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Headlines: Farmers to hold rally in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan today, MVA may join
1 min read

Headlines: Farmers to hold rally in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan today, MVA may join

29-Nov-2021
“1. PM Modi calls for all-party meeting before the commencement of the Parliament session 2. ‘The pitcher of sin is about to explode’: BJP on Nawab Malik’s allegation of ‘implantation conspiracy’ 3. TMC will not attend the opposition meeting called by Congress 4. Arvind Kejriwal’s Message After Punjab Poll Promise For Women Criticised 5. Farmers to hold rally in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan today, MVA may join #RakeshTikait #ParliamentWinterSession #NawabMalik #BJP #TMC #Congress #ArvindKejriwal #FarmersRally #UddhavThackeray #SoniaGandhi #SharadPawar
29-Nov-2021 Trending News
Cooperative model best suited for development of India having 130 cr population: Amit Shah
2 min read

Cooperative model best suited for development of India having 130 cr population: Amit Shah

29-Nov-2021
Gandhinagar: The cooperative model of economic development is the only one which will work to achieve an all-encompassing and all-inclusive development of Indiapulation of 130 crore, Union CooperationMinister Amit Shah said on Sunday Addressing a gathering after inaugurating a milk powder factory, a poly film manufacturing plant and other projects of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Federation (GCMMF) here, Shah said the cooperative model has the capacity to make everyone prosperous, and Amul is a living example of it.
29-Nov-2021 National
Against All Odds, The Tripartite MVA Completes Two Years In Power
10 min read

Against All Odds, The Tripartite MVA Completes Two Years In Power

29-Nov-2021
The saffron party leaders have been predicting the fall of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government since it took over two years back.  Union Minister and senior BJP leader from Maharashtra Narayan Rane on Friday said the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government would collapse and a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government would come to power by March 2022. Speaking at a meeting in Jaipur, Mr. Rane, the Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) said he was merely endorsing what the BJP’s Maharashtra unit chief Chandrakant Patil had predicted earlier.
29-Nov-2021 National
Congress, AAP Will Be “Wiped Out” In Punjab Assembly Polls: Akali Chief
2 min read

Congress, AAP Will Be “Wiped Out” In Punjab Assembly Polls: Akali Chief

29-Nov-2021

Chandigarh: There is a strong anti-incumbency against the ruling Congress for “reneging” on its polls promises while people do not “trust” AAP, claimed SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, adding that both parties will be “wiped out” in the Punjab Assembly elections. The 59-year-old leader also accused Chief Minister Charanjit Singh of indulging in a “drama” by trying to project himself as a “aam aadmi” (common man) and alleged that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wants to become the CM of Punjab.

29-Nov-2021 National
Congress reacts to Trinamool not attending Opposition meeting Says, “upto them”
3 min read

Congress reacts to Trinamool not attending Opposition meeting Says, “upto them”

29-Nov-2021
New Delhi:The Congress on Sunday said that it was up to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party if it reportedly decided not to attend the meeting of opposition floor leaders called by the grand old party’s Mallikarjun Kharge on November 29 ahead of Parliament’s Winter Session. “We invite every party in the opposition for exchange of views before the start of Parliament session. But it is up to them (TMC) whether to attend or not,” news agency ANI quoted leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury as saying.
29-Nov-2021 National
UPTET 2021 Cancelled After Question Paper Leaked on WhatsApp, Several Arrested
1 min read

UPTET 2021 Cancelled After Question Paper Leaked on WhatsApp, Several Arrested

29-Nov-2021
The UPTET 2021 question paper has been leaked and the exam has now been cancelled. The teachers’ eligibility test was scheduled to be held today, November 28 but will now be held after a month. The question paper was found floating on WhatsApp groups at Mathura, Ghaziabad, and Bulandshahr. #UPTET #TeacherEligibilityTest #WhatsApp #UPTETExam #UPTET_Exam_Date #UPTET2021Cancelled #PaperLeak #UPTETExamDate
29-Nov-2021 India
First Person: ‘Disability reminds us that there is no such thing as normal’
8 min read

First Person: ‘Disability reminds us that there is no such thing as normal’

29-Nov-2021
Eddie Ndopu, an award-winning disability activist from South Africa, and one of 17 United Nations advocates for the Sustainable Development Goals, lives with spinal muscular atrophy, and faces many difficulty daily challenges. Ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, on 3 December, Mr. Ndopu discusses how he has overcome barriers to travel the world advocating for others with disabilities.
This feature has been edited for clarity and length. Eddie Ndopu was talking to Melissa Fleming, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications. You can hear the full interview on the UN podcast, . “At the age of two, I was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative condition that affects the muscles and results in progressive weakness. In other words, the older I get, the weaker I become, and my doctors gave my family a prognosis that I wouldn't live beyond the age of five. I have outlived myself by 25 years and counting.  However, I'm grappling with the physical manifestation of this rare disease and what is doing to my body: What I was able to do five years ago, I'm no longer able to do today. I had dreams of becoming an artist. I used to sketch incessantly, and now I'm no longer able to do that. But, on the other hand, my disability has really been a gift in the sense that it has allowed me to dream new dreams. I still have my spirit. I still have my mind and I still want to be of service to humanity and the world. And so, while I move through the world, with great difficulty, I know that there is so much more that I'm able to offer.

