Immunovant Receives $200 Million Strategic Investment from Roivant Sciences Proceeds will fund continued development of IMVT-1401 in multiple indications

Immunovant, Inc. (Nasdaq: IMVT), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on enabling normal lives for people with autoimmune diseases, today announced that it has received a $200 million strategic investment from Roivant Sciences. Immunovant intends to use the proceeds from this investment to advance the development of IMVT-1401 in multiple indications.

Roivant has purchased 17,021,276 shares of Immunovant’s common stock at a price of $11.75 per share, which purchase has been approved by a special committee of Immunovant directors not affiliated with Roivant. This represents approximately a 15% premium to Immunovant’s 20 trading day volume weighted average price. After giving effect to the investment, Immunovant has a pro forma cash balance of approximately $600 million and Roivant has increased its ownership stake in Immunovant from 57.5% to 63.8%, based on Immunovant’s cash balance and share count as of March 31, 2021.

“We are excited to announce this significant investment by Roivant, which will expedite our development of IMVT-1401 for a wide range of autoimmune disorders,” said Dr. Pete Salzmann, Chief Executive Officer of Immunovant. “Over the next 12 months, we plan to initiate a pivotal trial for myasthenia gravis, resume our trials in WAIHA and TED and initiate at least two additional clinical studies, including another pivotal trial in 2022.”

“Roivant and Immunovant explored a range of possible transactions over the past few months, including a potential acquisition by Roivant of the minority interest in Immunovant, and ultimately agreed on this significant investment in order to support a robust development plan for IMVT-1401 and increase our stake in the company,” said Matt Gline, Chief Executive Officer of Roivant Sciences. “We are incredibly excited about the prospects for IMVT-1401, and we are eager to support Immunovant through this investment. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Dr. Salzmann and the Immunovant management team to help develop IMVT-1401 to maximize benefit for patients with high levels of unmet medical need.”

Immunovant is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on enabling normal lives for patients with autoimmune diseases. Immunovant is developing IMVT-1401, a novel, fully human anti-FcRn monoclonal antibody, as a subcutaneous injection for the treatment of autoimmune diseases mediated by pathogenic IgG antibodies. For more information, visit www.immunovant.com.

Roivant’s mission is to improve the delivery of healthcare to patients by treating every inefficiency as an opportunity. Roivant develops transformative medicines faster by building technologies and developing talent in creative ways, leveraging the Roivant platform to launch ‘Vants’ – nimble and focused biopharmaceutical and health technology companies. For more information, visit www.roivant.com.

Elon Musk Blames India’s High Import Duties As A Challenge To Bring Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that its electric vehicle (EV) company wants to launch cars in India, but the country’s import duties on EVs are “highest in the world by far”. Replying to an Indian YouTuber on Twitter, who asked him to launch Tesla cars ASAP in India, Musk blamed high import rates in the country.

“We want to do so, but import duties are the highest in the world by far of any large country!” he wrote. “Moreover, clean energy vehicles are treated the same as diesel or petrol, which does not seem entirely consistent with the climate goals of India,” he added.

Last year, a report said that India has taken a slew of measures to promote the use of electric cars in the country. The government slashed Goods and Services Tax (GST) on electric vehicles to five per cent from earlier 12 per cent but to protect domestic automakers, it levies 125 per cent duty on imported vehicles.

“I’m told import duties are extremely high (up to 100 per cent), even for electric cars. This would make our cars unaffordable,” Musk earlier said while responding to a tweet from an Indian follower.

Close on the heels of Union Budget providing tax relief for buying electric vehicles, the GST Council in its meeting last year in July cut the tax on electric vehicles (EV) from 12 per cent to 5 per cent, effective August 1, 2019. The twin rate cuts are set to further boost the EV sector. The Budget, last year, had proposed an Income Tax deduction of Rs 1.5 lakh on the interest paid on the loans taken to purchase electric vehicles.

India Among Top 10 Countries In Pharma, Healthcare

India is among the top 10 countries in pharma and healthcare sector with exponential growth recorded in the last five years, according to a report by Sagacious IP, a global IP research and consulting firm. The report stated that patents with Indian publication having Indian priority grew from 2,548 in 2015 to 7,399 in 2020. Such numbers are indicative of increased patent filing activity by Indian companies and MNCs with research centers based in India. The pharma and healthcare sector has also seen massive growth in global patent filings in the last five years, from over 24,000 in 2015 to over 1,50,000 in 2020.

In terms of the origin of patent applications in the pharma sector globally, India is among the top 10 countries, followed by Italy, Australia, Taiwan and Sweden. The applications originating from India are majorly filed in the US, European Parliament and APAC region. The top Indian filers who filed patents in India during the last five years (2015-2020) include the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), ITC Life Sciences, Lovely Professional University, Colgate Palmolive (India), Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Limited, IIT Bombay, Cadila Healthcare, Lupin, Amity University, and Wockhardt Limited, the report said.

CSIR, a research institute, leads in these filings. Among companies, ITC (ITC Life Sciences and Technology Centre) is on top. The report stated that pharmaceutical companies face major challenges dealing with IP rights and the competition provided by the generics. Further, the biggest challenge in developing approved drugs is the long time spent in research and the investments required for the same.

Also, due to increased awareness and digital connectivity, self-medication has been rampant, which does not go down well in terms of returns on R&D and IP investments in drug discovery. Recently, the industry has shown a focus shift towards preventive healthcare and therefore the players must align with this shift. Lastly, stringent guidelines by governments globally and low returns on generics are the other few limiting factors to R&D in this sector.

On a positive side, India is notably a preferred destination and market for healthcare innovation as is evident by global companies securing many of their global patents in India, it said. India is one of the largest manufacturers of generic medicines and vaccines, holding 20 per cent and 62 per cent volume share, respectively. (IANS)

New Type Of Wireless Charger Can Charge Multiple Devices Simultaneously

Newswise — Mobile phones and tablets have allowed us to stay in touch regardless of our location, yet they still rely on plugs, sockets, and charging pads to power up. New technology developed at Aalto University may be the key to true wireless charging for these and other electronics in years to come. The research team includes researches Dr. Prasad Jayathurathnage and Dr. Xiaojie Dang, and professors Sergei Tretyakov and Constantin Simovski. The findings are published in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics on 21 July 2021.

While researchers around the globe are working on free-position wireless charging — which would unchain devices from set charging points — the most common solutions involve complex control and detection functions. A transmitter traditionally has to first detect a device presence and position to be able to send energy in its direction, usually done with cameras or sensors, adding bulk and cost to the device.

The new transmitter bypasses this need by creating power transfer channels in all directions, automatically tuning channels when receiving devices are in motion. Devices like phones, laptops, and other small appliance equipped with a new receiver can simultaneously receive energy to charge batteries or directly power their functions — without ever being in physical contact or being brought to a specific place.

‘What sets this transmitter apart is that it’s self-tuning, which means you don’t need complex electronics to connect with receivers embedded in devices. Since it self-tunes, you can also move the device freely within a wide charging range,’ explains Prasad Jayathurathnage, a post-doctoral researcher at Aalto University. The team has achieved the effect through the design of the coils used in the transmitter. By winding the coils in a specific way, they create two kinds of electromagnetic fields: one going outwards and the other around. These fields couple the receiver and transmitter to achieve efficient power transfer.

Currently, the transmitter is highly efficient at 90 percent at up to 20 centimetres distance, but continues to work at longer distances, just with a lower efficiency of energy transfer. In principle, the peak-efficiency range could grow as the technology is refined.   ‘For now, the maximum range at peak efficiency is dependent on the size of the transmitter and receiver.  With the right engineering, we could shrink them down,’ Jayathurathnage comments.

While the team has demonstrated proof of concept, safety tests are still needed to confirm that the electromagnetic field generated by the transmitter is not harmful to humans. It is, however, clear that the resulting electric field, which is known to be the main cause for potentially harmful effects, is minimal as the technology relies on magnetic fields. Once deemed safe, bringing the technology to product would mean a little less hassle in a world increasingly dependent on smart devices.

‘True wireless charging means more personal freedom. You won’t have to worry about where you put your phone or whether you remembered to plug it in,’ says Jayathurathnage. The research team has already applied for a patent for the transmitter. The same group is also developing wireless charging possibilities for industrial applications through the Parkzia project, which turns any waiting point for robots like e-movers into a charging spot.

Andy Jassy To Be Amazon CEO As Jeff Bezos Steps Down

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will leave his post later this year, turning the helm over to the company’s top cloud executive, Andy Jassy, according to an announcement Tuesday. Bezos will transition to executive chairman of Amazon’s board. Bezos, 57, founded Amazon in 1994 and has since morphed the one-time online bookstore into a mega-retailer with global reach in a slew of different categories from gadgets to groceries to streaming. Amazon surpassed a $1 trillion market cap under Bezos’ leadership in January of last year — it’s now worth more than $1.6 trillion.

“I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO,” Bezos said in a letter to employees. “In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives. Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.”

The company had kept its succession plans quiet, though onlookers speculated that either Jassy or Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, would be Bezos’ eventual successor. In August Amazon announced Wilke will retire in 2021. Jassy, 53, will become CEO in the third quarter.Jassy joined Amazon in 1997 and has led Amazon’s Web Services cloud team since its inception. AWS continues to drive much of Amazon’s profit. Bezos said he will stay engaged in important Amazon projects but will also have more time to focus on the Bezos Earth Fund, his Blue Origin spaceship company, The Washington Post and the Amazon Day 1 Fund.

“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition,” Bezos said in his internal announcement. “Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else.” While Bezos’ unquestionable impact on business can’t be understated, Amazon isn’t without its share of controversy. The company has been leveled with criticism over treatment of workers and controlling a monopoly that affects smaller businesses. That said, as Andy Jassy takes over at Amazon, here are some of Bezos’ bigger moments on his way to building a dynasty named after the largest river on the planet. His company is worth nearly $1.8 trillion.

Ransomware By Hackers Impacts Hundreds of US Companies

A ransomware attack paralyzed the networks of at least 200 U.S. companies on Friday, according to a cybersecurity researcher whose company was responding to the incident.  The attack, first revealed last week, is believed to be affiliated with the prolific ransomware gang REvil and perpetuated through Kaseya, an international company that remotely controls programs for companies that, in turn, manage internet services for businesses. The hackers targeted managed service providers, which often give IT support to small- to medium-size businesses, according to Huntress Labs. By targeting a managed service provider, or MSP, hackers may then be able to access and infiltrate its customers’ computer networks.

Two of the affected managed service providers include Synnex Corp. and Avtex LLC, according to two sources familiar with the breaches. Reached by telephone, Avtex president George Demou told Bloomberg News in a text message on Friday night that “Hundreds of MSPs have been impacted by what appears to be a Global Supply Chain hack.” The REvil gang, a major Russian-speaking ransomware syndicate, appears to be behind the attack, said John Hammond of the security firm Huntress Labs. He said the criminals targeted a software supplier called Kaseya, using its network-management package as a conduit to spread the ransomware through cloud-service providers. Other researchers agreed with Hammond’s assessment. “It’s reasonable to think this could potentially be impacting thousands of small businesses,” Hammond said.

“Kaseya handles large enterprise all the way to small businesses globally, so ultimately, (this) has the potential to spread to any size or scale business,” Hammond said in a direct message on Twitter. “This is a colossal and devastating supply chain attack.” Kaseya announced, it was attacked by hackers and warned all its customers to immediately stop using its service. Nearly 40 of its customers were hacked. Since those Kaseya customers manage hundreds or thousands of businesses, it is unclear how many will fall victim to ransomware over the weekend. But the number’s at least already around 200, said John Hammond, a senior security researcher at Huntress, which is helping with Kaseya’s response. That number expected to rise.

Cybersecurity researcher Jake Williams, president of Rendition Infosec, said he was already working with six companies hit by the ransomware. It’s no accident that this happened before the Fourth of July weekend, when IT staffing is generally thin, he added. “There’s zero doubt in my mind that the timing here was intentional,” he said. The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a statement late Friday that it is closely monitoring the situation and working with the FBI to collect more information about its impact.

Some cybersecurity experts predicted that it might be hard for the gang to handle the ransom negotiations, given the large number of victims — though the long U.S. holiday weekend might give it more time to start working through the list. CISA urged anyone who might be affected to “follow Kaseya’s guidance to shut down VSA servers immediately.” Kaseya runs what’s called a virtual system administrator, or VSA, that’s used to remotely manage and monitor a customer’s network.

Bipartisan Senators Reach $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Deal

President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators announced last week they had reached a framework $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal after a White House meeting just before Congress was about to leave town for a two-week recess. Speaking in the White House driveway, surrounded by smiling senators from both parties, Biden said, “They have my word, and I’ll stick with what they proposed, and they’ve given me their word as well — and where I come from, that’s good enough for me.” “We made serious compromises on both ends,” Biden said. “They did not — and I understand their position — the Republicans did not want to go along with the human infrastructure that I talk about, and we’ll see what happens in the reconciliation bill and the budget process,” he said. “If we get some compromise there and if we can’t, see if I can attract all Democrats to the position where they can move it on the dual track.”

Later on, Biden touted the deal in formal remarks from the White House East Room. “I said many times before, there’s nothing our nation can’t do when we decide to do it together, do it as one nation. Today is the latest example of that truth, in my view,” Biden began. “I’m pleased to report that a bipartisan group of senators, five Democrats, five Republicans, part of larger groups — have come together and force an agreement that will create millions of American jobs and modernize our American infrastructure to compete with the rest of the world in 21st century.” After touting the expansive package, Biden emphasized that it all comes without an increase on the gas tax, without fees on electric vehicles and “without raising a cent from earners below $400,000.”

Biden said, though the deal isn’t exactly what he wanted, nor is it exactly what Republicans had in mind, the fact that they did reach a bipartisan, consensus makes their agreement all the more significant. “Let me be clear, neither side got everything they wanted in this deal. That’s what it means to compromise. And it reflects something important. Reflects consensus. The heart of democracy,” Biden said. The deal would see $1.2 trillion in spending over eight years, including $579 billion in new spending over the first five years. The senators, saying all sides had compromised and no one got everything they wanted, said they needed to head back to Capitol Hill to work out details.

“Today we are announcing the framework for a historic investment in infrastructure,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, one of the lead negotiators. “This is roads and bridges but also lots of other kinds of infrastructure including broadband, including our water system and rail system.” He praised the bipartisan effort. “I’m pleased to see us come together on a core infrastructure package. This is not non-infrastructure items, without new taxes, and with the commitment from Republicans and Democrats alike that we’re going to get this across the finish line,” Portman said.

“No one got everything they wanted in the package. We all gave some to get some — because what we did was put first the needs of our country,” said KyrstenSinema, D-Ariz. “We are delighted to go back to the Hill and begin earning more support from both Republicans and Democrats to get this bill across the finish line.” GOP Sen. Susan Collins called it the largest infrastructure package in U.S. history. She said the Senate has worked for decades to reach an infrastructure deal, so it’s “important” to show on the world stage that bipartisanship is possible in the U.S.

“We’ve agreed on the price tag, the scope, and how to pay for it. It was not easy to get agreement on all three, but it was essential,” she said. “It was essential to show the American people that the Senate can function, that we can work in a bipartisan way, and it sends an important message to the world as well, that America can function, can get things done.” Once the bill’s language is nailed down, it will have to pass through both chambers of Congress before Biden can sign the legislation — which Democrats warn will only come if a separate, reconciliation bill focused on “human infrastructure” is also approved.

Earlier Thursday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told Capitol Hill reporters that 21 senators and Biden’s White House negotiators had reached an agreement on the plan’s “framework,” the same language other other senators used late Wednesday. Asked what areas still need to be worked out, Manchin said, “That’s why we’re going to go talk to President Biden.” “President Biden is the ultimate person that will have to sign off on this, to make sure he’s comfortable, and he wants a bipartisan deal,” Manchin said. “It’s a matter now, was the president comfortable.” Biden has been hoping for a bipartisan plan that can serve as landmark legislation for his presidency.

Anant Agarwal Founded & Harvard-MIT Venture Edx, Acquired By 2U For $800 Million In Cash

2U, Inc., a global leader in education technology, and edX, a leading online learning platform and education marketplace, announced they have entered into a definitive agreement to join together in an industry-redefining combination that will help power the digital transformation of higher education, expand access and affordability, and usher in a new era of online learning. 2U will acquire substantially all of edX’s assets for $800M in cash. Together, 2U and edX will reach over 50 million learners globally, serve more than 230 partners, and offer over 3,500 digital programs on the world’s most comprehensive free-to-degree online education marketplace.

Proceeds of the transaction will flow to the nonprofit that will continue under the leadership of edX founders Harvard and MIT and will be dedicated to reimagining the future of learning for people at all stages of life, addressing educational inequalities, and continuing to advance next generation learning experiences and platforms. Drawing on insights gained at Harvard, MIT, and other institutions, this organization will develop strategies and partnerships to help close the learning gap.

The transaction will bring together the unique strengths and complementary capabilities of two major forces in online education. 2U is the digital transformation partner of choice for more than 80 of the world’s leading universities and expects to approach $1 billion in yearly revenue by the end of 2021, and edX has built one of the world’s strongest online education brands and largest global communities of learners. Over the past decade, 2U and edX have each built mission-driven organizations grounded in the belief that online education and greater access to the world’s best nonprofit universities can change lives and impact generations to come. The combined scale, reach, capabilities, marketing efficiency, and relationships of 2U and edX will unlock unprecedented opportunities to reach and serve more learners, universities, and employers worldwide.

