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Dangerous web of 'I accept': Where all does your data really end up?
The biggest fallacy in many people's understanding of online data gathering is the widely-held belief that the only real downside to what they willingly offer up online is them seeing a few more harmless ads. Nothing, sadly, could be further from the truth. While ad-targeting is both prominent and increasingly invasive, ads are but the tip of the iceberg, and an ominous mass of other destinations for our data lies beneath the surface. Here is some of what else happens after you scroll down those ostensibly impossible-to-read terms and conditions and hit I accept. * Data brokers: These are pe ... read more

Modi's silence doesn't augur well for India's democracy
Even as camera-friendly and Internet-savvy Prime Minister Narendra Modi waxes eloquent on his Beti Padhao Beti Bachao campaign, the right-wing fringe elements openly threaten a leading actress -- an inspiration and role model for thousands of young Indian girls -- under his government's nose. Modi and his government have done nothing but maintain silence, ultimately amounting to indirect approval and further encouraging these elements. The volunteers of Shri Rajput Karni Sena had earlier physically assaulted Padmavati director Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the sets of the movie. It's deja vu as t ... read more

BBC investigation exposes US, UK protecting IS in Syria
A BBC expose, with graphic visuals, is quite emphatic: The US and British-led coalition forces enabled hundreds of IS jihadists escape from Raqqa after the headquarters of their self-declared Caliphate was bombarded out of recognition. This will set the cat among the pigeons. The matter will surely come up in the British Parliament and Congressional hearings in Washington. More such mischief is surfacing. The Defence Ministry in Moscow is already in overdrive. The US refused to bomb a military convoy retreating from Abu Kamal -. The coalition's aircraft also attempted to prevent Russian Aero ... read more

Indira Gandhi's fearlessness brought out the best in her (Nov 19 is Indira Gandhi's 100th bi
No past Prime Minister of India evokes as much passion as Indira Gandhi. Her admirers believe she could do no wrong and was the messianic leader India needed in her time; her detractors hold her responsible for creating a personality cult, encouraging dynastic politics and weakening the institutions of democracy. As in the case of any leader with a long tenure and an enduring impact, her legacy is one that will be debated long into the future, when today's politicians and journalists, who tend to make snap judgments, have given way to historians and analysts with a longer and more discerning ... read more

It's time to put a little truth in children's literature
I grew up in a house of books and reading. Every evening, we had what was called a quiet time, when we sat together just before dinner, listening to classical music and reading our own books. I hated that time. I resented being made to sit still and quiet. But my parents and sisters were avid readers; so I just had to fall in line. I started reading whatever my sister seemed to enjoy. So at the age of 12 or so, I began reading Great American Plays and German poet Bertolt Brecht. I was part of a theatre group and so found reading plays fascinating. It did me more good than harm to be reading ... read more

Climate progress in India brightens hopes for Bonn
Just a few years ago, India relied almost exclusively on coal to fuel its rapid development, opening new coal-burning power plants and increasing coal mining and imports. This year, however, in a remarkable turnaround, India cancelled plans for an additional 14 gigawatts of coal power and announced that it won't build any new coal plants for at least a decade -- thanks to a rapid rise in renewable energy. As world leaders gather in Bonn for the follow-up to the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, India is one of several standouts in the global emissions picture. This nation of 1.3 billion peop ... read more

Antibiotic resistance: Broader implications for humanity (Comment: Special to
It is difficult to imagine a world where a minor bacterial infection from a wound is untreatable and could possibly lead to death. In the short time that antibiotics have been around, their excessive and occasionally irrational usage by humans for medical purposes as well as in livestock and agriculture has contributed to the speeding up of a natural process of evolution and mutation in bacteria -- a phenomenon known as antibiotic resistance -. As a medical humanitarian organisation, MSF uses antibiotics at various levels of treatment and care. Drug resistant infections are rising rapidly ac ... read more

