63-year-old Indian Animal Activists Splurges Around $806 A Month To Feed Strays

63-year-old Indian Animal Activists Splurges Around $806 A Month To Feed Strays

HYDERABAD, India — A 63-year-old former corporate employee-turned-social and animal rights activist in Southern Indian city Hyderabad has been feeding and sheltering stray non-human animals for 11 years.

Prasad worked with a multi-national company in Saudi Arabia for 15 years and returned to India in 1995. Since then, he has been active in the community as a social activist, and since 2010, he started working for stray non-human animals by feeding and rescuing the stray animals.

“I have been passionate about social work and animals rescue from a very young age,” he said.

“After working for an MNC in Saudi Arabia, I returned to India in 1995, and after I came back, I established an orphanage, and in 2010, I started working for animal welfare. I have handed over the orphanage to a friend of mine who is looking after it”.

After working for stray animals, he realized that many people have been ignoring the problems the animals face.

Prasad started out with feeding and looking after neighborhood strays, only to discover that those beyond the block were no different in hunger and neglect. He eventually began feeding those stray non-human animals as well.

As of now, Prasad feeds between 200 and 250 dogs daily across 21 areas in Hyderabad.

In feeding these strays every day, the Hyderabad caregiver spends nearly Rs 60,000 ($806.62) a month, most of which is sponsored by himself and his sisters and the rest by a few others.

“These stray animals need care and love, and not many look after them and their needs,” Prasad said.

“I have seen many animals starving to death beside roads. That is when I decided to look after them.”

Prasad has some 10 dogs in his house, all rescues. While some were found starving to death, others had severe injuries over them.

He said that in the initial days when they started feeding the strays in his locality, people of his locality opposed him. He said he tried to convince them. While some seem to approve of the inter-species welfare, others still oppose him, and despite all this, the feeding process goes on without any break for a single day.

He said that in few cases, he was even harassed by the people.

Apart from feeding and looking after stray non-human animals, Prasad is also working on girl child education in rural parts of the state.

Shyamala—his sister who identifies as an animal rights activist—has been working alongside her brother since the inception.

She said that she also feels passionately for non-human animals, just like her brother.

“That is why we were able to support him through his journey in saving the lives of the stray animals,” said Shyamala.

Stray canines in India have constitutional protection against abuse under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It is de facto a constitutional duty to feed them. It is a legally protected activity, which means anyone preventing a dog from being held is accountable to the law.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani

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Clarion Call For Developed Countries To Make Deep Emission Cuts: India’s Environment Minister

Clarion Call For Developed Countries To Make Deep Emission Cuts: India’s Environment Minister

NEW DELHI — Modern civilization’s incessant extraction and burning of fossil fuels have placed humanity at a point in the course of climate crisis where its seemingly distant fate is in its own hands, and now is the time to act or leave extreme weather to continue devastating the world.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Aug. 9 signaled “code red” for humanity with the release of the first of a three-part Sixth Assessment Report since the think tank was found in 1988. It sets out how the impact of human activity on the climate is “unequivocal.”

“The global average surface temperature has risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius since the pre-industrial, a rate of warming unprecedented in the last 125,000 years,” states the report.

“The last five years (2016-2020) were the hottest years on record since 1850, with the first and last years tied as the hottest. The rate of global sea-level rise has nearly tripled compared with the 1901-1971 period.”

India welcomed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group 1 contribution to the sixth assessment report, “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science”.

Several Indian scientists have participated in the preparation of this report.

Indian Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said that the report titled “Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis” is a clarion call for the developed countries to undertake immediate, deep emission cuts and decarbonize their economies.

“India, under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has taken numerous steps to tackle the global problem of climate change and is well on the path of decoupling its emissions from economic growth. The IPCC report is proof of that,” he tweeted.

“The Sixth Assessment Report ‘Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science’ was released today by IPCC. The report is a clarion call for the developed countries to undertake immediate, deep emission cuts and de-carbonization of their economies.”