“2U and edX were founded on a shared vision that online education has the power to expand access, create opportunity, and transform lives,” said 2U Co-Founder & CEO Christopher “Chip” Paucek. “Alongside university partners and contributing faculty, Anant Agarwal and the edX team have built an innovative, respected, and globally recognized destination for online higher education. By combining 2U and edX’s global reach and offerings from free to degree, together we believe we can fully realize our shared vision, meet the growing worldwide demand for online education, and deliver growth and long-term value to shareholders and other stakeholders.”

Fulfilling a commitment to preserve and advance the edX mission, 2U plans to operate edX as a public benefit entity, a class of purpose-driven organizations that balances the interests of shareholders with other stakeholders. 2U has also committed to continuing to fulfill the edX mission by, among other things, guaranteeing affordability through the continuation of a free track to audit courses; protecting the intellectual property rights of faculty and universities that contribute massive open online courses; ensuring that participating colleges and universities may continue under their standing agreements with edX; protecting the privacy of individual data for all learners who use the edX platform; and contributing to the ongoing development of the fully open source and independent platform Open edX, owned by the nonprofit led by MIT and Harvard.

“As edX looks to its next phase of growth and impact, joining forces with 2U marks a major milestone in our evolution,” said Anant Agarwal, Founder and CEO of edX and MIT Professor. “2U’s people, technology, and scale will expand edX’s ability to deliver on its mission of providing access to high-quality education to enable all learners to unlock their potential. Together with our university and institutional partners, we will continue to reimagine education in ways that transform the lives of global citizens and positively impact generations to come.” “Our universities founded edX nearly ten years ago to raise the aspirations for online education and make university courses accessible to learners around the world, and it has been enormously gratifying to watch that vision blossom. Today’s announcement will carry forward this mission on a whole new scale, connecting many more learners with a wider range of high-quality options for content, credentials, and degrees.

With online education rapidly changing, it’s the right moment for this leap of evolution for edX,” said Harvard president Larry Bacow and MIT president Rafael Reif in a joint statement. “At the same time, the nonprofit that emerges from this transaction will enable us and our partners to support innovation that enhances learning for all and, we hope, play a catalytic role in closing the learning gap that exists for far too many.” Unlocking opportunity for learners, universities, and employers worldwide edX and 2U’s combined and complementary portfolios of more than 3,500 offerings from the world’s top universities and corporations will unlock new opportunities for edX’s community of global learners—79% of whom reside outside the U.S.—to accelerate their learning journeys, achieve their career goals, and enrich their lives.

  • edX offers over 3,000 online programs, including a substantial majority of courses with a free/audit track, Masters and doctorate degrees, Professional Certificates, and MicroBachelors® programs and MicroMasters® programs.
  • 2U powers over 500 online offerings, including short courses, boot camps, professional certificates, and undergraduate and graduate degrees, including over 95 degree offerings in licensure-based disciplines. 2U expects to offer many of these programs directly to learners through the edX.org marketplace.

With the acquisition, 2U’s network will expand to include more than 230 partners—including over 185 nonprofit colleges and universities and 19 of the top 20 ranked universities globally. The combined capabilities of 2U and edX are expected to provide university partners with new opportunities to accelerate online growth and innovation, deliver exceptional student outcomes across the career curriculum continuum, and continue bending back the cost curve of higher education.

  • edX partners will continue to benefit from edX’s global reach, commitment to research, as well as the open source Open edX platform, while gaining access to 2UOS, 2U’s industry leading, comprehensive tech-enabled services and support in areas like marketing, field placement, career services, and digital learning design.
  • At the same time, edX’s thriving marketplace will enable current 2U partners to efficiently reach a larger audience of global learners, offer a wider array of offerings to meet changing learner needs, and expand the impact of their institutions.

The transaction will also expand 2U’s enterprise opportunity with edX for Business and edX Online Campus, creating a more robust set of solutions available to 2U and edX’s combined network of enterprise customers. edX for Business complements 2U’s existing array of enterprise offerings designed to close talent gaps, create diverse talent pipelines, and upskill and reskill the global workforce.

  • edX for Business is an on-demand enterprise training solution with thousands of courses and programs on cutting-edge, workplace-relevant topics utilized by over 1,000 leading companies globally.
  • edX Online Campus—edX’s enterprise offering designed for universities— supports more than 850 university customers from 72 countries around the world, complementing on-campus education with a rich array of high-quality online courses coupled with data-driven learner insights.

Nonprofit aims to reimagine education, support innovation, and drive inclusion

The nonprofit led by Harvard and MIT will focus on inclusive learning and education. Guided by the efforts and insights from Harvard and MIT research on the dynamics of learning, the nonprofit will collaborate with educational institutions, governments, and other organizations to develop and evaluate new approaches to learning and pedagogy; invest in new learning models that combine the best of online and in-person; promote the adoption of best practices across the education continuum; support innovation in lifelong learning; and advance next generation learning experience platforms, including Open edX. This work will seek to improve educational outcomes and reduce inequities in education by expanding reach to historically underserved communities and preparing all learners for success.

“The transformative power of education is the single best hope for individuals and for society. Through this nonprofit initiative to reimagine learning, Harvard and MIT are uniting to tackle the kind of persistent inequities in education which the pandemic brought so starkly to light,” MIT’s Reif and Harvard’s Bacow said. “Our hope is to tap into what we have learned about digital learning and to push the frontiers of learning toward greater equity and greater impact.”

Across learner ages and stages of life, a learning-and-opportunity gap has revealed itself in variable outcomes for learners and differences in how students engage with digital spaces and tools. The nonprofit will seek out meaningful collaborations and fund initiatives that more effectively serve students from all backgrounds, identifying how to most effectively blend digital tools with in-person support for maximum impact. With these efforts, it aims to advance the field of online education with use-cases for how to meet learner goals in acquiring new skills, increasing their readiness for college, supplementing their in-person training or coursework, and improving employability.

The nonprofit will also support investment in next-generation platforms to continue to advance learning experiences as well as ensure that the Open edX platform is continually improved, remains open source, and powers a vibrant open source community. Following the closing, 2U expects to be a significant contributor of code to the Open edX platform, and the transaction is expected to increase the impact that Open edX can have in supporting learning outcomes around the world. Open edX currently powers approximately 2,400 learning sites worldwide.

Web Resources To Prevent Youth Radicalization

Newswise — New tools to help parents and educators protect vulnerable young people from online radicalization were released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research Innovation Lab (PERIL). The organizations released the new web resources in addition to updates to the 2020 guide, titled Building Resilience & Confronting Risk in the COVID-19 Era: A Parents & Caregivers Guide to Online Radicalization, and new tools specifically tailored for educators, counselors, coaches and mentors. 

“Young people are being targeted online by extremists looking to exploit and radicalize them,” said Lydia Bates, Senior Research Analyst with the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “This is why it was critical to us to not only provide resources for parents and caregivers but ensure they are as effective as possible.” In an impact study of 755 adults, the two organizations found that just seven minutes with the guide can dramatically improve a user’s knowledge of extremism and understanding of youth radicalization. Adults who spent more time reading the guide felt better equipped to take immediate action to prevent online radicalization.

Following last year’s release of the Building Resilience & Confronting Risk in the COVID-19 Era: A Parents & Caregivers Guide to Online Radicalization, SPLC and PERIL conducted the impact study and thirteen focus groups with educators, school counselors, social workers, coaches, mentors and youth group leaders. The findings from that research led to the development of SPLC and PERIL’s newly published resources. “Communities are looking for resources that not only help them recognize risks, but also build resilience to extremism,” said PERIL Director and Professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss. “Our goal is to inform and empower all adults with the tools to recognize signs of extremist radicalization and feel equipped to intervene with a young person in effective ways.”

The new resources include the updated Building Resilience & Confronting Risk: A Parents & Caregivers Guide to Online Radicalization as well as information about the key vulnerabilities that make youth more susceptible to radicalization; how to recognize the warning signs of radicalization; what drives online radicalization; how to get help and engage a radicalized child or young adult; and additional resources for help and support.

The new online resources can be viewed HERE and updated guide HERE.

Google’s First Transparency Report Under The New IT Rules In India

Google has published its first transparency report under the new Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021. It has published the report for April 2021. The rules were notified in February 2021. Google has published its first transparency report under the new Information Technology (IT) Rules 2021 (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code). Google received a total of 27,762 complaints for the month of April, and the number of removals stood at 59,350. according to the report. The search giant removes any content which violates its community guidelines, product policies, or local legal requirement.

The new IT rules require significant social media intermediaries (SSMIs) such as Google, Facebook, etc to publish a monthly report on the action taken on user complaints that they have received. The rules were notified in February 2021, and came into effect from May.It should be noted that this number of requests, does not include the number of other government requests for content removal. Google has been publishing these details as a separate report, every six months since 2009.

Google’s report under the IT rules also notes that in order to “allow sufficient time for data processing and validation, there will be a two-month lag for reporting.” The existing report does not include data on removals as a result of automated detection, data relating to impersonation and graphic sexual content complaints received post May 25, 2021. This will be included in future reports. Nearly 96 per cent complaints deal with copyright issues (26,707), while 1.3 per cent deal with trademark (357). Around 1 per cent dealt with defamation (275). Other legal requests were 1 per cent (272), counterfeit were 0.4 per cent (114 ) and circumvention were 0.1 per cent (37). According to Google, “some requests may allege infringement of intellectual property rights, while others claim violation of local laws prohibiting types of content on grounds such as defamation.”

Google specifies that each unique URL in a specific complaint is considered an individual “item”, which is why the number of removals is higher than total complaints. Further, “a single complaint may specify multiple items that potentially relate to the same or different pieces of content.” Nearly 98 per cent of the content removal was with regard to copyright: 58,391. The rest of categories were: trademark: 931 (1.6%) Circumvention: 13 (0.0%) Counterfeit: 7 (0.0%) Defamation: 7 (0.0%) Other Legal: 1 (0.0%)

The “removal actions” number represents the number of items where a piece of content was removed or restricted during the one-month reporting period as a result of a specific complaint. Google says they review all complaints carefully. It also notes that there are many reasons as to why they may not have removed content in response to a user complaint. “For example, some requests may not be specific enough for us to know what the user wanted us to remove (for example, no URL is listed in the request), or the content has already been removed by the user when we process the complaint,” notes the report.

US Court Dismisses FTC Lawsuit Against Facebook

Just two weeks into her tenure as chair of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Lina Khan has been handed her first crisis: how to rescue the agency’s near-dead monopoly lawsuit against Facebook and keep antitrust enforcement against the biggest technology companies on track. The US District Court for the District of Columbia Monday dismissed a complaint filed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against social networking giant Facebook that sought to undo the company’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. This is being seen as a major blow to the US administration’s antitrust efforts against big-tech companies.

In December last year, an antitrust lawsuit was filed against Facebook alleging that has harmed competition by buying up smaller companies like Instagram and WhatsApp to squash the threat they posed to its business. While the suit was filed by the New York attorney general, 47 other state and regional attorneys general joined it. The overarching theme of the lawsuit was that Facebook, which acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, violated antitrust laws by purchasing companies that were potentially on their way to becoming competitors to Facebook in the social media market.

Judge James Boasberg said the FTC failed to sufficiently detail its claim that the company has monopoly power in the social media market. He gave the agency an opening to revive the complaint by fixing it and refiling in 30 days. Getting the case back on track rests with the 32-year-old Khan, who rose to prominence in the antitrust world by advocating for more forceful competition enforcement against tech companies. The FTC said it was reviewing its options. “There are plenty of facts out there to prove that Facebook has a dominant share of that market,” said Alex Petros, a lawyer at the tech policy organization Public Knowledge in Washington. “This is a bar they should be able to overcome.”

Yet the decision also underscores the hurdles U.S. antitrust enforcers face in bringing cases that challenge conduct by dominant companies. Supporters of more aggressive enforcement say the courts have created nearly insurmountable barriers to winning cases that accuse companies of violating monopoly laws and that Congress has to pass new legislation. “It’s not hard to look at these cases and come away with the sense that antitrust law, as it stands, is not capable of handling the problems posed by dominant technology companies,” said Blake Reid, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are mounting a multi-pronged effort to reform the laws and give competition watchdogs at the FTC and the Justice Department new authority. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee advanced a package of bills aimed at the biggest tech platforms, including Facebook. The proposals would force the companies to exit certain business, impose restrictions on how they treat other firms that depend on their platforms, and make it harder to win approval for mergers. One would also increase filing fees to raise revenue for the antitrust agencies.

“We cannot rely on our courts to keep our markets competitive, open, and fair,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., after the Facebook decision. She has introduced her own antitrust reform proposals and has called for additional funding for the FTC and the Justice Department’s antitrust division. “We urgently need to rejuvenate our antitrust laws to meet the challenges of the modern digital economy,” she said. Democrats Jerrold Nadler of New York, who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, of Rhode Island, who led the House effort to reform the power of technology giants, echoed Klobuchar’s remarks.

The Facebook lawsuits were filed in December in an exiting salvo by the Trump administration as part of a widening crackdown on America’s tech giants. The cases followed a Justice Department complaint against Alphabet Inc. for allegedly monopolizing internet search, and the findings of a House investigation that accused technology companies of abusing their dominance. The Facebook lawsuits centered on the 2012 acquisition of Instagram and the 2014 takeover of WhatsApp. Officials say Facebook made the deals because it saw both companies as threats to its business. Rather than compete with its own products, Facebook followed Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s mantra: “It is better to buy than compete,” according to the FTC complaint.

According to a Reuters report, the US judge said the federal complaints were “legally insufficient”. Judge James Boasberg said the FTC failed to show that Facebook had monopoly power in the social-networking market but said the FTC could file a new complaint by July 29, the report said. He also dismissed a lawsuit by multiple US states saying they waited too long to challenge the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

The Joe Biden administration has mounted a massive antitrust campaign against big-tech firms, in addition to the scrutiny these companies are undergoing from various other branches of the government. And while the case was filed in December, this could prompt the first reaction on the issue from the FTC under its new commissioner Lina Khan, a vocal critic of big-tech who was confirmed by the US Senate earlier this month at a time when there is a growing bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill on the need to rein in the American technology majors.

CEO Satya Nadella Elected Chair Of Microsoft Board of Trustees

Microsoft has elected Satya Nadella as Chairman of the tech giant, the first in two decades when Microsoft’s chairman will also be its CEO.Bill Gates was the only other Chairman and CEO of Microsoft who stepped down as CEO in 2000. In this role as Chairman, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review, the company said in a statement late on Wednesday.

Gates stepped down as chairman in 2014 and the board then elected John Thompson as independent chairman. Gates left the Microsoft board entirely last year to pursue his philanthropic ambitions. Microsoft also unanimously elected John Thompson as lead independent director, a role he held previously from 2012 to 2014. As lead independent director, Thompson will retain significant authority including providing input on behalf of the independent directors on board agendas, calling meetings of the independent directors, setting agendas for executive sessions, and leading performance evaluations of the CEO, Microsoft said. In addition to these role changes, the board declared a quarterly dividend of $0.56 per share.

Accolades and congratulatory messages poured in for Satya Nadella, who was elected as Microsoft Chairman even as he held the CEO post at the tech giant, a feat achieved first time in two decades.

J.C. Pavan Reddy, a Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader said the elevation of Nadella is a very proud moment for all the Telugu people across the globe. “Satya Nadella on his new role as Microsoft chairman! A very proud moment for Telugu people across the globe,” said Reddy on Friday. Earlier, TDP supremo and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu echoed with a similar message. “Congratulations to Nadella on his new role as Microsoft chairman! A very proud moment for Telugu people across the globe.

Nadella met Naidu back in 2015 when he was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. Likewise, TDP national general secretary and the party’s second in command Nara Lokesh was elated to know about Nadella’s promotion. “Elated to hear that Nadella has been appointed as the chairman of Microsoft. He has made every Telugu proud with his stellar achievements,” said Lokesh. Congratulating the new MS chairman, Lokesh wished him all the best for his new role.

The new Microsoft chairman’s father, B.N. Yugandhar, was an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and belonged to Anantapur district in the Rayalaseema region of the southern state. Nadella was born in Hyderabad (present-day Telangana) and earned bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Manipal Institute of Technology in Karnataka. “I always knew I wanted to build things,” he once said. On February 4, 2014, he was announced as the new CEO of Microsoft, the third CEO in the company’s history following Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

Under Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has become one of the most valuable companies in the world, riding on its growing Azure Cloud, Microsoft 365 and enterprise communication businesses (including Teams). Microsoft reported a strong growth of $41.7 billion in sales (up 19 per cent year-over-year) and $15.5 billion in net income for the quarter ended March 31, 2021.

