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Manjeet Kaur, one of the many homeless women in India, cannot say exactly how old she is or how long she has lived on the pavement of a busy street in New Delhi, her belongings in plastic bags, her washing hanging on the railing.
Kaur was kicked out years ago by her husband’s family in the northern Indian city of Ludhiana after a quarrel over property.
She boarded a bus to New Delhi with her two young sons, going first to a Sikh gurudwara, a place of worship, for free food.
With no money and no one to turn to, Kaur and her sons settled on the pavement outside the gurudwara, marking their space among other families who lived there.
When it rains, they cover themselves with plastic sheets.
They have little protection from the winter’s cold or the summer’s heat, when temperatures routinely soar above 40°C (104°F).
“I had nowhere to go. The house, the land — nothing was in my name,” said Kaur. “Here, the police harass us, and the locals curse us, and I’m sometimes too afraid to sleep. But we cannot afford to pay rent and the shelters are not good, so what option do we have?”
Kaur is one of at least 10,000 homeless women in India’s capital, where thousands of people arrive every day from villages and small towns, looking for better opportunities.
Many end up in slums and other informal settlements. Others settle under bridges, flyovers, on pavements and road dividers.
Women, who are estimated to make up about 10 percent of India’s homeless population, suffer the brunt of a growing crisis brought on by rapid urbanization, soaring property prices, and a critical lack of shelters and affordable housing.
Compounding the difficulty is a lack of reliable data on homeless people, and homeless women in particular.
Delhi, a city of more than 16 million people, has 46,724 homeless people — among the most of any Indian city — according to the 2011 census.
Rights groups say the estimate is conservative, and that the actual figure is three times higher.
They also question the reported decline in India’s homeless population to 1.77 million nationwide in the 2011 census data, from 1.9 million a decade earlier.
In the same period, the urban homeless rose by a fifth, according to the data.
“Our cities are growing at a remarkable rate, and that puts a strain on the government’s capacity to respond to the needs of the people, including the homeless,” said Ashwin Parulkar at the Delhi-based think tank Centre for Policy and Research.
“Not having an accurate understanding of the extent of homelessness — who they are, where they are, what their needs are — hinders policymaking and compromises the ability to plan and provide for them,” he told Reuters.
Globally, at least 150 million people, or about 2 percent of the population, are estimated to be homeless. More than a fifth of the population lacks adequate housing.
But getting an accurate handle on homelessness is difficult because of different definitions in countries, and governments’ inability to adequately measure the phenomenon, said Joseph Chamie, a former director of the U.N. population agency.
Governments also have a tendency to understate the problem, while the homeless are reluctant to be counted, he said.
Yet the causes are the same: poverty, lack of affordable housing, mental illness, alcohol and drug addiction, family breakdown, civil conflict and environmental disasters, he said.
“There is no quick solution: even developed countries are encountering considerable difficulties. So ending urban homelessness in less developed countries is unlikely,” he said.
With at least 55 percent of the world’s population living in urban centers, homelessness is ever more apparent, from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.
The problem is especially severe in India, which is forecast to overtake China by 2024 as the world’s most populous country, with tens of millions cramming into already crowded cities.
Alongside, evictions are rising: At least six homes are pulled down and 30 people forcibly removed each hour in India to make way for metro stations and highways.
Homeless women bear the brunt, as they face more abuse and violence on the street, but have few claims over property and limited access to shelters, said Shivani Chaudhry at the advocacy group Housing and Land Rights Network in Delhi.
Many of these women have left abusive marriages, suffered sexual violence, or have been abandoned by families for mental illness or after the death of a husband, she said.
“Homeless women suffer the worst kinds of violence and insecurity, and are vulnerable to sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking,” said Chaudhry. “Shelters are not a permanent solution.”
Housing for all
India has committed to provide housing for all its citizens by 2022, with an aim to build 20 million urban units.
But analysts say the program bypasses homeless people who cannot afford the mortgage payments.
The Supreme Court has ordered states to provide at least one 24-hour shelter for every 100,000 residents in major urban centers.
Few states have complied, citing the high cost of land.
“Our top priority is to have enough permanent shelters with facilities and services, including health care, job training and counseling,” said Bipin Rai, a senior official at the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board.
“But the main challenge is lack of land. So we have to make do with temporary shelters,” he said.
Delhi has the most shelters of any Indian city — about 200 to hold more than 16,000 people. There are 20 shelters for women.
More than half the shelters are porta-cabins, which are refashioned steel containers with few facilities.
