China’s spying on British Police

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On February 15, 2023, the UK’s Office of the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner released key findings of its survey of the UK Police’s use and administration of public surveillance systems. This included drones, helicopters, body-worn cameras, and automatic number plate recognition. The report revealed that Beijing is involved in spying in the UK through the help of the above-mentioned systems. One common thread among all the types of equipment believed to be rigged was that most of it was manufactured by Chinese companies like Huawei, Dahua, and Hikvision.

Rest was manufactured by Taiwanese and American companies. Many of these pieces of equipment were also used in the police department offices. According to Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner Fraser Samspson, “It is abundantly clear from this detailed analysis of the survey results that the police estate in the U.K. is shot through with Chinese surveillance cameras. It is also clear that the forces deploying this equipment are generally aware that there are security and ethical concerns about the companies that supply it”.

The Commissioner was convinced that UK’s increasing tensions with China were one of the reasons behind this spying. Referring to the spy balloon controversy between China and the United States, the British watchdog opined that rather than worrying about what is up in the sky at 60,000 feet, it is equally essential to worry about what lies 6 feet above the head. Interestingly, the report was released just a day after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had warned China that the British jets were ready to shoot down any spy balloons sent by China into UK airspace.

The findings of the UK Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner are the latest in the series of spying allegations levelled by the UK against China and its telecom and tech companies. In a report published in July 2021, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament recommended against allowing equipment made by firms like Hikvision and Dahua to be used in the UK. A demand for a firm-wide ban was backed by 67 Members of Parliament (MPs) and Lords a year later.

Another report by the Daily Mail found that both Hikvision and Dahua companies have had significant cyber security issues that could jeopardise the confidentiality of individuals, groups and companies as well.

Hikvision’s cameras have also been discovered at the Sandringham Estate of King Charles III as well. This is where the royal family members traditionally spend their Christmas holidays. Reportedly, five cameras were discovered at Sandringham, including three near car parks and two on trees close to a play area.

Hikvision claims to be autonomous, though state-owned companies and their subsidiaries are the majority shareholders. The company has allegedly collaborated with the People’s Liberation Army and is subject to the country’s National Intelligence Law, which permits access to its data by intelligence agencies. Therefore, there is a significant security risk if leaked data from the UK is passed on to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), especially since evidence has emerged that Hikvision’s equipment installed at the national broadcaster was communicating with servers in China.

Hikvision is not the only one. There are other companies too. For instance, despite being banned from the UK’s upcoming 5G telecoms network, Huawei still has a strong presence within the country’s current networks and has established numerous research collaborations in British academia.

Cambridge University, for instance, has received significant funding from the Chinese government to establish a research centre focused on “smart cities” in Nanjing. This project is described as the university’s most ambitious collaboration with China to date and its largest overseas initiative of this kind. Unfortunately, China’s tentacles in the UK run deep. Earlier this year, MI5 (the UK’s domestic counter-intelligence and security agency, and part of its intelligence apparatus alongside the Secret Intelligence Service) issued a warning about the supposed actions of Christine Lee, a solicitor in London who was accused of serving as an agent of the CCP and directing money to the MPs. Lee is just one of many individuals involved in a large-scale influence campaign in the UK, which the CCP has used to advance its interests and manipulate public opinion. This situation underscores the extensive reach of Chinese intelligence operations and the extent to which they are allowed to operate in the UK with little interference.

Late last year, British PM Rishi Sunak in a speech mentioned that the ‘golden era’ of UK-China ties was over. He had added that China posed a systematic threat to British values as well as interests and hence needed to be dealt with toughly. Sunak also highlighted the human rights violations of Xinjiang’s Uygur Muslims and firmly asserted that a more robust economy at home is a must to deal with China. This view was clearly shaped by not only the growing assertiveness of China but also its insatiable hunger for espionage. Clearly, Beijing will need to modify its policies, or else other countries too will follow the UK in banning Chinese tech and communication companies or restricting these companies’ access to their respective markets. The writing is on the wall.

Source: Asian Lite

Government introduces ‘Achiever Award’ to encourage budding talents: Mein

International Desk,
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Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein said Thursday that to encourage the budding talents of the state, the government is introducing the ‘Achiever Award’ from this year, for which a provision of Rs 1 crore has been kept in the budget. Attending the Luminous Lummer Dai Literary Award ceremony here, organised on the occasion of the 83rd birth anniversary of Lummer Dai by the Arunachal Pradesh Literary Society (APLS), Mein highlighted the government’s active role in reviving the stories of the state’s unsung heroes and restoring the folklores of the state pertaining to the various indigenous communities.