The biggest growth engine was its Azure Cloud division that saw $15.1 billion in revenue, a 23 per cent year-over-year increase. “Over a year into the pandemic, digital adoption curves aren’t slowing down. They’re accelerating, and it’s just the beginning. We are building the cloud for the next decade, expanding our addressable market and innovating across every layer of the tech stack to help our customers be resilient and transform,” Nadella had said. Driven by online work and learning amid the ongoing pandemic, Microsoft Teams now have 145 million daily active users globally, almost double the numbers a year ago. (IANS)

Modi Delivers Keynote Address At The 5th Edition Of Vivatech

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi delivered the keynote address at the 5th edition of VivaTech today via video conference. The Prime Minister was invited as a Guest of Honour to deliver the keynote address at VivaTech 2021, one of the largest digital and startup events in Europe, held in Paris every year since 2016.

Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said that India and France have been working closely on a wide range of subjects. Among these, technology and digital are emerging areas of cooperation. It is the need of the hour that such cooperation continues to grow further. It will not only help our nations but also the world at large. Shri Modi mentioned Infosys providing tech support for the French Open tournament and collaboration involving French companies like Atos, Capgemini and India’s TCS and Wipro as examples of IT talent of the two countries serving companies and citizens all over the world.

Modi pointed out that where convention fails, innovation helps. During the pandemic, said the Prime Minister, digital technology helped us cope, connect, comfort and console. India’s universal and unique bio-metric digital identity system – Aadhar – helped to provide timely financial support to the poor. “We could supply free food to 800 million people, and deliver cooking-fuel subsidies to many households. We in India were able to operationalise two public digital education programes- Swayam and Diksha – in quick time to help students”, the Prime Minister informed.

The Indian leader praised the role of the start-up sector in meeting the challenge of the pandemic. The private sector played a key role in addressing the shortage of PPE kits, masks, testing kits etc. Doctors adopted tele-medicine in a big way so that some COVID and other non-COVID issues could be addressed virtually. Two vaccines are being made in India and more are in the development or trial stage. The Prime minister indicated that indigenous IT platform, Arogya-Setu enabled effective contact tracing. The COWIN digital platform has already helped ensure vaccines to millions.

Modi said that India is home to one of the world’s largest start-up eco systems. Several unicorns have come up in the recent years. India offers what innovators and investors need. He invited the world to invest in India based on the five pillars of: Talent, Market, Capital, Eco-system and, Culture of openness. The Prime Minister also stressed the strengths like, Indian talent pool, mobile phone penetration and Seven Seventy-Five million internet users, highest and cheap data consumption in the world and the highest use of social media to invite investors to India.

The Prime Minister also enumerated initiatives like state-of-the-art public digital infrastructure, five hundred and twenty three thousand kilometres of fibre optic network linking One hundred and fifty six thousand village councils, public wi-fi networks across the country. He also elaborated on efforts to nurture a culture of innovation. There are state-of-the-art innovation labs in Seven Thousand Five Hundred schools under the Atal Innovation Mission, the Prime Minister informed. Talking about the disruption in different sector over the past year, the Prime Minister insisted that disruption does not have to mean despair. Instead, the focus should be kept on the twin foundations of repair and prepare. “This time last year, the world was still seeking a vaccine. Today, we have quite a few. Similarly, we have to continue repairing health infrastructure and our economies. We in India implemented huge reforms across sectors, be it mining, space, banking, atomic energy and more. This goes on to show that India as a nation is adaptable and agile, even in the middle of the pandemic” Said Shri Modi.

Modi stressed the need for insulating our planet against the next pandemic. Ensuring we focus on sustainable life-styles that stop ecological degradation. Strengthening cooperation in furthering research as well as innovation. The Prime Minister called upon the start-up community to take the lead in working with collective spirit and a human centric approach to overcome this challenge. “The start-up space is dominated by youngsters. These are people free from the baggage of the past. They are best placed to power global transformation. Our start-ups must explore areas such as: Healthcare. Eco-friendly technology including waste recycling,

Agriculture, new age tools of learning”, said the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister emphasized that France and Europe are among India’s key partners. Referring to his conversations with President Macron, in summit with EU leaders in Porto in May, The Prime Minister said that digital partnership, from start-ups to quantum computing, emerged as a key priority. “History has shown that leadership in new technology drives economic strength, jobs and prosperity. But, our partnerships must also serve a larger purpose, in service of humanity. This pandemic is not only a test of our resilience, but also of our imagination It is a chance to build a more inclusive, caring and sustainable future for all,” concluded the Prime Minister.

While Jeff Bezos Plans Trip To Space, 59,000 People Sign Petition To Stop Him From Returning To Earth

Days after billionaire Jeff Bezos announced he would be flying to space, multiple petitions have been launched to prevent the Amazon CEO’s return to Earth. Two of these petitions have collectively gathered over 56,000 signatures. On June 7, Bezos said that he would be going to space with his brother Mark Bezos, when his space exploration company Blue Origin launches its first flight carrying humans. The rocket will take flight on July 20. However, multiple change.org petitions have already emerged and garnered thousands of signatures, in order to stop the billionaire from returning to the planet.

The most popular petition has more than 39,000 signatures and it’s just increasing by the minute. “Billionaires’ should not exist…on earth, or in space, but should they decide the latter they should stay there,” said the description of the petition.

Another petition that echoes the same sentiment has accumulated almost 20,000 signatures. The petitioner, in the description, linked Bezos to conspiracy theories, secret societies and comic villains, believing it as enough reason to prevent him from entering the planet. They theorised that Bezos was Lex Luthor, a fictional supervillain from the DC Comics universe. “He’s actually an evil overlord hellbent on global domination… This may be our last chance before they enable the 5G microchips and perform a mass takeover,” said the description.Needless to say, netizens are quite amused by this turn of events and are sharing the petitions, asking others to sign them. Some are sharing hilarious reasons for not wanting Bezos back on earth.

Facebook To Help Affordable, Fast Internet Access In India

In a bid to expand affordable internet access for the public, Facebook India on Tuesday announced new partnerships with internet service providers (ISPs) D-Vois and Netplus. The ISPs will use Facebook Connectivity’s Express Wi-Fi platform to launch public Wi-Fi hotspots across Bengaluru and several cities in Punjab.

“From Dharavi in Mumbai to Shillong, Aizawl, Vadodara, Rajkot, and many other towns and cities, the Express Wi-Fi platform is helping expand internet connectivity in the country, enabling economic opportunities, innovation, and expression for people, businesses, and communities alike,” said Manish Chopra, Director and Head of Partnerships, Facebook India.Express Wi-Fi is a software platform that enables mobile operators, satellite operators, and ISPs to build, grow, and monetise their Wi-Fi businesses in a sustainable and scalable way.The platform is used by partners in more than 30 countries, connecting millions of people around the world.

In India, the platform has already been deployed by eight partners, providing public Wi-Fi options to people across 12 states.D-VoiS has a presence in 60 cities and operates its broadband services under the brand ION. “ION plans to expand public Wi-Fi to thousands of hotspots at restaurants, bus-stands, malls, cafes, hospitals, and other public spaces,” said Ramesh Sathyanarayana, Founder, D-vois Communications. Netplus Broadband, the internet arm of Fastway Group, is another leading ISP in the country.

“The Express Wi-Fi services will be available at several high footfall public areas such as malls, hospitals, bus stands, and market complexes across the cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandar, Patiala, and Bhatinda,” informed PremOjha, Fastway Group CEO.During the current Covid crisis in India, Facebook also leveraged the Express Wi-Fi partner networks to share Covid-related information from credible sources with micro communities and towns across the country.

Colonial Pipeline CEO Defends Paying Ransom Amid Cyberattack

Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount made no apologies for his decisions to abruptly halt fuel distribution for much of the East Coast and pay millions to a criminal gang in Russia as he faced down one of the most disruptive ransomware attacks in U.S. history.Blount said he had no choice, telling senators uneasy with his actions that he feared far worse consequences given the uncertainty the company was confronting as the attack unfolded last month. “I know how critical our pipeline is to the country,” Blount said, “and I put the interests of the country first.”

His testimony to the Senate Homeland Security Committee on the May 7 cyberattack provided a rare window into the dilemma faced by the private sector amid a storm of ransomware attacks in which overseas hackers breach a company’s network and encrypt their data, demanding a ransom to release it back to them.

Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline, which supplies roughly half the fuel consumed on the East Coast, temporarily shut down its operations on May 7 after a gang of criminal hackers known as DarkSide broke into its computer system. The Justice Department has recovered the majority of a multimillion-dollar ransom payment to hackers after a cyberattack that caused the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline to halt its operations last month, officials said Monday.The operation to recover the cryptocurrency from the Russia-based hacker group is the first undertaken by a specialized ransomware task force created by the Biden administration Justice Department, and reflects what US officials say is an increasingly aggressive approach to deal with a ransomware threat that in the last month has targeted critical industries around the world.

“By going after an entire ecosystem that fuels ransomware and digital currency, we will continue to use all of our tools and all of our resources to increase the costs and the consequences of ransomware attacks and other cyber-enabled attacks,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said Monday at a news conference announcing the operation.The 63.7 bitcoin ransom — a favored currency of hackers because of the perception that it is more difficult to trace — is currently valued at $2.3 million. “The extortionists will never see this money,” said Stephanie Hinds, the acting US attorney for the Northern District of California, where the seizure warrant was filed.

U.S. authorities tell companies not to pay the ransom, arguing the crooks may not provide the keys to unencrypt the data and that the payments will encourage future attacks and help sustain criminal networks typically based in Russia and Eastern Europe. Blount chose to disregard that advice within the first 24 hours of the attack and paid the equivalent of $4.4 million in bitcoin to retrieve the company’s data. U.S. officials said Monday they had recovered much of the payment.“I made the decision to pay, and I made the decision to keep the information about the payment as confidential as possible,” Blount said. “It was the hardest decision I’ve made in my 39 years in the energy industry.”

The company, he said, had to act fast as it worked feverishly to determine whether the criminal gang had compromised the operational systems or physical security of the 5,500-mile pipeline — and to try to avoid a more sustained shutdown.Asked how much worse it would have been if the company hadn’t paid to get its data back, Blount said, “That’s an unknown we probably don’t want to know. And it may be an unknown we probably don’t want to play out in a public forum.”His appearance before the Senate comes as lawmakers consider possible measures to address the ransomware attacks that have been launched against thousands of businesses as well as state and local government agencies.

“We’ve got to recognize these ransomware attacks for what they are. It’s a serious national security threat,” said Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio. “Attacks against critical infrastructure are not just attacks on companies. They are attacks on our country itself.”Already, the Justice Department and FBI have established a task force to deal with ransomware with some success, including managing to seize 85% of the bitcoin that Colonial paid as ransom. But many of the criminals behind the attacks are beyond their reach in Russia or other countries that will not extradite suspects to the U.S.The Biden administration has also made ransomware, and cybersecurity more broadly, a national priority in the wake of a series of high-profile intrusions.

Last month, the administration issued new regulations for the pipeline industry, requiring companies to conduct cybersecurity assessments and immediately report any breaches to the federal government. The industry has until now operated under voluntary guidelines.Blount disputed a media report that his company had refused to participate in one of the voluntary assessments, conducted by the Transportation Security Administration, earlier this year, saying it had merely been delayed because of COVID-19 and other issues. “That was quite a shock to me,” he said of the account.

The attack on Colonial Pipeline — which supplies roughly 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast — has been attributed to a Russia-based gang of cybercriminals using the DarkSide ransomware variant, one of more than 100 variants the FBI is currently investigating. The attack began after hackers used a company virtual private network that was no longer in active use, Blount said.“The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline affected millions of Americans, ” said Sen. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat. “The next time an incident like this happens, unfortunately, it could be even worse.”

Blount said the Georgia-based company began negotiating with the hackers on the evening of the May 7 attack and paid a ransom of 75 bitcoin — then valued at roughly $4.4 million — the following day. The hack prompted the company to halt operations before the ransomware could spread to its operating systems.The encryption tool the hackers provided the company in exchange for the payment helped “to some degree” but was not perfect, with Colonial still in the process of fully restoring its systems while working with consultants to assess the damage and improve cybersecurity, Blount said.

It took the company five days to resume pipeline operations. What took place in that time illustrated why they needed to quickly pay the ransom, he told the lawmakers.“We already started to see pandemonium going on in the markets, people doing unsafe things like filling garbage bags full of gasoline or people fist-fighting in line at the fuel pump,” he said. “The concern would be what would happen if it had stretched on beyond that amount of time.”

Cloudgen, A Tech Firm Admits To H1-B Visa Fraud Involving Indians

A technology company has admitted to committing fraud to bring Indians on the coveted H1-B visas to the US, according to a federal prosecutor. JomonChakkalakkal, the corporate representative of Cloudgen, made the admission before a federal court in Houston, Texas, on behalf of the company on May 28, said acting federal Prosecutor Jennifer B. Lowery.

The prosecutor’s office in a news release circulated on Monday described the scam as a “bench and switch” ruse. It said that under the scam, in order to obtain the H1-B visas, Cloudgen submitted “forged contracts” showing that third companies had work for the persons it wanted to bring over.But once the employees came to the US there was no job for them and they were housed in different locations across the US, while Cloudgen would try to find work for them, according to the office.

“Such action gave Cloudgen a competitive advantage by having a steady ‘bench’ or supply of visa-ready workers to send to different employers based on market needs when the true process actually takes some time. Once workers had obtained new employment, the ‘switch’ would occur when the new third-party company filed immigration paperwork for the foreign workers,” the prosecutor’s office said. Cloudgen took a percentage of the worker’s salary, which amounted to nearly $500,000 from 2013 to 2020 when the scam took place, it said.

Chief Judge Lee Rosenthal of the Southern Texas federal court is to impose a sentence in September and it could be a fine of as much as $1 million and probation for five years.The prosecutor’s office said that Cloudgen was based in Houston, but on its website, the company lists an address in Manassas in Virginia. It also shows offices in Hyderabad, Canada and Romania. Chakkalakkal is described on the website as the senior vice president for sales.

Tech Giants Offer Signing In Bonuses To New Employees

America’s stores are having trouble bringing on staff to meet growing demand from customers as the US economy regains steam. So they’re turning to an incentive less commonly deployed in the retail industry: sign-on bonuses for new hires.Amazon (AMZN), Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (OLLI), Tops Markets supermarket chain, Sheetz convenience stores and many smaller stores are offering such one-time payments to sweeten job offers to new workers. Sign-on bonuses can be more attractive for some employers than raising wages because bonuses are not permanent and ultimately cheaper, said Andrew Challenger, vice president at executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Executive search firm Korn Ferry found in a survey of more than 50 major US retailers in late April that 94% said they were having difficulty filling vacant roles. Twenty-nine percent said they had implemented a sign-on bonus to help in hiring, while 32% said they had a referral program.”Historically, stores have not had to do sign-on bonuses,” said Craig Rowley, senior client partner at Korn Ferry specializing in retail. “In the past, there were always enough people applying for jobs. It tells you how needy retailers are for staff,” he said.

Companies are searching for workers as growing numbers of vaccinated Americans head back to stores. There were 878,000 job openings in the US retail sector in March, a 53% increase from the same month last year, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the warehouse and transportation sector, there were 348,000 open jobs in March, a 5% increase from a year ago. Retailers are adding more warehouse and delivery jobs as online shopping becomes more widespread.Economists, labor experts and companies say the reasons for the hiring challenges are varied, but they include difficulties workers are having finding child and family care, health and safety concerns among the workforce, and expanded unemployment benefits.Companies hope bonuses will help them meet staffing needs and continue growing.

‘A cherry on top’Amazon announced in May that it is hiring 75,000 people in warehouse and transportation jobs and offering sign-on bonuses of up to $1,000 in many locations. The company also said the jobs offer an average pay of over $17 an hour, higher than the company’s $15 minimum wage.Amazon employees has offered higher sign-on bonuses for some hourly positions, too.

Robin Ray Buscaino, 22, lost his job in 2020 at a restaurant in Colton, California, and was unemployed for a year. He started working at an Amazon regional air hub in San Bernardino, California, loading and unloading cargo from planes for $16.40 an hour. Buscaino said the $3,000 bonus Amazon was offering for the job was a deciding factor in his decision to work there. “The bonus was a cherry on top,” he said. Other places he was looking at weren’t able to match it.

Are unemployment benefits causing working shortages? Here’s what we know.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet is giving $1,000 sign-on bonuses to staff 200 open jobs at its distribution centers. Sheetz is offering $500 bonuses for store workers and $1,000 for shift supervisors to fill 50 jobs. Tops Markets, a supermarket chain in the Northeast, is handing out $2,000 bonuses to hire around 100 workers in its distribution center.Customer demand is “up all over the country,” said Tom Kuypers, a spokesperson for Ollie’s. “We need people for our distribution centers” to meet it.

Ollie’s implemented the $1,000 bonus last month, and Kuypers said he thinks it helped make the company more competitive in hiring and increased the number of applicants.Grocery stores saw a surge in business last year, and many are still are looking to hire more staff.  Clint Woodman, the president of Woodman’s Markets, an employee-owned supermarket chain with 18 stores in Wisconsin and Illinois, said the company needs to hire 600 workers to give a breather to its current employees, many of whom are working overtime.The company last week began offering up to $1,500 bonuses for new full-time workers and $500 employee referral bonuses. “We’re certainly hoping that it has a big effect so we can provide the service that our customers are used to,” he said.