At some permanent women’s shelters, women get three meals a day, skills training, and help getting identification papers and school admissions for their children.
At one such shelter, colorful drawings by the children are on a wall, including several of a simple house flanked by two trees, the sun smiling from above.
“I would like to earn enough so I can live in a house with my family,” said Saima, who had previously lived on the street after coming to Delhi some years ago. “But that may not be possible. This may be our only home.” (VOA)
As robots evolve to do more work around us, the UK-based humanoid robot manufacturer Engineered Arts has infused more human-like facial expressions into one of its robots, which may leave you with an eerie feeling.
In a video posted on YouTube, the robot called 'Ameca' displays various human expressions, like appearing to "wake up" from sleep, as its face shows confusion and frustration when it opens its eyes.
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Once awake, 'Ameca' starts looking at its hands and arms, opens its mouth and raises its eyebrows, just like a human does.
At the end of the video, Ameca smiles and holds a welcoming hand out towards the viewer.
According to Engineered Arts, the humanoid bot is currently unable to walk and it is working towards giving it the ability in the near future.
"Designed specifically as a platform for development into future robotics technologies, 'Ameca' is the perfect humanoid robot platform for human-robot interaction," says the company.
The 'Ameca' hardware is a development based on its own research into humanoid robotics and built on its advanced 'Mesmer' technology.
Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.Unsplash
Also read: NASA humanoid robot dances to technology
Engineered Arts is slated to put 'Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.
"Human-like Artificial Intelligence needs a human-like artificial body. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems can be tested and developed on Ameca alongside our powerful 'Tritium' robot operating system," the company posted on its website. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Humanoid Robot, Ameca, Technology)
Microsoft has disrupted the activities of a China-based hacking group, gaining control of the malicious websites the group used to attack organisations in the US and 28 other countries around the world.
The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) said in a statement that a federal court in Virginia granted its request to seize websites of the hacking group called 'Nickel', enabling the company to cut off Nickel's access to its victims and prevent the websites from being used to execute attacks.
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"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations," said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft.
Obtaining control of the malicious websites and redirecting traffic from those sites to Microsoft's secure servers will help the company protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel's activities.
Also Read : Fortnite : A Gold Mine for Hackers
"Our disruption will not prevent Nickel from continuing other hacking activities, but we do believe we have removed a key piece of the infrastructure the group has been relying on for this latest wave of attacks," Burt said late on Monday.
To date, in 24 lawsuits - five against nation-state actors -- Microsoft has taken down more than 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and nearly 600 sites used by nation-state actors.
"We have also successfully blocked the registration of 600,000 sites to get ahead of criminal actors that planned to use them maliciously in the future," the tech giant informed.
"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations."Unsplash
In some observed activity, Nickel malware used exploits targeting unpatched on-premises Exchange Server and SharePoint systems.
"However, we have not observed any new vulnerabilities in Microsoft products as part of these attacks. Microsoft has created unique signatures to detect and protect from known Nickel activity through our security products, like Microsoft 365 Defender," the company noted.
Nickel has targeted organisations in both the private and public sectors, including diplomatic organisations and ministries of foreign affairs in North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : hacking, China, Microsoft, website, victim, intelligence, attack, malicious, traffic, server, company, disruption, lawsuits, cybercriminals, vulnerability.)
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Chip manufacturer MediaTek on Monday announced that it is focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, substantial expansion in Research and Development capabilities.
MediaTek's plans to boost technology democratisation and enable access to disruptive connectivity with its range of mainstream to flagship 5G chips.
"We at MediaTek are focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, and substantial expansion in our R&D capabilities. For 2022, we are focused on further strengthening our presence in India, offering incredible experiences to customers, and supporting the country's technology initiatives with our expertise and collaboration with leading OEMs," Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India said in a statement.
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In the flagship segment, MediaTek recently announced the Dimensity 9000 chip, which is a milestone of innovation and a rise to the incredible, built-to-power flagship 5G smartphones in the world, the company claims.
MediaTek Dimensity 9000 features a single Cortex-X2 performance core clocked at 3.05GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.85GHz and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz.
It packs a 10-core Arm Mali-G710 that takes care of graphics processing, the report said.
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.Unsplash
Also read: Realme Unveils First 5G Smartphone
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.
The chipset can handle screens with up to a 180Hz refresh rate at Full HD+ resolutions. It is also the first chipset to have an 18-bit image signal processor, offering the ability to capture 4K HDR video using up to three cameras at the same time, or still photos using up to a massive 320MP sensor. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: 5G, smartphones, Mediatek)