ALERT: “Antarctica Melting Vigorously With the Rate Up to 252 Gigatonnes Per Year”

A new study has revealed that melting of the ice and snow from the entire continent of Antarctica has accelerated by 280 percent in the last four decades. The study led by Eric Rignot from the University of California at Irvine found that the rate of that ice loss has not been consistent, with ice disappearing faster in each successive decade.

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Google Creating Publishing Platform for Local News Publishers

To help small newsrooms overcome challenges in their strive to go digital, Google is creating a new publishing platform for local news publishers. The new publishing tool will be made available to publishers globally later in the year.

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Facebook Tests a New Feature To Let Users Enjoy Events Together

Facebook is testing a new feature to let users share events that they are interesting in attending to, on their “Stories” so that they can coordinate with friends and enjoy events together. Friends also can tap on the sticker in the Story to visit the event page.

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Sudan Restricts Social Media Access to Counter Protest Movement

Since last year Internet freedom in Sudan declined due to a crippling economic crisis that made access to ICTs prohibitively expensive for everyday users. The government also exerted increasing control over the online sphere by arresting online journalists and activists and introducing new restrictive laws and also blocking access to social media used to organise nationwide anti-government protests triggered by an economic crisis.

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Largest Spike in Hate Crimes Since 9/11, Says a Report

The number of hate crimes reported in the United States jumped by 17% last year, the largest increase since 2001 when the terrorist hijackings on 9/11 fueled a surge in attacks on Americans of Muslim and Arab ancestry.

A total of 7,175 hate crime incidents were reported to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016, said the UCR Program’s annual Hate Crime Statistics report, Xinhua reported.

It’s the third year in a row the FBI has reported an increase in hate crimes. The number of hate crimes in 2016 rose about five percent from 2015.

The 2017 incidents encompass 8,437 total offences, meaning some involved multiple criminal charges.

According to the report, the most common bias categories in single-bias incidents were race/ethnicity/ancestry (59.6 percent), religion (20.6 percent), and sexual orientation (15.8 percent).

The victims represented a cross section of society, with African-Americans and Jews the most frequently targeted victims. Of 34 bias motivation categories tracked by the FBI, all but five reported an increase.

Of crimes motivated by race, ancestry or ethnicity, about 48.8 percent were motivated by hatred against African Americans, 17.5 per cent stemmed from bias against whites, and 10.9 percent were classified as anti-Latino or anti-Hispanic bias.

In addition to the 7,106 single-bias incidents reported last year, there were also 69 multiple-bias hate crimes reported.

About 5,000 of the hate crimes reported were categorized as crimes against persons, such as intimidation or assault. About 3,000 were considered crimes against property, such as vandalism, robbery, or burglary.

Some hate crime incidents are classified as both crimes against persons and crimes against property, the report noted.

The report, Hate Crime Statistics 2017, includes hate crime information for last year, broken down by location, offenders, bias types, and victims.

The number of law enforcement agencies reporting hate crimes also increased with about 1,000 additional agencies contributing data across the country, the FBI noted.

Reporting hate crime data to the UCR Program allows the public, researchers, community leaders, and local government to raise awareness of the issue and gain a more accurate picture of hate crimes, said the FBI on its website.


Public Health Programmes Failed to Address Anaemia among Girls, Women

Government health and nutrition programs substantially reduce anaemia in children under five years of age and expectant mothers but fail to focus on girls and non-pregnant women, according to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Considerable progress was made in India between 2006 and 2016 in reducing anaemia in children under five years of age and pregnant women, showed the study titled “Trends and drivers of change in the prevalence of anaemia among 1 million women and children in India, 2006-2016,” published in BMJ Global Health journal. However, there was minimal progress in the anaemia status among teenage girls and women under 50.

However, Improved public health and nutrition programmes for children under five years of age, and higher education and wealth among expectant mothers substantially contributed to lowering anaemia among these two groups between 2006 and 2016, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said.

