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Cyber Security: INDIA

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What is Cyber Security?

Cyber Security is an action of securing cyberspace that includes servers, mobile devices, computers, electronic systems, networking systems, and the data in them from malicious activities like hacking, data breach, etc. It is also called ‘information technology security’ or ‘electronic information security’. The term ‘Cyber Security’ applies in various contexts from large scale business to mobile computing.

The security offered in cyberspace are classified into a few common categories:

Network security
It is a practice of protecting a computer network from intruders whether targeted attackers or opportunistic malware.

Information security
An act of protecting the integrity and privacy of data, both in storage and transit.

Application security
It focuses on maintaining software and devices free from threats. Any compromised application could provide access to the data for which the application is designed. Well before a program or device is deployed, security will successfully begin in its design stage.

Operational security
This process of security includes the decisions for handling and protecting data assets. User permissions to have access to a network and the determining procedures of how and where data may be stored or shared falls under the roof of operational security.

Disaster recovery and business restoration
The situation defines how an organization responds to a cyber-security intrusion or any event that causes loss of operations or data. The disaster recovery policies enable the organization to restore its operations and information to return to the same operating capacity as before the event. Without certain resources, any organization falls back to operate and continue or restore business.

 

End-user education

It addresses the most unpredictable cyber-security factor. Anyone can accidentally introduce a virus to the security system by failing to follow good security practices. Hence, users must be taught to delete suspicious email attachments, not to plug in unidentified USB drives and various other vital lessons for the security of any organization.

What are the types of Cyberthreats?

The threats faced by cyber-security are three-fold:

1. Cybercrime
This action includes single or groups, targeting systems to disrupt functioning or for financial gain.

2. Cyber terrorism
This action is intended to undermine electronic systems to cause panic or fear.

3. Cyber-attack
This action involves the gathering of politically motivated information.

What is ‘Malware’?

Malware is malicious software created by a cybercriminal or hacker to disrupt or destroy a legitimate user’s network or computer. It is often spread through an unsolicited email attachment or as a legitimate-looking download. This malware is used by cybercriminals to make money or in case of politically motivated cyber-attacks.
The different types of malware include:

Virus:
It is a self-replicating program that attaches to clean files and spreads throughout a computer system, infecting all the data with the malicious code.
Spyware:
It is a program that secretly records the activities of a user so that the cybercriminals can make use of the information that may be confidential. For example, the spyware can access the credit/debit card details.
Trojans:
This is a type of malware that is disguised as legitimate software. Users are tricked by cybercriminals by uploading Trojans onto their computers where they can cause damage or collect data.
Ransomware:
It is malware that locks down user’s files and data accompanying the threat of erasing them unless a ransom is paid.
Botnets:
These are the networks of malware infects computers used by cybercriminals to perform tasks online without the user’s permission.
Adware:
It is advertising software that can be used to spread malware.

How good is India in Cyber Security?

India is moving towards digitalization and hence the security in Cyber Space is to be under constant surveillance. There will be a boom in cyber-attacks and to counter them, there has to increase the number of cybersecurity professionals.
The Cybersecurity Policy of 2013 is open and technology-neutral but requires a technology upgrade. In total India’s economy, 14-15% is comprised of the digital economy and has a targeted reach to 20% by 2024. The Indian private sector has started playing a significant role in the power, transportation, and healthcare sectors. So, it will be necessary to undertake a thorough risk and gap assessment of current cyber resilience in various economic sectors of the country. With the increase in cyber-attacks, there is 98% cybersecurity in India.

What is the scope of Cyber Security jobs in India?

India has been the second most cyber-attack affected country, according to the Data Security Council of India (DSCI). Hence, cybersecurity has emerged as an issue of vital importance for everyone as governments, businesses and individuals are under constant attack and these attacks steal a large amount of money, in the form of personal and business data.

Cybersecurity jobs now account for 13% of all information technology jobs across the world. The work-from-home scenario with the COVID-19 onset has further augmented the need for a robust cybersecurity solution for ensuring business continuity.
There are around 50,000 job openings in the field of Cybersecurity with the major distribution of jobs across Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, and Hyderabad with Bangalore being the highest contributor. The demand for cyber experts has gone up substantially due to COVID-19 but the talent pool to address this exponential demand is still low. India has a much higher percentage of cybersecurity professionals compared to the western world but the demand for making it a good opportunity is far less to explore for job aspirants.