Rural cooking solutions: Oil from agricultural stubble may be an answer
At the Clean Cooking Forum held in New Delhi earlier this month, one of the panels discussed the use of alcohol for cooking. Use of alcohol for cooking is gaining traction in African and Latin American countries as it provides clean burning, drastically reducing household pollution. Use of alcohol fuel for rural households was pioneered in India by a rural NGO in Phaltan in Maharashtra in the late 1980s. In 1985 it set up the world's first solar pilot plant to produce ethanol from sweet sorghum and used it in specially-designed lanterns for lighting and in stoves for cooking. Its pioneering ... read more

Sports is the best drug
Let there be no doubt. In life, there's no bigger, and persistent, high than good health. No drug can match the thrill of competing in sports. Reality well lived is more enticing than the coloured vision of a drug addict. There's always hope, and life has this enviable capacity to bounce back, unless, of course, it is too late. All it takes is a moment of clarity to shun any form of addiction, howsoever incapacitating. It may sound easier than it is. It is challenging to arrive at this profound moment of clarity, especially for those whose minds are crippled by addiction. This moment of clar ... read more

Checking pollution: Government needs to act
The Delhi government has declared a medical emergency with the Central Pollution Control Board - sending out alarming messages on its website, calling for states to tackle pollution on a priority basis. The CPCB is holding frantic meetings to keep the public updated on the alarming PM - levels. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has termed the situation as an emergency as the Meteorological Department has forecast that a change of weather is most unlikely. The World Health Organisation in 2014 classified New Delhi as the world's most polluted capital, with air quality levels worse than Bei ... read more

Bonn climate talks: Resurrection of trust deficit
Contrary to popular belief, the Kyoto Protocol is not dead. The 2012 Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol extends its life as it includes the second commitment period - for 37 industrialised countries which took similar legally-binding commitments during the first commitment period -. The legally binding obligations of the 37 industrialised countries under the second commitment period are mainly related to their emission reductions and financing for the developing countries for technology transfer. Many consider the Doha Amendment as the second chance for the developed countries to demonstra ... read more

Pinned against the wall: Losing the argument in Srinagar
The arrival of Dineshwar Sharma, formerly of the Intelligence Bureau, as the Centre's interlocutor in troubled Jammu and Kashmir has clearly not set the Jhelum on fire. But Hari Niwas, the former Maharaja's palace, Sharma's HQ, has acquired a temporary prominence with armoured personnel carriers, TV vans and a gradually diminishing number of journalists outside. The approaching winter is a deterrence for assembly after sunset. Reactions range from total nonchalance at the Amar Singh club to bewilderment among the intelligentsia and anger among prominent members of the civil society. Yet agai ... read more

Those magnificent Indian air warriors of WW1
World War I finally came to a blood-soaked end on November 11, 1918. As we mark the 99th anniversary of the Armistice, there is increasing recognition of the roles played by Indians in that war. Books by Shrabani Basu, Gordon Corrigan, Vedica Kant, and others have contributed as, counter-intuitively, did the film Dunkirk -, for omitting Indians. Around 1.5 million Indians served in World War I, mostly in the Army. There was also a tiny Indian presence in the air. Four almost-forgotten Indians flew as combat pilots: Lieutenant Hardit Singh Malik, Lieutenant SC Welinkar, Second Lieutenant E.S. ... read more

Male breast enlargement is common, can be easily rectified
Samir is a 20-year-old fit and healthy young man who works in a top IT firm. His job involves sitting in front of the computer for many hours. In his free time, he used to work hard in the gym aiming to look good. He had a girlfriend for one year and was thinking of proposing to her when he discovered a disturbing development in his body. He became aware that his breast area was becoming prominent and he was particulaly conscious of it when he went to the gym or for a swim. Slowly, he became so conscious of this, that he stopped going to the gym. He started putting on weight, became depresse ... read more

Mere touch of Bt cotton can cause impotency, says Rajasthan agri minister
Does Bt cotton cause impotency? This startling claim was made by Rajasthan's minister for agriculture, Prabhu Lal Saini, while talking to reporters on the sidelines of the Global agritechnology meeting at Udaipur. The minister, while trashing GM mustard technology, said the mere touch of Bt cotton caused impotency. He said the Bt gene was extracted from a soil bacterium found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after atomic bombs were dropped on the two cities during the Second World War. He overlooked the fact that a Japanese scientist had discovered the insecticidal properties of the Bt soil bacte ... read more

