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‘Tech giants must spend real money on media literacy in India’

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New Delhi, Sep 22: To ensure smartphones remain a force for good, device makers need to spend some “real money” on media literacy in India so that people can take full advantage of the new technologies and learn to distinguish what messages to believe and what not, says the author of a new book on how the smartphone is changing the country.

“Media literacy should ideally start from elementary level in schools,” Ravi Agrawal, author of “India Connected: How the Smartphone Is Transforming the World’s Largest Democracy” told a gathering at The American Center here on Friday.

In the absence of such education, there could be misuse of technology, as evidenced by several cases of lynching incidents in India linked to rumours spread on WhatsApp, he said, while participating in a discussion on the impact of smartphones and the Internet on the Indian economy and society.

“Smartphones are doing to India what the automobiles did to America about a century ago. In fact, the power of smartphonoes in changing the lives of Indians has been stronger than that of automobiles and electricity,” said Agrawal, who is also the Managing Editor of Foreign Policy magazine.

While smartphones have opened new doors of opportunities for millions of people in India, the transformative power of the device has not always been for good, he pointed out.

“There have been intense discussions in the developed countries on how smartphones have driven screen addiction among teenagers which has been linked to depression and other mental health issues. But such discussions are missing in India,” he said, highlighting how the country is ill-prepared to deal with the adverse effects of technology.

Agrawal’s book, published by the Oxford University Press, has three parts: Opportunity, Society and the State.

“While the smartphone has unleashed many positive changes, it has not been so successful in breaking the barriers of class and caste in connecting Indians to their fellow countrymen,” said Agrawal who worked as CNN’s New Delhi Bureau Chief and Correspondent before joining Foreign Policy.

With 481 million Internet users (as of December 2017), India has the second highest Internet user base in the world after China, according to a report by not-for-profit industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

Most of the people in India access the Internet through their smartphones.

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No restriction on accessing any website in Jammu and Kashmir: Centre

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the mobile data services are presently restricted to 2G speed in all but two districts of the Union territory.

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Postpaid Mobile in Kashmir

There is no restriction on accessing any website, including social media sites, in Jammu and Kashmir, the Lok Sabha was informed on Sunday.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said the mobile data services are presently restricted to 2G speed in all but two districts of the Union territory. “There is no restriction on accessing any sites, including the social media sites,” he said in a written reply. Reddy said the internet services are already available in Kashmir on fixed line (without any speed-related restrictions) as well as mobile data services (at 2G speed) since January 24, 2020.

He said restrictions on accessing social media sites were also lifted on March 4, 2020. Further, high speed mobile data services too have been commenced in the districts of Ganderbal (Kashmir Division) and Udhampur (Jammu Division) with effect from August 16, 2020. The minister said fixed line internet connectivity is available without any speed-related restrictions, with Mac-binding.

He said the businesses have had access to internet through fixed line connectivity and internet kiosks opened in large numbers across the Valley without any speed restrictions.

Reddy also informed the Lower House that 2G mobile internet speed is not an impediment in Covid control measures, including dissemination of information to the general public as well as health workers.

Also, he said, e-learning apps and education/e-learning websites of the Government of India, Government of J&K are accessible over 2G internet for downloading e-books and other study material.

“Further, the restriction on high speed mobile internet services has not been an impediment in the administration of justice and the courts have taken special measures to conduct their proceedings during the pandemic by providing video links/URLs to lawyers and the litigants,” the minister said.

“Considering the overall security scenario and in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir issues orders from time to time regulating telecom and internet services in terms of the applicable rules and the principles laid down and directions contained in the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India..,” he added.

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FinCEN files: Big banks let $2tn ‘dirty money’ move around world

There have been a number of big leaks of financial information in recent years, including 2017 Paradise Papers. The 2016 Panama Papers – Leaked documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca showed more about how wealthy people are using offshore tax regimes, the BBC said.

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New Delhi, Sep 21 : The FinCEN files show that the world’s biggest banks have allowed criminals to move “dirty money” around the globe. In total, these reports flagged more than $2 trillion in transactions, according to BuzzFeed News.

The BBC reported that Russian oligarchs used banks to avoid sanctions and moved their money into the West.

It is the latest in a string of leaks over the past five years that have exposed secret deals, money laundering and financial crime, a BBC report said.

The FinCEN files are more than 2,500 documents, most of which were files that banks sent to the US authorities between 2000 and 2017.

These documents are some of the international banking system’s most closely guarded secrets. Banks use them to report suspicious behaviour but they are not proof of wrongdoing or crime.

They were leaked to Buzzfeed News and shared with a group that brings together investigative journalists from around the world, which distributed them to 108 news organisations in 88 countries, including the BBC’s Panorama programme.

FinCEN is the US Financial Crimes Investigation Network. Concerns about transactions made in US dollars need to be sent to FinCEN, even if they took place outside the US.

Suspicious activity reports, or SARs, are an example of how those concerns are recorded. A bank must fill in one of these reports if it is worried one of its clients might be up to no good. The report is sent to the authorities, BBC said.

It has been revealed through these documents that HSBC allowed fraudsters to move millions of dollars even after it learned from US investigators that the scheme was a scam.

JP Morgan allowed a company to move more than $1 billion through a London account without knowing who owned it. The bank later discovered the company might be owned by a mobster on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.

There is also evidence that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest associates used Barclays Bank in London to avoid sanctions meant to stop him.

Accoridng to BBC, the UK is called a “higher risk jurisdiction” like Cyprus, according to the intelligence Division of FinCEN. That’s because of the number of UK registered companies that appear in the SARs. Over 3,000 UK companies are named in the FinCEN files – more than any other country.

Deutsche Bank moved money launderers’ dirty money for organised crime, terrorists and drug traffickers. Standard Chartered moved cash for Arab Bank for more than a decade after clients’ accounts at the Jordanian bank had been used in funding terrorism.

There have been a number of big leaks of financial information in recent years, including 2017 Paradise Papers. The 2016 Panama Papers – Leaked documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca showed more about how wealthy people are using offshore tax regimes, the BBC said.

According to BuzzFeed News, some entities have been flagged numerous times in the FinCEN Files. Mayzus Financial Services, an online payment processing company that served clients involved in a bitcoin ring, sets the record, appearing as a subject of 36 SARs.

Second is Kaloti Jewellery International, a Dubai-based precious metals company that was flagged as a subject in 34 separate SARs by eight different banks.

More than 250 SARs reference people with addresses in the US, and more than 120 with addresses in Russia. The UK, China, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, and Ukraine were also common locations for people, each appearing in at least 20 reports, it said.

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MTNL plans to sell assets in Mumbai through DIPAM

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MTNL chairman Purwar

New Delhi, Sep 19 : State-run telecom operator MTNL has submitted a set of assets for monetisation through the framework of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which comes under the Finance Ministry.

The assets proposed for sale include land, staff quarters and telephone exchange in Mumbai, said Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.

“MTNL has submitted a set of assets for monetisation through the DIPAM Framework…. No property in Delhi is presently under monetisation through the DIPAM Framework,” he said.

He informed the Lok Sabha that international property consultants have been appointed for end-to-end transaction advice on monetisation of these properties.

Noting that the asset monetisation process is a complex one involving multiple stakeholders and agencies, he said that a specific time frame for the completion of these monetisation transactions cannot be defined at present.

The value at which the assets would be monetised would depend on the feasibility of monetisation of the asset, the monetisation model and the market conditions prevailing at the time of monetisation, Thakur said, adding that it would be difficult to anticipate the sale proceeds presently.

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