Major Cyberattacks in India

Advanced cyber-attack techniques have been adopted by cyber-criminals for their targeted end-users. Numerous business sectors have faced recent cyber-attack in India. Top 5 cyber-attacks in India in recent times are:

1. Cyber-attack on Cosmos Bank in Pune

This is a recent attack in 2018 that shook the whole banking sector of India when hackers siphoned off Rs.92.42 crore from the Cosmos Cooperative Bank Ltd. In Pune. Bank’s ATM server was hacked by hackers and they took the details of many visas and rupee debit cardholders. Money was completely wiped off by them (hacker gangs from 28 countries) and they withdrew the amount as soon as they were informed.

2. UIDAI Aadhaar Software Hack

A massive data breach of personal records of 1.1 billion Indian Aadhaar cardholders happened in 2018. The data leak included Aadhaar, PAN and mobile numbers, bank account numbers, IFSC codes, and almost every card holder’s personal information. If it wasn’t enough astonishing, anonymous sellers were able to sell Aadhaar information of any person for Rs. 500 over Whatsapp and one could get any person’s card printout by paying an extra amount of Rs.300.

3. ATM System Hack

Canara Bank ATM servers were targeted in this cyber-attack around mid-2018. According to the sources, a count of 50 victims was estimated with almost 20 lakh rupees wiped-off from various bank accounts. The hackers used skimming devices to steal information from debit cardholders.

4. Hack on Indian Healthcare Websites

Recently in 2019, Indian-base healthcare websites became a victim of cyber-attack. Hackers broke into one of India’s leading healthcare websites and stole about 68 lakh records of patients and doctors.

5. SIM swap scam

Two hackers from Mumbai illegally transferred 4 crore rupees from numerous bank accounts of many individuals. They did so by fraudulently gaining SIM card information and blocked the Sim cards of individuals and with the help of fake document posts, they carried out transactions through online banking.

 

End-user protection

A crucial point of security is primarily end-user protection or endpoint security because it is, after all, an individual (the end-user) who accidentally injects or uploads a malware or other forms of cyber threat into their desktop, laptop or mobile device.
So, how the cyber-security enables protection is, it relies on cryptographic protocols to encrypt emails, files, and other important critical data. It not only protects the data in transit but also guards against any loss or theft. Besides, end-user security software scans a computer for any pieces of malicious code if present, and removes it from the machine.

The security programs continue to evolve as defending forces as the cyber-security professionals identify new threats and new ways to combat them. Employees need to be educated about how to use, to make the most of the end-user security software by keeping it running and updating it frequently to ensure that it can protect users against the latest cyber threats.

Cybersafety – Protection from cyberattacks

  • Safety tips to business and individual guards to protect against cyber threats:
  • Update software and operating system.
  • Use anti-virus software
  • Use strong passwords
  • Avoid using insecure WiFi networks in public places
  • Do not open email attachments from unknown senders
  • Do not click on links in the emails from unknown senders or unfamiliar websites.

Blood type link to COVID-19 risk

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This image is in reference to news-medical.net:https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200618/Blood-types-and-COVID-19-risk-confirmed.aspx

There are different methods of testing that are experimented to trace Corona Virus infection in the human body.

Of them the two prominent tests being:

1) RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction).

2) Anti-body tests.

RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction):

This method of testing is pronounced by the health ministry as a ‘gold standard frontline test’ for COVID-19. In this test, a nasal/throat swab sample is collected from the patient. The extraction of RNA or ribonucleic acid, which is a genetic material for the virus is done. If the genome matches the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, then it is deemed positive. If the actual sample doesn’t carry a virus, or it wasn’t administered properly then it turns negative.

This method of testing came into effect after the ‘rapid anti-body tests’ showed up unreliable results.

Anti-body tests:

These tests are also known as serological tests, used to find the traces of the virus in the body, if present. Blood samples are collected and used to find anti-bodies. Anti-bodies are generally produced to resist the immune system to fight against the invasion of antigens into the body. These antibodies chemically combine with substances that the body identifies as alien, like bacteria, viruses, and any other foreign substances in the blood.