Anaemia reduction among teenage girls and women under 50 years, however, showed very minimal progress.

“More than half of the population of women and children in India is anaemic and is, therefore, currently experiencing reduced quality of life in various respects such as work capacity, fatigue, cognitive function, birth outcomes and child development,” said Phuong Hong Nguyen, lead author and IFPRI researcher.

“In addition to describing the problem, showing slow improvements, and showing high variability between different states, our paper identifies drivers of anaemia from a broad set of potential drivers at various levels,” Nguyen added.

The study, “Trends and drivers of change in the prevalence of anaemia among one million women and children in India, 2006-2016”, co-authored by IFPRI’s Samuel Scott, Rasmi Avula, and Purnima Menon; and FHI360’s Lan Mai Tran, was published recently in BMJ Global Health journal.

Using data from two rounds of the National Family Health Survey conducted in 2005-06 and the latest one in 2015-16, the researchers examined changes in haemoglobin and anaemia among a million women and children in India, and to identify key factors contributing to lowering anaemia prevalence in the country.

Among various drivers, positive changes in mothers’ education, coverage of nutrition and health interventions, socioeconomic status, sanitation and meat and fish consumption contributed to improvement in the haemoglobin count — low haemoglobin count indicates anaemia — among both children and pregnant women during 2006-16.

Better education alone accounted for nearly one-fourth of the improvement seen in the haemoglobin count among expectant mothers, and one-tenth in children.

“Further improvements in these common drivers can substantially impact maternal and child anaemia, simultaneously bringing down anaemia prevalence across the country in these two groups,” said Nguyen.

Haemoglobin and anaemia improved significantly among children less than five years; and pregnant women 15-49 years old, but not in the non-pregnant women in the same age group between 2006 and 2016.

Anaemia declined by 11 percentage points among children (70 per cent in 2006 to 59 per cent in 2016), 7.6 percentage points among expectant mothers (58 per cent to 50.4 per cent), and a mere 2.1 percentage points in teenage girls and women under 50 (55 per cent to 52.9 per cent).

“It’s surprising that no progress has been made in reducing anaemia among non-pregnant adult women in India in the last decade. Most programmes have not focused on this group but, instead, have focused on pregnant women and young children,” Scott said.

India’s recently launched Anaemia Mukt Bharat initiative puts the focus on women of reproductive age (20-49 years), who will start receiving weekly iron-folic acid supplementation, which supports the finding on the need to attend to this population segment.

In addition, the Centre has mandated the fortification of salt with iodine and iron, and wheat flour with iron, folic acid and Vitamin B-12.


Internet Freedom Remained Stable in 2017 After a Decline in 2016

Internet access and speeds improved (see Availability and Ease of Access: Key Indicators).

Local authorities ordered temporary telecommunication service shutdowns in at least 37 separate reported incidents (see Restrictions on Connectivity).

Officials ordered service providers in the Kashmir valley to block 22 social media sites for a month, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp (see Blocking and Filtering).

Over 20 people were detained for online comments about religion or political issues ranging from a water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to a demonetization policy intended to combat corruption; a Kashmiri was held for several weeks in Chhattisgarh for sharing an “anti-India” cartoon (see Prosecutions and Detentions for Online Activities).

The Supreme Court recognized privacy as a fundamental right in a landmark ruling in August 2017 (see Surveillance, Privacy and Anonymity).

Internet freedom remained stable in 2017 after a decline in 2016. Improving access was offset by network and social media shutdowns ordered by authorities.

The number of internet subscribers and internet penetration increased significantly during the reporting period, as India consolidated its position as the world’s second largest internet consumer base after China. Both governmental and nongovernmental entities made efforts to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that privacy is a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution and a committee was set up to frame a data protection framework for India.

However, other developments undermined internet freedom. The number of network shutdowns increased substantially and local authorities ordered service providers to temporarily shut down internet access in at least 37 reported incidents in various states.

