive and rules-based region,” incorporating President Moon slogan of “3Ps: People, Prosperity and Peace”.

•Close on the heels of a similar announcement between India and China, New Delhi and Seoul agreed to collaborate on development projects in third countries, beginning with Afghanistan.

•“There have been concrete discussions that have taken place on capacity building programmes (training of personnel) that both India and Korea would like to undertake in Afghanistan. At present they are in the discussions stage for development programmes, but similar assistance programmes in other countries as well,” MEA secretary (East) Preeti Saran said.

•Reaffirming his campaign promise, Mr. Moon, who also addressed the press after talks with Mr. Modi said this was the right time to take the bilateral relationship “to the next level,” and raising ties to the same level as South Korea’s ties with U.S., China, Russia and Japan. Both sides announced central roles for each other in India’s “Act East” policy, and South Korea’s recently announced “New Southern” policy.

•Mr. Moon will leave for Singapore on the next leg of his tour on July 11.

📰 Iran will end special privileges to India: diplomat

Asks Delhi not to stop Iranian crude

•Iran will end “special privileges” to India if Delhi tried to replace Iranian crude with supplies from Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States, said a senior Iranian diplomat here on Tuesday.

•Speaking at an event in Parliament annexe, Massoud Rezvanian Rahaghi said Iran has tried to help India whenever possible in strategic issues like energy and connectivity, but argued that India’s investment promises in the port of Chabahar have not been delivered.

•“In the previous round of U.S. sanctions between 2012 and 2015, Iran did its best to ensure security of oil supply to India...However, if India were to replace Iran with countries like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iraq, U.S. and others for 10% of its oil demand then it may have to revert to dollar-denominated imports, which mean higher CAD and deprivation of all other privileges Iran has offered to India,” said Mr. Rahaghi.

•The response comes days after India was asked by the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump to drastically cut down crude supply from Iran.

•India has not spelt out how it would address the concerns of the U.S. government. The Ministry of External Affairs has maintained that Delhi would consult “all stakeholders” in ensuring energy security.

•The official said Iran remains an open market for Indian requirements like petroleum, urea and LNG and Iran understands India’s energy requirement.

•Mr. Rahaghi spoke at an event organised by the All India Minorities Front, about the impact of U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and argued that unilateralism by the U.S. was imposing a heavy cost on the world. He cautioned that a conflict in the Gulf region would “drive up” the price of crude oil and impact growing powers like India and China.

•Mr. Rahaghi also said that Iran comes as a “blessing” to India in Delhi’s quest to access the markets of the emerging economies in the Central Asian region but hinted that Tehran is not satisfied with India’s investment levels in the port of Chabahar.

•“...It’s unfortunate that Indian investment promises for expansion of Chabahar port and its connectivity projects have not been accomplished so far, and it is expected that India take immediately necessary measures in this regard if its cooperation and engagement in Chabahar port is really of strategic nature,” said the diplomat. Iran reserves the right to act in response to U.S. measures. “Iran and Syria are winning against terrorism and some of these forces are now coming to Afghanistan,” he said, asking regional powers to remain vigilant of spillover effects from the wars in the West Asian region.

📰 Eat Right Movement off to a healthy start

The Food Safety and Standards Authority’s programme aims at engaging citizens to make correct choices

•Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Tuesday unveiled ‘The Eat Right Movement’, built on two broad pillars of ‘Eat Healthy’ and ‘Eat Safe’. The programme aims to engage and enable citizens to improve their health and well-being by making the right food choices.

Star attraction

•Kicked off in the city by National Award-winning actor Rajkummar Rao, the event saw the food industry, public health professionals, civil society and consumer organisations, and influencers and celebrities coming together to pledge concrete steps to create ‘The Eat Right Movement’ in the country.

•FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal said the movement can grow organically as a self-perpetuating movement, co-owned and co-led by various partners using the broad framework and resources put together by professionals and experts in the field of food and nutrition.

•Stating that its aim was to cut down salt/sugar and oil consumption by 30% in three years Mr. Aggarwal said that 15 major food manufactures have already joined the programme.

•The FSSAI, he said, “is looking at robust food labelling and cleaning up the claims space.”