This is an indirect method of testing. It cannot detect the presence of a virus in the body but can determine if the immune system has encountered it. The anti-bodies are shown up in between 9-28 days after infection but by this time the disease can be spread by the infected person, if not isolated.

From the above-mentioned tests, to determine the virus intrusion into the human body through blood, an antibody test is done. By collecting the blood samples from the patients, the type of blood and anti-bodies, if any, produced can be examined.

A new, preliminary study that has been recently conducted by researchers from Southern University of Science and Technology, China, have found a potent relationship between blood type and risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 virus. According to research, people with ‘A’ blood type are more prone to the risk of getting infected than people with other types of blood groups.

A team of researchers initially looked at the blood group distribution among 2173 patients admitted to hospitals with COVID-19, a new coronavirus disease. These tested blood groups are compared with that of the general population and found that people with blood type ‘A’ were significant in the proportion who were hospitalized with COVID-19 than among the general population.

They also found that people with blood type ‘O’ have a significantly lower risk of infection in comparison with non-O blood groups.

However, it is important to stress that the researchers refer to the risk of need to hospitalization due to COVID-19 rather than the risk of contracting with a disease that leads to death. This is because the researchers looked at data of patients with severity in infection who require hospitalization but not those with mild symptoms responded to home care.

In entirety, it doesn’t mean that people with ‘A’ type blood group have added cause to concern, while those with ‘O’ type blood group can exhale in relief. It is difficult to understand this conclusion without establishing causal links between the coronavirus and ABO blood group antigens. Further scientific research is required to substantiate these claims as the research was conducted among a limited group of people and the blood group distribution varies by country.

Role of blood type in respiration:

Respiration is a process in every living organism which involves the production of energy typically by intake of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide by oxidation of complex organic substances.

Respiration takes place through the lungs and the blood absorbs the inhaled oxygen from the air in the lungs.

The respiratory system (lungs) is mainly affected due to the coronavirus infection. Patients who are more susceptible to respiratory failure with pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome are mostly driven to mortality. However, this is the case with less than 10 percent of people who got infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Early clinical reports suggest that the ABO blood group system is involved to determine the susceptibility to COVID-19. Further analysis showed that A-positive blood group participants had a 45% increased risk of respiratory failure, while individuals with O-type blood group were at a 35% decreased risk of respiratory failure.

Role of blood type in immunity:

Immunity is the ability of an organism to resist a certain infection or toxin (caused by the foreign body that invaded into the body) by the action of specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells against them.

It a fact that some people don’t know their blood type and even if they know they may be unaware that the type of blood makes more prone to certain medical conditions. Antigens are a type of proteins on RBCs and based on their type, blood will be categorized into Type A, Type B, Type AB or Type O. The ‘+’ and ‘-‘ signs next to your type of blood come into play based on the Rh factor present on the red blood cells.

An increased or decreased host susceptibility to many infections is due to differences in blood group antigen expression. By serving as receptors and/or coreceptors for microorganisms, blood groups can play a direct role in infection.

 

The COVID-19 virus is likely to affect more in people with low immunity which is seen mainly in infants and aged people. The immune system in children will be in the maturing stage and learning to adapt to this galaxy of infectious agents whereas in the elderly, especially in people with existing conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease will have an inherent malfunctioning in the immune system.

The viruses have a signature to show up on their surface called antigen and the immune system kicks into action by spotting these antigens thereby producing antibodies and hence the immunity forms basis to be the severity of being prone to this viral infection.

Although there are links between the immune system and blood group phenotypes, antibodies are produced by the cells of the immune system and not by blood type loci. Further clinical research may be required to validate the connection of blood type and immunity in the human body.

Government of Telangana: Innovation contribution

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This image is in reference to thehansindia.com:https://www.thehansindia.com/telangana/t-innovation-utsavam-celebrating-the-rural-innovations-of-telangana-533954

‘Innovation’, in current times, is the most anticipated mode pertained to the growth of a developing country like India. Moreover, this pandemic has created an essence to foster more and more innovative minds into force to revitalize the economy and country’s magnification. To sail in the growing process of India, it is the responsibility of every citizen to contribute their part with the skill they possess. For this to happen, the respective state governments’ must instill the vibe of innovation and entrepreneurship to converge the young talents and enable access to the technology of their respective sphere of work. The Ministry of Human Affairs (MHRD), is way forward in facilitating the needs of respective state governments.

