Monday March 18, 2019
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NASA denies of awarding any internship to Indian teen

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Kolkata: US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) denied the claim of an Indian girl named Sataparna Mukherjee. She had claimed that she is selected for the prestigious Goddard Internship Program (GIP) under the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The girl is still sticking to her stand.

Eighteen-year-old suburban West Bengal resident Sataparna Mukherjee has attested to being the “youngest Indian to have been chosen for a NASA research project”.

The resident of Madhyamgram in North 24 Parganas district claimed in an interview to the agency that the space agency had offered her a full scholarship to pursue graduation, post-graduation, and PhD (as NASA faculty) in aerospace engineering at its “London Astrobiology Centre in Oxford University.”

In an e-mail to the agency, a NASA official clarified: “We have no record of anyone by that name receiving an internship, scholarship or any form of academic or financial assistance from any NASA institute, center or program.”

Further the official highlighted: “The program noted by multiple Indian media outlets does not exist.”

The agency said its NASA GISS education program is the New York City Research Initiative (NYCRI), “where teams of high school and undergraduate students and faculty work alongside graduate students and the lead scientists of NASA-funded research projects at universities within a 50-mile radius of New York City…, or at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) under the mentorship of a GISS scientist.”

NASA said the NYCRI application deadline has just passed and applications for its summer program were currently under review. “Selections have not been made.”

However, an unfazed Mukherjee, who claims she is scheduled to leave for Britain in August, maintains she has the necessary documents to prove her assertions.

Mukherjee had earlier sent a screenshot to the agency of a purported correspondence from the space agency stating “Goddard Internship program as an employee and researcher. Technical writing for NASA’s Applied Earth Science and Technology Development Program.”

Quizzed on NASA’s reaction, Mukherjee said that the agency was issuing denials to maintain confidentiality.

“I have the necessary documents and I can’t send them via mail as I was asked by NASA to maintain confidentiality. I also have my visa. You can come and see them.”

On the widespread media coverage and the interviews she willingly appeared for, the student said she was “forced by media channels” to tell her story.

“Since I am the only Indian selected, I was asked to maintain confidentiality. They (NASA) are denying it now because it’s in the news now.”

Mukherjee has maintained she had posted a paper on NASA’s website on black hole theory which landed her the scholarship. She had also talked about getting through an exam (as one of top three scorers) for doing major in English at the Oxford University. However, even after repeated requests, she failed to provide documentary evidence.

Media reports have quoted Sataparna as saying she verified the authenticity of the NASA website at the Chennai office of the British Council.

However, the British Council termed the claims as “false”.

“British Council would like to refute and condemn false claims as they are baseless and without any premise. As per our records, nobody with this stated identity visited or contacted our office in Chennai,” a British Council official said over e-mail.(IANS)

Next Story

WhatsApp and NASSCOM To Come Up With Digital Literacy Training To Curb Fake News

"This training educates people throughout India to be mindful of the messages they receive and to verify the facts before forwarding,"

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The first training will be on March 27 in Delhi and will be followed by more planned interventions like hosting training workshops for representatives from rural and urban areas along with roadshows across numerous colleges. Pixabay

As part of the partnership, WhatsApp and NASSCOM Foundation will train nearly 1,00,000 Indians to spot false information and provide tips and tricks to stay safe on WhatsApp.

The co-created curriculum, which includes real-world anecdote tools that can be used to verify a forwarded message and actions that users can take like reporting problematic content to fact checkers and other law enforcement agencies, will be disseminated in multiple regional languages.

“We are excited to expand our partnerships with civil society to advance crucial digital literacy skills that can help combat misinformation share on WhatsApp,” Abhijit Bose, Head of India, WhatsApp, said in a statement.

“This training educates people throughout India to be mindful of the messages they receive and to verify the facts before forwarding,” he added.

The training will be imparted by volunteers from NASSCOM Foundation who will launch the “each one teach three” campaign that mandates every volunteer to share their learnings with three more persons leading to a network effect.

These volunteers will post their takeaways from the workshops on their social media handles to increase the reach of these safety messages.

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As part of the partnership, WhatsApp and NASSCOM Foundation will train nearly 1,00,000 Indians to spot false information and provide tips and tricks to stay safe on WhatsApp.
Pixabay

The first training will be on March 27 in Delhi and will be followed by more planned interventions like hosting training workshops for representatives from rural and urban areas along with roadshows across numerous colleges.

“The use of technology platforms like WhatsApp are inherently meant to foster social good, harmony, and collaboration, but are sadly being used by a small number of miscreants to entice anger and hatred by spreading false and doctored information,” Ashok Pamidi, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation, said.

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“This training educates people throughout India to be mindful of the messages they receive and to verify the facts before forwarding,” he added. Pixabay

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“I would like to urge all the connected citizens who want to join this fight against the spread of fake information, to come and help volunteer towards the cause,” Pamidi added.

Aspiring volunteers can register at www.mykartavya.nasscomfoundation.org

NASSCOM Foundation is the social arm of the industry body, National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). (IANS)