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Increasing hate crimes against Indian diaspora a serious cause of concern for government: MEA

MEA spokesperson says that Government is taking up the issue of safety of Indian diaspora very seriously

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A memorial for a hate crime victim; (representational Image) Source: Wikimedia
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New Delhi, Mar 14, 2017: Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian engineer was killed in a hate attack in Kansas on February 22. India raised this with the US authorities on very strong terms, as reported by a top official to Zee News. The MEA official further said that the safety of Indian diaspora and Indians is a matter of serious concern for the Indian government.

The issue was majorly raised in the Parliament, following which Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister assured the House of the People that the Government is taking this issue very seriously. Gopal Baglay, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar was conveyed by US officials during his talks in Washington that the attack on Kuchibhotla and another Indian in the February 22 incident was an “individual case”.

The number of graves increases as hate crimes rise; Source: VOA

The Indian Consulate reached out to the families of Alok Madasani and Kuchibhotla, who were injured in the shooting in a Kansan pub on 22nd February, also offering support to the family of Deep Rai, a sikh and an American Citizen, injured in a hate attack in Kent last week, said Baglay.

“You would have also seen the response of the US authorities, beginning with President Trump who referred to the Kansas incident in his address to the Congress. The US Embassy had put out a press release condemning the Kansas killing. Speaker of the House has also condemned it,” said the spokesperson, pointing out the wide ranging condemnation of such crimes within the US.

“This point has also been highlighted by various prominent US dignitaries that such crimes do not represent the views of the vast majority in that country. In fact, several senior US dignitaries have explicitly mentioned in the recent days that Indians are welcome in the United States,” he added.

“Given the high priority the Government attaches to the security and wellbeing of Indians and persons of Indian origin abroad, we will continue to remain strongly engaged with the concerned authorities wherever required.”

A memorial for a hate crime victim; Source: Wikimedia

Baglay also said that the Kansas Government has offered to provide support the Kuchibhotla’s family and has welcomed Indians to the State.

Referring to Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback’s letter, he said, “there is a sense of regret at the unfortunate shooting, commitment to prosecute the matter, support to the family of the deceased, and recognition of the qualities and contribution of Srinivas to Kansas.”

Sam Brownback wrote a letter to Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India expressing regret over the violence against Indians.

Harnish Patel, another Indian was killed 10 days ago in South Carolina. However, the killing was not identified as a hate crime.

-Prepared by Nikita Saraf, Twitter: @niki_saraf

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Students Get Amazon Alexa – Electronic Voice-Controlled Assistants in University Campus Housing

It is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

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The Alexa Echo Dot devices include the official Saint Louis University logo and are equipped with specific skills to provide information on local events and campus life. VOA
The Alexa Echo Dot devices include the official Saint Louis University logo and are equipped with specific skills to provide information on local events and campus life. VOA

One American university is putting Amazon-electronic voice-controlled assistants in every student housing room on campus.

Saint Louis University recently announced it will equip every student living space with Amazon’s Alexa system. The school in St. Louis, Missouri, will place about 2,300 Echo Dot “smart” devices in all student dorms and other university housing.

Officials said the university will be the first in the world to put the devices in every student living space. The devices and the Alexa service are being provided at no costs to students.

The Amazon Echo is a speaker with the ability to listen and “talk” to users and can perform some operations. The Alexa assistant competes with similar systems made by Google and Apple.

Devices linked to the systems have become increasingly popular in homes in recent years. They can be used for things like looking up information, playing music, ordering food or buying things on the internet. The devices can also complete actions in the home. These include turning lights on and off, and controlling systems for heating and cooling and security.

Amazon calls these different tasks Alexa can perform “skills.”

Amazon said in a website post that Saint Louis University chose the Alexa system after carrying out a test program. The program involved the Echo Dot and a device from a competing company. It said the students had a better reaction to the Alexa system.

The Echo Dots will include a special skill developed especially for Saint Louis University. It will provide information and answer questions about local school activities and campus life.

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In this March 2, 2016, file photo, David Limp, Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices, pushes down on an Echo Dot in San Francisco. VOA

Next year, the university plans to add more personalized skills, such as providing information about classes and grades.

The university said it did not increase student tuition to pay for the project. Instead, officials said, it was financed through the school’s general fund, as well as partnerships with Amazon and n-Powered. The company, based in Los Angeles, California, helped develop the parts of the system that are related to Saint Louis University.

David Hakanson is Saint Louis University’s vice president and chief information officer. In announcing the project, he said it will fit well with students who are “highly driven to achieve success in and out of the classroom.”

He added: “Every minute we can save our students from having to search for the information they need online is another minute that they can spend focused on what matters most: their education.”

While the devices are being placed in every university housing space, students do not have to use them. For those wishing not to take part, the school suggests students just remove the devices from their rooms and put them away in a safe place.

Other universities have also experimented with voice-controlled assistants in student living areas.

A year ago, Arizona State University announced a program that provided Echo Dot devices to a special housing area for engineering students. In the program, all engineering students moving into the special housing community were given the choice of receiving an Echo Dot if they wanted one.

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Bhavik Patel, a mechanical engineering senior and peer mentor at Arizona State’s community housing center Tooker House, demonstrates use of an Amazon Echo Dot while working on formulas. VOA

As is the case at Saint Louis University, Arizona State students are able to use the system to get the latest information on university programs and events. However, the Arizona students also have the chance to sign up for classes that teach subjects related specifically to creating new uses for Alexa devices.

Octavio Heredia is a director with Arizona State’s Fulton Schools of Engineering. He said he thinks it is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

Also Read: Google Releases ‘Go Edition of Android 9 Pie’

“Once they are familiar with the devices, they are going to want to further develop their own skills and begin integrating that technology – the hardware and the skills – into other projects,” he said. (VOA)