'The wind beneath my sails'

My mother has truly been the wind beneath my sails. I admire my mother, not just as a parent, but as a human being, who, in many ways, has sacrificed so much of her own life in order to step in and not just be a primary caregiver but really be my biggest advocate. Because of my degenerative condition, I need to be turned at night every two hours to prevent pressure sores from forming. My mom did that for the better part of my life. Every day, seven days a week. I need to wake up to three hours ahead of time to get dressed. I need assistance, with bathing, with clothing, with feeding, every aspect of my life that's physical. All of that needs to be facilitated. Right now, I have a team that consists of about four people but my mum did all of that, for twenty-something years, single-handedly. The reason why I was able to attain a mainstream education at the age of seven and become one of only a handful of disabled children in the entire country to be enrolled in a regular school, is because of my mum’s persistence, knocking on every door and being told, “This is not going to work”. She didn't just do it as my mom. I think she did it because she believed deeply that I am deserving of a life that is truly open, and so I really owe her a debt of gratitude.  I have since gone on to graduate from Oxford with a Master's in Public Policy and became the first African with this degenerative disability to do that. Ever. For me, that's not just a personal achievement, it also feels like a symbolic victory for all of the disabled kids around the world who never get to see the inside of a classroom.

New Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, Edward Ndopu, Founder, Global Strategies on Inclusive Education, Republic of South Africa.
UN Photo
New Sustainable Development Goals Advocate, Edward Ndopu, Founder, Global Strategies on Inclusive Education, Republic of South Africa.

 ‘I believe I’m a leader'

The turning point was when I was offered admission into the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg. It's a Preparatory School for future world leaders. I made it all the way to the finalist weekend, and they called and said, ‘we're not sure we're able to meet your needs’. I wrote a letter to the founders of the Academy and I said, ‘My name is Eddie. I believe I'm a leader, I think you've made a mistake. I really, really need to be in the school, because I have a dream to make education accessible and inclusive for all of the children with disabilities on the continent of Africa. I want to be able to do that.’  Then, one Sunday afternoon, the phone rang. My Mum said, ‘It's for you’ and I got the phone and they said, “we got your letter, congratulations. You've made it into the inaugural class.” That made me an activist and I've never turned back since. I spent those two years becoming the person that I think I was meant to be, and I was exposed to the world. I started a civil rights campaign called the Global Strategy for Inclusive Education and I presented it at the World Economic Forum. I was 19 years old. I won a scholarship to attend college in Canada realized that there is no contradiction between being young and being a leader. 

'A reminder that we are not perfect'

There are 1.2 billion disabled people in the world, covering both visible and invisible disabilities. That's about 15 per cent of the world's total population. People don't know this, because I think that people are afraid of disability and don't know how to talk about it, because disabilities are still associated with neglect, isolation, and deprivation. Disabled people are still more likely than not to be unemployed, and to not have any access to health care. Poverty is both the cause and the consequence of disability, and the overwhelming majority of people with disabilities live in poverty.  I think we don't talk about disability because we insist on perfection. And I think disability reminds people that actually, imperfection is more intrinsic to all of us than perfection is. Disability reminds us that there is no such thing as normal, so perhaps maybe disability is the most normal."
29-Nov-2021 United Nations
‘That’s been my time, I’m done’: Comedian Munawar Faruqui after 12 shows cancelled in 2 months
1 min read

‘That’s been my time, I’m done’: Comedian Munawar Faruqui after 12 shows cancelled in 2 months

29-Nov-2021
Comedian Munawar Faruqui’s show, ‘Dongri to Nowhere’, scheduled for November 28 at Good Shepherd auditorium in Bengaluru, was cancelled on Sunday. In response, the comedian issued a statement in which he said this was the twelfth show that had to be cancelled due to threats in two months. He signed off, “I’m done. Goodbye.” On Saturday, the Bengaluru Police urged the organisers to cancel comedian Munawar Faruqui’s show. In a letter to the organisers, they stated, “There is credible information that several organisations are opposing this stand-up comedy show and it could create chaos and disturb the public peace and harmony, which may lead to law and order problems.” #standupcomedy #munawarfaruqui #Bangalore #Bhopal #Bengaluru
29-Nov-2021 Trending News
Digital Child’s Play: protecting children from the impacts of AI
9 min read

