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Showing posts from January 17, 2017

SC agrees to hear plea to bring WhatsApp under govt. regulations

‘You can choose to walk out of WhatsApp if you want to protect your privacy’, the Supreme Court on Monday told two law students who had challenged a Delhi High Court order upholding the company’s 2016 policy to share user information with Facebook as a violation of citizen privacy.

"What is disturbing here is you want to continue using this private service and at the same time want to protect your privacy... You can choose not avail of it [WhatsApp], you walk out of it,” Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar said.

Senior advocate Harish Salve said WhatsApp, an instant messaging and call service with 155 million users, has become a "public utility service" like telephone calls.

"No, no. You pay for your telephone calls. You get your privacy... Here [WhatsApp] you don't pay. This is a private service," Chief Justice Khehar, who is heading a Bench also comprising Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, said.

But countering the court's logic, Mr. Salve said even telephone call…

How powerful is the Indian passport? Here are the 2017 rankings(the hindu)

The Indian passport has been ranked 78 in a global ranking of the world’s most powerful passports.

Germany stands at the top with a visa-free score of 157, while Singapore overtakes South Korea and becomes the highest ranked Asian passport with a visa-free score of 156.

India stands at 78th position with a visa-free score of 46. While Pakistan and China rank 94 and 66 respectively.

Afghanistan’s is the least powerful passport with a visa-free score of just 23.

The latest edition of the Arton Capital’s global ranking ‘Passport Index’ is based on cross-border access of national passports.

The online interactive tool, which collects, displays and ranks the passports globally assigns a visa-free score” according to the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free or with visa on arrival.

“The desire to improve one’s opportunity and security for their family transcends borders. As such, having a second citizenship has never been more relevant,” said John Hanafin, CEO of Arton…

Is Trump preparing to change the script on Tibet? (the hindu)

A top advisor of Donald Trump’s transition team, on a visit to China, has revealed that the U.S. President-elect had declined the Dalai Lama’s request for a meeting, signalling the new administration’s openness to a policy review on Tibet.

Chinese website mingpao.com is reporting that in an interview with China Central Television (CCTV), Michael Pillsbury said that the Dalai Lama had once expressed his wish to meet Mr. Trump, but this was turned down. However, Mr. Pillsbury, who was in China last week to participate in the Pangoal Think Tank forum, insisted that he was not a representative of the Trump administration in waiting.

Any shift in U.S. position on the Dalai Lama is bound to have a downstream impact on India, which hosts the Tibetan leader in exile. Last month the Chinese foreign ministry expressed its “strong opposition” to the Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee at a Rashtrapati Bhavan function.

In an article in The National Interest, which was published …

U.S. hopes to overcome Chinese hurdle on India’s NSG membership bid (the hindu )

A day after China came out strongly against the Obama administration on India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership bid, outgoing U.S. envoy Richard Verma on Tuesday exuded confidence that the Donald Trump government would be able to overcome the Chinese hurdle.

Mr. Verma said President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and a lot of other people had worked in pushing India’s membership to the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group and that the U.S. will continue to work on it.

China had on Monday said admission of non-NPT signatories in NSG cannot be a “farewell gift” for countries to give to each other. The Chinese reaction had come after the Obama administration asserted that Beijing was an “outlier” in the efforts to make India a member of the elite nuclear club.

“This is something we will keep working on together. There is a lot of support for India’s membership as we said we strongly support India’s accession in the NSG,” Mr. Verma said.

“These things are complicated, they…

Stunning new view of Jupiter shows iconic Great Red Spot (hindu)

NASA has released a stunning new view of a crescent Jupiter which shows the iconic Great Red Spot, along with a series of storms shaped like white ovals known as the ‘string of pearls.’

The image was created by a citizen scientist Roman Tkachenko using data from JunoCam instrument aboard the NASA’s solar-powered Juno spacecraft.

Below the Great Red Spot, a reddish long-lived storm known as Oval BA is visible in the image.

The image was taken on December 11, 2016, as Juno performed its third close flyby of Jupiter.

At the time the image was taken, the spacecraft was about 4,58,800 kilometers from the planet.

The Great Red Spot is a giant, spinning storm in Jupiter’s atmosphere. It is like a hurricane on Earth, and is more than twice the size of our planet.

It has been seen on Jupiter ever since people started looking through telescopes about 400 years ago.

Golkonda, 7 tombs to be linked(thehindu)

A walkway to come up for visitors so that they can move around without the hassle of taking the main road

Riding a bike or hailing an auto to reach the Golkonda fort from seven tombs may be a thing of the past for the visitors if the latest plan of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) materialises. The city’s civic body wants to develop a walkway between Deccan park, Qutb Shahi tombs and the Golkonda fort for the tourists so that they can move around without the hassle of taking the main road. The proposal was discussed on Monday during an inspection of the Deccan Park by GHMC Commissioner B. Janardhan Reddy along with MLAs Akbaruddin Owaisi and Kauser Mohiuddin.

The GHMC wants to develop the Deccan Park near Quli Qutb Shahi tombs by providing basic facilities such as toilets, drinking water and upgradation of infrastructure to attract more visitors. The Commissioner said that modernisation of the park was in store as the State Tourism Department, as part of Swadeshi Da…

SC-appointed panel to tackle air pollution (thehindu)

Concerned over the deteriorating air quality in Delhi and the NCR, the Environment Ministry has amended laws and formally tasked a Supreme Court-appointed panel with implementing a graded action plan for pollution control.

The comprehensive plan, prepared by the CPCB, focussing on Delhi was submitted to the Supreme Court on December 2. The court had accepted the plan and asked the Centre to notify it. Once the plan is notified, measures like odd-even car rationing scheme and ban on construction activities will be enforced if level of PM 2.5 breaches 300 micrograms per cubic metre and PM 10 levels stay above 500 micrograms per cubic metre for two consecutive days.

Vagaries of the job market (Hindu)

The mismatch between the number of people who annually reach working age and the availability of jobs has been a matter of constant concern globally during the better part of the period since the global financial crisis of the last decade. The International Labour Organisation’s latest forecast that a few more millions are set to join the pool of the jobless during this year and the next, is in line with its own previous estimates. In any case, with the growth in global gross domestic product registering a six-year low in 2016, expectations of generation of new jobs were always going to be low. But a no-less-serious concern in the ‘World Employment and Social Outlook 2017’ pertains to the stubborn challenge of reducing the extent of vulnerability that currently affects about 42 per cent of the total working population. This concern refers to lack of access to contributory social protection schemes among the self-employed and allied categories, unlike their counterparts in the wage-ea…