Priti Patel's exit won't affect Indian influence in Britain
It was shocking news for the Indian community in Britain. The most influential British-Indian politician was ousted from the government in an unceremonious way. International Development Secretary Priti Patel was recalled from her Uganda trip and forced to submit her resignation for breaching the ministerial code of conduct. What a fall! Just a few days back, she was sort of in the shoes of Prime Minister Theresa May to welcome guests at No 10 Downing Street to celebrate Diwali. We thought -- a Prime Minister in waiting. A proud moment for the 1.5 million Indian-origin British citizens. We a ... read more

Maximising reach to millennials through digital advertising
Advertising has always been about connecting brands with people. With the evolution of technology, the medium and tools for building this connection have taken a digital leap; yet, the baseline remains the same. In India, with increased Internet penetration, coupled with the popularity of large screen phones and over-the-top content, online video advertising has been leading the vibrant digital advertising ecosystem. In spite of this rapid increase in video advertising user base, marketers and advertisers are still experimenting with their approach to the 'Art of connecting brands with consu ... read more

The Qatar experience and lessons for India
The world is changing. Sport is a strong vehicle of change. And one of the best examples of this phenomenon is Qatar, which is on the fast track of modernisation and transformation ever since it clinched the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This is the first time that a mega sporting event of this proportion is being hosted in this part of the world. Qatar has been at it for a long time. Finally, its protracted struggle bore fruit. Any sportsperson would vouch for this; nothing succeeds like success. Qatar has suddenly catapulted itself in the world of sports as a shining star. All the ... read more

Deja vu at Bonn climate conference
The déjà vu moments at international climate meetings are coming more frequently than before. But these moments are important for the world community simply because they serve as a reminder of a grave future. The frequency of such moments is also giving rise to growing complexities and entanglement of the issues, problems and, above all, the agenda of the meetings themselves. Take, for example, the Bonn Climate Change Conference under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change -. It's a bundle of mind-boggling meetings: The 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties -, th ... read more

Police action against veterans a manifestation of growing civil-military rift
Whatever may be the merits or demerits of the ongoing agitation by a group of armed forces veterans at the Jantar Mantar site in Lutyen's Delhi, the treatment meted out to them by the Delhi Police on October 30, 2017, marks a dark day for Indian democracy. The armed forces have been mandated by the constitution to safeguard not only the nation but the statute as well. Armed forces veterans form a pool of trained and disciplined manpower with nationalism ingrained in them and need to be treated as an asset. The armed forces form an important pillar of national strength and its members willing ... read more

Coal -- the killer investment without a future
In an age of mistrust, there's good reason that the voice of the healthcare community continues to carry weight. Research published by The Lancet medical academic journal showing the health impact of climate change deserves attention. We should listen when told that climate change is an issue of public health as much as it's about the health of our planet. They show how our continued reliance on coal is costing lives through air pollution while also driving climate change that will prove damaging to public health in so many ways. This is a poor return from a killer investment. Analysis inclu ... read more

If freelance Muslim spokesmen do not shut up, it's advantage BJP
It is one of the great ironies of our times that Muslims are a problem for all political parties, except the BJP. In a totally different way, for Mamata too. Without Muslims as a foil, there would be no Hindutva gameplan. If, by some miracle, Indian Muslims were to vanish into thin air, the social edifice erected so far, around which politics is spun, would collapse. Communities and castes would splinter. A new adhesive would be required to put Humpty Dumpty together again. For the Congress, Muslims are a squeezed lemon. It would be indiscreet for them to say so, but it is a fact they have i ... read more

Lanstoves, rural restaurants way to clean cooking in village households
Last week, a forum on clean cooking was arranged in New Delhi. Funded by international organisations like the UN, the World Bank and USAID, among others, it attracted about 600 delegates from 50 countries. The three-day forum discussed various cooking energy strategies to mitigate the misery of poor households in rural areas. There are reports - that nine million deaths take place globally every year due to indoor air pollution in rural households. Thus, various governments are dedicated to removing this pollution by producing clean cooking fuels and technologies. There were panel discussion ... read more