The deputy chief minister praised the literary contributions of Dai and stressed the importance of promoting literature and education in the state. He also highlighted the achievements of individuals from various sectors, including sports, education, and business, who brought laurels to the state. Born on June 1, 1940, Dai was a renowned literary icon in the state who made significant contributions to the field of literature. His debut novel, ‘Paharor Xile Xile’ is the first novel written by an Arunachalee. After his demise in 2002, the Assam Sahitya Sabha and the APLS have been honouring his lifetime contributions through various awards and celebrations, and the Luminous Lummer Dai Literary Award is one of the most prominent ones.

Mein later handed over this year’s award to Jumsi Siram, who has also remained a recipient of the Vishwa Hindi Samman since the 12th World Hindi Conference in Nadi, Fiji. Mein also released the latest edition of ‘Pravas’, the only literary magazine in Arunachal Pradesh, along with three other books. The event was also attended by APLS President Y D Thongchi, Itanagar Smart City Development Corp. CEO Dahey Sangno, Assam Publicity Board Secretary Pramod Kalita, Cultural Affairs Secretary Tai Kaye, and Sahitya Akademi Awardee Mamang Dai, among others.


Meghalaya Village Joins In Himalayan Clean-Up

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The Meghalaya Integrated Mountain Development Initiative (MIMDI), the state chapter of the Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI), organised The Himalayan Clean-up (THC) 2023 at Mawlingai village under Umsning block in Ri-Bhoi on Saturday.

This was part of a waste clean-up operation held in rural, semi-urban and urban locations across the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR), which was also held to draw the attention of the general public, governmental agencies and traditional institutions to the perils of non-biodegradable waste, especially plastic waste in our daily lives jeopardising the environment and health of the people.

The clean-up saw the wholehearted and enthusiastic participation of members of the Mawlingai dorbar, the residents of the locality besides MIMDI office bearers in cleaning up the area by collecting solid waste.

The volunteers then conducted waste and brand auditing of the collected waste in order to identify the major polluting brands attracting the provisions of the Extended Producer’s Responsibility (EPR) as laid down in the Solid Waste Management Rules.

Subhasish Das Gupta, MIMDI secretary, thanked the Dorbar Shnong for permission to conduct the clean-up at Mawlingai, outlined the objectives of the clean-up and elaborated on the perils of plastic pollution by drawing the attention of the gathering to the increased habit of use and throw resulting in waste pile up in our surroundings. He also referred to ‘Solutions to Plastic Pollution’ being the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, notwithstanding the national ban on single use plastic from July 1, 2022.

He also explained the importance of waste and brand auditing of the collected waste. Daniel Kharbangar of MIMDI read out the pledge towards a zero waste Himalayan region. Fifteen bamboo baskets were handed over to the village dorbar for placement at various strategic locations in the village for use as garbage bins.

The Secretary of the dorbar, Rishan Mawkdoh, called for a greater awareness and behavioural change in tackling the menace of single-use plastic in our day-to-day life. He urged the residents of the locality to shun the use of plastic and help to keep the village clean.


'Naya J-K' defeats terror, moves on to become vibrant region

International Desk,
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Naya Jammu and Kashmir has defeated terror and has transformed from an underdeveloped and terrorism-hit region into one of the most vibrant places in the country.

After the abrogation of Article 370, a temporary provision in the Constitution, the government has taken numerous reformative and youth-centric steps to open endless opportunities for the socio-economic empowerment of the J-K people and the results are evident.

According to the official data, during the past year, more than 82,000 business units have been established in J-K. These ventures have provided direct employment opportunities to around 2.85 lakh youth.

Under 'Mission Youth' the government has extended handholding to 70,000 young boys and girls to become self-reliant.

Nearly 15000 development projects which were in limbo for the past 10 to 20 years have been completed during the past three years.

Summer and winter capitals of J-K i.e. Srinagar and Jammu which were rated poorly in the national and international surveys till 2019 have transformed into smart cities.

The Union Territory is at a cusp in its development trajectory. The helmsmen have broken fresh grounds to enable faster growth. From 2019 onwards J-K has witnessed accelerated progress and the region's potential has been explored fully.

Youth have emerged as the architects of 'Naya Jammu and Kashmir' as the region, which witnessed Pakistan-sponsored terrorism for three decades, is seeing a steady rise in young entrepreneurs. They are working with dedication to build a prosperous society.

The successful conduct of the 3-day G20 summit in Srinagar has opened up a new era of opportunities for Jammu and Kashmir.

The G20 participants applauded J-K's saga of development and promised to become the brand ambassadors of the Himalayan region.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir are cooperating with the government in every field and are contributing towards fulfilling the mission of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to build "Viksit Bharat" by 2047.

Recently J-K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha inaugurated the much-awaited tourist destination 'Jambu Zoo' at Nagrota. It was taken up under the 'Languishing Project.'

The 'Jambu Zoo' is the first full-fledged zoo in the Union Territory and has the potential to boost tourism in the region.

The zoo houses an impressive variety of wildlife species and is spread across 3,200 kanals of land. It's home to seventeen species, including leopards, deer, peacocks, and monkeys.