There was also an increase in the number of criminal charges for online speech filed under the IT Act and provisions of the penal code. Many people were detained for content circulated on WhatsApp or published on Facebook, including group administrators who were not responsible for the content.

Obstacles to Access:
12/25 (Freedom on the Net Score: 0=Most Free, 100=Least Free)

Internet penetration in India continued to increase in 2017 with mobile penetration playing a significant role. Inadequate infrastructure remains a significant obstacle to access, especially in rural areas; however, various governmental and nongovernmental efforts to improve access nationwide are underway. Nearly 40 information communication technology (ICT) shutdowns were ordered by local authorities, some lasting several months in Jammu and Kashmir. The top ten internet service providers (ISPs) still hold almost the entire market share, but strong competition among them continues.

Availability and Ease of Access

Internet access and speeds improved during the reporting period (see Key Access Indicators). India had the second largest number of Internet subscribers in the world after China in 2017, having overtaken the United States. Official statistics recorded over 431 million subscribers in June 2017, though only 21.6 million had fixed-line internet connections. There were an estimated 269 million internet users in urban India and 163 million in rural India in 2016.

However, internet penetration remains low, reaching 33 percent in June 2017, up from 27 percent in June 2016. Mobile penetration was much higher, reaching 92 percent by June 2017, up from 81 percent the previous year. The Broadband Commission ranked India 78 out of 196 countries in terms of mobile broadband penetration, up from 156 out of 179 countries the previous year.

While India’s average connection speed was one of the lowest in Asia, it is catching up to the global average, which Akamai documented at 7.2 Mbps in the first quarter of 2017.Approximately 34 percent of all internet users had narrowband subscriptions in 2016, down from 56 percent in 2015. Despite overall growth, India has a relatively low adoption rate for high speed broadband (faster than 10 Mbps), at just 19 percent, though this rate grew by 285 percent during the course of 2016.

The minimum speed required to qualify as broadband in India has been 512 Kbps since 2012, though the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has recommended raising the threshold to 2 Mbps.

The Global Information Technology Report by the World Economic Forum and INSEAD ranked India in eighth place out of 139 countries for affordable internet access in 2016. It was previously in first place, and per minute cellular and fixed broadband tariffs are still among the lowest in the world. While the cheapest internet plans might seem extremely affordable with respect to the average monthly income, India has significant income inequality.

India ranked 66 out of 137 countries for infrastructure in 2017, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. Though up from 68 the previous year, the results suggest poor infrastructure is still an obstacle to access. India ranked a low 88 for electricity supply; and 110 for technological readiness, the capacity of a country to fully leverage ICTs in daily activities.Only 27 percent of all Indian schools had a computer in 2016. That increased to nearly 80 percent at secondary level and above, but less than half were connected to the internet.

Public and private sector initiatives to improve access are underway. The government is developing free public Wi-Fi zones in major cities, with some operational in the past year. In January 2017, the Maharashtra government activated 500 Wi-Fi hotspots across the city of Mumbai,though further expansion fell short, and they were only free until August 2017.

During the coverage period of this report, Google partnered with the public sector company RailTel to provide free Wi-Fi at train stations, connecting 100 by the end of 2016. Over 5 million people were using the service every month.

The government’s Digital India Programme, launched in 2014 is expected to be implemented by 2018. It aims to connect India’s gram panchayats, institutions of self-government in rural areas, via fiber-optic cables, ensuring universal broadband access with accompanying e-literacy programs. Internet-connected common service centers (CSCs) aim to cover all 250,000 gram panchayats; as of March 2016, 157,000 had been established, with 20,000 operated by women.

The program proposes to use satellites, balloons, or drones to push faster digital connections to remote parts of the country, as well as multiple system operators such as cable TV services, which already have last-mile connectivity. As a result of the program, electronic transactions related to e-governance projects almost doubled in 2015.

