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Karlov’s assasination:Russia rubbishes Turkey’s theory,rules out US involvement

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Turkey and Russian relations have been very uneven and the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrey G Karlov was apparently an expression of anger by a lone Islamist who screamed Allahu Akbar adding ” Don’t forget Syria, Don’t forget Aleppo”but Russian president has chosen not to escalate the incident though there are  discussions of World War III breaking out on the lines of World War 1 that started after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria,the heir  to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

But the motives of the assassin, Mevlut Mert Altintas are not known. He could be connected to a jihadist group ie ISIS or lodging a protest against the role of Russia in Syria or could otherwise be a person with Islamic inclination.

As Turkey accused exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen for the killing of Russia’s envoy to Ankara ,Kremlin spokesman Dimitri peskov stated that Turkey should not be in a rush to make conclusions  and wait for the results of a joint investigation.

If it is Islamic inclination or jihadist group than it is a cause for worry because the migration from war-ridden countries like Syria  and others has led such persons to various countries of the world and it is difficult to identify such elements from amongst the migrants.

While Russia has its own problem in Caucasus having large Muslim population where  recently a leader of Islamic State militant group was killed in Caucasus region of Daghestan.There has been a long history of armed insurgency in the North Caucasus  between Russia  and militants associated  with the Caucasus Emirate  and Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

Even ISIS released a video in which the members of the jihadist group warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and threatened “Putin,we will come to Russia  and will kill you at your homes.”

As a staunch ally of Bashar al-Assad,Russia actually intervened militarily in the Syrian civil war in September 2015 and conducted air raids on the rebel and jihadist groups. But in November 2015 , Turkey shot down  a Russian jet  that precipitated a major crisis. Then in 2016 President Recep Tayyip Erdogen held talks with Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg and mended ties after the failed military coup in Turkey.

The bone of contention is that Turkey is preventing Syrian Kurdish groups along its border with Syria that may strengthen Kurdish separatism in Turkey while Russia  considers Assad as an strategic ally in Syria and is increasing the number of its allies to oppose US .

Meanwhile, Turkey has accused United States for conspiring with Turkish  cleric Fethullah Gulen to bring down the Turkish government in a coup.

Erdogen ,who has been allowing militants including the Islamic State jihadists to cross into Syria now finds Russia a better ally than US to secure his presidency and his interests in Syria.Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu,who is currently in Moscow for talks with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Mohammad Javed Zarif  agreed to find a political solution to Syria .

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By : Arti Bali Senior Journalist

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Medical tourism in India on rise

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India Tourism has been seeing a year on year growth; there has been an increase in domestic travellers as well as foreigners travelling to India. India also attracts patients from several countries for Medical treatments.

Medical tourism or health and wellness tourism refers to the industry where people from across the world travel to other countries to get medical, dental or surgical care and at the same time visit local attractions of that country.

Out of the total Medical tourism across globe approximately 63% is shared between Singapore, Thailand and India with Singapore and Thailand being the leaders in the field.

India has seen a regular growth in Medical tourism traveller’s and from 2013 -2016, the medical visas issued annually has grown from 1.22 lacs to 1.78 lacs.

Following are some of the reasons why people choose India for their treatment:

– World Class facilities and services available in India
– Good qualified doctors
– Cost (Some of the major surgeries in India cost 10-20% of the cost incurred in Western Countries)
– No waiting period for treatments

Some challenges which need to be addressed for patients choosing India as preferred Medical tourism hub

– Improve perception on hygiene and service across the globe
– Ensure quality and service
– Step down facilities for Post Surgical care for recovery. India lacks in centers that can take care of recovery needs post treatments and the patient has to spend more days at a hospital.
– Medical Visa – Procedure to obtain medical visa needs simplification as it can get quite cumbersome as per current regulations

Based on statistics released by the government, Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are the top destinations for visitors travelling for Medical tourism. Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi have the large number of quality hospitals and take the maximum share of the pie as of today. These cities have a several hospitals to choose from and offer good connectivity across the globe.

Medical tourism or health and wellness tourism can be divided in to 2 different types:
1. Curative: This is where the traveller’s come in for specific treatments, a few of the preferred treatments are listed below:
i. Cardiac Surgeries including bypass surgeries
ii. Knee / Hip Replacement surgeries
iii. Orthopedic surgeries
iv. Cosmetic surgeries
v. Ophthalmology

2. Rejuvenation: Traveller’s want to explore the ancient treatments and traditional medicines offered in India and hence they come to India, a few are listed below
i. Ayurveda
ii. Yoga
iii. Siddha
iv. Yunani
v. Naturopathy

Considering that we can excel in various parameters catering to medical tourism, our country has tremendous potential to increase our share in the Medical Tourism segment.

Jay Kantawala, Founder of WIYO Travel says, “Medical tourism in India has been seeing a year on year growth in the past decade and is expected to grow 2 ½ times in the coming 8-10 years and become a US$ 1.6 Billion market in coming decade. This industry will get a boost if Visa process is simplified and simple cross border payments. In addition to this we are seeing Health care institutions opting for certifications for NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers) and JCI (Joint Commission International) accreditations, which help in building trust amongst travelers”.

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56% smart cities prone to floods: Report

More than 2,200 cities and towns in India are located in districts which have witnessed at least 11 floods in the last 18 years.

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Hudhud Storm

As much as 56 per cent of smart cities are prone to floods which are responsible for 77 per cent of all disasters in India, a report said on Friday.

The report, based on disaster data between 2000 and 2017, observed that India has a mean of 11 flood events per district over the last 18 years.