The 'Jambu Zoo' missed several deadlines, however, after August 5, 2019--when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate J-K's special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories--the work on the zoo was expedited.

The liberal funding provided by New Delhi led to J-K getting its first zoo. It has an open amusement theatre, a children's park, and a tranquil water body. Battery-operated cars and bicycles have been placed in the zoo to facilitate the movement of visitors.

'Jambu Zoo' being thrown open for people stands as a testament to the government's commitment to building 'Naya Jammu and Kashmir.'

As of date Jammu and Kashmir figures among the progressive regions of the country. It's no more infamous for grenade blasts, cross-firing and stone-pelting incidents.

Youngsters have become the torchbearers and are leading from the front. They have rejected Pakistan's propaganda by saying no to stone-pelting and guns.

The recruitment process in government departments has become transparent, and self-employment schemes have been thrown open for one and all. All the selections are based on merit. Young boys and girls who want to become entrepreneurs are being provided with financial assistance and other support.

Pertinently, till 2019 only such people could become entrepreneurs who inherited businesses from their families as setting up any venture was a privilege reserved for a selected class of people.
Loans were provided to only those entrepreneurs, who were recommended by politicians or other bigwigs. Common people were asked to complete a long list of formalities before any amount could be sanctioned in their favour.

Setting up any business unit in J-K till 2019 was a Herculean task and many youngsters used to give up their ideas and surrender.

The lack of avenues and resources led to J-K youth getting disillusioned. Pakistan and the separatists sponsored by it took full advantage of growing unemployment in the region. They lured the young boys by offering them petty amounts to pelt stones, enforcing shutdowns and finally taking up the guns.

After 2019 the scenario changed as the government provided a plethora of opportunities to youngsters. The process to set up any business unit was made simple. A single window clearance system was put in place to ensure that aspiring entrepreneurs could transform their ideas into reality.

The government encouraged start-up culture and acknowledged the ideas of the young innovators. During the past three years, the government has helped lakhs of J-K youth to stand on their own feet.

From a strife-torn region, J-K has turned into a business hub with local youth becoming the role models and inspiration for their successors.

Srinagar and Jammu cities which were ranked poorly in national and international surveys till 2019, during the past three years have transformed into beautiful and vibrant cities in the country.During the past three years, the Centre has approved over 276 projects under the "Smart City Mission" in Jammu and Srinagar.

These projects have strengthened the urban infrastructure, and improved city services, and public aesthetics. Both cities have become more eco-friendly and clean.

The transformation of Jammu and Srinagar cities from highly congested and underdeveloped urban areas to 'Smart Cities' has brought these places to par with the developed cities in the country.

Both Jammu and Srinagar are heritage cities but the former rulers didn't pay much attention towards developing these cities.

The works that have taken place during the past three years have proven beyond doubt that both these cities were mismanaged.

In the past three years, urban governance has improved. The latent creativity and vitality of the historical cities have been unlocked.

Both the cities blessed with natural and cultural heritage have become socio-economically vibrant cities in a short span of time. Surveys don't rate these cities poorly anymore. (ANI)


J-K's Doda is emerging as potential destination for agri-tech start-ups: Jitendra Singh

International Desk,
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Union Minister of State Jitendra Singh on Saturday said that Doda, which is the lavender destination of the world, has emerged as a potential location for Agri-tech start-ups.

"Government is committed to doubling the farmers' income and lavender production is the testimony of it for giving rise to Agri-tech start-ups in J&K," Jitendra Singh said while chairing a review meeting to assess the developmental scenario of district Doda.

He said that the benefits of centrally sponsored schemes must reach the last man in the queue.

"Doda is the lavender destination of the world as the area has emerged as a potential destination for Agri-tech start-ups in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Singh complimented the district administration and farmer's community for bringing up the area as the birthplace of Lavender in India, a release said.

DC Doda Vishesh Mahajan while briefing about the developmental activities informed that the work on much-needed Multi Storey Car Parking at New Bus Stand Doda has been started and is expected to complete by the end of 2024, an official statement informed.

"The execution of alternate National Highway 244 is going on day and night, and more than 80% of work has been completed by NHIDCL," the official added.

About the unique initiative ADHBUT Doda, DC informed that the district administration has put all the government services, schemes, and attendance of government employees on the ADHBUT Doda portal. Online Classes, Study material for all classes, monitoring of developmental works, grievances redressal programmes, and interaction with officials, all is taken care of through the ADHBUT Doda platform, the statement informed.

Singh maintained that the District Administration and District Development Council must showcase these positive stories so that the people can come forward, feel confident, and be part of progress in new India with the potential to lead the world, informed the statement.

The meeting also reviewed the progress made in the district on mega development projects being executed under NHIDCL, PWD, JJM, District Capex and other schemes.
Jitendra Singh said it is the endeavour of the present government led by PM, to trickle down the benefits of all the centrally sponsored schemes to the deserved lot and to the last person in the queue. (ANI)