Tech Giants Fight ‘Cloud Wars’ Under Deep Oceans

“The fact you can post a picture on Facebook or video on YouTube and people can see it anywhere in the world is mind-boggling, but it takes a lot of things behind the scenes and below the ocean to make it happen,” says Alan Mauldin, research director at TeleGeography. It is easy to overlook that our access to the internet relies on thousands of miles of cable, crossing the world’s oceans. They provide the plumbing for the internet – 98% of all international internet traffic travels through them.

Some connect neighboring countries, such as the 131km (80 mile) CeltixConnect cable between Ireland and the UK. Others like the Asian-America Gateway cable, stretch for 20,000km and link continents.The data flashes along optical fibres as thin as a strand of hair. Each cable will have several of these at its core and then further layers of protective coating to prevent damage. According to Daniel Sousa, managing director of manufacturing operations at SubCom, one challenge is that “the entire cable systems need to be manufactured and tested as a complete system”.Cables are tested ashore before being loaded on to ships, a process which can take around two weeks, says Orange Marine’s chief executive Didier Dillard.

The company operates six cable ships, with one vessel, the René Descartes, able to lay up to 6,000km of cable.
Once telecom companies would have been the main backers of such complicated and expensive projects. But now technology giants have started putting serious money into undersea cables.TeleGeography estimates that content providers – Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft – have spent over $1.5bn (£1bn) on cable construction in the last five years.The simple reason is that they have more demand for bandwidth than anyone else, says Alan Mauldin.

Google, in particular, is investing in a number of its own cables. The Curie cable connects Chile to the US – while the Dunant cable, laid in partnership with SubCom, connects the US to France at Orange’s cable landing station at Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez.Two others will be finished soon. The Equiano cable running from Portugal down the west coast of Africa to South Africa, and the Grace Hopper cable that connects the US, UK and Spain.

Ensuring reliable access to the services many of us rely upon, as well as expanding access to previously underserved areas, are two reasons for this investment.But it is also an investment in Google’s cloud computing services – a particularly competitive space amongst the major technology companies. It has spawned the phrase ‘cloud wars’ to describe the battle for ascendancy amongst them.

Cloud computing has become a huge business as firms have moved their computing and digital storage needs to services like Amazon’s AWS and Azure from Microsoft.So is there any downside to giants like Google controlling these important digital connections? Alan Mauldin says while the cables are private they are not exclusive.”There are multiple users on it, not just one party. All these parties use the same infrastructure.”While capacity on their private cables is not sold directly by Google, some capacity is commonly shared with telecom companies.

For instance, Orange is able to provide capacity to its customers on the Dunant cable, in return for allowing Google to use its Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez base.Mr Mauldin likens the undersea cables therefore to a motorway where Google and Facebook have prominent “high-sided trucks”, but other, smaller vehicles also dart around carrying data for all other users.Satellites have been discussed for decades as a potential alternative that may one day put a dent into the dominance of subsea cables.

London-based satellite operator OneWeb recently launched its sixth batch of satellites, whilst Elon Musk’s SpaceX is investing in satellite technology through its Starlink project. Yet comparing the two technologies may be unhelpful.
Satellites are most effective in providing internet access to remote areas where it is either physically difficult or prohibitively costly to build a cable, with cables currently best placed to meet the demand of carrying large amounts of data.

“The heavy lifting of pushing the big data between data centres across the world is going to be on submarine cables,” says Mr Mauldin.But this reliance on cables has propelled the tech giants into geopolitics. In March, Facebook dropped plans for a cable between California and Hong Kong, reportedly due to pressure from US national security officials.The Royal Navy has announced it is building a surveillance ship to protect “critical” cables, citing the risk of sabotage due to “submarine warfare”.

Despite these concerns, a more commonly encountered problem is that cables need to be repaired due to damage inflicted by the natural environment or human activity.One of Orange Marine’s cable ships is currently repairing a cable damaged by an underwater landslide off the coast of the Democratic Republic of Congo.But it is human activity that poses the bigger challenge. Areas where fishing trawlers regularly operate are a particular problem. Internet access to the Channel Islands was temporarily impaired in 2016 when a ship dragged its anchor, damaging cables.

It also requires a quick response to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum. “It’s part of the requirements of our customers that we maintain at all times a cable ship ready to sail within 24 hours,” says Mr Dillard from Orange Marine.The pandemic has concentrated people’s attention on the importance of cable networks, says Alan Mauldin: “We always knew it was important, but can you image Covid 20 years ago? It would have been an even bigger disaster.”
(Courtesy: BBC)

‘Born Digital’ Indian Workers Want 4-Day Week Amid Pandemic

More than three in four young Indian workers believe that employers should offer the opportunity to work a four-day week to promote employee well-being post-pandemic, a new report said on Wednesday.Made up of millennials (born 1981 to 1996) and Generation Z (born after 1997) workers, the ‘Born Digital’ are the first generation to grow up in an entirely digital world, and now account for most of the global workforce.

According to the report by desktop virtualisation leader Citrix, ‘Born Digital’ employees in India (76 per cent) prefer to retain a remote or hybrid work model post-pandemic.Nearly 86 per cent of ‘Born Digital’ employees in India believe that the pandemic has shown that their organisation needs to invest more in digital technology, compared to 16 per cent of business leaders.

“These young employees are different from previous generations in that they have only ever known a tech-driven world of work,” said Donna Kimmel, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, Citrix.“To shore up their future business success, companies must understand their values, career aspirations and working styles and invest in their development,” Kimmel said in a statement.

A striking 90 per cent of ‘Born Digital’ in India expect employers to have a better understanding of family commitments, compared to the global average of 74 per cent.Also, 92 per cent of ‘Born Digital’ workers in India say they would prioritise employee well-being as they advance in their career.

“Younger workers in India are most focused on career stability and security (94 per cent), opportunities for additional qualifications, training, or re-skilling (93 per cent), and access to quality workplace technology (92 per cent),” the Citrix findings showed.Leaders in the country, on the other hand, think young workers prioritise a competitive remuneration package and job satisfaction over all other work factors.

“Successfully attracting and retaining the Born Digital will require organisations to invest in the work model and tools to create the flexible, efficient and engaged work environment that this next generation of leaders craves and thrives in,” said Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategy, Citrix. (IANS)

Whatsapp Has ‘Strong Argument’ In India Privacy Lawsuit

Facebook’s messaging app, WhatsApp, has filed a lawsuit against the Indian government in the Delhi High Court, alleging that the government is forcing the app to violate Indian privacy rights in identifying “first originator of information” at the demand of authorities. SitalKalantry is a professor at Cornell Law School, teaches comparative constitutional law with a focus on India, and is an expert in the Indian judicial system. Kalantry says WhatsApp comes to Delhi’s High Court with a strong argument. She adds that the Modi administration’s new rule imposed on WhatsApp is a tool to repress political dissent.

Kalantry says:“The Indian government’s new regulations require WhatsApp to break its encryption and identify certain users to the government. The Indian Supreme Court’s landmark privacy decision in the Puttaswamy case provides protections against this government intrusion. WhatsApp has a strong argument in its case in the Delhi High Court that the government’s new rules do not have a legitimate goal. The rules are one more way that the Modi administration will repress political dissent on social media, which it did during its annexation of Kashmir and the farmers’ protests.” WhatsApp is suing the Indian government over a ‘traceability’ clause in the new Intermediary Rules 2021, which were notified in February this year. In response, the government has called WhatsApp’s act as a one of defiance and wants them to comply.

Here are the top points explaining everything to know about this latest controversy.

1) WhatsApp’s case against IT rules

As reported by indianexpress.com, WhatsApp has said that the new social media rules are unconstitutional and filed the case on May 25, incidentally it was also the last day for companies to comply with the new rules. The Facebook-owned messaging app is invoking the 2017 Justice K S Puttaswamy vs Union Of India judgment in support of its arguments. WhatsApp wants the court to ensure the clause does not come into force, and prevent criminal liability to its employees for non compliance.

2) Traceability means End-to-End encryption won’t work

In a detailed blog post, WhatsApp has also explained that traceability will not work, arguing that breaking end-to-end encryption (E2E) would weaken user privacy on the app and stifle free speech and freedom of expression. E2E encryption is turned by default on WhatsApp for all messages.

Further, WhatsApp will have to re-engineer the app just for India, which won’t happen. If WhatsApp had to comply with the rules, it would have to create a version of the app that supports traceability and doesn’t have E2E encryption.WhatsApp said in its blog that while it supports “reasonable and proportionate regulations”, it cannot stand for “eroding privacy for everyone, violating human rights, and putting innocent people at risk.”

3) Traceability means a lot of data collection

WhatsApp in its blog post makes it clear that in order to trace the originator of any message, it will have to keep a log of all messages. Currently, WhatsApp cannot read a user’s message given the E2E encryption.It says tracing even one message means tracing every single message on the platform and they will have to add some sort of “permanent identity stamp” or effectively ‘fingerprint’ each message. It says that this will be the equivalent of a mass surveillance program.

4) Traceability is not foolproof

WhatsApp and internet experts have made it clear that traceability is not foolproof. Further, when users are forwarding, copying messages, finding the originator becomes difficult. WhatsApp says it might have to “turn over the names of people who shared something even if they did not create it, shared it out of concern, or sent it to check its accuracy,” which would lead to human rights violations as innocent people could end up getting caught in investigations or going to jail.

Further, even if messages are fingerprinted on WhatsApp, these techniques are not foolproof and can be easily impersonated. WhatsApp also says that “traceability” goes against the basic principles of how law enforcement and investigations work.

5) Government response to WhatsApp’s lawsuit

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY)has called WhatsApp’s refusal to comply with the new IT rules as a “clear act of defiance.” Further, it has said that the right to privacy will come with reasonable restrictions, adding that social media companies will only have to give the originator of a message in select cases and based on an order from a competent court.

The government also questioned WhatsApp’s own commitment to user privacy pointing out that the company plans to “share the data of all its users with its parent company, Facebook, for marketing and advertising purposes.”

6) IT rules on tracing originator

According to the government, tracing the first originator is only under select circumstances and they don’t want to track all messages.Under Rule 4(2) of the guidelines, a social media intermediary could be required to trace an originator of a message or tweet or post “only for the purposes of prevention, investigation, punishment etc. of inter alia an offence relating to sovereignty, integrity and security of India, public order incitement to an offence relating to rape, sexually explicit material or child sexual abuse material punishable with imprisonment for not less than five years.”

7) Three red ticks on WhatsApp calls, messages?

There is a fake WhatsApp message going viral claiming that three red ticks will appear on messages indicating that the government is reading and recording all calls, messages on the platform. This is patently false and has been debunked earlier as well. It is best to ignore this message and not forward to others. Read more about it here.

8) Google and others on the new social media rules

The new IT rules impact all social media intermediaries and companies, not just WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter. This includes Google as well, which is another major player in the market.In a statement, CEO Google SundarPichai said the company will comply with all laws. “It’s obviously early days and our local teams are very engaged… we always respect local laws in every country we operate in and we work constructively. We have clear transparency reports, when we comply with government requests, we highlight that in our transparency reports,” he said, reported PTI.

While WhatsApp is fighting a lawsuit against the new IT rules, its parent company Facebook. “Pursuant to the IT Rules, we are working to implement operational processes and improve efficiencies. Facebook remains committed to people’s ability to freely and safely express themselves on our platform,” a spokesperson for the company said.Twitter has issued a statement on its platform around the IT rules as well. “We, alongside many in civil society in India and around the world, have concerns with regards to the use of intimidation tactics by the police in response to enforcement of our global Terms of Service, as well as with core elements of the new IT Rules,” the statement said.

“We plan to advocate for changes to elements of these regulations that inhibit free, open public conversation. We will continue our constructive dialogue with the Indian Government and believe it is critical to adopt a collaborative approach. We believe that it is the collective responsibility of elected officials, industry, and civil society to safeguard the interests of the public,” the statement adds.

Under the new guidelines, significant social media intermediaries (those with more than 50 lakh users in India) have to appoint a resident grievance officer, a chief compliance officer and a nodal contact person. The guidelines state these employees need to be residents of India.

Big Tech Firms Seek Creative Ways To Deal With Hybrid Work Paradox

Admitting that hybrid work paradox is here to stay amid the pandemic, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has outlined a detailed approach about how his company is going to tackle the biggest shift to global workplace that requires a new operating model, spanning people, places and processes.

As some countries open and others like India and Brazil face their worst pandemic days, Nadella said that every organization’s approach will need to be different to meet the unique needs of their people. “According to our research, the vast majority of employees say they want more flexible remote work options, but at the same time also say they want more in-person collaboration, post-pandemic. This is the hybrid work paradox,” Nadella said in a blog post.He outlined three areas for Microsoft for hybrid work.

“First, we are moving all employees off corporate networks and taking an internet-first approach. An internet-first approach reduces exposure and gives employees a consistent experience whether they are at home or in the office,” Nadella informed.

“Second, at home, we are asking all employees who continue to work remotely, either full or part time, to run a test of their home networks to ensure they are secure”.

He then emphasized on device security. “All corporate resources will be managed so that you have secure, trusted access. Whether employees are at home or in the office, we will require that every mobile device that needs to access corporate resources is managed. This includes a company-wide rollout of Microsoft Defender for Endpoint,” Nadella noted.
On people, Microsoft said it is prioritizing three things: social capital, knowledge capital and human capital. “The second area that will undergo transformation is places. In this new era of hybrid work, we will no longer rely solely on shared physical location or a campus to collaborate, connect, or build social capital. But that doesn’t mean physical places and spaces aren’t important. They will just need to be re-imagined,” the Microsoft CEO explained.
Every business process will be impacted by the move to hybrid, and every business function will need to transform. “From product development and manufacturing, to marketing, sales, customer service, and facilities, HR, and IT, every business process will need to be adjusted,” he added.

Reiterating that his home country India as well as Brazil are going through their most difficult moments of the pandemic, Alphabet and Google CEO SundarPichai has laid down a detailed roadmap on how the future of work will unfold for millions across the globe.Kicking off the I/O Developers Conference from the Mountain View campus late on Tuesday, Pichai said that Covid-19 has deeply affected the entire global community over the past year and continues to take a toll.

“Places such as Brazil, and my home country of India, are now going through their most difficult moments of the pandemic yet. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by COVID and we are all hoping for better days ahead,” he stressed.Pichai said that the company continues to build a more helpful Google, for everyone.
“One of the biggest ways we can help is by reimagining the future of work. Over the last year, we’ve seen work transform in unprecedented ways, as offices and coworkers have been replaced by kitchen countertops and pets,” he noted.

“Many companies, including ours, will continue to offer flexibility even when it’s safe to be in the same office again. Collaboration tools have never been more critical, and today we announced a new smart canvas experience in Google Workspace that enables even richer collaboration,” Pichai told the virtual audience of over 2,00,000 people.
He informed that there are 150 million students and educators learning virtually over the last year with Google Classroom.“Other times it’s about helping in little moments that add up to big changes for everyone. For example, we’re introducing safer routing in Maps. This AI-powered capability in Maps can identify road, weather and traffic conditions where you are likely to brake suddenly; our aim is to reduce up to 100 million events like this every year,” he said.

Stressing on the role of AI, Pichai said the company has used the technology to improve the core Search experience for billions of people by taking a huge leap forward in a computer’s ability to process natural language. “Yet, there are still moments when computers just don’t understand us. That’s because language is endlessly complex: We use it to tell stories, crack jokes and share ideas � weaving in concepts we’ve learned over the course of our lives. The richness and flexibility of language make it one of humanity’s greatest tools and one of computer science’s greatest challenges,” Pichai elaborated.He then introduced latest research in natural language understanding: LaMDA.

LaMDA is a language model for dialogue applications. It’s open domain, which means it is designed to converse on any topic.“We’re focused on ensuring LaMDA meets our incredibly high standards on fairness, accuracy, safety and privacy, and that it is developed consistently with our AI Principles,” he added.

Several years ago, Google kicked off a project called Project Starline to use technology to explore what’s possible.Using high-resolution cameras and custom-built depth sensors, it captures your shape and appearance from multiple perspectives, and then fuses them together to create an extremely detailed, real-time 3D model.

“The resulting data is many gigabits per second, so to send an image this size over existing networks, we developed novel compression and streaming algorithms that reduce the data by a factor of more than 100,” said Pichai. (IANS)

Farewell To Microsoft’s Internet Explorer

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer will finally be retired next year after more than 26 years of service, the tech giant says.The veteran web browser was released with Windows 95.It will no longer appear on consumer versions of Windows 10 after June 2022, Microsoft wrote in a blog.

The tech giant has been phasing out the old browser for several years – but in 2019 it had to issue an emergency patch for it, for security reasons.At that point it was estimated that around 8% of people were still using it.Its replacement, Microsoft Edge, has an Internet Explorer compatibility mode, which will continue to function.

‘Faster, more secure’

Some very old websites – and crucially, internal company web-based tools – were built on older web technology, which modern browsers have trouble processing. In a blog, Microsoft Edge programme manager Sean Lyndersay wrote that the newer browser was “a faster, more secure and more modern browsing experience”, and was also now better able to handle older applications.In a separate post dealing with questions, Microsoft clarified that there would be some exceptions to the retirement, including on older versions of Windows.

