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Deidre Pujols, wife of L A. Angels' star Albert Pujols and creator of Strike Out Slavery, got involved after learning about modern-day slavery. Pujols was honored before a baseball game with the host N.Y. Mets, June 8, 2019. Pixabay

From tracing ill-gotten gains back to their source to spotting illegal factories, technology will be key in beating slavery as a fragmenting workplace leaves many more at risk, the United Nations leading expert on slavery said on Tuesday.

With an increase in automation and temporary contracts, billions go without rights like holiday pay or a minimum wage, but the technology which has enabled many of these changes can also be used to beat workplace abuses, said Urmila Bhoola.

“It (technology) definitely presents both a threat and an opportunity,” the U.N. special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“But the opportunities for using tech as a tool to identify people who are in modern slavery and to assist them are far greater and they outweigh the threat.”

Two billion people — more than 60% of the world’s workers — are in informal employment, where they are not covered by formal arrangements, such as a contract, or do not have protections like sick pay, International Labour Organization data shows.

Those in informal work are known to be at a higher risk of slavery, said Bhoola, as she prepares to present a report on current and emerging forms of slavery to the U.N. next month.

But the opportunities for using tech as a tool to identify people who are in modern slavery and to assist them are far greater and they outweigh the threat. Pixabay

The number of informal workers is set to swell in coming years, as low-skilled workers are pushed out of more stable employment by automation and others move towards short-term jobs offered through digital platforms, she said.

“If we look at the informal economy and the anticipated increase in informal work and more precariousness and vulnerability, then we are very far from decent work and human rights in the workplace,” she said.

But even as technology enables some unscrupulous employers to abuse labor rights, it is also helping to identify slave-owners and offer help to those at risk, the South African lawyer said in a phone interview from Johannesburg.

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She cited innovative tools ranging from a project using satellite images to look out for illegal factories to secure blockchain databases that trace fashion back to the source, and simple apps giving advice and contacts to vulnerable workers.

“Those tools can play a critical role,” she said. “Protecting people is about providing access to information — where to go for help, where to go if you have a grievance.

“If you are enslaved in domestic work, for instance, and you get one opportunity to use someone’s phone, what are you able to do with that phone to get help?”

Technology is not a quick fix, said Bhoola, who raised concerns that the majority of anti-slavery technology is still being developed and deployed in the West, not in the developing world where the prevalence of abuse is highest.

She called for action to ensure that slavery victims were consulted about new tools, saying those who had experienced abuse were best placed to advise on what help others in the same situation might need.

Governments must also step in to prosecute abuses and ensure that businesses face the prospect of “remedy and reparation” if they are found to have committed or enabled abuses, she said.

However, with many police forces facing stretched budgets and slave-owners hiding from view, technology can help show them where to look, said Bhoola.

She cited a U.N. report suggesting that some $150 billion in profits is generated each year as a result of modern slavery.

“If you are actually able to find where that money is emanating from, where it’s going and how it is being used … then you really have a very strong basis for addressing what is essentially a hidden crime,” she said. (VOA)


The New Indian Express/wikipedia

Named SEE-1, the module is intended to host films, etc in the low orbit, micro-gravity environment.

S.E.E. has unveiled plans to build a space station module that contains a sports and entertainment arena as well as a content studio by December 2024, reports

Named SEE-1, the module is intended to host films, television, music and sports events as well as artists, producers and creatives who want to make content in the low orbit, micro-gravity environment. The facilities will enable development, production, recording, broadcasting and livestreaming of content.

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S.E.E. intend to produce its own content and events in the module as well as making it available to third-parties. Axiom Space, who in January 2022 won NASA's approval to build a commercial component of the International Space Station (ISS), will undertake the construction of SEE-1. The module will dock on Axiom's commercial arm, named Axiom Station, which will also host other commercial ventures, including space tourism.

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As the economy continues to recover from the prolonged pandemic.

By Rohit Vaid
The Centre might bestow infrastructure as well as industry status to new sectors to boost several pandemic hit industries in the upcoming Union Budget. Industry insiders said that several sectors and sub-industries such as hospitality, automobile retail, specific diganotics facilities and companies engaged in installation of EV charging stations amongst others might get the status.
The infra tag will enable these sectors to avail tax breaks, incentives and credit on lower interest rates. "Sectors which are in greenfield or which would need capex augmentation to help them overcome the pandemic can be looked from the lens of an infrastructure sector," said Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, Director and Practice Leader, Transport & Logistics, Crisil Infrastructure Advisory. "Also many of the already identified sectors need a sustained policy push which will help them get visibility both in terms of quantum and the time period of applicability."

Till now, activities associated with laying of power and telecom transmission and distribution lines, roads, highways, railways and construction of facilities such as hospitals, affordable housing, power generation units, water treatment plants, SEZs and certain type of hotels amongst others were given such status.

Besides, these sectors are a part of harmonised master list for infrastructure sub-sectors. However, in April 2021, exhibition-cum-convention centre was included in the list. "Given the focus around electric vehicle, and need for significant investment in charging stations, if the government adds the sector in infrastructure list, the benefits arising out of it will be significant," said Vishal Kotecha, Director, India Ratings and Research. "Infra tag on sectors increases ability to raise funds, access to dedicated funds and lenders, foreign capital, lower interest rates among others."

Electric car Given the focus on electric vehicles, the advantages of including the industry in the infrastructure list will be enormous. Free SVG

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A team is working to produce safest medicine for covid treatment.

A team led by chief scientist Ravi Shankar, is working on two combinations to provide the safest medication to coronavirus patients. "Experts say that a combination of antivirals with different mechanisms can be more effective to counter the viral pandemic. We are working on two combinations - Umifenovir with Molnupiravir (an antiviral) and Umifenovir with Niclosamide (anti-parasitic)," he said.

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Molnupiravur drug has received only Emergency Use Authorisation in India and abroad. Though its usage showed reduced hospitalisation during clinical trials, its biggest drawback are the side-effects, he added.

"Now, we are trying to keep a low dosage of Molnupiravir in its combination with Umifenovir which may weed out the side-effects such as the risk of cartilage and muscle damage. If successful, it will make Umifenovir more effective in Covid-19 treatment," said the chief scientist. The other combination is Umifenovir with Niclosamide.

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