Being one of the youngest states in India, the Government of Telangana is in efforts of giving its best to foster the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in people of its state. It has been the first state to roll out an Innovation Policy and set up several innovation platforms like Telangana State Innovation Cell (TSIC), T-Hub, WeHub, RICH, TWorks, and TASK.

The state government has set up Telangana State Innovation Cell (TSIC) in the year 2017, with the following mandates to its functioning:

1) To boost the culture of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
2) To nurture innovation in Government departments and organizations.
3) Build a culture of innovation from the school age.

Innovation has taken the center stage to become one of the defined parameters for the state development index.

Few innovation initiatives taken up so far by the TSIC are:

  • Government Mentor Program

    This program is an initiative by TSIC, which aims to bridge the gap between government and startups by rolling out programs into different domains of innovation.
  • Lokal App

    This Local App joined hands with TSIC team to feature the stories of innovators from across the state, on the app.
  • Telangana Innovation Yatra (TIY 2020)

    This program which was a 4-day journey took its participants to 10 different districts in Telangana to limelight the novel innovations that are present in each district.
  • Intinta Innovator Speaker series

    This program has been initiated in different districts of Telangana to bring out talent from the rural innovators by giving them a platform to share their stories of their becoming innovators.
  • Village Innovation Challenge

    This program was conducted with an attempt to nurture the mindsets of Unemployed Rural Youth by establishing a culture innovation in them.

T-hub (Telangana hub), which is a start-up incubator is headquartered in Hyderabad, Telangana. The T-hub leads India’s evolving innovation ecosystem that powers the next-generation products and business models that comply with the trend of technology evolution. It was incorporated in the year 2015 and has emerged more than 1,100 national and international startups providing access to better technology, talent, mentors, customers, corporations, investors, and government agencies.

T-Hub’s innovation ecosystem, to bridge the gap between visionary entrepreneurs and corporates, stands on these seven key supporting motives:

1) Thought Leadership
2) Government Support
3) Landscape Enablement & Thoroughness
4) Investment Opportunities
5) Critical Mass of Talent
6) Corporate Implementation
7) Regulatory Clarity

RICH (Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad), has conceived as an initiative to unlock the national treasure created by the top scientific research institutions in the state of Telangana. It also facilitates the process of taking their research into the market. RICH acts as a platform to link research institutions, academia, and industry along with venture capitalists, angel investors, and incubators.

TWorks is an innovation platform that works to build prototypes using a diverse range of tools and a community of experts. It works together with industry partners to provide the best equipment for rapid prototyping and end-use manufacturing of complex designs using various materials. In short, T-Works is set up to decrease the barriers to prototyping and provide access to small production.

TASK (Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge), is a not for profit organization created by the Government of Telangana. It is enabled to bring synergy among institutions of Government, Industry, and Academia.
WeHub, being the first incubator for women techies in the country was launched during the Global Entrepreneur Summit in 2018. It primarily works in the fields of providing access to technical, financial, government, and policy support required to start-up and scale-up and make it to global market access by all women entrepreneurs in the country.

Innovation Challenges and projects:

Project Tej
This project acts as a connection to medical technology innovators and device manufacturers to validate the usability of their devices in public health establishments and gain access to public health channels.

MedTechConnect in association with the Government of Telangana enabled a platform to aspiring entrepreneurs to test their innovative ideas in the field of medical technologies. This platform was founded by Cyient and Xynteo’s India 2022 who have joined hands together to launch this new initiative called Project Tej. This project’s testbeds will complement Telangana state’s infrastructure projects including Telangana Medtech Parks and ensures that Telangana becomes a favorable destination for MedTech Investments.

Also, Project tej will accelerate the adoption of indigenous and cost-effective innovations in medical technologies in India and helps provide real-world access for companies to test and commercialize their technologies.