Developed countries have usurped far more than their fair share of the global carbon budget, the Environment Ministry said in an official release.

“Reaching a net-zero alone is not enough, as it is the cumulative emissions up to a net-zero that determine the temperature that is reached. This has been amply borne out in the IPCC report. In the release, it vindicates India’s position that historical cumulative emissions are the source of the climate crisis that the world faces today,” said the Environment Ministry.

The report notes that carbon dioxide emissions have been and will continue to be the dominant cause of global warming under all greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.

The Environment Minister further said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has taken numerous steps to tackle the global problem of climate change and is well on the path of decoupling its emissions from economic growth.

India is the world’s third-largest carbon dioxide emitter after China—which accounts for over 27 percent of global emissions—and the United States of America, upwards of 14 percent. Around 7 percent of the world’s emissions come from India alone.

More than 80 percent or four-fifths of India’s energy needs are met by coal, oil, and solid biomass, none of which is precisely a clean energy source.

However, India’s environment ministers have long argued that the country’s emissions per capita are significantly smaller than its Global North counterparts. That coupled with the increasing needs of an emerging economy seem to help India’s case for coal-fired progress.

Its energy consumption is predicted to nearly double under the current national policy scenario by 2040, according to the “India Energy Outlook 2021” report.

The country, to its credit, has taken several initiatives including, inter-alia, setting up of International Solar Alliance, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, raising the domestic renewable energy target to 450 gigawatts by 2030 and putting in place an ambitious National Hydrogen Mission and continuing efforts to decouple its emissions from economic growth.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani

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China Snubs New World Health Organization Investigation Into Covid Origins 

China Snubs New World Health Organization Investigation Into Covid Origins 

Resident wear a mask while ride through in front of a closed of Huanan seafood market on February 9, 2021 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. (Getty Images)

BEIJING — China has declined the World Health Organization’s (WHO) proposal to participate in the second phase investigation of the Covid-19 origin study, a top Chinese official informed on July 22. 

The announcement was made after the possibility of the virus leaking from a Wuhan lab included in the proposal. 

“Beijing has been surprised to see a lab leak listed as a research objective under the second phase of the investigation,” said Zeng Yixin, Chinese Deputy Head of the National Health Commission.

“In some aspects, the WHO’s plan for the next phase of investigation of the coronavirus origin doesn’t respect common sense, and it’s against science. It’s impossible for us to accept such a plan,” Yixin said.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also urged Beijing to be transparent and open to cooperate while addressing a press briefing in Geneva.

“We owe it to the millions who suffered and the millions who died to know what happened,” Ghebreyesus said.

“We all know there are some challenges that have to be addressed,” he said while answering a question on the status of the Covid-19 probe after the conclusion of phase one study.

“One of the challenges is access to raw data, especially the data at the start of the pandemic that was not shared.”

“Now we have designed the second phase of the study, and we are asking China to be transparent and cooperate, especially on the raw data that we had asked for in the early days of the pandemic,” he said.

Responding to the U.S. claims, Zeng Yixin also said that “no worker or researcher at the Wuhan Institute of Virology got infected by coronavirus before the first documented cases of Covid-19″.

U.S. officials overseeing an intelligence review into the origins of Covid-19 consider the theory of virus accidentally escaping from a lab in Wuhan as equally plausible as the possibility that it emerged naturally in the wild.

In recent months, the ‘lab-leak‘ theory has gained great traction pushing U.S. President Joe Biden to give the American intelligence team a 90-day deadline to find answers into the virus origin.

A WHO-led team of scientists that traveled to China in early 2021 to investigate the origins of the virus struggled to get a clear picture of what research China was conducting beforehand, faced constraints during its visit, and had little power to conduct thorough, impartial research. 

They said in a joint report in March that the virus had probably been transmitted from bats to humans through another animal.

“The introduction through a laboratory incident was considered to be an extremely unlikely pathway,” as per the report.

