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Lessons from Beijing: Why India must rethink industries, technology

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As I write this, I spot over a dozen Chinese men outside my Beijing hotel room wearing air purifier masks on their faces – the price they paid for technology. It stirred some alarming thoughts about where India is heading, and why India has a need to rethink each of its steps towards technological advancement.

In this world of homogenization, all metros seem the same, Berlin to Beijing – glittering malls, tall building, fast food and speedy cars.

Beijing was also no different from Delhi except for Mandarin on its billboards and it gave the look of what Delhi could be few years ahead — high speed metros, better looking cars, better looking buildings, cleaner and orderly streets, but men much petite.

As high as my expectations were, from a country pioneering in technology, to be battling its pollution levels and other effects of technology, the country seemed to have lost equally bad in its struggle.

Living in Delhi, pollution was something which I could see around, but Beijing also got me to experience it. As soon as I stepped out of the airport, my nostrils were flaring up, being an asthma fighter, immediately finding it difficult to breathe. Although there have been attempts from the Chinese government — denying registrations to older cars and factories — to fight their pollution monster, the issue seems to be not all that simple to settle the fight.

Some of China’s pollution fighting technologies earlier, which ran on coal-generated electricity, thereby contributed to higher carbon emissions although air quality would get better – a technology to fight another technology.

Result was the sight of a huge population – young to old – donning air purifiers, attempting to breathe cleaner air. Although these air purifiers could filter particulate contaminants in the air there is no evidence that these filters could help in long-term.

According to the US Department of State Air Quality Monitoring Program’s ‘Mission China’, the air quality index for Beijing on any average 24 hours of a day shows “unhealthy for sensitive groups” – nearly as unhealthy as smoking 40 cigarettes a day, as per a study.

The classic Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City shots at night that I sought as a tourist were rather hazy owing to the smog and were tough to crack them right.

The average PM2.5 levels figured between 101-150, as against the safe 0-50 level, and even touched the ‘”unhealthy” level (151-200) at night. These levels, according to the department, means “active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion”

India, which is still on its road to technological advancement, aims at replicating the Chinese ways, be it “Make in India”, be it attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) for its industries and businesses. But its capital city Delhi’s air pollution already has touched “hazardous” levels.

As per the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, the PM2.5 levels in Delhi’s air are always above the prescribed safe levels of 60 with an average of 100 units of particulate matter pollution in the air, reaching levels as high as 300 during winters. Delhi has bagged the spot of its competitor Beijing, which was considered to be the most polluted city for long.

According to a World Health Organization study last year the concentration of PM2.5 was higher in Delhi than in Beijing, proving Delhi to have the filthiest air in the world.

Shouldn’t these be indicators for India to rethink technology, industries?

Beijing has now assumed its path of green energy, and shut some of its conventional coal-run industries, electricity out of coal to adopt gas-run methods and other non-conventional methods and has improved its air quality much better than before.

It was a much needed move for Beijing, to have cleaner means of transportation. A simple move to have “only bicycle” track has helped Beijing a lot – persuading many to use their bicycles or electric bikes. On a majority of the days, there were more bicycles than there would be cars on the road, a solution Delhi needs.

Whereas studies on Delhi have been bringing out even horrific angles to the city’s pollution. The most recent study by University of Surrey shows that Delhi’s air has a “toxic blend” of geography, poor energy resources and unfavourable weather that dangerously “boosts” its pollution.

 

(Bhavana Akella,IANS)

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Major Global Tech Firms Sign Cyber Security Tech Accord

34 global tech firms sign key accord against cyber attacks

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Global firms
Global Tech Firms. Pixabay

Top 34 global technology and securities firms, led by Microsoft and Facebook, have signed a “Cyber security Tech Accord” to defend people from malicious attacks by cyber criminals and nation-states.

The watershed agreement will prevent them help governments launch cyber attacks against innocent citizens and enterprises. It will also protect against tampering or exploitation of their products and services through every stage of technology development, design and distribution.

The agreement for Cyber security
Cyber security. Pixabay

“The devastating attacks from the past year demonstrate that cyber security is not just about what any single company can do but also about what we can all do together,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement on Tuesday.

The “Cybersecurity Tech Accord” is a public commitment among 34 global companies to protect and empower civilians online and to improve the security, stability and resilience of cyberspace.

“This tech sector accord will help us take a principled path towards more effective steps to work together and defend customers around the world,” added Smith who has been arguing for a “digital Geneva Convention” for years.

Also Read: McAfee unveils refreshed cyber security solutions portfolio

The companies made commitments in four areas — stronger defence, no offence, capacity building and collective action.

“The companies will do more to empower developers and the people and businesses that use their technology, helping them improve their capacity for protecting themselves,” said cybertechaccord.org.

This may include joint work on new security practices and new features the companies can deploy in their individual products and services.

The Tech Accord remains open to consideration of new private sector signatories, large or small and regardless of sector, who are trusted, have high cyber security standards and will adhere unreservedly to the Accord’s principles.

“The real world consequences of cyber threats have been repeatedly proven. As an industry, we must band together to fight cyber criminals and stop future attacks from causing even more damage,” said Kevin Simzer, Chief Operating Officer, Trend Micro.

Warning for Cyber attack.
Cyber Attacks. Pixabay

The victims of cyber attacks are businesses and organisations of all sizes, with economic losses expected to reach $8 trillion by 2022.

The cyber attacks in the past have caused small businesses to shutter their doors, hospitals to delay surgeries and governments to halt services, among other disruptions and safety risks.

“The Tech Accord will help to protect the integrity of the one trillion connected devices we expect to see deployed within the next 20 years,” said Carolyn Herzog, General Counsel, Arm.

Also Read: Parental Control Apps May Not Help in Shielding Teenagers From Cyber Threats

On Monday, Cyber security representatives from the US and Britain warned of Russian state-sponsored cyber-attacks that are targeting network infrastructure devices such as routers and firewalls, to compromise government and private sectors globally.

According to a US Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT), the Technical Alert provided information on the worldwide cyber exploitation by Russian state-sponsored cyber actors.  IANS