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Delhi is blanketed in a grey haze of pollution on Christmas Eve as morning commuters pass by, Dec. 24, 2018.

They are being called pollution migrants — a growing band of residents in the Indian capital who are relocating to other places as its toxic air sparks grim warnings that it is extracting a heavy toll on the city’s health. But environmental experts question whether they have many choices, pointing out that much of urban India is grappling with an air pollution crisis.

Last year, when Purva Bhatia’s three month-old-daughter became sick with pneumonia, the doctor attributed it to New Delhi’s deadly air pollution. The thought of leaving the city where she and her husband grew up had never crossed their minds. But having watched many other children battle respiratory ailments, it did not take long for them to decide that they could not raise her in Delhi.

“We needed to give her clean air at least. Just to see that three month old with nebulizer and medicines, that was really traumatizing,” recalls Bhatia, who writes a blog. She migrated to Canada last month.

Toxic air

In recent years, air pollution in the Indian capital a mix of automobile emissions, construction dust and industrial emissions — often reaches severe levels in winter months. Although summer is better, the air quality is still poor and New Delhi, which now ranks as the world’s most polluted mega city.

Doctors warn that the toxic air, which is considered to be equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day when it is at its worst, can lead to serious respiratory and heart ailments.

Those scary warnings are prompting some to pack their bags. Some have gone to southern cities like Bengaluru and Chennai, while others have headed to the western city of Goa, a palm-fringed, beach destination.

Although the air in cities like Mumbai is not as dirty as in Delhi, the problem is worsening and environmentalists warn that much of urban India faces an air pollution crisis.

Aditi Malhotra, an event planner, left for Goa a year and a half ago after she suffered from breathing problems and eye infections due to the toxic air in her hometown, Delhi. “It was getting very difficult to handle all of that. It was a very conscious and planned decision to move to a cleaner place,” she said.

‘National emergency’

However, Anumita Roy Chowdhury at New Delhi’s Center of Science and Environment, warns that “we cannot really run away.” Calling air pollution a “national emergency” she points out that while the Indian capital may have grabbed the headlines, the air in most other cities is also toxic.

“We know that almost 88 percent of the cities that are monitored in this country are what is officially classified as critically polluted,” she says. “It is as expansive as that.”

‘Public health emergency’ and relocation

India dominates the list of the world’s most polluted cities — according to the World Health Organization, 14 out of the 20 top ones are in India.

Shruti Chaturvedi, a 25-year-old who has launched a startup, Chaaipani, testifies to that problem. She moved to Delhi in 2016 but after her bronchitis worsened, she quit the city. The reason: “I had breathing troubles, I could not even sleep at night, I had to buy air purifiers, and that is the worst, to even ask for good air,” she said.

Chaturvedi moved to Mumbai, but although the air was cleaner than in Delhi, she still found it difficult to handle the pollution levels. She is now heading to Goa and this time she is taking no chances. “Even when I am looking for houses in Goa, I go around taking the air pollution meter to see where air pollution is the least,” she said.

Many are searching for options. Several young professionals told VOA they are willing to take pay cuts and relocate to cleaner places with most wanting to move for the sake of their children.

People pass by an installation of an artificial model of lungs to illustrate the effect of air pollution outside a hospital in New Delhi, India, Nov. 5, 2018.

“You can take a risk with your own health, but you can’t do it with your kids,” said a young lawyer with a two-year-old son who did not want to be named.

Doctors say that the numbers of wheezing men, women and children who stream in for help rises every winter and call the city’s toxic air the prime contributor.

“Most hospitals are now reporting much higher percentage of patients having respiratory diseases as compared to ten years back,” according to Doctor Arvind Kumar, a prominent lung surgeon in the city. “And now it is being realized that the worst affect is coming in children in the form of suboptimal brain and lung development. For me it is a public health emergency, it is much bigger than any development agenda.”

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However, in a city of over 20 million, the option of moving out is still restricted to the upper middle classes and the elite. Many of the worst affected, such as those working outdoors in pavement stalls and auto rickshaw drivers, say they have no choice but to stay in the city.

“I get headaches, burning in my eyes, when I drive, especially in winter,” says 47-year-old Ashok Lohia, an auto rickshaw driver. But he shrugs aside his health issues, “I have to earn a living. I am not educated, where can I go?”

Those who have quit Delhi admit uprooting themselves was not easy, but say they have no plans to turn back until the city’s air pollution crisis eases. (VOA)



In the Indian atomic energy sector, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)

By Venkatachari Jagannathan

Officials of the Indian space sector, both serving and retired, are of the view that the space sector's organisational structure is expected to mirror that of India's atomic energy sector.

