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BY SIDDHI JAIN
In an initiative to serve local communities and support small businesses, social networking app Bumble is giving out grants worth a lakh rupees each to 13 entrepreneurs in India. Part of a larger cohort of 150+ businesses that it is monetarily supporting across 11 countries, the timely move comes at a time when companies find themselves at the brink due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The Bumble Community Grant program, launched in the light of the global pandemic, aims to support local businesses and their workers around the globe, and keep them afloat while money is scarce. The program has been offered in the US, UK, Russia, Germany, Australia, India, France, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, and New Zealand.
“When we first realised things were getting serious in March, we pulled together leaders across the company to figure out how we can support both our employees and our Bumble community of nearly over 90 million users in 150 countries during this unprecedented time. We were all watching the news daily and reading updates hourly. Unfortunately, the overall situation was changing rapidly and there were varying degrees of severity in each market that we operate in. Some areas were going under complete lockdown immediately, while others were a few days or weeks behind.
“As all of this was unfolding, we started seeing early reports that a pandemic of this size and with this level of potential impact could trigger loneliness, isolationism, and economic devastation – and we knew that Bumble could help. From using Bumble as a way to stay connected to real people during this time or to provide monetary support for small business owners, we knew we had to act quickly to support our community,” Priti Joshi, Vice President of Strategy at Bumble told IANSlife in an email.
Beginning March 26, in India, applications were available via an online registration form accessible in all three modes of the app (Date, BFF, and Bizz). Users had the opportunity to submit an entry for themselves as a small business owner or nominate a small business in their community. As the deadline closed in on April 9, the team saw a tremendous response.
“Within two weeks, we received over 2,000 entries in India from small businesses that have been impacted by the crisis,” Joshi said.
The 13 cross-industry MSMEs that received the grant include Culture Aangan, a company that is developing villages as tourist destinations; The Wishing Chair, a home-grown women-led design brand creating artisanal products as perfect gifting options; and The Curator Collective which aims to publish works of independent or upcoming visual artists and musicians.
From the fashion segment, recipients include Alankaara India, a small craft-based studio working with small sectors of women SHGs; and Bunavat Retail Private Limited who promote sustainable, ethical and timeless fashion.
In the health, CSR, and business sector they have chosen Bloodport Healthtech Solutions, who save lives using their digital platform for blood banks and blood donation drives; Suicide Prevention India Foundation, a non-profit that offers free counseling services to the Covid-19 affected; Mitti Social Initiatives Foundation, a non-profit working for sustainable livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities; Thinkerbell Labs that have built a tech ecosystem to enable self-learning and classroom teaching of Braille and will go regional; and Happy Turtle OPC Pvt Ltd, a bootstrapped company that works towards minimising plastic consumption.
In F&B and Hospitality, the grants will be given to The Little Farm Co., who produce fruit, vegetables and spices using organic fertilizers in MP; Happyjars.in, a health and food brand from Haryana that offers natural peanuts, almonds and cashew nut butter; and Poshinda Restaurant, who source ingredients from rural farmers and serve food to the farmers and students who come from rural areas to Ambajogai for work.
Suicide Prevention India Foundation told IANSlife: “We use the WHO-recommended strategy called Gatekeeper Training to prevent suicides. We aim to help individuals using evidence-based interventions by creating awareness through talks and workshops on suicide prevention. COVID-19 has pushed us to aggressively train everybody in our growing circle to counsel those who are emotionally distressed/ suicidal due to the uncertainty/loneliness the pandemic has brought along.
“Unfortunately, to continue training the mental health professionals we were lacking funds as COVID-19 has impacted our funding pipeline and eliminated our face-to-face business to host training with laymen, students or/and corporate professionals. The current situation has led to an increase in demand but a lesser willingness to pay. There has never been a drastic spike in the incidents of self-harm, suicide ideation or suicide attempts in the recent past. With the grant from Bumble, we will again continue to train the common people and mental health professionals who are our front liners to support emotionally distressed individuals.” The grants will be given to the winners this week, as per Bumble. (IANS)
In a step towards digitisation of the system, Delhi Transport Department will soon issue QR based Smart cards for driving licenses (DLs) and registration certificates (RCs).
As per a statement, the new driving licence will have an advanced microchip with features like Quick Response (QR) code and Near Field Communication (NFC). The new RC will have the owner's name printed on the front while the microchip and the QR code would be embedded at the back of the card.
The cards earlier had embedded chips, but chip reader machines were not available in the required quantity with both the Delhi Traffic Police and the Enforcement Wing of the Transport Department. Moreover, chips were designed and implemented by the states concerned, which resulted in difficulties in reading the chip and retrieving information, especially in case of defaulters.
"Now with the QR based smart card, this issue is resolved. This will enable unification in linking and validating one's information to smart cards with Sarathi and Vahan, the two web-based databases of all driving licenses and vehicle registrations," the release added.
The QR is also being implemented nationwide, the QR code reader is easily procurable and will do away with the requirement of any manual intervention altogether. The new cards will also allow two specific materials for their card manufacturing -- PolyVinyl Chloride or PVC, or PolyCarbonate which is slightly more expensive but more durable. (Card Size - 85.6mm x 54.02 mm; Thickness minimum 0.7 mm)
An October 2018 notification of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had made changes to the Driving License and Registration Certificate. The new Smart card based DL and RC, will have chip based/ QR code based recognition system. At the same time, documents such as driving license or registration certificates in electronic formats on DigiLockers and mParivahan were also made valid in place of physical documents and treated at par with original documents.