Between 2000 and 2005, Internet Explorer enjoyed a 90% market share (Google Chrome is the most used browser today). But in 2013 Microsoft was fined €561m ($731m; £484m at the time) for failing to promote alternative browsers within its Windows operating system.It had introduced a “browser choice” pop-up in 2010, but the feature was dropped in an update the following year. Microsoft said this had happened by mistake.

The tech giant is also tinkering with another bit of history: in April this year it announced that it is planning to change its default font, which has been Calibri across all of its products since 2007. It is inviting users to vote on their favorite from five contenders, and says the most popular will form its new look.

Telemedicine Market to Reach US$ 202.8 Billion by 2027 Globally

A comprehensive overview of the Telemedicine market is recently added by UnivDatos Market Insights to its humongous database. The Telemedicine market report has been aggregated by collecting informative data of various dynamics such as market drivers, restraints, and opportunities. This innovative report makes use of several analyses to get a closer outlook on the Telemedicine market. The Telemedicine market report offers a detailed analysis of the latest industry developments and trending factors in the market that are influencing the market growth. Furthermore, this statistical market research repository examines and estimates the Telemedicine market at the global and regional level. Global Telemedicine Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.5% during the forecast period of 2021-27.
Market Overview

Telemedicine is the distribution of healthcare facilities, anywhere distance is a perilous aspect. It is provided by health care professionals via technologies. This information is converted for the diagnosis, treatment, prevention of disease or injuries through research and evaluation, and at last, the results are provided to patients. For instance, in 2016, Maryland, Frederick Memorial Hospital’s virtual healthcare podium amplified the rate of patient care by 50%. Also, as per the Virtual Care blog, Telemedicine contributes almost one-fourth of the health IT market, which was about USD 15.6 billion in 2014 and it upsurged to nearly USD 20 billion by 2019. Moreover, the patients and healthcare professionals are shifting towards telemedicine due to their ease of operations, cost and time savings, etc.

Telemedicine gives a progressive outlook for the preservation of records and documentation of patient’s health. It minimizes the possibility of missing out on any advice from doctors or other healthcare professionals. Owing to this, the doctors have an exact document of the advice provided by them through teleconsultation. This provides legal protection to both the parties including the patient and healthcare professionals. Furthermore, according to the American Journal of Accountable Care, the routine of telemedicine permits improved long-term care of administration and patient gratification. In addition, the Geisinger Health-Plan study stated that the execution of a telemedicine program produced about 11% in cost savings. This directs the arrival of more investment in telemedicine.
COVID-19 Impact

The sudden outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic has fetched the entire world to a stoppage. As hospitals are getting occupied with COVID-19 cases, the burden on healthcare staff witnessed a significant rise. Currently, Telemedicine has appeared as a defendant in the combat against the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the patients are using virtual visit facilities for their safety. For instance, Teladoc Health Inc. reported a 60% intensification in the number of virtual sessions and reached 2 million in just three months from January to March 2020, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. Also, according to the Vidyo Telehealth Adoption Survey 2019, 46% of surveyed health care benefactors (hospitals and clinics) practice live videoconferencing, and 41% practice Remote Patient Monitoring for medical care. The Store-and-Forward province is third with 26%.  These statistics indicate that virtual assessments are likely to become a more promising part of patient care.

Telemedicine Market report is studied thoroughly with several aspects that would help stakeholders in making their decisions more curated.
The Tele-consulting segment generated more than 45% revenue in 2020. The market is expected to grow at a significant rate during the forecast period as it allows patients to have an appointment with experts at any time, without any waiting period.
Competitive Landscape

The degree of competition among prominent global companies has been elaborated by analyzing several leading key players operating worldwide. The specialist team of research analysts sheds light on various traits such as global market competition, market share, most recent industry advancements, innovative product launches, partnerships, mergers, or acquisitions by leading companies in the Telemedicine market. The major players have been analyzed by using research methodologies for getting insight views on global competition.

Key questions resolved through this analytical market research report include:
What are the latest trends, new patterns, and technological advancements in the Telemedicine market?
Which factors are influencing the Telemedicine market over the forecast period?
What are the global challenges, threats, and risks in the Telemedicine market?
Which factors are propelling and restraining the Telemedicine market?
What are the demanding global regions of the Telemedicine market?
What will be the global market size in the upcoming years?
What are the crucial market acquisition strategies and policies applied by global companies?

We understand the requirement of different businesses, regions, and countries, we offer customized reports as per your requirements of business nature and geography. Please let us know If you have any custom needs
For more informative information, please visit us @ https://univdatos.com/report/telemedicine-market-current-analysis-and-forecast-2021-2027

About UnivDatos Market Insights
UnivDatos Market Insights (UMI) is a passionate market research firm and a subsidiary of Universal Data Solutions. We believe in delivering insights through Market Intelligence Reports, Customized Business Research, and Primary Research. Our research studies are spread across topics across the world, we cover markets in over 100 countries using smart research techniques and agile methodologies. We offer in-depth studies, detailed analysis, and customized reports that help shape winning business strategies for our clients.

Roivant Sciences & MAAC to Combine and Create Publicly Traded Leader in Biopharma and Health Technology

Roivant Sciences, a biopharmaceutical and healthcare technology company, and Montes Archimedes Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: MAAC), a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by Patient Square Capital, today announced that they have entered into a definitive business combination agreement. Upon closing of the transaction, outstanding shares and warrants of MAAC will be exchanged for newly issued shares and warrants of Roivant Sciences, which is expected to be listed on Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol “ROIV.”

The transaction is expected to deliver up to $611 million of gross proceeds to fund discovery and development programs. This includes up to $411 million currently held in MAAC’s trust account, as well as a concurrent $200 million common stock private investment in public equity (“PIPE”) priced at $10.00 per share. New institutional and strategic investors and existing Roivant shareholders have committed to participate in the PIPE, including Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Eventide Asset Management, Suvretta Capital, Palantir Technologies, RTW Investments, LP, Viking Global Investors, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, and SB Management, a subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp. Proceeds are expected to extend the company’s operating runway through mid-2024.

Patient Square Capital and key Roivant equity holders and management have agreed to long-term lockups, with at least 50% of their holdings locked up for three years. In addition, Patient Square Capital has agreed to convert an additional 30% of its shares of MAAC to earn-out shares subject to performance vesting thresholds: 20% of its shares will vest at $15.00 per share and 10% will vest at $20.00 per share for 20 of 30 trading days within five years of closing.

Jim Momtazee, Managing Partner of Patient Square Capital, will join Roivant’s board of directors. Prior to founding Patient Square Capital, Mr. Momtazee was a 21-year veteran of KKR where he helped form its health care investment team 20 years ago and ran that team for over a decade.

“Roivant is at the cutting edge of using technology to discover and develop transformative medicines for a wide range of serious diseases, and in a very short time they have established a remarkable track record of building subsidiaries that have run successful registrational clinical trials for approved medicines,” said Mr. Momtazee. “I first met the company in 2015 and have watched its growth over the last 6 years with admiration. Based on our extensive due diligence spanning the last 5 months, I look forward to a long-lasting partnership with one of the most exciting and innovative companies in the life sciences industry.”

Roivant will continue to operate under its current management team led by Chief Executive Officer Matthew Gline. Roivant founder Vivek Ramaswamy will continue to serve as Executive Chairman.

“I look forward to the next chapter of Roivant’s growth by beginning our life as a public company with an exceptionally strong and diverse base of long-term investors,” said Mr. Gline. “We look forward to continuing to deliver important medicines to patients through our development engine and our rapidly growing drug discovery capabilities spanning multiple therapeutic areas and modalities.”

The boards of directors of both Roivant and MAAC have unanimously approved the proposed transaction. Completion of the transaction, which is expected in the third quarter of 2021, is subject to approval of MAAC shareholders and the satisfaction or waiver of certain other customary closing conditions. A link to investor presentation materials is included below.

World Moving Towards a “Devastating Marriage” of Artificial Intelligence & Weapons of War

STOCKHOLM, Apr 16 2021 (IPS) – Landmines are among the most insidious and cruel weapons of all, because they do not distinguish between armed soldiers, civilians or even children.

According to the Landmine Monitor 2020, explosive devices hidden in the ground killed or injured at least 5,554 people worldwide last year alone — that’s an average of 15 deaths and serious injuries per day.

With her International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Professor Jody Williams (70) has been advocating a ban on landmines for almost 30 years, and she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her commitment.

Excerpts from the interview:

Professor Williams, thank you for taking the time for this interview with the Faces of Peace initiative. To begin, we would first of all like to ask you: What does “peace” mean for you personally?

WILLIAMS: Peace is not simply the absence of armed conflict. That is the baseline on which sustainable peace can be built. For me, sustainable peace is peace built on human security, not national security. We do not need more, “modernized” nuclear weapons.

We do not need fully autonomous weapons that on their own can target and kill human beings. We need to use our resources so that the needs of people are met, not the needs of arms producers.

People should be able to live dignified lives, with equal access to education, health care, housing, etc. We need to focus on human security for sustainable peace, not national security to protect the infrastructure of the state. Peace and security should be people centered!

On 3 December 1997, 122 states signed the treaty for the banning of landmines. You and your campaign received the Nobel Peace Prize for this. How did you, as an American, come on the topic of landmines?

WILLIAMS: Actually, I was asked by two organizations – the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and a German humanitarian relief organization, “Medico International” – if I thought I could create an international coalition of nongovernmental organizations to pressure governments to ban antipersonnel landmines.

It was an amazing challenge that totally sparked my interest so I accepted that challenge and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines was born. Today, some 164 nations are part of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Speaking of the Landmine Monitor 2020: With 5,554 dead, the global death toll remains high 23 years after the ban on landmines. Is this a sobering figure? What else can the international community do?

WILLIAMS: It is a very sobering question and demonstrates how long it takes to clean up the mess as chaos caused by war and violence. The international community must maintain its focus on supporting countries still plagued with landmines and that are working on mine-clearance.

The danger of landmines – especially improvised explosive devices – still exists. And the world has not become more peaceful anyway. What are the biggest threats to peace in 2021?

WILLIAMS: To my mind, the global obsession with weapons and violence while at the same time painting people who believe that peace is possible as intellectual “light weights” who don’t understand the harsh reality of the world are the two sides of the double-edged sword that keeps the world believing that only more weapons will keep us safe.

The biggest threats are the “modernization” of nuclear weapons and the new “revolution” of weapons – killer robots. The weapons are fully autonomous and can target and kill human beings on their own. A devastating “marriage” of artificial intelligence and weapons of war!

Bombs do not kill ideology: Just in office, U.S. President Joe Biden ordered an airstrike in Syria – and another was called off at the last minute. What are your thoughts about that?

WILLIAMS: As you point out, bombs cannot kill ideology. In fact, bombing and other acts of violence can strengthen ideological conviction and make recruiting new people easier. I did not support Obama’s extensive use of drone warfare either.

And speaking of Joe Biden: The US has so far not signed the Ottawa Convention. What do you think the chances are of this happening during Joe Biden’s presidency? Does the world need US leadership?

WILLIAMS: I cannot predict what Biden will do regarding the Mine Ban Treaty. But it is very likely he will roll back Trump’s policy and align his administration’s policy with that of the Obama administration, which brought the US very close to compliance with the treaty even if it was not signed.

Professor Williams, you are also chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. What exactly does this initiative do and how can one support your important work?

WILLIAMS: The Nobel Women’s Initiative was launched in 2006. It brings together five women recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, who use our influence and access to shine a spotlight on grassroots women’s organizations in conflict areas around the world working for sustainable peace with justice and equality.

*About the Faces of Democracy and Faces of Peace initiatives:

With almost 100 prominent figures from politics, business, the media and society – including the former President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway Erna Solberg, the President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, the German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas and OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger – the Faces of Democracy initiative is now in its fifth year of existence.

The first “faces” of the 2019 founded Faces of Peace initiative are SIPRI Director Dan Smith, the Chairman of the Atlantic Brücke e.V. Sigmar Gabriel, the OSCE CiO 2019 and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic Miroslav Lajčák and the Chief of Staff of the 69th Submarine Brigade of the Northern Fleet Vasili A. Arkhipov.

(Sven Lilienström: The writer is Founder of the Faces of Democracy initiative & Faces of Peace initiative.)

What’s The Deal With FemTech?

It seems like the tech industry is always delivering exciting new innovations. However, it often seems like women are either forgotten about or just a side thought for many of these innovations. Solutions are usually one-size-fits-all for both genders or solutions lean toward meeting the needs of men.

While we are not near a landscape that offers perfect equality and representation, there is a movement that aims to address some of the issues. This movement is called FemTech.

What is FemTech?

As you may have noticed, FemTech is a term that combines the words “female” and “technology”. The idea is to solve issues for women using technology. It could be healthcare software development, connected wearables for women, tech-based subscription services or any other product that uses technology to support or improve health or well-being for women.

This movement in women’s health tech is largely credited to Ida Tin. She created the Clue reproductive health app and she coined the term FemTech. That was back in 2013, but FemTech companies have come a long way since then.

Why does it matter?

As you might be aware, about half of the world’s population is female. They have needs that are different from those of men. This is especially true when you consider the areas of health and well-being.

Unfortunately, the needs of women are often overlooked when designing tech solutions. While there have been great strides in female leadership in tech, it is still an industry that is mostly male. When men make design decisions or decisions on what to fund, it is often hard for them to consider the important differences between men and women. FemTech helps to make up for this.

With smart technology solutions meeting the needs of women, they can expect better health outcomes, get services that are more convenient and live happier, healthier lives. Along with that, FemTech is an opportunity for businesses. With half the population being female, it is a large market that needs to be served.

A Look at FemTech in Action

FemTech has a lot to offer women as consumers and the businesses that may choose to offer services. As an example of FemTech, consider the previously mentioned Clue app. With this, a FemTech company created an app that can help women manage their reproductive health in a way that is more convenient and more useful. By tracking things like a woman’s period and ovulation, it helps women take more control over their health.

Elvie is another great company that focuses on women’s health tech. This company looks to create a range of tech solutions for women. This includes their range of breast pumps that can be managed from an app and an app and accessories focused on pelvic floor exercises.

While FemTech is growing, there is still a lot of potential to offer new solutions that are just for women. Healthcare software development for women has tons of room to meet needs that are still going unmet. The businesses that identify these problems and deliver solutions could do a lot of good while also turning a nice profit.

Indian Railways Completes Arch Closure Of Chenab Bridge, World’s Highest Rail Bridge

The construction of the arch of the world’s highest railway bridge that soars 359 metres above the bed of the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir was completed last week, with the Northern Railways zone of Indian Railways terming the achievement a milestone.
The 1.3-kilometre-long bridge aims to boost connectivity to the Kashmir Valley and it is being constructed at a cost of ₹1,486 crore as part of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project.

In a statement, the Railway Ministry said that this was one of the most difficult parts of the bridge over the Chenab and this achievement is a major leap towards the completion of the 111-km-long winding stretch from Katra to Banihal.

“It is arguably the biggest civil engineering challenge faced by any railway project in India in recent history. The 5.6-metre last piece of metal was fitted at the highest point today and joined the two arms of the arch that currently stretch towards each other from both the banks of the river,” the statement said. This completed the shape of the arch that will then loom over the treacherous Chenab, flowing some 359 meters below.

“After completion of the arch work, removal of the stay cables, filling of the concrete in the arch rib, erection of the steel trestle, launching of the viaduct and track laying work will be taken up,” the statement said.

The completion of the historic arch work was also seen by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Railway Board Chairman and CEO Suneet Sharma and General Manager, Northern Railway, Ashutosh Gangal, through video conferencing.
“This bridge is 1,315 metres long and the highest railway bridge in the world being 359 metres above the river bed level. It will be 35 meters higher than the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris,” the Ministry said.

Google Wins Case Against Oracle In Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court handed the tech company a major victory on Monday, ruling that its use of Oracle Corp’s software code to build the Android operating system that runs most of the world’s smartphones did not violate federal copyright law.
In a 6-2 decision, the justices overturned a lower court’s ruling that Google’s inclusion of Oracle’s software code in Android did not constitute a fair use under U.S. copyright law.

Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority, said that allowing Oracle to enforce a copyright on its code would harm the public by making it a “lock limiting the future creativity of new programs. Oracle alone would hold the key.”

Oracle and Google, two California-based technology giants with combined annual revenues of more than $175 billion, have been feuding since Oracle sued for copyright infringement in 2010 in San Francisco federal court. Google had appealed a 2018 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington reviving the suit.

The ruling spares Google of a potentially massive damages verdict. Oracle had been seeking more than $8 billion, but renewed estimates went as high as $20 billion to $30 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
“The decision gives legal certainty to the next generation of developers whose new products and services will benefit consumers,” said Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president of global affairs.

Oracle’s lawsuit accused Google of plagiarizing its Java software by copying 11,330 lines of computer code, as well as the way it is organized, to create Android and reap billions of dollars in revenue. Android, for which developers have created millions of applications, now powers more than 70% of the world’s mobile devices.

Over Half A Billion Facebook Users’ Personal Data Leaked Online

Data affecting over half a Billion Facebook users that was originally leaked in 2019, including email addresses and phone numbers, has been posted on an online hackers forum, according to media reports and a cybercrime expert. “All 533,000,000 Facebook records were just leaked for free,” Alon Gal, chief technology officer at the Hudson Rock cybercrime intelligence firm, said on Twitter last week. He denounced what he called the “absolute negligence” of Facebook.