Such initiatives took on new significance during the coverage period, which saw a major push to digitize financial transactions. The government demonetized currency notes in the denominations of INR 500 and INR 1000 (US$7.5 and $15) in November 2016; the notes made up over 85 percent of the total currency in circulation. A Digi Dhan Abhiyan program was designed to promote digital payments to more than ten million inhabitants of rural areas, reaching 2.5 million people by the end of the year. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) also announced an alliance with Google to raise awareness of digital security surrounding payments.

Language remains a barrier to access. With 22 official languages, only about 12 percent of the population of India speaks English, yet more than half the content available online is in English, and over 100 languages were unrepresented online in 2013.

Projects to encourage local language usage are underway. In 2014, the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI), which operates and manages Indian domain names, launched the Dot Bharat domain for local language URLs. By April 2017, the number of local language users in India had overtaken the number who rely on English. One study showed that nearly 70 percent of Indian internet users consider local language content to be more reliable than English content. In April 2017, Google partnered with a local business federation to develop content in Indic languages.

Studies have shown that economic and social conditions result in barriers to internet access for women, and only 29 percent of Indian internet users were female in 2015. Internet usage was lower among rural women (25 percent), though it had grown by 30 percent since 2015. Twenty-four percent of Indian Facebook users were women, well below the global average of forty-four percent, according to one calculation. Internet Saathi, a partnership between Google and Tata Trusts to promote digital literacy among rural women, was active in 25,000 villages across 10 states by October 2016, training more than 500 participants a week.

Restrictions on Connectivity

The Indian government does not routinely block the protocols or tools that allow for instant, person-to-person communication, although local authorities around India have restricted ICT connectivity and usage during times of perceived unrest since at least 2010.

The frequency, geographic distribution, and duration of these shutdowns have increased significantly in the past three years. During the coverage period of this report, authorities ordered providers to restrict local mobile phone, SMS, wireless, and occasionally fixed-line internet service in at least 37 reported incidents, which lasted for hours, weeks, or even months at a stretch.

Local authorities have justified these orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (1973), which permits broad state action to curb any violation of law and order. The Gujarat High Court upheld the use of this general law to order shutdowns in September 2015. The Supreme Court is yet to consider the matter substantively and refused a petition challenging it in early 2016.

Other laws used to justify shutdowns also lack specificity. Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, which permits the central government to order website blocks (see Limits on Content) has been consideredto apply to blocking of service. Section 5 of the Indian Telegraph Act, which allows state and central authorities to order that any message not be transmitted in public emergencies, has also been cited in support of service disruptions. State officials in Odisha suspended service for 48 hours under the Telegraph Act after content considered to derogate Hindu deities resulted in violence.

In August 2017, outside the coverage period of this report, the Department of Telecommunications of the Central Government issued new rules under the Telegraph Act to regulate the temporary suspension of telecom services. The rules authorize national or state-level officials to issue temporary suspension orders to shut down telecommunications services in times of public emergency or threats to public safety.

With at least 12 documented incidents, Jammu and Kashmir continued to be the most affected state. Shutdowns affected both mobile and fixed-line connections, and the longest lasted several months.
In June 2016, mobile internet services were suspended across the state for three days after a temple was vandalized, launching an outbreak of violence.They were suspended for a day on a second occasion in the Jammu region because of security fears surrounding an annual wrestling contest hosted on contested land.

In July 2016, security forces shot and killed militant commander Burhan Wani in Kashmir, sparking widespread protests. All mobile service providers except BSNL, the state operator, suspended phone service in the Kashmir valley, and all operators suspended mobile internet throughout the state. The phone services were restored after a few days. Mobile internet services were restored in the Jammu region after 17 days. In the Kashmir region, mobile internet for post-paid subscribers remained unavailable for 134 days. Internet was not restored for prepaid subscribers until January 2017, almost 6 months later.Broadband internet in the valley was also shut down for 5 days in August due to the ongoing tensions between protestors and security forces.