COVID-19 Innovation Challenge
The program is targeted at empowering students to conduct research and develop potential solutions to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus. This program gets its launch by T-Hub and the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) will act as a knowledge partner. To help curate the problem statements for the challenge, Emerging Technologies’ wing of ITE&C Department of Government of Telangana state takes the stance.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is widespread everywhere, it has caused incalculable damage to the world. Besides causing an unpredictable change to human lives, it has also spelled doom for entire industries. Hence, this program is aimed to develop innovative and potential solutions to retain the current loss incurred across various domains and also curb the spread of any such future outbreaks.

Student innovators are encouraged to make participation in the program and the focus areas of the programs include:

  • Easier detection of infected persons.
  • Affordable/low cost and easy to implement testing.
  • Tracking of infected persons and their contacts with other persons efficiently.
  • Monitoring of the spread of the virus regularly and predict outcomes.

Agro Innovation
In association with Stanley Black & Decker, T-Hub launched an accelerator program aimed to identify product-ready startups whose agricultural technologies could plug into Stanley Black and Decker’s ‘Solar Agricultural Program’. The core innovation focus includes leveraging Clean Technology to bring groundwater to millions of farmers across the world.
The startups making way through this program get a chance to work with the Agri and Clean Technology Product teams of Stanley & Decker to identify the areas of synergy. This program deploys an affordable Solar Agricultural Platform that will be capable of bringing together innovative technologies and enable marginal farmers to make intelligent decisions for higher crop yield, higher income, and ultimately improve their livelihood.

The focused areas of this program were:

  • Digital Farming
  • Off-grid Energy
  • Micro Irrigation
  • Distributed Solar Cold Storage
  • Micro Payments for Farmers

Here are the few mentioned, among numerous innovation attributes made by the Telangana state government. A major contribution of the state goes into every possible domain such as Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture and Irrigation, Health and hygiene, Women empowerment, MSME sectors, etc., A long way to build is planned and the appropriate work of action pushes to envision the states prosperous outlook and growth.

 

Pentagon’s list of 20 Companies aiding Chinese Military

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This image is in reference to nypost.com:https://nypost.com/2020/06/25/pentagon-releases-list-of-companies-linked-to-chinese-military/

The United States’ Department of Defense (DoD), Pentagon, published a list of 20 Chinese companies that operate in the US and have been linked to the Chinese military. The list which was published by Axios and other media outlets was required as a part of the ‘1999 National Defense Authorization Act’. This act gave a call to the DoD to determine and publish “Communist Chinese military companies operating in the United States”, or any other commercial organization that is “owned or controlled by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)”.

The 20 companies that are listed by the Pentagon are:

1) Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).
2) China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
3) China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).
4) China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC).
5) China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC).
6) China South Industries Group Corporation (CSGC).
7) China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC).
8) China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco Group).
9) Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd. (Hikvision).
10) Huawei.
11) Inspur Group.
12) Aero Engine Corporation of China.
13) China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC).
14) CRCC Corp.
15) China Mobile Communication Group.
16) China General Nuclear Power Corp.
17) China National Nuclear Power Corp.
18) China Telecommunications Corp.
19) Panda Electronics Group.
20) Drawing Information Industry Co (Sugon).

The act states that the president has the authority to impose sanctions against any of the listed companies. A senior official said that China’s acquisition of sensitive technology and intellectual property was a threat to US economic and national security. China’s telecommunication giant Huawei, China Railway Construction Corporation, China Telecommunication Corporation, and Hikvision are all blacklisted by the US in October 2019 for building surveillance tools that aided in the oppression of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The 20 companies listed include Huawei, the Chinese telecoms equipment maker which the US believes helps Beijing conduct cyber espionage. Also, Hikvision is named among the 20, which supplies surveillance technology to detention camps in the Xinjiang region where the Chinese government has interned more them one million ethnic Muslim Uighurs.

US prosecutors have accused the company, Huawei, which had allegations with the US over its technology that poses a security risk and that it could act as a backdoor for the Chinese government to spy. The company has also been charged for violating sanctions against Iran and for stealing trade secrets from US carriers.

The US government has persuaded all its allies to reject Huawei equipment which resulted in turning down the Chinese firm that was planning an expansion of their 5G networks while the company has denied the allegations made against it. The tide has flipped against Huawei as the citizens around the world are waking up to the danger of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state.