But countries, including the United States and some scientists, were not satisfied.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Pallavi Mehra)

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Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Sacked Over Holocaust Joke

Tokyo Olympics Opening Ceremony Director Sacked Over Holocaust Joke

A cleaner wipes a window overlooking the Tokyo Olympic stadium on Shibuya Sky Deck on July 22, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Olympics opening ceremony director, Kentaro Kobayashi, has been sacked on the eve of the event after footage emerged in which he appeared to make jokes about the Holocaust. Mr Kobayashi follows a number of other figures involved in the Tokyo Olympic Games who have had to step down for inappropriate remarks. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

TOKYO — The International Olympic Committee has dismissed Kentaro Kobayashi from his role as director of the team, creating the opening and closing ceremonies of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for making a Holocaust joke.

The decision came after a video surfaced of Kobayashi, a former comedian, making jokes in the past about the Holocaust.

“Tokyo 2020 Olympic Opening Ceremony creative team member Kobayashi Kentaro was dismissed from his post after a joke he had made in the past about a painful historical event was brought to light,” International Olympic Committee said in a statement. “Following this, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee relieved Kobayashi of his role as a member of the team.” 

“In the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony, we offer our deepest apologies for any offense and anguish this matter may have caused to the many people involved in the Olympic Games, as well as to the citizens of Japan and the world.”

“As the Ambassador of Israel to Japan and as a daughter of a Holocaust survivor, I was shocked to hear about the anti-Semitic remarks made in the past by the famous comedian Kentaro Kobayashi and now a director of the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020,” tweeted Yaffa Ben-Ari, Ambassador of Israel to Japan. 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the human rights organization to protect the rights of the Jews, denounced the remarks by Kobayashi. 

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Abraham Cooper in a press release.

“The Nazi regime also gassed Germans with disabilities. Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of six million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics.”

International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 19 accepted Japanese musician Keigo Oyamada’s resignation from the creative team for the opening ceremony of Tokyo 2020.

“The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee believes that Oyamada’s actions were absolutely unacceptable,” International Olympic Committee said in a statement. “In light of his sincere apology, we expressed a willingness to allow Oyamada to continue his work on preparations in the short time remaining before the Opening Ceremony.” 

Oyamada’s resignation follows days of controversy over his confessions in magazines published in the 1990s in which he boasted about bullying people in his childhood. Oyamada was in charge of composing some of the music for the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

Better known by his stage name Cornelius, Oyamada gave those unpopular two interviews to Japanese music magazines in 1994 and 1995, in which he described inflicting horrific abuse on fellow students at school. 

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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Only 10 Percent Indian Children Using Smartphones To Study, Claims Research

Only 10 Percent Indian Children Using Smartphones To Study, Claims Research

Representative Image

NEW DELHI — New research by India’s apex child rights body National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), has said that only 10.1 percent of children use their smartphones for online learning and education. However, 59.2 percent use smartphones for instant messaging applications.

“Around 59.2 percent of children use their smartphones/internet devices for chatting [using WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat],” the study states. “But only 10.1 percent of children like to use smartphones for online learning and education.”

“It is also interesting to note that 30.2 percent of the children of all age groups [8 to 18 years] already possess their own smartphones and use the same for all purposes.”

Titled as the Effects (Physical, Behavioral, and Psycho-social) of using Mobile Phones and other devices with Internet Accessibility by Children, the study said that 37.8 percent of 10-year-olds have a Facebook account, and 24.3 percent of the same age group have an Instagram account, as per the study.

The trend line of the percentage of children using their own smartphones has shown a steep rise from the age of 13 years onwards. However, that of children using laptops/tablets to access the internet is evidently stable across all ages.

“This can lead us to the deduction that parents/guardians are more willing to provide smartphones to their children from the ages of 12-13 years onwards as against a laptop or tablet,” the study said.

The total number of responses collected comprised 5,811 participants, consisting of 3,491 school-going children, 1,534 parents, and 786 teachers from 60 schools across six states in the country.

It was a nationwide study of all regions with 15 locations selected across three areas and 1,000 respondents per region, and stakeholders including schoolchildren, parents, and teachers.