Some of the data appeared to be current, according to a report in Business Insider which AFP was unable to confirm independently. It said some of the leaked phone numbers still belong to the owners of Facebook accounts. “This means that if you have a Facebook account, it is extremely likely the phone number used for the account was leaked,” Gal said.

But Facebook said the reports were old news. “This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019,” a company spokesperson told the media. “We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.”

The exposed data includes personal information of over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries, including over 32 million records on users in the US, 11 million on users in the UK, and 6 million on users in India. It includes their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and — in some cases — email addresses.

While a couple of years old, the leaked data could provide valuable information to cybercriminals who use people’s personal information to impersonate them or scam them into handing over login credentials, according to Alon Gal, CTO of cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock, who first discovered the entire trough of leaked data online on Saturday.

“A database of that size containing the private information such as phone numbers of a lot of Facebook’s users would certainly lead to bad actors taking advantage of the data to perform social engineering attacks [or] hacking attempts,” Gal told Insider.

In Win For Tech, Biden Lets Trump’s H1-B Visa Ban Expire

President Joe Biden has let a pandemic-related ban on visas for certain temporary workers, enacted by former President Donald Trump, to expire Wednesday, March 31, 2021. The moratorium, which affected H-1B visas used by technology companies to hire foreign coders and engineers, was imposed last June. Biden has opted not to renew it.

Biden’s decision will please business groups from Silicon Valley giants to India’s IT services leaders, which had pressured the administration to lift the ban ever since the new president took office. Executives have grown frustrated that the directive was not immediately revoked, arguing it hurt U.S. companies.

In an update on Thursday, the US Department of State said visa applicants who were previously refused due to Trump’s freeze may reapply by submitting a new application. Visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed will have their applications prioritized and processed under the State Department’s phased resumption plan.

The Trump administration in June 2020 stopped the government issuing H-1B visas through an an executive order linked to the coronavirus pandemic. In October, Trump then placed new restrictions on H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers — rules that were struck down by a federal judge in December who said the administration failed to show “good cause” for issuing the rules on an emergency basis.

American tech firms, from Facebook to Google, rely on foreign talent to shore up domestic workforces. Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services traditionally dispatch Indian software engineers to work in tandem with their American clients, which include some of the largest Wall Street banks and technology corporations. It remains unclear whether Biden will ease visa restrictions in general, reversing curbs imposed by the former Trump administration.

Trump’s restrictions on guest-worker visas, which also covered non-agricultural seasonal laborers, au pairs and others, had been under review by the Biden administration. Biden last month withdrew a related Trump executive order that stopped the issuance of new green cards, citing the pandemic — a move that drastically cut legal immigration to the U.S. Trump had argued the policies were necessary to protect the American economy as it emerged from the pandemic-induced recession.

“To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here,” Biden said in a presidential proclamation at the time. “It also harms industries in the United States that utilize talent from around the world.”

The ban on guest-worker visas was not revoked at the same time. Temporary work visas are unpopular with labor unions and other worker groups who argue that they put American workers at a disadvantage to their foreign counterparts. Despite the Trump administration’s extension of the visa ban at the end of 2020, opponents of the restrictions had already found some success in court.

A federal judge in California granted a preliminary injunction on Oct. 1 in a lawsuit brought by several large business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The groups argued Trump exceeded his authority by imposing immigration restrictions in his June 22 proclamation.

The Trump Justice Department appealed that ruling to the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In February, the appellate court requested a status report from the parties by April 7.

Aravalli Project Inception Meeting Held

In collaboration with National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and on behalf of all development partners, WHEELS Global Foundation, an initiative of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) alumni, organized the Aravalli Project Inception Meeting on Tuesday, 23rd March 2021 at Shri Shamlaji Arts College.
The National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR) has been implementing an Action Research Project for creating Model Gram Panchayat (GP) Clusters in Assam, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra from 2019 with support from Mission Samridhhi. Now, in further collaboration with WHEELS Global Foundation and Sarjan Foundation, this project is extending to one Cluster of seven GPs (Shamalpur, Bhavanpur, Waghpur, Devni Mori, Dhandhasan, Shamalaji and Ode) covering about 21,000 population in Bhiloda Taluka under Aravalli District of Gujarat.

Mr. Yogesh Andlay, a board member from the WHEELS Global Foundation (WGF), mentioned that this inception meeting, bringing the Government, development partners and community, is an important milestone as WHEELS strives to develop Bhiloda taluka as a model of development, converging all major sectors, Water, Health, Education, Energy, Livelihood and Sustainability. Mr. Andlay presented the WHEELS Foundation’s SMART village development framework.

“There is wonderful work on various technologies going on in US universities and in India especially at the IITs. While we started work on connecting these various technologies to NGOs and grassroots communities, our approach has evolved over the years where we have realized the importance of working on ground walking shoulder to shoulder with rural communities and ensure that these technologies are tailored to the local context, and suited to the needs of the local people. This is the approach that we are bringing to this initiative too.” – Yogesh Andlay, WGF India

The event also witnessed a strong community participation. Dr. Dilip Pal, Project Lead, National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Hyderabad, facilitated a community dialogue with the participants to appreciate the positive deviations in socio-economic development and to improve efforts based on lessons learnt from across the Gram Panchayats. NIRDPR representative, Mr.Dilip Pal, went on to say that this model has the scope of national replicability.
“We will be creating 11 clusters across Gujarat and we have chosen this cluster as the starting point. This is a very unique multi-partnership model, where we are working with more than 18 development partners. Such a collaborative is a very unique public-private development model being tested out for the first time in the country.” – Dilip Pal, National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj

The active and open participation of the villagers, and the rural community, including Sarpanches and Gram Panchayats, was very encouraging. They expressed their willingness to collaborate with the other stakeholders to make this project successful.
The partners in attendance were, Mission Samridhhi, working in deepening decentralized governance and strengthen institutional structures, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE-ISV) in Energy, Entrepreneurships and Education, Sarjan Foundation, BOSCH Foundation and I-Create for skilling, re-skilling and upskilling of the youth and entrepreneurship development, SEVAK Foundation and
EVOLKO in health care service delivery, Indian Institutes of Technologies (IITs) in Rural Development, and Piramal Foundation in Water Security.

 

“We are very thankful to have this opportunity to work with the community and all the other development partners. Mission Samriddhi’s Community Development Framework is based on Personal, Social, Economic, Ecological and Institutional Development of Gram Panchayats to achieve Holistic and Sustainable development. This model is operationalized through a young fellow, but we urge all of you to provide full support to the young fellow. All of us are going to take this journey together to make Bhiloda into a model development cluster.” – Ram Pappu, Mission Samriddhi

Mr. Ajay Patel, Principal, Shri Shamlaji Arts College, emphasized that concerted efforts are required to support the Aravalli district to improve human development indicators.
Shri A K Rakesh, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary (Chief Guest) emphasized the use of technology for the rural development to reach to the last mile, the most vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society. Mr. Rakesh alluded to the Government of Gujarat’s various programs, schemes and policies to improve holistic development. The ACS suggested all development partners to support in strengthening institutions at the GP level facilitating the convergence of all sectors, chiefly, Agriculture, Health, Nutrition, Education, Water and Sanitation, livelihood to have a cumulative and multiplier impact on the overall development.

Other dignitaries, who spoke in the event are, the District Development Officer, Shri Anilbhai T. Dhameliya, IAS, Aravalli District, Gujarat. Shri Anilbhai presented development Aravalli district. He emphasized and requested partners to focus on three major areas, Training and Capacity Building, Women Empowerment through Self-Help Group and technology for Agro based industries. The consortium partners also presented their plans for the Aravalli District.

There was a dialogue among and verbal support expressed for, the cooperation and collaborative operation by all public and private stakeholders. The meeting concurred with a joint plan of action to support the Gram, Taluka and District panchayats, district administrations and relevant state departments to develop Bhiloda Taluka as a model development taluka in India.

India’s FinTech valuation estimated at $150-160 billion by 2025

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on Saturday, March 14th unveiled ‘India FinTech: A USD 100 Billion Opportunity’ report. The report details the findings from the study that BCG and FICCI undertook to size the value-creation potential and identify imperatives for India’s FinTech growth.

Dilip Chenoy, Secretary General, FICCI said, “The FinTech industry in India has been growing at a fast clip. FinTech players are redefining the business models across different segments of financial services industry, helping improve service delivery and contributing to digital financial inclusion. This is a clear area of focus for us in FICCI and through our multiple initiatives, we will continue to promote this industry both in India and abroad.”

India’s dynamic FinTech industry has 2100+ FinTechs of which 67% have been set up over the last 5 years alone. The total valuation of the industry is estimated at $50-$60 billion. The industry’s growth has been undeterred by the pandemic, as it has seen the emergence of 3 new Unicorns and 5 new Soonicorns (USD 500Mn+ valuation) since January 2020.

The Fintech industry’s strong growth is due to India’s deep-rooted customer demand, diverse capital flows, strong tech talent and enabling policy framework. Over the next 5 years, India’s FinTech industry is expected to continue its strong upward trajectory.

Prateek Roongta, Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group India said, “We believe India’s FinTechs are at the precipice of significant value-creation of USD 100 billion over the next five years. To actualize this potential, the industry would require investments to the tune of USD 20-25 billion till 2025. Consequently, the number of Indian FinTech Unicorns will more than double over the next few years.”

Ruchin Goyal, Managing Director & Senior Partner, Boston Consulting Group India said, “The landscape will be defined by FinTechs that pursue their strategic play with deep, relentless discipline. Tomorrow’s FinTech winners are expected to ‘master the core’ — by innovating on product, user-experience or through deep-tech capabilities. India will also see the emergence of ecosystem orchestrators and multinational FinTechs, as it evolves into a global FinTech powerhouse.”

Another theme covered in this report is internationalization of Indian FinTechs. To develop a close understanding of the FinTech industry’s multinational ambitions, BCG and FICCI conducted the BCG-FICCI FinTech survey 2021. The survey reveals that 39% of Indian FinTechs surveyed have a presence outside India and 73% of FinTechs surveyed are actively considering international expansion opportunities. South-East Asia was the most sought-after destination for international expansion, followed by North America.

Several Indian FinTechs are well-positioned to establish a global footprint owing to their transplantable business models and proven track record of success. To ensure that Indian FinTechs achieve their potential, all stakeholders — FinTechs, Financial Institutions and policymakers — have a role to play. The imperatives for stakeholders have been identified in the report. (IANS)

India’s New Internet Rules Are ‘Digital Authoritarianism’

The Indian government must suspend sweeping new Internet regulations, 10 international NGOs said in an open letter Thursday. The new rules, brought in by executive order in late February, give the Indian government an arsenal of muscular new powers that will force tech companies and news outlets to comply with government surveillance and censorship demands.

The rules increase the pressure on U.S. tech companies including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp to comply with what the letter’s authors say is an increasingly authoritarian Indian government—or risk losing access to India, their biggest market in the world, which many see as key to future growth.

The Indian government had been preparing the new rules for years, but published them amid an escalating protest movement by Indian farmers that has captured both national and international attention. In February, the Indian government clashed with Twitter over the company’s refusal of a government request to remove hundreds of posts by activists and politicians about the protests, with the company saying they constituted freedom of expression. After the Indian government threatened Twitter employees with jail time, Twitter eventually re-blocked most of the posts.

“Why the government brought this up now is deeply linked to the farmer protests,” says Raman Jit Singh Chima, the Asia-Pacific policy director at Access Now, one of the groups that signed the open letter criticizing the rules. “After the pushback they received from social media firms, who were contesting orders they were receiving, the government definitely wants to send a clear signal that ‘we are going to regulate you, and if you push back, it will result in more regulation overall.’”

India’s new rules come at a time when tech platforms are facing threats of regulation by Western governments over content including hate speech, misinformation, and incitement to violence. But the Indian rules are more worrying, the open letter says, because they are part of a wider push toward “digital authoritarianism,” including Internet shutdowns and arrests of journalists. Although the Indian rules also contain useful provisions like mandating transparency in cases when user content has been removed, they come with no clear mechanisms for tech companies to push back against potentially unlawful government demands.

“The rules change the fundamental Internet experience for any average user in India,” says Apar Gupta, executive director of India’s Internet Freedom Foundation. “Social media companies, streaming platforms and online news portals are now being brought under some level of direct government supervision,” he says. “These rules are a very stark illustration of a desire of the government to control the online conversation. They extend forms of regulation over areas that enrich any kind of democracy, and encourage self-censorship.”

What do the new rules say?

The rules force companies to remove content that the government says is illegal within three days of being notified, including content that threatens “the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India,” public order, decency, morality, or incitement to an offense. The rules also state that platforms must hand over information about users to law enforcement upon request.

Encrypted messaging platforms like WhatsApp—which is owned by Facebook—will also be forced under the new rules to keep information on who the “first originator” of any message is, and provide it to the government upon demand. WhatsApp is already facing similar legislation in Brazil, its second-biggest market after India. And Western intelligence agencies have also pressured encrypted platforms to build “backdoors” into their messaging services.

WhatsApp did not respond to TIME’s request for comment, but its head Will Cathcart said the company was “still digesting them and understanding what they actually mean, or don’t mean,” in an interview on Big Technology, a podcast by journalist Alex Kantrowitz.

Cathcart suggested that WhatsApp may be prepared to bring legal cases in India if the rules meant breaking the end-to-end encryption that the chat service is based on. “If you’re talking about break[ing] encryption, it’s really hard for me to imagine being comfortable with it,” he said. “It’s hard for me to imagine even how you ask people to do that, I think it’s such a fundamental threat. So, we’ll stand and we’ll make our case, and we’ll argue.”

Facebook and Signal (an end-to-end encrypted messaging app that is growing in popularity in India) did not respond to TIME’s requests for comment.

In a statement, Twitter said: “We are studying the updated guidelines, and we look forward to continued engagement with the Government of India to strike a balance between transparency, freedom of expression, and privacy … We believe that regulation is beneficial when it safeguards citizen’s fundamental rights and reinforces online freedom.”

India’s new rules also say that companies must appoint a resident Indian citizen to be a “chief compliance officer” who will be criminally liable for any failure to comply with the rules. “India’s worst-kept secret is that if you work in the Internet industry, you will face arrest threats and threats of prosecution on a regular basis,” Chima says. “They’re just trying to codify this in one place. The idea is that if you have one person, you can put them under so much pressure that it will force compliance.”

The open letter by the 10 activist groups called on tech companies to resist the new rules. “They should interpret and implement legal demands as narrowly as possible, to ensure the least possible restriction on expression, notify users, seek clarification or modification from authorities, and explore all legal options for challenge,” the letter said.

As well as social media and streaming platforms, the new rules also impose strict new limits on digital news platforms—where a small handful of Indian publications have managed to remain critical of the government. In March, India’s democracy rating was downgraded from “free” to “partly free” by the U.S.-based NGO Freedom House, which cited among other factors the government’s “rising intimidation of academics and journalists.”

Under the new rules, digital publications will be subject to oversight by government-run committees, with the power to block publication of stories, remove stories, or even shut down entire websites. One of the 10 signatories of the open letter on Thursday is Reporters Without Borders, an NGO that campaigns for press freedom worldwide.

“Digital media has been quite outspoken, and I see this clearly as a way to bring it to heel, to control it, and perhaps intimidate it,” says Sidharth Bhatia, a founding editor of The Wire, a leading online publication that regularly publishes content critical of the Indian government. “It is executive overreach of the worst kind.”

The new legislation could result in critical reporting being silenced, Bhatia says. “Let’s say we’re about to publish a story about somebody powerful,” he says. “In a normal journalistic way, we will probably send a message before publication saying we would like your point of view. That person could very well go and say ‘I fear they will publish a very damaging story against me, and it’s libelous, etc.’” If that were to happen, he says, the case would be escalated through two committees, that contain no representatives of the digital media, until it is heard by a senior bureaucrat in India’s Ministry of Information. “At that level, you’re not likely to want to go against the government,” Bhatia says.

The publisher of The Wire is challenging the government’s new rules in the Indian court system—a challenge that a Delhi high court judge upheld on Tuesday, with the case adjourned to April 16.

Bhatia says that if the new rules are allowed to stand, they will have a “terrible chilling effect” on Indian journalism. “There is already talk within the media of journalists self-censoring,” he says. “More and more will say it’s not worth the trouble.”

We Need To Foundationally Transform Cloud: Nadella

In order to herald the next generation of innovation in Cloud technology, tech companies need to foundationally transform how Cloud can drive the next level of broad economic growth that everyone can participate in, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has stressed.

Addressing the Microsoft ‘Ignite 2021’ virtual conference, Nadella said that it’s time for us to reflect on how the Cloud will change over the next decade.

“As computing becomes embedded everywhere in our world — transforming how we interact with people, places and things — and as physical and digital worlds converge, we will require more sovereignty and decentralised control. Cloud and edge computing will evolve to meet all of these real-world needs,” he emphasised.

The volume, variety and velocity of data will go through explosive growth in the cloud — and in particular at the edge devices, driving the decentralised architecture of compute.