The list touches only the surface of the Chinese government’s exploitation of US capital markets at the expense of retail investors and pensioners by omitting the networks of their affiliated and subsidiary companies. Responding to the list, Hikvision denied that it was linked to the Chinese military companies operating in the United States and said that it strongly opposes the decision by the US government to misapply a never-used provision of a 21-year-old law. It calls the Unites States’s move “baseless”, saying that the company’s ownership details have always been publicly available as a listed company and independently operated enterprise. It also said that it would continue to work with the US government to answer the questions and correct the misunderstandings about the company.

“As China attempts to blur the lines between civil and military sectors, it turns critical knowing their customer”, added a US official. He said that the list would help the government, private sector, investors, academia, and like-minded partners to conduct diligence, particularly as Pentagon adds more names. The Pentagon’s action comes into force as relations between the US and China continue to worsen over a range of economic, security, and global health issues.

Also, US President Donald Trump has raged over China for making the COVID-19 virus spread globally from its capital city Beijing. He also threatened to cut-off the whole relationship with Beijing. However, it’s unclear whether the president would be willing to take such an aggressive action against some of China’s most prized business champions, as Beijing’s government would likely retaliate American companies as they and the border US economy has been shaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

The list is likely to add tensions between the world’s two largest economies, which have been dullard over handling the coronavirus pandemic. The move will also turn a spotlight on ties of US companies with the Chinese firms as well as their operations in the United States.

India’s Digital Ban on China

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This image is in reference to thequint.com:https://www.thequint.com/news/india/china-commerce-ministry-on-chinese-app-ban-tiktok-ravi-shankar-prasad


Dozens of Chinese apps have been blocked and vanished from the play store and app stores in India with major concerns of data security and national sovereignty. How far these reasons go valid are indubitable but this action is a retaliation to the face-off that happened between India and China in Ladakh (India-China border) on June 15, 2020, that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. Hence, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEIT), on June 29, 2020, announced a ban on 59 apps that are of Chinese origin. The list of applications that are banned includes popular ones such as TikTok, SHAREIt, UC Browser, CamScanner, Helo, Weibo, WeChat, and Club Factory.

Why is this ban on Chinese apps?

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEIT) asserted in a press release that it had received many complaints from various sources, including several reports about the misuse of some mobile applications available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and stealthily transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.

Under section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act read with the relevant provisions of the IT (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009, the MEIT said that it had decided to block 59 apps to safeguard “sovereignty and integrity of India”.

The government also said that several citizens had reportedly raised concerns regarding the security of data and loss of privacy in using these apps, in representations to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In). The ministry also added that it had also received exhaustive recommendations from the Home Ministry’s Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center. The Indian government didn’t openly name China in its action against apps but public comments by officials including Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, asserted that the digital strike was done for “safety, security, defense, sovereignty & Integrity of India” and “to protect data and privacy of people in India” which signaled its aim at Chinese economic interests.

How large is the user base for these blocked apps in India and how will the users be affected?

For instance, TikTok application, a destination for short-form video-sharing and social networking, has seen about 611 million downloads in India over its lifetime while the active users’ estimate varies around 200 million counts. The file-sharing tool SHAREIt has about 400 million users, as per media reports. The Alibaba-owned UC Browser takes second place in the Indian market at 10.19% share, after Google Chrome (78.2%). Its estimated user base is 130 million.

The installed apps may continue to exist on mobile devices but their latest versions have been removed from Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. The users will not be able to access the updated versions in the future. If ever the data flow from these apps is halted by the internet service providers in the future, that could impact the functioning of existing installed apps.

Are there any alternatives that ease a switch?

The users of banned browsers and video apps can easily find a shift to similar offerings from elsewhere but some useful apps that makeup with documents like CamScanner may not have an easy shift. For example, it is not clear that a pdf, or a portable document format, created by a user using CamScanner, could be transferred to apps like Adobe Scan or Microsoft Office Lens unless they are individually downloaded and re-uploaded.
India-made Zoho Doc Scanner can act as an alternative product that offers users the option to import all files en bloc from CamScanner.

What has been China’s response to the ban? Will the move hurt India?