They also said that senior officials of the Indian space agency should address the employees on what is happening in the sector and how it will pan out so that uncertainty and confusion are addressed.

In the Indian atomic energy sector, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is at the top, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) is the sectoral regulator while the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (both power companies), the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd, the Electronics Corporation of India Ltd, and IREL (India) Ltd are public sector units (PSU).

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The Bhabha Atomic Energy Centre (BARC), Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) are the premier research and development (R&D) organizations and there are several DAE-aided organizations.

While the DAE is headed by a Secretary (normally from the R&D units) who is also the head of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), the R&D centres and PSUs are headed by different persons.

Similarly, the government that has started the space sector reforms seems to be replicating the atomic energy model, several officials told IANS.

"The Central government's moves in the space sector seems to replicate the atomic energy model," an official told IANS.

Currently, the Department of Space (DOS) is at the top and below that, comes the private sector space regulator Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) with various R&D-cum-production (rockets, satellites and others) units.

The sector has two PSUs - Antrix Corporation Ltd and NewSpace India Ltd.

Unlike the atomic energy sector, the Secretary of the DOS and Chairman of the Space Commission is also the Chairman of the ISRO.

As part of the space sector reform measures, the government has set up IN-SPACe as a regulator for the private sector players.

"Ultimately there will be only one sectoral regulator. There cannot be two regulators - one for the private sector and other for the public sector. Who will be the regulator if there is a company that is floated in public-private partnership," an official asked.

"It is good that there is a separate sectoral regulator outside of the DOS and the ISRO," an official said.

The recently-formed PSU NewSpace India has been mandated to build, own satellites, rockets and also provide space based services and transfer ISRO-developed technologies to others.

ISRO Chairman and Secretary DOS K.Sivan has been saying that ISRO will focus on high end research.

As a result, the positions of Secretary, DOS and Chairman, ISRO may not be held by the same person.

"Looking forward, there are possibilities of the government coming out with a voluntary retirement scheme for ISRO officials and merging its various production centres with NewSpace to synergise its operations," a former senior official of ISRO told IANS.

"But there is one issue in this proposition. For ISRO, the production centres are also its R&D centre. Both production and R&D are interwoven. One has to see how both will be separated to be housed under ISRO and NewSpace India."

Meanwhile, the minds of ISRO officials are filled with uncertainty and confusion about their future which is linked to that of their organization.

ISRO Staff Association General Secretary G.R.Pramod had told IANS that there is "uncertainty all around about the future of about 17,300 employees of ISRO".

"The ISRO top management that includes the Chairman and the Heads of various centres should come out openly and address the employee concerns at the earliest," an official added.

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The micro-blogging platform already covers explicit instances of abusive behaviour

Twitter has announced to ban sharing of private media, such as photos and videos, without permission from the individuals that are shown in those images.

The micro-blogging platform already covers explicit instances of abusive behaviour under its policies, the expansion of the policy will allow the platform to take action on media that is shared without any explicit abusive content, provided it's posted without the consent of the person depicted.

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"Sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person's privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm," Twitter said in a blog post late on Tuesday.

"The misuse of private media can affect everyone, but can have a disproportionate effect on women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities. When we receive a report that a Tweet contains unauthorised private media, we will now take action in line with our range of enforcement options," the company informed.

Under the existing policy, publishing other people's private information, such as phone numbers, addresses, and IDs, is already not allowed on Twitter.

This includes threatening to expose private information or incentivising others to do so.

"There are growing concerns about the misuse of media and information that is not available elsewhere online as a tool to harass, intimidate, and reveal the identities of individuals," Twitter said.

When Twitter is notified by individuals depicted, or by an authorised representative, that they did not consent to having their private image or video shared, it removes it.

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India's IT spending is expected to reach $101.8 billion in 2022, up 7% from the previous year.

Driven by a surge in digital transformation owing to the pandemic, the IT spending in India is forecast to total $101.8 billion in 2022, an increase of 7 per cent from 2021, global market research firm Gartner said on Wednesday.

In 2022, all segments of IT spending in India are expected to grow, with software emerging as the highest growing segment.

Spending on software is forecast to total $10.5 billion in 2022, up 14.4 per cent from 2021.

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While experiencing a slower growth rate than 2021, spending on software in 2022 is forecast to be nearly double of what it was pre-pandemic.

"India has experienced one of the fastest recoveries despite being one of the worst hit regions in the second wave of the pandemic in early 2021," said Arup Roy, research vice president at Gartner.

As hybrid work adoption increases in the country, there will be an uptick in spending on devices in 2022, reaching $44 billion, an increase of 7.5 per cent from 2021.

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