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India: Government Launches Jal Shakti Abhiyan Campaign for Water Conservation

These interventions are water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies

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water crisis, drought
Teams of officers from the Central government will visit and work with district administration in 1,592 water-stressed blocks. Pixabay

On the lines of the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, the Central government on Monday launched ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ – a campaign for water conservation and water security, in the wake of an acute water crisis in the country.

Teams of officers from the Central government will visit and work with district administration in 1,592 water-stressed blocks in 256 districts to ensure five important water conservation interventions.

These interventions are water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies, reuse of water and recharging of structures, watershed development, and intensive afforestation.

Scientists, students, NGOs, Panchayati Raj members, and youth groups among others will be mobilised.

India, Government, Water Conservation
On the lines of the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, the Central government on Monday launched ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’. Pixabay

After launching the scheme, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the government aims at providing drinking water to every household on priority and in a sustainable manner.

“It will help people to work for rain water harvesting, maintenance and upkeep of ponds and village tanks and conservation of water,” he told reporters.

Shekhawat asked people, NGOs, and youth organisations to actively participate in the scheme.

The campaign will run through citizen participation during the monsoon season from July 1 to September 15.

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An additional phase-two will be run from October 1 to November 30 for states receiving the North East retreating monsoon.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first ‘Mann Ki Baat’ of his second term on Sunday had stressed on the need of the hour to conserve water as drought looms large in vast regions of the country.

“There is no one way to conserve water. In different parts, different methods are adopted but the aim is to conserve every drop,” Modi had said. (IANS)

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Developers Can Now Start Building Hindi Skills for Alexa in India

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between

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Alexa, Amazon, Virtual Assistant
Amazon Echo led the Indian smart speakers market with 59 per cent share in 2018 (Representational image). Pixabay

Amazon on Tuesday announced that developers can now start building Alexa skills for customers in India with the new Hindi voice model available in Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).

Developers would get a headstart and submit skills for certification as the company prepare to offer engaging experiences for Alexa users in one of the most spoken languages in the country, the company said in a statement.

Commercial hardware manufacturers who want to develop Alexa Built-in products for Hindi-speaking customers in India can request early access to the invite-only Alexa Voice Service (AVS) developer preview.

The Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) is a collection of free, self-service APIs and tools that make it fast and easy for developers to create skills, or capabilities, for Alexa.

Amazon last year launched a new category of skill called “Cleo” that enables customers in India help Alexa learn Hindi and other languages. The idea was to improve Alexa’s language model and help her gradually speak in local languages.

Lawsuit, Amazon, Alexa
The lawsuit alleges Amazon of saving ‘voice prints’ of millions of children by unlawfully recording their conversations around Alexa-enabled smart devices. Pixabay

Apart from Hindi, users can respond to Alexa’s English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other regional languages.

Alexa is currently available in over 80 countries and speaks more than 14 language variants.

One can sign up for the first webinar on Hindi skill building scheduled on July 24. Developers in India who have their Hindi-language skill certified for publication in India before July 31 would receive exclusive early bird Alexa merchandise.

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Rohit Prasad, Vice President and Head Scientist for Alexa, told IANS recently that the company is working on infusing regional languages capabilities in Alexa for the Indian market but these are early days.

Right now, Alexa can understand some Hinglish commands but these are few and far between. (IANS)