The QR code also has an added advantage of acting as a safety feature on the smart card. The department will be able to retain records and penalties of the DL holder for up to 10 years on the VAHAN database as soon as a driver/ owner's Smart card is confiscated. The new DLs will also help the government in maintaining records of differently-abled drivers, any modifications made to the vehicles, emission standards and the person's declaration to donate organs. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Delhi, Driving License, Registration License, Digitisation.
LONDON — A work by British street artist Banksy that sensationally shredded itself just after it sold at auction three years ago fetched almost 18.6 million pounds ($25.4 million) on Thursday — a record for the artist, and close to 20 times its pre-shredded price.
"Love is in the Bin" was offered by Sotheby's in London, with a presale estimate of 4 million pounds to 6 million pounds ($5.5 million to $8.2 million).
After a 10-minute bidding war involving nine bidders in the saleroom, online and by phone, it sold for three times the high estimate to an undisclosed buyer. The sale price of 18,582,000 pounds ($25,383,941) includes an auction-house fee known as a buyer's premium.
The piece consists of a half-shredded canvas in an ornate frame bearing a spray-painted image of a girl reaching for a heart-shaped red balloon.
When it last sold at Sotheby's in October 2018, the piece was known as "Girl With Balloon." Just as an anonymous female European buyer made the winning bid — for 1 million pounds ($1.4 million) — a hidden shredder embedded in the frame by Banksy whirred to life, leaving half the canvas hanging from the frame in strips.
Sotheby's received some criticism at the time for failing to spot the hidden shredder. But the 2018 buyer decided to go through with the purchase, a decision that was vindicated on Thursday as the work's price soared. Image source: voa
Sotheby's received some criticism at the time for failing to spot the hidden shredder. But the 2018 buyer decided to go through with the purchase, a decision that was vindicated on Thursday as the work's price soared.
The work quickly became one of Banksy's most famous, and Sotheby's sent it on tour to cities including New York and Hong Kong before Thursday's auction.
Auctioneer Oliver Barker joked that he was terrified to bring down the hammer to end Thursday's sale. There were jitters among Sotheby's staff to the last that Banksy had another surprise planned.
Alex Branczik, Sotheby's chairman of modern and contemporary art, called the shredding "one of the most ingenious moments of performance art this century."
Banksy, who has never confirmed his full identity, began his career spray-painting buildings in Bristol, England, and has become one of the world's best-known artists. His mischievous and often satirical images include two male police officers kissing, armed riot police with yellow smiley faces and a chimpanzee with a sign bearing the words, "Laugh now, but one day I'll be in charge."
Several of his works have sold for multiple millions at auction. In March, a Banksy mural honoring Britain's health workers, first painted on a hospital wall, sold for 16.8 million pounds ($23.2 million) at a Christie's auction, until Thursday a record for the artist.
"Girl With Balloon" was originally stenciled on a wall in east London and has been endlessly reproduced, becoming one of Banksy's best-known images. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Banksy, Artwork, Auction, Girl With Balloon, Sotheby
WASHINGTON — Suspected ransomware payments totaling $590 million were made in the first six months of this year, more than the $416 million reported for all of 2020, U.S. authorities said on Friday, as Washington put the cryptocurrency industry on alert about its role in combating ransomware attacks.
The U.S. Treasury Department said the average amount of reported ransomware transactions per month in 2021 was $102.3 million, with REvil/Sodinokibi, Conti, DarkSide, Avaddon, and Phobos the most prevalent ransomware strains reported.
President Joe Biden has made the government's cybersecurity response a top priority for the most senior levels of his administration following a series of attacks this year that threatened to destabilize U.S. energy and food supplies.
Avoiding U.S. sanctions
Seeking to stop the use of cryptocurrencies in the payment of ransomware demands, Treasury told members of the crypto community they are responsible for making sure they do not directly or indirectly help facilitate deals prohibited by U.S. sanctions.
Its new guidance said the industry plays an increasingly critical role in preventing those blacklisted from exploiting cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions.
The new guidance also advised cryptocurrency exchanges to use geolocation tools to block access from countries under U.S. sanctions. Image source: Photo by Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash
"Treasury is helping to stop ransomware attacks by making it difficult for criminals to profit from their crimes, but we need partners in the private sector to help prevent this illicit activity," Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.
The new guidance also advised cryptocurrency exchanges to use geolocation tools to block access from countries under U.S. sanctions.
Hackers use ransomware to take down systems that control everything from hospital billing to manufacturing. They stop only after receiving hefty payments, typically in cryptocurrency.
Large scale hacks
This year, gangs have hit numerous U.S. companies in large scale hacks. One such attack on pipeline operator Colonial Pipeline led to temporary fuel supply shortages on the U.S. East Coast. Hackers also targeted an Iowa-based agricultural company, sparking fears of disruptions to grain harvesting in the Midwest.
The Biden administration last month unveiled sanctions against cryptocurrency exchange Suex OTC, S.R.O. over its alleged role in enabling illegal payments from ransomware attacks, officials said, in the Treasury's first such move against a cryptocurrency exchange over ransomware activity. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Cryptocurrency, United States, Hacking, Ransomware