In September 2016, broadband services across Kashmir were suspended for an additional five days prior to the Eid festival.

In April 2017, both mobile and fixed-line broadband internet services were suspended for a few days in the Kashmir valley when local by-elections sparked unrest. The measure was intended to curb rumors, but had the opposite effect, reports said. Mobile internet across the valley was suspended again amid student protests.Social media applications were also blocked (See Blocking and Filtering).

Shutdowns were implemented in several more states, including Maharashtra, Bihar, Odisha,Uttar Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh. Haryana and Rajasthan saw at least seven incidents each. Haryana shutdowns came in response to ongoing, sometimes violent protests by the Jat caste over their eligibility for government affirmative action quotas. In Rajasthan, internet was blocked on at least four occasions in Bhilwara district, once following the murder of a Hindu nationalist activist in September 2016, and three times within two weeks in December 2016 after communal violence flared in December 2016.

The government does not exert much control over the internet infrastructure. Twelve submarine cables connect India to the global internet; ten are consortium owned, while the others are private. There are gateways to the international internet in Chennai, Mumbai, and Agartala in Tripura, which facilitates connectivity in north-eastern states.

There are four landing stations where the cables meet the mainland in Mumbai, and three in Chennai; Digha, Kochi and Tuticorin also have one cable landing station each. BSNL, the state-owned telecom operator, owns two of them; the rest are privately owned. Major telecom operators Bharti Airtel and Tata Communications own three stations each. These cable landing stations imposed hefty fees on ISPs until regulators mandated a reduction in 2013. Tata Communications and Airtel challenged that reduction in the Madras High Court. A single judge dismissed it, and an appeal was pending in early 2017.

Undersea cables are mainstays of mobile and internet communications and any damage to them leads to service disruptions. In December 2016, Cyclone Vardah caused damage to Airtel’s undersea cable at Chennai, slowing internet speeds.

Over 80 percent of telecommunications towers are privately owned. Market share is split between Indus Towers, a joint venture between Bharti Infratel, Vodafone, and Idea Cellular (31 percent); BSNL (18 percent); and Reliance Infratel (12 percent), and Bharti Infratel (10 percent) according to 2015 figures.


Migration from Kerala Declined 11% in 5 Years: Study

Factors like the declining population in the 19-25 age-group and stagnant wages in the Gulf countries could be responsible for migration from Kerala declining 11 per cent between 2013 and 2018, a new study says.

“Of the 2.1 million emigrants (from Kerala in the Gulf and elsewhere), 15.8 per cent are females. However, there is a reduction of 3 lakhs migrants, which is one-tenth of the number of migrants in 2013. In 2018, we reached a stage where migrants figures shown a negative growth of 11.6 per cent,” S. Irudayarajan, who led the Kerala Migration Survey (KMS) 2018 told.

The survery is the eighth in a series of studies on migration undertaken by the Centre for Development Studies (CDS) since 1998. CDS is an internationally renowned, self-governing institution known for its cutting edge research in applied economics and topics germane to socio-economic development. It was established in 1971 by the late Professor K.N. Raj, considered the archistect of India’s First Five-Year Plan (1951-56), and a former Vice Cancellor of Delhi University, with whom he was associated for 18 years.

Explaining the reason for the decline Irudayarajan said it could be due to the cumulative effects of the demographic advances which have decreased the population in the migration-prone age-group (15-29 years) as Kerala attained replacement fertility level in around 1987.

“Wages in the Gulf economies have not improved after the global economic crisis. This has led to lower savings, de-motivating them to migrate. Another reason is wages in the domestic economy have increased compared to other states,” reveals the report.

Explaining further he said the price of oil, on which the Gulf economy is based has been declining since 2010.

The study was conducted through a survey of 15,000 households from January 1-March 31 and was funded by the Kerala government’s Department of Non-Resident Keralites’ Affairs.