In suspicion, China has said that India’s actions could violate the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. In New Delhi, the Chinese Embassy said in a statement that, India’s measures selectively and discriminatorily aim at certain Chinese apps on far-fetched grounds, runs against fair and transparent procedures, abuses national security exceptions, and is suspected of violating WTO rules.

This move may impact India in terms of investments and employment as China has partnered relationships with India in every sector possible. If the action of the ban confirms as a retaliation move, then India has to take the stance to face the repercussions from the Chinese end, which may also be a war.

What are the legal options that the Indian government has to ban?

In terms of process, two options are available to the government of India under Section 69A of the IT Act to issue the ban orders-“normal and emergency”. In case, if the ban on the 59 apps is based on the use of the phrase “interim order” issued in the statement by TikTok, it is seen that the government may have adopted emergency route to ban. This emergency route allows the blocking of content in the directions of the Secretary, Department of IT, who will consider the impeached content and records his reasons.

An order to block content in the normal course requires two aspects:
(a) A decision has to be made by a government committee.
(b) Relevant intermediaries must be allowed to be heard by this committee.

The above processes are not required in the case of emergency provisions. However, in case of emergencies, the order of secretary, IT department, has to be placed before the government committee within 48 hours, and based on the recommendations of the committee, the order can be finalized.

Can the order of ban be challenged in Indian court?

It is unlikely that the companies concerned may take such an immediate step. Either they or any affected individual due to the ban could challenge the blocking orders in the court. Then the courts will decide whether the government has provided sufficient explanation of what these apps are alleged to be doing and the reasons cited by the government such as protection of national data security and strategic interests. Given the facts at hand, the courts will also consider if the ban is a necessary step to be taken.

‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ – A Vision to make a Self-reliant INDIA

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This image is in reference to indianexpress:https://indianexpress.com/article/india/atmanirbhar-bharat-abhiyan-pm-modi-economic-package-6406850/

India is a country occupying a place among the list of developing countries in the world. Every country must be interdependent on every other country in some way or the other. But at times of crisis or recession, there has to be an individual stance to self-support one’s own country as of the critical pandemic outbreak, COVID-19, that now affected globally and shed the entire world economy. Though the fact that Indian’s are highly knowledgeable and prosper wherever they go, it isn’t helping to thrive development in India because of the lack of opportunities and financial aid by the Indian government. So, all the great knowledge takes wings to fly across the globe and settle in a place where their capability gets an appropriate feed.

But, in this era of Modi’s governmental rule, ‘Make in India’ motive took life to foster and support the real talents enabling them to start their venture and spread the roof to create employment opportunities under it. The coronavirus pandemic left a huge economic loss and the funds from the IMF or World Bank may not suffice to revive and channelize back to a steady economy. Rather, these funds combined with the innovative minds multiplies to flag as a self-sustainable country.

To economically stabilize India during this pandemic, our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi Ji, announced his vision “AatmaNirbhar Bharat” of making India a self-reliant nation. The first mention of this came during the announcement of coronavirus pandemic related economic package on 12 May 2020. “This self-reliant policy doesn’t mean cutting off from the rest of the world”, said our Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitaraman. Foreign direct investments and technologies are embraced and self-reliant India translates to being bigger and more important to the global economy.

AatmaNirbhar Bharat has been pronounced as a re-packaged version of ‘Make in India’ by some people using taglines such as ‘Vocal for Local’. As a part of this policy package, many government decisions have been taken such as changing the definition of MSMEs, boosting the scope of private participation in numerous sectors, increasing FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in the defense sector, and extend support to all sectors in India. One fine example to define self-reliant India is the growth indicated in India’s ‘Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)’ sector from zero before March to 1.5 lakh pieces a day by the beginning of May. The PPE industry has grown to a 7000 crore market in India in two months, the second largest after China.

Recently, on 4 July 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge’ with an intent to help start-up and tech community. Essentially, the mission is to identify the best Indian Apps that are already existing and being used by citizens and have the potential to become world-class Apps in their respective categories. This challenge is open to all those who have a vision and expertise to create remarkable ‘Made in India’ applications. ‘GoI_MeitY’ (Government of India-Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology) and ‘AIMtoInnovate’ are launching this challenge in partnership with Atal Innovation Mission and government think-tank Niti Aayog. This innovation challenge seeks to create an ecosystem where Indian entrepreneurs and startups are incentivized to ideate, incubate, and build sustainable technology solutions that can serve not only the citizens of India but also the World.

