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John Adams (left), the second U.S. president, and Thomas Jefferson (center), the third U.S. president, both inherited land from their fathers. VOA

When the men who founded America spoke of liberty, they didn’t necessarily mean that citizens of the new republic could do whatever they felt like doing, whenever they pleased.

“In early America, they didn’t mean that liberty meant freedom from government, a total lifestyle where Americans were free to do what they wished at all times,” says Andrew Wehrman, a professor of history at Central Michigan University. “Liberty meant freedom from unjust laws or freedom from tyranny, arbitrary law. You would always be in participate with your neighbors. There would always be consent. … There wasn’t this freedom to do whatever you want.”

What is liberty?

So-called anti-maskers have protested mask-wearing requirements put in place to help stem the spread of COVID-19. They argue that being forced to wear a mask violates their constitutional right to liberty.

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“These are lawfully created ordinances and mandates and requirements to protect one another. So, that sort of thing would not be seen by the founders as a loss of liberty,” Wehrman says. “It’s a mistake to think of liberty as absolute self-indulgence without restraint. We don’t have the liberty to set our own house on fire, because it might affect other houses.”

Brad Birzer, the co-founder of the online journal, The Imaginative Conservative, imagines the Founding Fathers would agree and disagree with anti-maskers. “I’m not an anti-masker, but from what I understand of the anti-maskers, they tend to think that this is coming from a level of government that shouldn’t be involved in this,” says Birzer, who is also a professor of history at Hillsdale College.

An anti-mask rally outside of the Utah Governors Mansion, Sept. 12, 2020, in Salt Lake City. VOA

“I don’t think that the founders would have really appreciated all kinds of mandates coming from the national government, but they certainly didn’t mind various mandates. … There’s no doubt that, in local communities, it was always acceptable for there to be local regulations for things like that.”

What would the founders do?

America’s founders restricted certain freedoms when they fought to contain contagious diseases during the late 1700s. Smallpox spread through military camps and densely populated cities, including occupied Boston. General George Washington, who later became America’s first president, feared the illness could seriously cripple his army as it fought the Revolutionary War.

Consequently, people fleeing Boston were often required to be smoked, which involved entering a smokehouse to be fumigated by the heat and smoke of a wood or charcoal fire topped with materials like sulfur, which were thought to be disinfectants. Washington ordered that all of his troops be inoculated against smallpox — the first publicly funded immunization drive in American history. There are also examples of other measures that restricted freedom of movement. When yellow fever struck Philadelphia in 1793, Alexander Hamilton and his wife, Eliza, ran into roadblocks when trying to reach Albany, New York.

“At town after town, they had to contend with barriers erected to keep out potentially contagious Philadelphians. Even New York posted guards at entrances to the city to deter fugitives from the plague-ridden capital,” writes Ron Chernow in his biography “Alexander Hamilton.”

Valley Forge, 1777. Gen. Washington and Lafayette visiting the suffering part of the army. Painted and drawn by A. Gibert. VOA

“Early Americans understood that times of disease called for this shared sacrifice for the common good,” says Wehrman. “It’s very different to see liberty weaponized in this way to get out of a hassle, or to see it politicized in this way. They didn’t have political parties where one faction in the United States said, ‘We’re not going to pay attention to the town gate or to the smoking or to the quarantine of our goods.’”

Striking a balance

Birzer believes anti-maskers are confusing the notions of liberty and individualism, a core American value associated with personal freedom and limited government interference. “There’s definitely a sense in which individualism meshes with liberty, but I think that the founders would have also been very taken with the idea of moral responsibility,” Birzer says. “So, if it’s truly the moral thing to do what’s right for the community, you should be doing that, regardless of whether you’ve been told to do it or not, (because) it is the right thing.”

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The U.S. Constitution talks about “We the People of the United States” forming a more perfect union by, among other things, taking actions that “promote the general Welfare,” of the nation. Birzer thinks the founders would try to strike a balance between citizens’ rights and duties — the right to be free from government interference, but also the duty to be good neighbors to one another.

And some founders like Thomas Jefferson, who believed dissent was necessary for a healthy democracy, might find something else to like about the anti-maskers. “I think there … would be a strain within the founders that would be very happy that there was a sense that regular people, who were not in government, are resisting certain things,” Birzer says. (VOA/SP)



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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