The study notes that 89.2 per cent of the total migrants from Kerala are in the Middle East countries.
In 2013 while there were 20.70 lakh migrants in the Middle East, the figure fell to 18.93 lakh in 2018.
The remaining 10 per cent of the emigrants are concentrated in the other countries like the USA, the UK, and Australia.

In 2013 there were 8.9 lakh in the UAE while in 2018 it stands at 8.30 lakh, followed by 5.22 lakhs in Saudi Arabia and falling to 4.87 lakh in 2018.

In Qatar, there has been an increase from 1.06 lakhs in 2013 to 1.86 lakhs in 2018 but in Bahrain there has been a fall from 1.49 lakhs in 2013 to 0.81 lakhs in 2018.

The study found that one in every fifth household in Kerala has a migrant, while among religious groups, one in every third household is a Muslim, one in five household is a Christian and one in 10 households is a Hindu.

The estimated total annual remittances to Kerala have been placed at 85,092 crore.
“Of the total remittances at state level, Malappuram district receives 21 per cent, followed by Kollam (15 per cent), and Thrissur (11 per cent),” study reveals.

Concluding his findings, he said the long history of migration from Kerala to the Gulf is in its last phase.

“However, remittances to the state have increased. This is due to the fact that Keralites’ in the Gulf have climbed the social ladder and are earning higher wages, allowing them to remit more. Thanks to the weakening rupee, families remit more. The KMS 2018, has also confirmed that the migration from Kerala is falling and return of migrants is on the rise,” study says.

On the study of return migrants as estimated by KMS 2018, it is 1.29 million, which is about 60 per cent of the number of emigrants.

“The KMS 2018, would be an invaluable pointer for further policy formation in terms of international migration and also employment schemes of the government. The last 20 years of KMS proved that almost 40 per cent of total remittances to the state were used by emigrants in land, housing and its assets.

“With the recent devastating floods, and the massive loss of physical capital and land value, migration can be conjectured to increase at least in the short run. We expect the trend will change after the floods as migration will play major role as a livelihood option for the New Kerala, where we expect further migration and remittances. This requires another quick assessment by the Government of Kerala,” said S. Irudayarajan, who led the Kerala Migration Survey (KMS) 2018 .

However, about one billion inhabitants were added to the world over the past 12 years, bringing the total population to 7.6 billion as of mid-2017 with a net inflow of over 2 million immigrants every year, according to a new report published by the United Nations.

Although the UN believes international migration is a positive force for the economic and social development of the world.

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Rural Youth Prefer Not To Be Farmers: Survey

Youth in rural India are often forced to work in their family farms, but they prefer going to cities, joining the army or becoming engineers, teachers or nurses, found a survey.

A large number of rural youth in the 14-18 year age group, about 42%, were working irrespective of their school enrolment status and among these, 79% were employed in the agriculture sector, showed the Annual Status of Education Report (Aser) 2017 released by the non-profit Pratham.

This means about a third of the over 30,000 rural youth from 28 states who were surveyed worked in the agriculture sector, mostly in their family farms (72% of those who were working).

However, the survey also showed that just 1.2% aspired to be a farmer. While 18% of the boys wanted to join the army or the police, 12% wanted to be engineers. Young girls preferred teaching (25%) or working as a doctor or a nurse (18%). About 13% of the boys and 9% of the girls surveyed also said that ‘any government job’ is preferable.

The survey results come at a time when farmer protests have rocked several states with demands of better crop prices and loan waivers. Average growth rate in agriculture between 2014-15 and 2017-18 was less than 2% per year, showed government estimates, leading to lower returns from farming.

“The percentage of students in agricultural or veterinary courses around India amounts to less than half a percent of all undergraduate enrolment,” mentioned in the survey report, adding, “although the percentage of population working in agriculture and related areas has now reduced to about 50%, it is an area that could use a more educated and trained workforce considering that productivity lags far behind world’s leading nations.”