“In this world, data will be more private, more sovereign. Data governance and provenance will take on new importance. We will develop new methods of federated machine learning to drive the next generation of personalized and yet privacy-preserving services,” the Microsoft CEO added.

At the digital conference, Microsoft unveiled the public preview of Azure Percept, a platform of hardware and services that aims to simplify the ways in which customers can use Azure AI technologies on the edge.

Roanne Sones, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s edge and platform group, said the goal of the new offering is to give customers a single, end-to-end system, from the hardware to the AI capabilities, that “just works” without requiring a lot of technical know-how.

The Azure Percept platform includes a development kit with an intelligent camera, Azure Percept Vision.

There’s also a “getting started” experience called Azure Percept Studio that guides customers with or without a lot of coding expertise or experience through the entire AI lifecycle, including developing, training and deploying proof-of-concept ideas.

Nadella said that in the artificial intelligence (AI) we create using all this enormous power of the cloud, we will look for increasing levels of predictive and analytical power, common sense reasoning, alignment with human preferences –and perhaps most importantly, augmenting human capability.”

“Our economy will find a new balance between consumption and creation. We believe the next decade will require technology advances that radically democratise creation,” he noted. (IANS)

Biden Orders Allowing H4 Work Permits

“Withdrawn”. A single word on a thick bureaucratic file on the seventh day of the Biden administration delivered a huge win for spouses of workers on H1B visas in the US who spent the last four years worried sick that their work authorizations would be killed off.

The latest development brings to an end years of effort by the Donald Trump administration to rescind an Obama era regulation that allowed a certain subset of spouses of H1B visa holders to work in the US. Up until the summer of 2015, H4 visa holders could not legally hold paid employment in the United States. Almost as soon as Obama changed the game, the lawsuits followed and then the Trump presidency took the attack on the H4 work permit to a whole new level.A

On text messages, chat groups and online threads, the outpouring of relief played out online on Tuesday evening. “Great news! Hopefully H4EAD delays will be ending soon which is leading to a long wait for dependent spouses,” tweeted Rashi Bhatnagar.

Sharmistha Mohapatra posted, “Big win for H4 EAD holders today. Former Pres Trump’s EO to rescind H4 EAD is now withdrawn by POTUS. Let’s hope excruciating long wait times often resulting in job loss is taken away too!”

From the time the skewering of the H4 work permit (called the EAD) began in Fall 2017, the proposed rule has been published seven times for ongoing review, keeping the H4 community on cliff-edge. The Trump government justified the move saying it is “economically significant” and aligns with the “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, which was mostly code for keeping foreign workers out of the US and flinging red meat to the Trump base. Now, the backlink to that Trump executive order ends up as a 404 (page not found) error and re-routes to the Biden White House.

“Removing H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization” was a Trumpian agenda pursued by White House immigration hawks with intense zeal and inter-agency collaboration. It was being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), where it was parked for months. The pressure on the H4 community never really let up since Trump took office.

The decision to rescind the proposed rule on revoking the H4 work permit came on the same day Biden signed an executive order calling for the practice of racial equity in the United States. Data from the US government show that Indian and Chinese workers account for the lion’s share of H1B visas. H4 visas typically follow the same trajectory. Indians filed 74 per cent of all H1B petitions in fiscal year 2019. Chinese filed 11.8 percent. (IANS)

Last Mile Delivery of COVID-19 Vaccines––A Logistical Nightmare

The world has been reeling hard from the COVID-19 pandemic, crossing over two million deaths across the world. Paul Offit, a vaccine developer at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and a member of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), explains that there are two ways out of a pandemic: “one is hygienic measures–which we don’t seem very good at–and two is the vaccine.” That said, the government has thrown in everything to help build vaccines as all other measures have been unable to contain the virus efficiently. 

 

Eighteen billion dollars have been invested through government funds and Operation Warpspeed to expedite the process of vaccine development. Scientists and researchers have worked hand-in-hand with industry and regulatory authorities and were able to perform almost a miracle of getting an effective vaccine ready in fewer than twelve months. Pfizer and Moderna developed vaccines from the messenger RNA (mRNA) that codes for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Phase 3 clinical trials have proven that the Moderna vaccine has 94.1% efficacy and the Pfizer vaccine has 95% efficacy. Despite its high efficacy rate, the process of vaccination is going to have numerous hurdles as the supply chain management process takes long before the vaccine is actually administered to the user.  This involves transporting the vaccines from factories to national storage facilities to clinics through flights, trains, and trucks. 

 

The major problem in this process is going to arise at the last-mile delivery stage, particularly in remote villages and less developed areas where there may not be as much infrastructure available for transportation. Another significant limitation is that these vaccines need to be stored at extremely low temperatures throughout the process. For example, the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius, and the Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at -20 degrees Celsius. As a result, these vaccines need to be stored in specialized freezers and packaged with dry ice. However, studies have shown that only 25 to 30 countries have this ultra cold storage facility. It is therefore going to be a significant challenge for the rest of the countries that do not have this technology for the storage of vaccines and for people to gain access to vaccines for COVID-19. 

 

To overcome the lack of infrastructure networks for storage and transportation, drones can be effective tools. Drones have been effectively used in the healthcare field for the delivery of medications, bandages, etc. Similarly, they can be an ideal solution to deliver COVID-19 vaccines in a cost-effective and efficient way. Drones are beneficial because they are small and compact, and they require minimal infrastructure like roads, airports, and rail lines. They are also less expensive due to low maintenance costs, consume less energy, and are battery operated which is great for sustainability. 

 

Drone technologies are improving each year, enhancing the speed (75 mph) and endurance (8+ hours). By attaching a cold storage box with stored vaccines, it is possible to maintain storage requirements while also delivering vaccines to every corner of the world, regardless of the geographical location or access to transportation of that location. One drawback to utilizing drones is that they can only carry a limited amount of weight, and the cold storage system adds a significant weight. To counter this issue, we will need a large number of drones that can carry the limited baggage they can transport. Vaccines can be initially transported using available infrastructure to the major locations that have an established infrastructure. From these centers, drones can then perform the last-mile delivery to locations that do not have established transport  infrastructures. Drones are one of the most feasible ways to help get the vaccines delivered to everyone, regardless of geography or other socioeconomic factors. The US Government has also realized this, and recently the FAA issued new regulations that will allow small commercial drones to fly short distances over people and at night without a waiver. Small drones will also be permitted to fly over moving vehicles under limited conditions. The new rules mark a significant step forward by the US government towards a future of commercial drone deliveries, which can hopefully translate into getting vaccines for every person in the world.

 

(Kritika Singh is an aspiring pre-medical undergraduate student at Rutgers University as part of the Honors College, double majoring in Biological Sciences and Public Health. Her research focus is on bringing technology and medicine together to aid patients in underserved areas. She has previously worked as a research intern at Nair Hospital, a tertiary care center in Mumbai, India, to study HIV epidemiology and co-infection rates with other significant illnesses. She has also worked as a UI/UX design intern at the Mount Sinai AppLab in New York, where she helped develop a smartphone app that uses surface area for estimating weight of infants and determining their corresponding medication dosages for emergency pediatric settings. Currently, she is a New Jersey Vaccine Advocate, striving to promote health and wellness in local underserved communities by combating vaccine hesitancy among the population. She is a journalist for The Examiner, the pre-health journal of Rutgers University, and has served as an Editor of The Podium, which was her high school newspaper. She is also a Contact Tracer for COVID-19 at the Montville Township Health Department. Outside of academics, Kritika is passionate about yoga, music, and landscape photography. She runs voluntary classes for yoga to raise money for children with autism. She has played the piano for over eight years and enjoys performing for the elderly at assisted living centers.) 

Sources:

https://wamu.org/story/20/08/27/covid-19-vaccine-may-pit-science-against-politics/

https://www.gasworld.com/restarting-global-economy-depends-on-tackling-last-mile-of-vaccine-journey-new-report-says/2020172.article

https://www.softboxsystems.com

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-covid-cold-chain-how-a-vaccine-will-get-to-you/

https://www.dronesinhealthcare.com

https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/faa-drone-rules-what-recreational-and-commercial-pilots-need-to-know

 

 

World Bank To Fund $500 Million ‘Green’ Highways Project In India

India and the World Bank on Tuesday signed a $500 million project to build safe and green national highway corridors in the states of Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
The project will also enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in mainstreaming safety and green technologies.
The Green National Highways Corridors Project will support the ministry construct 783 km of highways in various geographies by integrating safe and green technology designs such as local and marginal materials, industrial by-products, and other bio-engineering solutions. The project will help reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions in the construction and maintenance of highways.
“Connectivity for economic growth and connectivity for sustainable development are two important aspects of a country’s development trajectory. This operation brings these two priorities together in support of India’s growth strategy,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India.
“This project will provide efficient transportation for road users in the four states, connect people with markets and services, promote efficient use of construction materials and water to reduce the depletion of scarce natural resources, and help lower GHG emissions,” he added.
The National Highways of India carry about 40 per cent of road traffic. However, several sections of these highways have inadequate capacity, weak drainage structures and black spots prone to accidents. The project will strengthen and widen existing structures; construct new pavements, drainage facilities and bypasses; improve junctions; and introduce road safety features.
As it is imperative that the infrastructure investments are climate resilient, disaster risk assessment of about 5,000 km of the National Highway network will also be undertaken under the project along with support to the ministry for mainstreaming climate resilience aspects in project design and implementation.
The $500 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a maturity of 18.5 years, including a grace period of five years. (IANS)

ASEI Confers Excellence Awards at Virtual Convention

American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) hosted its 33rd Annual National Convention focusing on Global Engineering & Technologies (GET-2020). This virtual convention was held on December 5th and 6th, 2020. While the speakers and participants were on the Zoom platform, it was livestreamed worldwide through YouTube.  Attended by scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders across the USA, the two-day event featured keynotes and multiple interactive sessions with prominent business and technology leaders, scientists and engineering entrepreneurs. At the Finale session on the second day, ASEI recognized four engineering achievers and four service excellence and contributors to ASEI.
The convention started with a welcome by ASEI President Jwalant Lakhia. It was emceed by Anu Gopalakrishnan. The first keynote speaker Deval Desai, VP Magna Int. spoke about Contributions of Indian Technologists and weaved the storyline from mythology to history to modern era in a very short span of time. From making the best steel in the world to teaching the world to count, India was actively contributing to the field of science and technology long before the modern world evolved. One of the oldest civilizations in the world, India has a strong tradition of science and technology. Many theories and techniques discovered by the ancient Indians have created and strengthened the fundamentals of modern science and technology. While some of these groundbreaking contributions have been acknowledged, some are still unknown to most, and he shared some of the profound inventions that have and will continue to shape the future of humankind. It was heartening to see the contribution of Indian women scientists and engineers highlighted in a field typically dominated by men. There were so many factoids about things and achievements of unsung engineering heroes that would make anyone hailing from the Indian subcontinent proud!
The first technical session Quantum computing by Dancing with Qubits was a keynote by Dr Robert Sutor, VP Quantum, IBM Research. Quantum computing aims to solve complex problems the world’s most powerful supercomputers cannot solve. Leading the race in this field is IBM, though Google, Microsoft, Amazon and lot of others are all putting heavy investment bets in Quantum as well. Considering application in life sciences, an example was presented as follows: On average, it takes 10 to13 years and more than $2.5 billion to bring a new medical therapy from the discovery bench to the patient. The odds of success are overwhelmingly weighted in favor of failure. Harnessing the power of quantum computing can deliver the potential to significantly accelerate the timelines for, and enhance the quality of various stages of pharmaceutical research and development processes. That was very futuristic and sounded exciting.
According to Dr. Sutor, Quantum promises to tackle classically challenging problems across a variety of industries, from optimizing traffic control to refining supply chain logistics, and from discovering new drugs to detecting fraud more rapidly. Also, anyone can now try out the power of quantum on the IBM cloud for free with toolkits and resources available freely!
The next speaker was Prof Solomon Darwin, often known as the “Father of Smart Village Movement.” Dr, Darwin spoke on Agritech innovations for a Smarter Village. Dr Darwin shared how UC Berkeley Haas School defines the concept and after that shared about his books and publications in addition to the agricultural innovations that have the potential to make villages smarter with minimal resources.
The next session was on User Experience Design (UXD), which is a design process whose sole objective is to design a system that offers a great experience to its users. Thus, UXD embraces the theories of a number of disciplines such as user interface design, usability, accessibility, information architecture, and Human Computer Interaction. The first speaker Urmila Kashyap, Senior User Experience Designer with VMware, talked about UX design systems for enterprise products based on her 10+ years of UXD experience working with large companies like Moody’s & VMware. Surbhi Kaul, GM and Head of Product at Juniper Networks, built on it and shared from her own experience of building and launching products over two decades at Netflix, Cisco, YouTube, Google and Juniper Networks covering why UXD is critical to a product’s success and highlighted design systems using examples of AIML products she has helped launch.
 
An engineering and technology conference can’t be complete without covering Artificial Intelligence (AI). One might imagine that artificial intelligence is only something the big tech giants are focused on, and that AI doesn’t impact your everyday life. In reality, Artificial Intelligence is increasingly penetrating both our work and personal lives. Yet, many organizations in traditional industries are still grappling with justifying the ROI beyond proof-of-concept stage and struggling with operationalizing AI/ML. From a research to engineering to business perspective, a complete CXO view is needed which was provided by an IBM Fellow and Master Inventor with over 45 patents to her name – Rama Akkiraju, CTO AIOps addressing this daunting challenge and shared some best practices in this session on Artificial Intelligence in the Enterprise.
Autonomous Vehicles and Future Transportation is an interesting topic in which Jeff Hannah, Director, NA SBD Automotive & Akshay Desai, Associate Partner, McKinsey presented their POVs and tried separating fact from fiction about autonomous cars. Whether you are an automotive expert or newbie, one could gain valuable insights into the future of mobility and learn exciting ways to participate in this growing industry. Desai focussed on the future for autonomous vehicle adoption and the changing AV mobility market. The session was moderated by Convention Co-Chair Bhavesh Joshi.