Image result for smart cities floods prone

Following floods, other disaster share was cyclone (22 per cent), extreme temperature (11 per cent), landslides (seven per cent) and earthquakes (four per cent). Drought, however, was only one per cent of all disasters.

“Ninety-eight per cent of India’s 642 districts have received at least one flood event,” stated the joint report ‘Decoding the Monsoon Floods’ by NGO SEEDS and Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) based in the University of Louvain School of Public Health, Brussels.

It said that floods affect over 15 million people every year. Of 15.6 million people affected by floods in India in 2017, over 316,185 were people with disabilities.

“More than 2,200 cities and towns in India are located in districts which have witnessed at least 11 floods in the last 18 years,” the report said.

Further signifying the scale of infrastructure that needs to be secured against the future risks, the findings said that 56 per cent of India’s planned smart cities fall in districts reporting a high number of flood events.

Since 2000, India has faced 215 flooding events both from floods and cyclones. This accounts for 77 per cent of all disaster events.

“Assam is the most flood-prone state, with areas like Lakhimpur reporting over 30 flood events within this period. Even known drought-prone areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan have witnessed more floods than the country’s average in the last 18 years,” said Anshu Sharma, Co-founder and Mentor, SEEDS.

“Unpredictability, urbanisation and invisibility of flood risk are major concerns that need to be addressed urgently,” Sharma added.

Citing the 2015 Chennai floods in Tamil Nadu, the report pointed out how the natural sinks like wetlands, that act as a sponge against floods, had shrunk due to rapid urbanisation, leading to catastrophic results.

“Estimates put the remaining original wetlands of Chennai at just 10 per cent.”

“Concrete encroachment on Cooum River, Adyar River and Buckingham Canal which serve as the main rainwater drains, poorly designed drainage systems and ageing civil infrastructure added to the problem,” the report said.

Debarati Guha-Sapir, Director, CRED, said: “We are witnessing a disturbing trend of a large number of climate induced disasters… The launch of this regional report is a huge step towards better understanding of local nuances of disaster events.”

Suggesting preparations for the 2018 monsoon and cyclone seasons at policy and community levels, the report said that with a scale this huge, informal nature of the losses and limited resources, coping practices at the community level are very beneficial.

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Aadhar, a surveillance program of Indians by government

The Aadhar project was launched for welfare of the people but it has been transformed into a surveillance program infringing upon the civil liberties of Indian citizens thus endangering freedom.

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Aadhar Card Enrollment Center

Aadhar is currently being debated a lot for massive amount of biometric data being breached by the hackers but the most crucial factor is the intrusion into the privacy of Indian citizens that infringes on the civil liberties of an individual from income to expenditure, from financial investments to properties and tracking of the citizens which is unconstitutional.

Aadhar was introduced in 2009 for the sole purpose of transferring the benefits of the government to the beneficiary thus removing the hassles of middle man.But now the Modi government is exploiting the use of Aadhar by bringing the Indian citizens finances under the government scanner. This has instilled fear among the citizens.

The government is incapable of ensuring safety of biometric data and there have been scores of incidents where the massive amount of data was leaked. Modi government compelled to use Aadhaar-enabled Payments System (AePS), and made it mandatory for numerous purposes for bank account, pan card etc.

The Aadhaar project has a vulnerability to identity fraud, even identity theft as fingerprints impressions can be reproduced. For instance a kidnapper can force the hostage for his fingerprints and withdraw the amount from his bank account thus facilitating crime.

Sr Advocate Shyam Diwan submitted that “there are so many regulations and notifications in this case.” Now, the rural population of India is unaware of the loopholes of Aadhar card and there is likelihood of bank fraud.

Another point is that it is also linked with ration so who has not Aadhar cannot take ration because she’s living in a remote area.

The re-verification have also came with all the existing mobile users for stricting the use of money laundering.In India, where several people are unable to afford one meal a day, how they will afford a mobile phone for having the Aadhar card.

There are scores of people who never filed their IT return or opened their bank accounts and neither have Aadhar cards.senior advocates Shyam Diwan argued that Aadhar is also connected with 139AA of income tax act thus connecting your bank accounts, policies and mobile number.

Diwan had argued in the Supreme Court in April 2017 that gathering of biometric information violates bodily integrity Further, the giving of biometrics is associated with crime.

LPG connection, The Jandhan Yojna is also linked with Aadhar. Diwan submitted that “It is also mentioned that the Adhar is voluntary till there is no judgment on it. “Bench said are you going to challenge the Aadhar programme first? Advocate Diwan stated “We have to make it clear that what is the purpose of Aadhar project”

This project can track all the citizens and their activities. Firstly it was voluntary. And state issues a number and those numbers can be accessed by government for tracking citizens and the state is empowered to switch it.

Diwan stated “We are challenging this project because of the collusion of a policy and technology. It is a giant electronic mess.”

The constitution makes a balance between laws and life of citizens but the Aadhar creates a mess between all this. Even banking is also connected so government can track our money expenditure and all.

There are some points which is there:
*Tracking banking and expenditure
*Right to privacy
*Identification of personal things like iris and fingerprints
*Adhar database is secure or not for national security

The Aadhar project was launched for welfare of the people but it has been transformed into a surveillance program infringing upon the civil liberties of Indian citizens thus endangering freedom. First, Modi government tarnished the country’s image by saying that demonetisation will hurt the black money owners, in a way showing that corrupt money is in circulation in India itself and not stashed abroad in safe havens. Now, Aadhar is being used to scrutinize Indians.

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By: Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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