Commenting on the abysmal numbers among youth who wanted to continue in farming, survey also revealed that “mechanised or scientifically supported high yield agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, fisheries and the allied processing industry will be able to generate a cycle of demand, market, profits and potentially aspirations in the near future.”

The youth are not interested to continue as farmers due to the falling profitability and incomes in agriculture, said Yogendra Yadav, farm activist.

“While the lowest central government job pays Rs22,000 a month, income of a farm household from agriculture is about Rs3,800 per month… who will want to be in an occupation which requires back-breaking work without any dignity or income,” Yadav said. “While well-off large land owning farmers are educating their children to find a job outside agriculture, a small farmer would even prefer a job of a peon in a government office.”

“Across the country, as returns to farming have dipped, rural families also prefer not to marry their daughter into a family where farming is the main source of income,” Yadav added further.

Government data corroborates this. According to NSSO’s last Situation Assessment Survey of agricultural households, the average monthly income of a farm household in India was just Rs6,426 per month in 2013 out of which the share of cultivation and livestock was just Rs3,844—implying 40% of incomes earned by agricultural households were due to non-farm sources.

Further, a 2014 survey released by the Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies also showed that about 60% of farmers were ready to quit farming for a better job in the city. “When asked whether they would like to see their children engaging in farming only 18 % responded positively,” said the report titled State of Indian Farmers.


‘Cyber Security, Data Privacy Biggest Concerns for Indian Businesses

Most business leaders in India regard data privacy and cybersecurity concerns as the biggest barrier to their digital transformation, a new report ‘Digital Transformation Index’ from Dell Technologies said.

According to the research, 93 per cent of Indian businesses are facing major impediments to digital transformation today.

Almost half of Indian business leaders believe they will struggle to meet changing customer demands within five years, according to the report tilted “Digital Transformation Index” (DT Index).

Offering insights into the areas where Indian businesses are considering investment to drive their digital transformation, the research showed that regulation or legislative changes and lack of the right in-house skill sets and expertise are the other top concerns for Indian businesses.

The research also indicates that businesses are taking steps to overcome their barriers, along with the threat of being outmanuevered from more nimble, innovative players.

Close to 75 per cent of Indian businesses — 19 per cent more than in China — intend to invest in cybersecurity in the next one to three years, according to the report.

Conducted in collaboration with Intel Corp, the research showed that 67 per cent of Indian businesses intend to invest in IoT (Internet of Things) technologies – 11 per cent more than that of Chinese companies.

While 62 per cent of Indian businesses intend to invest in multi-Cloud (7 per cent more than Chinese firms), 61 per cent of Indian businesses intend to invest in Artificial Intelligence (only one per cent more than companies in China), the findings showed.

For this study, independent research firm Vanson Bourne surveyed 200 business leaders in India from mid to large-size companies to gauge their organisations’ place on the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index.

The global results of the report, based on 4,600 respondents from 42 countries, will be released in early 2019, Dell Technologies said.

The report said that 37 per cent of Indian businesses plan to invest in Blockchain, 31 per cent in quantum computing and 42 per cent in augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies in the next one to three years.

“The next digital era has arrived and it’s reshaping the way we live, work and conduct business. Which means that time is of the essence. Genuine transformation needs to happen now, and it needs to be radical,” Alok Ohrie, President and Managing Director – India Commercial, Dell EMC, said in a statement.

The findings showed that just 12 per cent of Indian businesses are “Digital Leaders” – companies that are digitally advanced – up from 8 per cent in 2016 when the previous edition of the report was published.

The share of “Digital Adopters” — companies that have a mature digital plan, investments and innovations in place — went up to 34 per cent this year, from 29 per cent in 2016.

The share of “Digital Evaluators”, companies that are cautiously and gradually embracing digital transformation has grown to 40 per cent, from 37 per cent in 2016.

The percentage of “Digital Followers” (a digitally immature group) has also dropped, from 21 per cent in 2016, to 14 per cent in 2018, according to the survey.

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