The first day conference session ended with some amazing Youth Technology Exposition (YTE) finalist students, from high school to undergrad, showcasing their work. The objective of the YTE was to provide a forum for young engineers, students and budding scientists to showcase their projects in science, engineering and technology topics that can have an impact on our world. The finalist students faced a barrage of questions from the judges Amrish Chopra and Mutthu Sivanathan. This competition and session was conceived and coordinated by the Conference Content Chair and President of ASEI-Silicon Valley Piyush Malik.
It was a tight race to pick winners based on combining scores from responses to judges’ questions, audience poll and quality and depth of engineering and research in their submissions from prior rounds. Finally, the top 3 winners declared were: (1) Nidhi Mathihali (2) Jyoti Rani and (3) Isha Jagadish
The second day started with ASEI President Jwalant Lakhia welcoming the audience back and laying out the plan for the day. At the outset it became pretty clear to the audience that they would hear some high-powered content led by industry leaders lined up for the day. 
Opening keynote on Leadership in turbulent times was delivered by Dr. Satyam Priyadarshy, Chief Data Scientist & Technology Fellow, Haliburton. Leadership in turbulent times is a critically important topic and pertinent considering the current socio-geo-politico-economic scenario in the COVID era. Dr. Priyadarshy, is a globally recognized leader for his expertise in leveraging disruptive technologies, strategies and talent transformation to increase business value. He applied ancient Indian wisdom from Hanuman Chalisa to talk about a framework to face disruption in tumultuous times. According to Dr. Priyadarshy, every challenge from the past looks smaller. Paradigm shifts, Leading the transformation with a mnemonic “Karma Matters” and putting the essence of all management texts with 20 words from the religious prayer, he beautifully showed the audience some leadership lessons that have helped him as well as the teams he has led from academics to corporate life.
The next keynote session Career Management in a Disrupted Economy was delivered by Dilip Saraf who is an IIT Alumnus and has reinvented himself 5 times to be a Career and Life Coach besides being an Author and speaker. Dilip very succinctly brought out the problem and solution pertinent to those facing career challenges during this Covid-19 pandemic which has jolted us into action with a career wake-up call with uncertainty about how future jobs will emerge. Using examples from his own career shifts as well as couple of his high-profile clients, Saraf’s talk on career management was about strategies available to all of us to better manage our career and to develop resilient options for us to deal with this uncertainty and to stay in control of our own destinies.
The next session was an inspiring fireside chat conducted by Piyush Malik, SVP SpringML, with Naveen Jain, CEO Viome & Founder/Chairman – Moon Express on Exponential Technologies for Humanity’s Grand Challenges. The session saw both engaged in a high energy conversation on exponential technologies and life sciences. For the uninitiated, exponential technologies are those which are rapidly accelerating and shaping major industries and all aspects of our lives. For a technology to be “exponential,” the power and/or speed doubles each year, and/or the cost drops by half. As in Moore’s law!
Exponential technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR), data science, digital biology and biotech, medicine, nanotech and digital fabrication, networks and computing systems, robotics, and autonomous vehicles. Solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges lie at the intersection of these exponential technologies.
In the next session Cybersecurity: Opportunity of Threat? the audience learned about the latest trends in cybersecurity from Anand Oswal, SVP and GM at PaloAlto Networks and was joined in conversation with popular cybersecurity strategist and influencer Matthew Rosenquist who is currently the Chief Information Security Officer at Eclipz
Cybersecurity has taken center stage in the enterprise executive mind as cases of ransomware and denial of services attacks and data breaches have kept the CISOs of the nation occupied. However, currently the biggest threats are often also the biggest opportunities. Cybersecurity is imperative for enterprises as well as nations today. Projections are that cybercrime will exceed $6 trillion annually by 2021 from $3 trillion in 2015, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. Probably the most significant factor driving this acceleration is the increasing efficiency of cybercriminals. The dark web has become a thriving black market where criminals of all means can gain the capabilities necessary to launch sophisticated cyberattacks.
Anand talked about the 3 concurrent mega transitions in enterprise IT that are impacting network security viz. Rise of a mobile workforce, Shift to hybrid cloud and Direct to app architectures. The fireside chat drew a number of interesting questions from the audience which kept the session flow lively.
The enterprise technology landscape has increasingly become difficult to manage for a CIO whose role has evolved from a Chief Information Officer to a Chief Innovation Officer in the past few years. With digital transformation mandate becoming table stakes, rapid adoption of Cloud and work-from -anywhere becoming a norm, the technology woes of an enterprise CTO or a CIO seem to be unending and may have been exacerbated due to the current pandemic.
Next session was the powerful CXO fireside chat focusing on Innovation in the Enterprise with Manoj Prasad, VP & Global CTO, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Prakash Kota, CIO Autodesk, moderated by Rakesh Guliani. What does a CTO of a public company worry about? How does the CIO become indispensable in M&A decisions? How will this pandemic change the pace of innovation in enterprise technology? These and many more topics were central to this conversation where we also found how Thermofisher Scientific is at the forefront of fight against COVID!
“Space – the final frontier” these words from Star Trek can hardly be erased from memory of those who grew up watching the science fiction TV series. Many of the innovations shown have transcended from fiction into reality as commercial space tourism is set to start and our exploratory missions to either colonizing the moon or to become a multi planetary species have been progressing well with many successful missions with robots to Mars and beyond in the past decade thanks to NASA, ISRO, European Space Agency, SpaceX and other commercial aerospace companies. The next session speaker was a super smart NASA/BAERI Space scientist Dr Sreeja Nag who also happened to be a Robotist at Nuro. Speaking on Robotics and Space, she shared her experiences on autonomous robots that work on earth as well as in the space. 
The last session of the Convention was the ASEI Awards which was anchored by ASEI Board Member Dr Thomas Abraham, Chair Awards Committee. Chief Guest was Ambassador Amit Kumar, Consul General India in Chicago. Consul General Kumar emphasized the importance of Indian American engineers and scientists pooling their talents to help India. He also presided over the function where 8 industry and ASEI awards were given out and each recipient gave a brief acceptance speech. The awardees are as follows:
ASEI Lifetime Achievement -Naveen Jain
ASEI Entrepreneur of The Year – Jyoti Bansal
ASEI Engineer of The Year (Mech/Solar) – Dr Yogi Goswami
ASEI Engineer pf The Year (Industrial Operations and Product Management) – Deval Desai
ASEI Service Excellence Award – Rakesh Patel
Hari Bindal ASEI Founders Award – Vatsala Upadhyay
Leadership and Contribution to ASEI – Rakesh Guliani and Sunita Dublish  
Dr Neeraj Bindal, son of ASEI Founder the Late Dr. Hari Bindal gave a moving tribute to his father as he presented the Founder’s award to Vatsala.    
 
The convention was put together by ASEI President Jwalant Lakhia along with Convention Co-chairs Rakesh Patel and Bhavesh Joshi. The Program chair was ASEI Michigan Chapter President Vatsala Upadhyay. ASEI Silicon Valley Chapter President Piyush Malik served as Convention Content Chair.
About ASEI
The American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) is a not-for-profit organization that provides a platform for networking, career advancement, community service, mentoring and technology exchange for professionals, students and businesses in the United States and abroad. Members are guided by several objectives, including the creation of an open, inclusive, and transparent organization; providing positive role models, awarding scholarships, and remaining socially responsible. ASEI was founded in 1983 in Detroit, Michigan by a handful of visionaries. Today, the organization also has chapters in Michigan, Southern California, Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Washington, DC. For more information, visit: www.aseiusa.org.

TiE Global Awards Bill Gates With Lifetime Achievement Award

Technologist, business leader, and philanthropist Bill Gates was presented with the Lifetime Achievement First Generation Entrepreneur Award at the inaugural TiE Global Awards held during the TiE Global Summit (TGS) 2020 on Friday. The award was presented by TGS chair Sridhar Pinnapureddy.

The award celebrates Gates’ body of work that laid the foundation for today’s entrepreneurs and technology innovators, and his philanthropic efforts towards making the world a better place for those often overlooked by society.

TiE Global this year honored 12 entrepreneurs and executives from across the world and thanked Bill Gates and Bill Marriott for accepting Honorary Lifetime Achievement awards.

“Entrepreneurship has no boundaries nor a language. We foster and support entrepreneurs and visionaries who build enterprises to solve a billion people’s problems or a dreamer in high school wanting to increase human productivity,” said Praveen Tailam, a member of the Board of Trustee of TiE Global and former [resident TiE Boston. “TiE has brought the corporates to investors to universities to accelerators and the entire startup ecosystem together. TiE Global Entrepreneurship Awards is an appreciation of these individuals from different parts of the world.”

“Mr. Gates’ contributions are ginormous and invaluable, to list them out will be impossible. But the greatest, we at TiE feel is, that his work in computing has empowered anyone who uses a PC or any devices. His dream of the era of home computing when they were just used by big corporates, governments led to this day. Today, we have a mini-computer in the form of smartphones in our pockets. His work has impacted the way the world works,” said Mahavir Sharma, TiE Global chair.

Receiving the award virtually during TiE Global Summit, he said it was honor to receive this prestigious award from TiE. In his remarks on the occasion, he said innovation is the key to solve the world’s toughest challenges, whether it is stopping a pandemic, avoiding a climate disaster or just raising human productivity.

“But as Paul Allen and I experienced with Microsoft, innovators can’t make it on their own. They need supporters and partners to make sure that their best ideas make it from the lab to the marketplace. For over 27 years, TiE has been doing just that. You support great entrepreneurs around the world and in some of the most important fields in technology today. Your work is essential in fostering innovation and creating the better world we all want,” said Gates.

Co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates, was chosen for the award by a jury of business leaders, chaired by N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder, Infosys Technologies. Other members of the jury include professor Jagdish Sheth; Charles H. Kellstadt, professor of business, Emory University; and Gururaj Deshpande, president, and chairman, Sparta Group; as well as an entrepreneur and author Ping Fu, co-founder and board director, Geomagic. The TiE Global Awards was chaired by Kali Gadiraju, board member, TiE Global.As a first generation entrepreneur, Bill Gates has created a remarkable impact not only on the global economy but also has become an inspiration to many many entrepreneurs through generations, said Mahavir Sharma, TiE Global Chair.

Bill Gates is a visionary entrepreneur who has overcome various challenges and failures to create a new world, and he has leveraged success to tackle health and poverty issues worldwide which are overlooked by society, said Sridhar Pinnapureddy, TGS2020 Chair.

The lifetime achievement service award was posthumously conferred on late F.C. Kohli, father of Indian IT Industry and the lifetime achievement family business transformation on Bill Marriott of Marriott International.

Kohli was the founder and first CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest software services company. He died recently. His wife received the award and thanked TiE for choosing him for the award. TiE also presented 10 awards under various categories. Six outstanding entrepreneurs and seven ecosystem players were recognized.

The Singapore government was given the award for the best government agency supporting startup ecosystem. Best corporate supporting entrepreneurship went to Google/Alphabet for start-ups. Stanford University was recognised as the best university promoting entrepreneurship.

Best accelerator award was conferred on Y Combinator, best performing global VC Fund went to Sequoia Capital, and the most active angel network in the world award went to Tech Coast Angels.

Bootstrapped to Billions award has gone to Ben Chestnut and rapid listing award to VIR Biotechnology, lightening unicorn award to Indigo Agriculture and most innovative startup to Data Robot.

In its inaugural TiE Global Entrepreneurship Awards program, TiE found Bill Gates as the most deserving person on earth, based on their extensive research under the guidance of renowned management professors, to receive Lifetime Achievement Award for a first generation entrepreneur who created a global scale organization which outlives the entrepreneur and is an inspiration to generations, TiE Global said in a statement.

 

Cyber Vulnerability Grows Along With COVID-19 Pandemic Stresses

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages, demand for telehealth services has also grown, increasing the vulnerability that medical operations have to cyberattacks and hacks, according to Laura Hoffman, AMA assistant director of federal affairs.

Hospitals and medical practices must always take steps to protect their networks from cyberattacks on patient records and other data, but as hospitals and physician practices have adjusted to provide more care virtually, while also devoting significant resources to treating patients with COVID-19 and managing the increased number of cyberattacks on health care providers, security can become stressed, she said during a recent episode of the “AMA COVID-19 Update.”

“In the pandemic, we rightfully have a lot of resources focused on caring for patients with COVID. So, you’ve got a lot of additional personnel maybe working in different areas of the hospital that they aren’t accustomed to, maybe their access controls have had to change in terms of who’s allowed out into what portions of the electronic health records, and that can contribute to insider threats,” Hoffman said.

“We’ve got people continuing to work from home and continuing to receive treatment from home. So, the landscape of the vulnerabilities and entry points during the pandemic are increased as compared to a regular health care system where a lot of the care is delivered inside your secure clinic or hospital.”

Telehealth creates vulnerabilities

Hoffman also pointed to a growing reliance on telehealth and how more patients are receiving care from home using different telehealth platforms. The use of the technology has been “a wonderful way for us to promote social distancing and preserve” personal protective equipment (PPE), she said.

“But at the same time, what is good for the health care system and patients presents an opportunity, unfortunately, for cyber criminals. So, they see this now as an opportunity to perhaps exploit these increased use of telehealth systems and the fact that people are working in an environment that they may be less familiar with, and they are going to town in terms of trying to infiltrate different systems,” Hoffman said.

Ransomware, a long-standing problem for individual internet users, is also on the rise for institutions. “In the beginning [of the pandemic] we saw a lot of attacks via phishing and ransomware. Having people click on links for additional PPE that they might be trying to find … actually would then infect computers and systems,” she said.

Ransomware criminals then demand money from affected institutions to release infected software and locked up data. “It’s not just something that happens in a back room where the IT staff then gets busy to work and trying to fix the ransomware that has infected the system,” Hoffman noted. “It really is a system-wide impact when your systems are shut down. You can’t pull up distinct patient records to learn what medications they’re on or even what their diagnoses are.”

Beware of insider threats

One of the newest and biggest threats is called “Ryuk ransomware,” she explained, which has been released into the open internet for use by any malicious criminal.

The ransomware has created an opportunity for insider attacks by individuals who recognize an opportunity to exploit weaknesses in an institution’s technology.

“We’re seeing a lot of insider threats, unfortunately, where folks may recognize that their systems aren’t patched as strongly as they should be or completely as they should be, and they’re able to just insert this software right into some unsecured systems. One of the biggest examples we’ve actually seen recently is with the UHS [Universal Health Services Inc.] health care system where computers were infected, and many practices had to shut down. Hospital systems were without their EHR for some time,” Hoffman said.

It’s not just hospitals and large institutions that are affected. Small practices or individual physicians working from home may be storing less data, “but they may not have the same kinds of robust cybersecurity protections in place, and so it’s easier to infiltrate that network and maybe link it to a larger network,” she said.

Keep software up to date

Hoffman recommends IT staff check that software is up to date and make sure software patches for all technology are completed regularly—even personal computer operating systems and internet browsers that link to bigger data management systems.

“One thing to consider is giving all of your employees a really serious refresher about the kinds of links they should be clicking on when they review their emails inside the hospital system. Maybe have everybody change their passwords more frequently, make the requirements more complex.

“I know it just adds one more thing for everybody to remember, but you can use password managers to help with that and come up with complex passwords that you don’t need to actually remember every time,” she said

(By Len Strazewski, a Contributing News Writer at AMA)

Your Phone Can Send You An Alert If You Were Near Someone Who Has Coronavirus

As new coronavirus cases explode nationwide, health officials are turning to cell phones to help slow the spread of infections. Thanks to technology available on Apple and Google phones, you can now get pop-up notifications in some states if you were close to someone who later tested positive for Covid-19. The alerts come via state health department apps that use Bluetooth technology to detect when you (or more precisely, your phone) has been in close contact with an infected person’s phone.

While these apps can’t keep you safe — they only let you know after you’ve been exposed — they could prevent others from getting infected if you take precautions, such as self-quarantining, after receiving an alert.

Millions of people are signing up, although these apps aren’t yet available in many states. Health officials believe the alerts could be especially helpful in cases where an infected person has been in contact with strangers — for example in a bus, train or checkout line — who wouldn’t otherwise know they were exposed.

How the notifications work

iPhones and Android devices contain constantly changing anonymous codes that ping nearby phones via Bluetooth — a process that starts once the user opts to get the notifications.

For the exposure notifications to be effective, Android users must turn on Bluetooth and download their state’s Covid-19 notification app. On iPhones, the system is already baked into settings, although users must go to exposure notifications and make sure availability alerts are on.  A close-contact alert from the Covid-19 exposure notification app made by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.

When someone who uses the feature tests positive for coronavirus, he or she gets a PIN from a health official to enter into their phone. Any other phone that was nearby in the previous two weeks — usually within six feet or less, for at least 15 minutes — will get an alert telling the user to quarantine and notify a health provider.

The apps assess your risk on the strength of the Bluetooth signal (how close you were to the other person) and the duration of your contact with them.

Where you can get them

At least 15 states are taking part in this Covid-19 exposure notification system.  They include Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wyoming and the nation’s capital, Washington, DC.

Some states reported a flurry of sign-ups within weeks of launching the program. Maryland launched its notification system on November 10 and more than 1 million people have already signed up, said Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the state health department. He described the app as “a complement to traditional contact tracing and another tool in the toolbox” to combat coronavirus infections.

Colorado, where coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have surged in recent weeks, has also seen more than 1 million people sign up for alerts since the system launched on October 25. The state is one of several conducting massive campaigns to educate residents about their exposure notification service.

Some states have launched apps to alert residents when they may have been exposed to coronavirus.  “We are at a pivotal moment in this pandemic, and opting in to this service helps keep our families and communities safe and our economy running,” Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement.

Other states, including California and Oregon, have launched pilot programs but their notification systems are not yet available to everyone.

Questions about privacy

Is information from the apps anonymous? Experts say it is.  The apps don’t collect data on users or their locations, and there is no way to link Covid diagnoses and alerts to names and identities on phones, Gischlar said.

Unlike a previous notification system widely touted at the beginning of the pandemic that used GPS, which tracks a person’s location, the Bluetooth system helps maintain privacy and anonymity among users.

“The fact that they use Bluetooth to bounce signals off other phones close to you, as opposed to tracking your location, does make them less invasive, and people shouldn’t worry their location is being tracked — it isn’t,” said Steve Waters, founder of Contrace Public Health Corps, which provides guidance on Covid-19 contact tracing.

“The process is entirely anonymous and doesn’t collect any personally identifiable information, addressing the privacy concerns of earlier more invasive contact tracing apps.”

Earlier versions that sparked privacy concerns were created by third-party developers. This coronavirus notificiation alert technology is provided by Apple and Google, and users can opt out from using it at any time, Gischlar said.

The alerts can reduce Covid-19 infections

The more people who sign up for the alerts, the more effective they are. Right now only a small percentage of the roughly 100 million Americans who live in the 15 states use the apps.

But health officials say even these minimal numbers are making a difference. In Colorado, officials cited studies that show even a 15% use of exposure notification technologies leads to a significant decrease in coronavirus infections and deaths. The state says usage of their app is now at 17%.

Some states have grouped together to enable pop-up notifications across state lines, according to Tony Anscombe, a global expert for internet security company ESET. This is especially important in places near state borders where people work in one state and live in another.

The alert system only works on phones that are less than five years old. For example, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware have formed a regional alliance that uses a similar system that allows their apps to work across state lines, Anscombe said.

States face some challenges in spreading them. The alert system is designed to complement traditional contact tracing, not work alone.  But technology brings its own set of challenges. For starters, the notification system only works on Google and Apple phones that are less than five years old, Anscombe said. Not everyone has a newer smartphone, and only a small percentage of those who do are using the notification system.

The software on iPhones and Android devices detects when people — or rather their phones — get close to one another.

In addition, not all states are using the notification system. Many state health departments are already overwhelmed by the virus’ resurgence, and some may not have the resources to develop and maintain an app, Anscombe said.

The earlier, GPS-based notification system caused an outcry among privacy advocates and has created skepticism about contact tracing in general, Waters said.

“States need additional funding, currently stuck in Congress, to help battle disinformation and increase adoption of this critical tool in the battle against Covid,” Waters said. The coronavirus pandemic also has become a political issue, with some Americans taking it less seriously than others. For that reason, Waters said, some are also reluctant to use Covid exposure apps.

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