Genetic analyses can benefit those at risk of hereditary cancer
Genomics and genetic analysis are the most effective ways to manage cancer, not only in India but also across the globe. Hereditary cancers are seen in approximately 10 per cent of the Western population, with a higher incidence in India. Hereditary cancer has high prevalence in breast and ovarian cancer patients. We see a very strong shift in this trend, with an increased incidence of cancer in India's younger population. The section of the population that is at risk of hereditary cancer will certainly benefit from genetic analysis. With genetic testing, we can understand the genetic profil ... read more

In praise of veganism: From fad to growing food habit
Veganism as a concept comes from a sense of responsibility towards animals and animal products and towards the need for a healthier lifestyle. In a world where people are looking to turn to healthier foods and lifestyles, veganism could just be the need of the hour. While many have considered turning vegan at some point, the most predominant reason people do not go through with it is the struggle to maintain a vegan diet. However, being conscious and keeping these few things in mind can help achieve success in your effort to become a vegan: 1. Don't forget to include protein in your diet: On ... read more

Pakistan needs comprehensive policy to avoid catastrophe
The 2017 report of the Fragile States Index places Pakistan among the first 20 failed countries, which should be worrisome for Islamabad. Instead of continuing with the low intensity war against its neighbours, Pakistan should make efforts to implement reforms in diverse fields. Pakistan was carved out of India on the basis of the two-nation theory broadly intended to foster separation and hatred. This philosophy persists today, with greater vengeance. With its vicious policies, Pakistan has antagonised another neighbour, Afghanistan, on its Western front while Shia Iran can never trust Sunn ... read more

Ball in minister's court after GEAC revises minutes of GM mustard meet
New Delhi, Oct 30 - The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee - has uploaded a revised version of the minutes of its meeting on genetically-modified - mustard, which puts the onus for acceptance or rejection of its recommendation on Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan. The new version reflects what GEAC Chairperson Amita Prasad had said had actually transpired at its meeting on 11 May this year. It states that GEAC recommended the proposal with certain terms and conditions for further approval by the Competent Authority. The GEAC's recommendation to the government was for approval to be giv ... read more

Migrant Jihadis: ISIS freed from Raqqa, in search of endless battles
The final shootout in the old Wild West movies has the camera dwell on the blaze engulfing the Sheriff's office. The Sheriff leads the charge into the saloon where the bad men lounge around. If this analogy is to be applied to the final blow up taking place in West Asia, particularly since the Russians entered Syria in 2015 to help fight terrorist outfits like Jabhat al Nusra, Al Qaeda, ISIS and so on, the script will have to be expanded on an epic scale, focused not on one saloon but on a series of them, serving clusters of homesteads. Kobane, Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, Homs, Palmyra, Mosul, Raqq ... read more

Demonetisation was blessing for realty sector, RERA and GST will clean it up (Note Ban Serie
Though the government's radical measure of demonetisation has disrupted the economy and has hit the real estate sector -- already reeling under prolonged slowdown -- it will turn out to be a blessing in disguise in the medium-to-long term. As an asset class, real estate has been a big source of generating and consuming black money. The cash component in real estate has been there at various levels, beginning with land transactions where it amounts to 30-50 per cent. The cash payout is quite high in luxury housing too. The consumption of cash has been as high as 30 per cent in secondary marke ... read more

Blindness is avoidable: Make eye donation a family tradition
Every fifth blind person in the world is an Indian. Of the 15 million blind people in India, 1.1 million suffer from corneal blindness. And 25,000 new cases are added to this backlog annually. Last year data shows that only 25,713 transplant procedures were done. In order to manage the problem, there is urgent need to perform 100,000 transplant surgeries every year. Almost 80 per cent of blindness is avoidable -- 60 per cent of it is due to cataract which can be cured with a simple 15-minute surgery and 20 per cent is due to refractive errors, which can be treated with a simple pair of spect ... read more

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