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Thursday, April 23, 2020

UP exports vegetables to UK .. Kerala Govt caught in Sprinklr data scam !

A fire sprinkler system is an active fire protection method, consisting of a water supply system, providing adequate pressure and flowrate to a water distribution piping system, onto which fire sprinklers are connected. .. .. Insurers speak about this daily on analyzing their risks !  Life has changed – long ago – the Telephone Directory was a prized possession –  could we have imagined that a day might come when people would not like their nos listed / revealed .. !  - yet one gets no. of calls offering services, products – many a times, they would have most of our information including DoB, Occupation, Address, ownership of vehicles, homes, products and .. .. – one may be surprised that most companies buy data thinking them to the goldmine for furtherance of their business.

Unconnected but in news is ‘Sprinklr’ - a New York City-based software company that develops a SaaS customer experience management (CXM) platform. The company's software, also called Sprinklr, utilizes artificial intelligence, and combines different applications for social media marketing, social advertising, content management, collaboration, employee advocacy, customer care, social media research and social media monitoring.

On Wednesday, US tech giant Facebook announced that it would invest $5.7 billion (Rs 43,547 crores) in RIL's wholly-owned subsidiary Jio Platforms to expand its presence in India. With this investment, Facebook will own 9.9 per cent stake in Jio Platforms. This would be Facebook's biggest minority shareholding ever. Reliance Jio, a part of Jio Platforms, has been the fastest-growing telecom network in the country since its launch in 2016. Jio has more than 388 million customers in India.

After the announcement, in early morning trade, shares of Reliance Industries (RIL) gained 7 per cent at Rs 1,326 on the BSE and with day’s gain, the stock of RIL has rallied 14 per cent from its Tuesday’s low of Rs 1,164. In a press release shared by the company, it says, "This investment by Facebook values Jio Platforms at Rs 4.62 trillion pre-money enterprise values ($65.95 billion, assuming a conversion rate of Rs 70 to a US Dollar). Facebook’s investment will translate into a 9.99 per cent equity stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis," it added. As Facebook, the world’s largest social media company, invests $5.7 billion for a 9.99 per cent stake in Reliance Jio Platforms, the deal is also seen as a powerful alliance to take on formidable players in e-commerce and payments space such as Amazon, Flipkart and Google.

Down under, a five-Test series played exclusively at Adelaide Oval with players housed in the ground's new hotel is far from an outlandish suggestion as Cricket Australia contemplates all possible ways of ensuring that India's scheduled tour takes place next summer in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. CA's chief executive Kevin Roberts stressed that the governing body was being as "creative" as possible to try to ensure the tour goes ahead at the end of the year. Its success rests hand in hand with ensuring that the game in Australia can maximise its revenue next summer so that they could offer players, the states and community cricket and its own staff a flow of cash somewhere near the torrent that has rushed through over the past decade.

Player pay could veer wildly depending on whether the India tour is able to go ahead. Certainly more so than the scheduled T20 World Cup that is still slated to precede it amid growing doubts about staging an event of far greater complexity than housing just one touring team.  The majority of staff, approximately 200, will be stood down next week on 20% of their salary or the equivalent of the Australian government's JobKeeper payment of A$1500 per fortnight, which was introduced to help companies during the pandemic, until the end of the financial year on June 30. CA employees are not eligible for the actual JobKeeper payment because the board's revenue hasn't fallen enough. The executive team (led by CEO Kevin Roberts) and a skeleton staff to maintain basic operations will continue on 80% of their salaries for the same period. Stood down staff at Cricket Australia may find themselves working at Woolworths after the chief executive Kevin Roberts approached the supermarket giant and cricket sponsor about temporary work opportunities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Amid the coronavirus lockdown, a good news made its way from the agricultural sector of Varanasi region as for the first time, a consignment of four tonnes of green vegetables including chilli, cucumber and lauki (gourd) left for Delhi to be exported to the UK, which is reeling under the onslaught of the virus. Earlier, vegetable consignments were sent only to the Gulf countries from Varansi region.  Speaking to TOI on Wednesday, divisional commissioner Deepak Agrawal said, “On Tuesday evening, a truck left with four tonnes of farm fresh green chilli, gourd and cucumber in air-conditioned containers for Delhi. The vegetables grown by a progressive farmer, Anil Kumar Rai, in his fields in Ghazipur district, will reach London by air cargo on Thursday from the Delhi airport.” “It is a welcome development for the Varanasi region as the dispatch to London will generate opportunities in the European market also. In the past, exports of fresh vegetables were limited only to the Gulf countries,” he added.

The last dispatch by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), in its endeavour to promote exports from rich agricultural regions of India, was made on December 20, 2019 from Varanasi to Dubai. It was the first trial shipment of vegetables through sea route to Dubai.

Whilst the touted backward UP region is selling vegetable to Europe, Kerala is caught in a scam of selling personal data .. .. .. describing Sprinklr issue as the biggest data scam the state has ever seen, Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala questioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s role in awarding the contract to manage the details of people under Covid-19 quarantine to an American company. In a fresh allegation, he also said the government had allowed the firm to “steal” the data of 87 lakh ration- card holders as well. He said the scam was happening in the state under the cover of Covid-19 at a time when an investigation is on against Sprinklr in the USA for data fraud.

Speaking at the daily press briefing later, Pinarayi said the information on people under Covid-19 surveillance collected through SaaS — the software tool provided by the US-based company free of cost — will not be misused. He read out a note listing the factors that prompted his government to select Sprinklr without following the normal selection procedures. Meanwhile, the BJP also demanded a detailed probe into alleged transfer of sensitive Covid-19 data by Kerala government to the company.

Kerala’s leader of the opposition Ramesh Chennithala filed a petition in the Kerala high court demanding that the agreement between the state government and US-based company Sprinklr for sharing data of Covid-19 patients be quashed, even as chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan who is in the eye of the Sprinklr storm remained in denial. The LDF government has been pushed to the wall ever since charges surfaced that the government had not done due diligence while collecting sensitive Covid-19 data or to ensure that this data didn’t fall into the wrong hands. On Tuesday, the high court said it cannot, prima facie, agree to the state government’s stance that data of Covid-19 patients and suspects being shared with Sprinklr is not sensitive or privileged. Sprinklr reportedly has links to pharma giant Pfizer.

On Tuesday, in an attempt at damage control, the state government constituted a committee - comprising former additional chief secretary (health) Rajeev Sadanandan and IT expert and former Union civil aviation secretary M Madhavan Nambiar - to inquire into the allegations of breach of rules and privacy in the agreement with Sprinklr. However, Chennithala said the two-member committee had no power to conduct an inquiry into an international deal and cannot summon the necessary documents or interrogate the chief minister who is also the minister for IT.  The high court on Tuesday had questioned the need for engaging a third party software as a service provider when the number of patients in Kerala was very low. “There is only one thing that we are concerned about... how can you guarantee us that the data is remaining confidential? Just guarantee us that,” the HC observed.

The CPM continued to support Vijayan, arguing that the government had the right to take extraordinary steps in extraordinary situations. “The government has the responsibility to take unusual steps to save the lives of people. Existing laws provide the government the right to do that. Life of people and wellbeing of the society is more important at this juncture than individual freedom,” a statement issued by the state secretariat here said.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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