Digital Child’s Play: protecting children from the impacts of AI

29-Nov-2021
Artificial intelligence has been used in products targeting children for several years, but legislation protecting them from the potential impacts of the technology is still in its infancy. Ahead of a global forum on AI for children, UN News spoke to two UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) experts about the need for improved policy protection.
Children are already interacting with AI technologies in many different ways: they are embedded in toys, virtual assistants, video games, and adaptive learning software. Their impact on children's lives is profound, yet found that, when it comes to AI policies and practices, children’s rights are an afterthought, at best. In response, the UN children’s agency has developed draft Policy Guidance on AI for Children to promote children's rights, and raise awareness of how AI systems can uphold or undermine these rights. Conor Lennon from UN News asked Jasmina Byrne, Policy Chief at the UNICEF Global Insights team, and Steven Vosloo, a UNICEF data, research and policy specialist, about the importance of putting children at the centre of AI-related policies.
AI Technology will fundamentally change society.

Steven Vosloo, a UNICEF data, research and policy specialist
Steven Vosloo, a UNICEF data, research and policy specialist, by UNICEF
Steven Vosloo At UNICEF we saw that AI was a very hot topic, and something that would fundamentally change society and the economy, particularly for the coming generations. But when we looked at national AI strategies, and corporate policies and guidelines, we realized that not enough attention was being paid to children, and to how AI impacts them.  So, we began an extensive consultation process, speaking to experts around the world, and almost 250 children, in five countries. That process led to our draft guidance document and, after we released it, we invited governments, organizations and companies to pilot it. We’re developing case studies around the guidance, so that we can share the lessons learned. Jasmina Byrne AI has been in development for many decades. It is neither harmful nor benevolent on its own. It's the application of these technologies that makes them either beneficial or harmful. There are many positive applications of AI that can be used in in education for personalized learning. It can be used in healthcare, language simulation and processing, and it is being used to support children with disabilities. And we use it at UNICEF. For example, it helps us to predict the spread of disease, and improve poverty estimations. But there are also many risks that are associated with the use of AI technologies.  Children interact with digital technologies all the time, but they're not aware, and many adults are not aware, that many of the toys or platforms they use are powered by artificial intelligence. That’s why we felt that there has to be a special consideration given to children and because of their special vulnerabilities.

Children using computers
UNICEF/ Diefaga
Children using computers

Privacy and the profit motive

Steven Vosloo The AI could be using natural language processing to understand words and instructions, and so it's collecting a lot of data from that child, including intimate conversations, and that data is being stored in the cloud, often on commercial servers. So, there are privacy concerns. We also know of instances where these types of toys were hacked, and they were banned in Germany, because they were considered to be safe enough. Around a third of all online users are children. We often find that younger children are using social media platforms or video sharing platforms that weren’t designed with them in mind. They are often designed for maximum engagement, and are built on a certain level of profiling based on data sets that may not represent children.

Jasmina Byrne, Policy Chief at the UNICEF Global Insights team
Jasmina Byrne, Policy Chief at the UNICEF Global Insights team, by UNICEF
Predictive analytics and profiling are particularly relevant when dealing with children: AI may profile children in a way that puts them in a certain bucket, and this may determine what kind of educational opportunities they have in the future, or what benefits parents can access for children. So, the AI is not just impacting them today, but it could set their whole life course on a different direction. Jasmina Byrne Last year this was big news in the UK. The Government used an algorithm to predict the final grades of high schoolers. And because the data that was input in the algorithms was skewed towards children from private schools, their results were really appalling, and they really discriminated against a lot of children who were from minority communities. So, they had to abandon that system.  That's just one example of how, if algorithms are based on data that is biased, it can actually have a really negative consequences for children.

‘It’s a digital life now’

Steven Vosloo We really hope that our recommendations will filter down to the people who are actually writing the code. The policy guidance has been aimed at a broad audience, from the governments and policymakers who are increasingly setting strategies and beginning to think about regulating AI, and the private sector that it often develops these AI systems. We do see competing interests: the decisions around AI systems often have to balance a profit incentive versus an ethical one. What we advocate for is a commitment to responsible AI that comes from the top: not just at the level of the data scientist or software developer, from top management and senior government ministers. Jasmina Byrne The data footprint that children leave by using digital technology is commercialized and used by third parties for their own profit and for their own gain. They're often targeted by ads that are not really appropriate for them. This is something that we've been really closely following and monitoring. However, I would say that there is now more political appetite to address these issues, and we are working to put get them on the agenda of policymakers. Governments need to think and puts children at the centre of all their policy-making around frontier digital technologies. If we don't think about them and their needs. Then we are really missing great opportunities. Steven Vosloo The Scottish Government released their AI strategy in March and they officially adopted the UNICEF policy guidance on AI for children. And part of that was because the government as a whole has adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child into law. Children's lives are not really online or offline anymore. And it's a digital life now. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. You can listen to the interview .