Age distribution among all the children who participated in the study was also diverse, with the mean age of the child participants being 14.05 years, the median was 14 years.

“NCPCR in a study reveals 59.2 percent children use their smartphone for social media messaging and only 10.1 percent children like to use their smart devices for online learning education,” career analyst Jayaprakash Gandhi said in a tweet. “It’s going to affect our educational system very badly unless corrective measures are taken.”

The study also noted that there is a direct relationship between age and having a social media account.

“Use of mobile before sleeping leads to adverse impact on children like sleep disorders, sleeplessness, anxiety, and tiredness, etc.,” the study said.

The study showed 72.70 percent of teachers had no prior experience of using smartphones, around 54.1 percent believe that the use of smartphones in the classroom is “immensely or somewhat distracting.”

Experts working for early detection and prevention of internet addiction at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Behavioural Addiction clinic said that parent’s supervision of their child is of paramount importance. 

“Parents must introduce other life skills to children to ensure reduction in screen time,” the study said. 

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Amrita Das and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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Amid China’s Military Pressure, Taiwan Prepares For Cyber War

Amid China’s Military Pressure, Taiwan Prepares For Cyber War

BEIJING — The island country Taiwan has said it is using several measures to guard itself against technological vulnerabilities amidst China’s building military pressure.

“Taiwan has been able to defend itself against the overwhelming majority of attacks,” said Chien Hung-Wei, Head of Taiwan’s Department of Cyber Security, to a news channel.

“Successful breaches number in the hundreds, while only a handful are what the government classifies as serious. But the enormous number — and where Taiwan thinks they’re coming from — has compelled the government to take the issue seriously.”

Taiwan is using dramatic measures to guard against technological vulnerabilities — including employing roughly two dozen computer experts to deliberately attack the government’s systems and help it defend against what authorities estimate are some 20 million to 40 million cyber attacks every month, said Hung-Wei.

“Based on the attackers’ actions and methodology, we have a rather high degree of confidence that many attacks originated from our neighbor,” said Hung-Wei, referring to mainland China.

“The operation of our government highly relies on the internet,” Hung-Wei said.

“Our critical infrastructure, such as gas, water, and electricity, are highly digitized, so we can easily fall victim if our network security is not robust enough.”

This May, Taiwan announced the creation of a new digital development ministry, which will supervise the information and communication sector with a focus on protecting critical infrastructure, as per a media report.

In an exclusive interview with a news channel in July, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu accused China of using military intimidation, disinformation campaigns, and cyberattacks to undermine the Taiwanese population’s trust in their own government.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War more than 70 years ago.

While the Chinese Communist Party has never ruled Taiwan, Beijing considers the island to be an “inseparable part” of its territory and has repeatedly threatened to use force, if necessary, to prevent the island from formally declaring independence.

In recent years, China has stepped up its military pressure on Taiwan. In June, the country sent over two dozen warplanes near the island, prompting Taiwan to alert its air defenses.

This was the largest number of warplanes sent to that zone since Taiwan began keeping records of such incursions last year. Beijing has also released military propaganda warning Taipei to “prepare for war” as it establishes stronger ties with the United States, as per a media report.

Experts have voiced concerns not just about the prospect of military warfare but cyber warfare, too. China was accused by the United States earlier this week of launching a massive, global hacking campaign.

On July 19, the United States, the European Union, and other allies accused China’s Ministry of State Security of using “criminal contract hackers” to carry out malicious activities around the world, including a campaign against Microsoft’s Exchange email service in March.

Earlier this month, US-based cybersecurity company Recorded Future alleged that a Chinese state-sponsored group has been targeting the Industrial Technology Research Institute, a Taiwanese hi-tech research institution.

Chinese groups have been targeting organizations across Taiwan’s semiconductor industry to obtain source codes, software development kits, and chip designs, Recorded Future said. The company based its claims on the evidence it compiled using a method called network traffic analysis, which examines such traffic to detect security threats.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan and Praveen Pramod Tewari)

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