📰 Data that can save lives

Data can help reduce the number of people impacted by natural disasters

•Since 1970, more than two million people have been killed by natural disasters in the ‘Ring of Fire’ region around the Pacific Ocean, at an average of 43,000 a year, as per the United Nations (UN). In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami struck 14 countries, and killed more than 18,000 people in India.

•There is a way to dramatically cut down on the number of people impacted by such disasters, and that is by using data. If we are to save lives and prevent damage to economies, it is critical to identify the most vulnerable populations. Data on these communities can be used to pursue ‘risk-informed development’. For instance, road infrastructure can be built by calculating the intensity of floods and determining the types of materials needed to construct durable roads. India recently embarked on an initiative to establish a comprehensive disaster database system. Now, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), working with partners, has established National Disaster Loss and Damage databases in 16 countries.

•Data also help identify the gaps and makes recommendations on where to allocate resources to mitigate risks from disasters. For example, flood-resistant roads can only be constructed if governments consider and review data about flood risks. With such information, they can allocate appropriate funds for better road construction.

Institution to study risks

•To further advance resilience in the region, in 2015, the UNDP partnered with the Tohoku University and Fujitsu to create a Global Centre for Disaster Statistics (GCDS).

•The aim is to gather and crunch ‘big data’ to meet the ambitious targets of the Sendai Framework to reduce the risks from disasters. Fujitsu’s cloud-based ecosystem captures data from a variety of sources, including unstructured sources like social media, high-resolution satellite imagery and drones. Specialised technical institutions like the Tohoku University can crunch and analyse these data sets to provide insights for policymakers about the impacts of disasters. This includes helping to monitor recovery, focussing on early warning, and assessing resilience.

•Big data also provides a deeper understanding about how an economy is interconnected: how devastation of a rice crop by a disaster can trigger a chain impact across several industries and services, such as transportation, rice-trading, packaging and retail. With such valuable information, governments can anticipate disasters and reduce risks through preventive measures such as early warning systems, safety drills, and resilient infrastructure. Of course, the data that matters the most is the number of lives saved.

📰 WhatsApp gives tips on spotting fake news

Starts awareness campaign with advertisements in papers

•To tackle the issue of fake information being spread using its platform, instant messaging application WhatsApp on Tuesday published advertisments in various newspapers giving out ‘easy tips’ that can help users decide if “something sent to you on WhatsApp is true.”

•“This morning we are starting an education campaign in India on how to spot fake news and rumours. Our first step is placing newspaper advertisements across the country in English, Hindi, and several other languages. We will build on these efforts going forward,” a WhatsApp spokesperson said in an emailed response.

•WhatsApp said to deal with fake news technology companies, the government and the community groups, all need to work together.

•The Facebook-owned application, in the advertisement, said that this week it will roll out a new feature that will let users see which messages have been forwarded. “Double check the facts when you are not sure who wrote the original message,” it said.

•While stating that stories that seem hard to believe are often untrue, the messaging application asked users to check elsewhere to see if they are really true. “It is easier to believe photos and videos, but even these can be edited to mislead you. Sometimes the photo is real, but the story around it is not. So look online to see where the photo came from.”

•Asking users to be thoughtful of what they share, WhatsApp said, “If you read something that makes you angry or afraid ask whether it was shared to make you feel that way. And if the answer is yes, think twice before sharing it again.” It said fake news often goes viral, and asked users to not pay attention to the number of times they receive the message.

📰 60% of Indian computers are vulnerable: Avast CTO

Says India must go the Japanese way

•India must go the Japanese way if it wishes to prevent cyber attacks on the country’s massive IT infrastructure, says Avast Antivirus chief technical officer and executive vice-president Ondrej Vlcek.

•“Japan brought in a stringent regulatory mechanism last year to put its IT infrastructure under a protective shield. India can also follow that example considering the growing internet penetration in the country,” Mr. Vleck told The Hindu on the sidelines of RISE 2018, Asia’s largest technology conference which got underway here on Tuesday.

•He said that over 60% of the personal computers in India were vulnerable to cyber crimes. As many as 18% of routers, 17% phones, 14% printers, 25% network associated storages, 4% security cameras and 2% media boxes too were vulnerable to threats in India. In comparison, only 9% of personal computers, 3% phones, 25% of routers, 16% of printers and 23% of security cameras in Japan were under threat.