UNICEF has developed policy guidance to protect children from the potential impacts of AI
UNICEF/ Schverdfinger
UNICEF has developed policy guidance to protect children from the potential impacts of AI
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The Global Forum on AI for Children

  • On November 30 – December 1, and the Government of Finland host the .
  • This event gathers the world’s foremost children’s rights and technology experts, policymakers, practitioners and researchers, as well as children active in the AI space, to connect and share knowledge on pressing issues at the intersection of children’s rights, digital technology policies and AI systems.
  • The forum aims to recap project achievements and impacts, share knowledge of what has worked and what hasn’t for more child-centred AI, and enable networking on how the work can continue and inspire participants to act.
29-Nov-2021 United Nations
9.4 million people are ‘living their worst nightmare’ in northern Ethiopia due to ongoing conflict 
5 min read

9.4 million people are ‘living their worst nightmare’ in northern Ethiopia due to ongoing conflict 

29-Nov-2021
The number of people in need of humanitarian food assistance across northern Ethiopia has spiked as a direct result of ongoing conflict, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday. 
“Today, 9.4 million people are living their worst nightmare,” Tomson Phiri, the agency’s spokesperson, told journalists in Geneva. 

80 per cent ‘behind battle lines’ 

Of the people across northern Ethiopia in need of assistance, more than 80 per cent - 7.8 million - “are behind battle lines”.    The largest jump in numbers has occurred in Amhara region with 3.7 million people now in urgent need of humanitarian aid.   Screening data from all three regions in Northern Ethiopia has shown malnutrition rates of between 16 and 28 per cent for children. Even more alarming, up to 50 per cent of pregnant and breastfeeding women screened in Amhara and Tigray were also found to be malnourished.  

Delivery of aid 

According to the spokesperson, a convoy loaded with 2,200 metric tons of life-saving food is expected to arrive in Mekele (in Tigray) in the coming days; 35 trucks have arrived so far and more vehicles loaded with food from Kombolcha are being sent into Southern Tigray today.   Corridors into Tigray had been closed due to the recent Tigrayan advances into Afar and Amhara, as well as severe disruptions linked to federal government approvals.   Mr. Phiri pointed out that this has meant that less than a third of the supplies needed have entered the region since mid-July.  He added that one million litres of fuel is also needed to be able to reach the 7.8 million people behind battle lines.  

A ‘textbook’ humanitarian crisis 

While WFP has reached 180,000 people in Tigray in this current round, this amounts to just seven percent of the 2.5 million WFP needs to reach, the spokesperson highlighted.  “A famine has not been declared in Ethiopia but...we are running out of words really to capture exactly the situation that is unfolding before our eyes, but... it is the textbook definition of a humanitarian crisis”, he said.   Earlier this week WFP delivered food to over 10,000 people in the Amhara towns of Dessie and Kombolcha. These were the first distributions to happen there since they were taken over by Tigray forces almost a month ago. WFP was only granted full access to its warehouses in the region last week.   To date, WFP has reached more than 3.2 million people with emergency food and nutrition assistance across northern Ethiopia, including 875,000 vulnerable mothers and children with nutritionally fortified food.   In Amhara, WFP has reached more than 220,000 people with food and nutrition assistance and is scaling up to reach 650,000 people. In Afar, WFP has distributed food to 124,000 people out of its targeted 534,000.  

Urgent action needed 

Mr. Phiri called for urgent action to be taken to help WFP deliver assistance over the next six months.  At least $316 million in funding is required for Northern Ethiopia, with an unprecedented $579 million to save and change the lives of 12 million people across the country over the next six months. 

Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region.
© WFP/Leni Kinzli
Tens of thousands of Ethiopians have been displaced by the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region.

Risk of genocide is real

Later on Friday, the , Alice Wairimu Nderitu, reiterated her grave concerns regarding the deterioration of the situation. For Ms. Nderitu, several threats are “spiralling the country down to a path where the risk of commission of atrocity crimes, including genocide, is real and must be addressed as a matter of utmost urgency.” She pointed to calls to arms and hate speech, militarization of society, ethnic profiling, denial of humanitarian access and blockage of food to areas under fighting inhabited by specific ethnic communities. The Special Adviser also called on regional and international actors to intensify their engagement to “prevent falling into this abyss.” Ms. Nderitu concluded saying that, while nothing can restore the lives of those that have been lost, it is not late to prevent more suffering and to put an end to the hostilities through dialogue.
29-Nov-2021 United Nations