•The situation was not rosy in Hong Kong either, where about 45% of personal computers were vulnerable to cyber attacks. The percentage for China, the U.S. and Singapore were 39%, 38% and 33% respectively, he said.

•“Already most countries are taking precautionary steps specially when it comes to hardware devices. But government-enabled regulations can prevent cyber crimes with the growth of Internet of Things (IoT),” he said.

•“Your smart home is only as secure as its weakest link. Personal data leakage and ransomware attacks lead to IoT botnets and physical security threats,” he said.

•Incidentally, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role in IoT safety. In future, AI will identify malicious and legitimate behaviour, Mr. Vleck said.

📰 Fossil of first ‘giant dinosaur’ species found in Argentina

It was about three times the size of the largest Triassic dinosaurs from its era

•Giant dinosaurs lived on the earth much earlier than previously thought, according to a team of excavators in Argentina, who discovered the remains of a 200-million-year old species.

•The species, baptised Ingentia prima, was about three times the size of the largest Triassic dinosaurs from its era. It was discovered in the Balde de Leyes dig site in San Juan province, 1,100 km west of the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.

•The finding was published in the Nature Ecology & Evolution journal on Monday. “As soon as we found it, we realised it was something different. We found a shape, the first giant one among all the dinosaurs. That’s the surprise,” said Cecilia Apaldetti, a government and San Juan University researcher.

•Excavators found several vertebrae from the neck and tail as well as fore and hind leg bones. The species “exhibits a growth strategy that was unknown until now and indicates that gigantism originated much earlier than was thought,” said Ms. Apaldetti, the study’s co-author.

•These were “herbivore dinosaurs, quadrupeds, easily recognisable by their very long neck and tail, and from the sauropod group,” she added. Before this discovery, it was thought that gigantism developed during the Jurassic period, around 180 million years ago.

•Fellow co-author Ricardo Martinez believes the Ingenia prima is from “a Late Triassic period, possibly 205 million years” ago.

•The Triassic period extended from around 250-200 million years ago and the Jurassic from 200-145 million years ago.

•According to scientists, Ingenia prima was the first dinosaur species to reach gigantism.

•The dinosaur’s bone fragments displayed cyclical and seasonal growth, with a different kind of tissue to other sauropods, which allowed it to grow very quickly. It’s believed that the species grew to eight to 10 meters tall and weighed around 10 tonnes, equal to two or three African elephants.

📰 Western Ghats bags fourth best tourist spot in Lonely Planet’s best Asia destinations list

It figures in Lonely Planet’s collection of 10 of the best destinations in Asia

•Older than the Himalayas and well known for its rich and unique flora and fauna, the Western Ghats has figured in Lonely Planet’s top five “2018 Best in Asia” list, a collection of 10 of the best destinations to visit in the continent for the year.

•One of the Hottest Biodiversity Hotspots and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Western Ghats has came fourth in the list of the Lonely Planet, considered a Bible by travellers worldwide. Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes kunthiana), which has started blooming after 12 years in the famed hill station of Munnar has found mention in report.

•“India’s steamy southern highlands have never garnered the same column inches as the hill stations and Himalayan heights of North India, but the Western Ghats offer an atmospheric mirror to Shimla and Darjeeling, with added jungle appeal. Traversing Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, these rugged hills are UNESCO listed as one of the top spots for biodiversity in the world, protecting everything from wild elephants and tigers to the neelakurinji flower, which blooms only once every 12 years and will be painting the hills in purple livery from August to October 2018. Visit now and you’ll find coffee, tea and spice plantations, charmingly dated colonial outposts, thundering waterfalls, and even a steam-powered mountain railway,” says the magazine in its report.

•Western Ghats supports the life of 7,402 species of flowering plants, 1814 species of non-flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species, 179 amphibian species, 6000 insects species and 290 freshwater fish species.

•“Asia is such a vast and diverse continent for anyone dreaming of an escape,” Lonely Planet’s Asia-Pacific Media Spokesperson Chris Zeiher has said. The panel of travel experts have named Busan, South Korea, Uzbekistan and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to the first three spots.

•“Our experts have combed through thousands of recommendations to pick the best destinations to visit over the next 12 months.” Nagasaki, Japan, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Lumbini, Nepal, Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka, Sìchuan Province, China and Komodo National Park, Indonesia are the destinations listed after Western Ghats.

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