In Modi Ji’s words, “Today, when the entire nation is working towards creating an AatmaNirbhar Bharat, it is a good opportunity to give direction to their efforts, momentum to their hard-work, and mentorship to their talent to evolve Apps which can satisfy our market needs as well as compete with the world”.

This challenge takes place in two tracks:
1. Promotion of Existing Apps.
2. Development of New Apps.

The categories that fall under the track-1, ‘promotion of existing apps’ are:
• E-learning
• Work-from-Home
• Gaming
• Business (including Agritech and Fintech)
• Entertainment
• Office Utilities
• Social Networking
• Health and Wellness

The government provides mentoring and support in this regard of participation and the track-1 mission mode of work will be in identifying good quality Apps and make them to the leader-board for final scrutiny and this process shall be completed in a month.
Under the track-2 initiative, incubation of new apps and platforms will take place which works to help in creating new technology champions in India by providing necessary support in ideation, incubation, and prototyping to roll out with a product of market access.
During the entire cycle, the outcome of this challenge will be to give better visibility to existing Apps and achieve their goals in creating solutions to tech conundrums with the help of mentorship, tech support, and guidance. It is an urge to the tech community with the specified talent and expertise to participate and help in creating AatmaNirbhar App Ecosystem.

Also, the digital ban made on Chinese Apps makes a point in launching this challenge to create our application for use. This competition seems to be an extension of our government’s call to encourage app-makers to develop a video-conferencing app after issuance by the advisory council in April against the use of the Zoom App, due to data privacy concerns. Also, the challenge is particularly relevant in the current time as India has banned 59 Chinese apps for the threats they cause relating to national security. One of the fitting parameters on which the entries in the competition will be judged includes “Security” feature.

“AatmaNirbhar Bharat”, a great move by the Government of India to become self-reliant and launching of ‘Digital App Innovation Challenge’ with a mantra of Make in India and the World, is praiseworthy and it is a kick-start move to prosper and advance India.

Donald Trump: Suspension on H1-B VISA

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This image is in reference to topnewsbazar.com:https://topsnewsbazar.com/trump-is-likely-to-suspend-h1b-visas-in-the-united-states/

What essentially is an H1-B VISA?

In this context, the VISA stands for ‘Verified International Stay Approval’.

VISA is an endorsement on a passport that allows its holder to enter, leave, or stay in a country for a specified period. On similar lines, the H1-B VISA is a work permit that allows a foreign worker to go to the United States and work for an American company. The worker must be specialized in a field of work for which the employer cannot find a US-based worker.
This H1-B work VISA is initially valid for three years and can be extended up to six years. In some exceptional cases, applicants are allowed to further extend their visas, depending on the type of work being done. The applicant is sponsored by the American company for which the person is employed. On behalf of the applicant, the employer pays the visa fees and submits the required paperwork.

In case, if a person is dismissed or quits his/her job, then the person has three options to stay back in the place:

1. The person has to find a new job and complete the paperwork.
2. He/she has to apply for a change of status (including the application for a green card).
3. Return to one’s country or be deported.

An individual can apply for a fresh H1-B visa even after returning to the home country but will have to face the same process as a fresh applicant. Moreover, the grace period for a candidate to find a new employer after dismissal or quitting from a job is 60 days.

Why is the ban imposed on the work VISA’s?

Donald Trump, president of US, suspended H1-B and L visas, used by technology professionals as a move he says will protect local jobs. Unemployment levels in the country triggered as the economic crisis is been faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and over 45 million people have filed unemployment claims since March when the US went into lockdown to tackle the pandemic.

Trump has won the first term in office on the back of anti-immigration rhetoric. He has tightened the policies that favored US technology companies for H1-B visas as against the traditional Indian IT companies. The new order will freeze the further approvals of non-immigration visas like the H-1B, L-1, H2A, H-2B, and J-1 till 31 December 2020.

For Your Information

Immigrant visas are issued to those foreign nationals who intend to stay or live permanently in the United States.
Non-Immigrant visas are for foreign nationals who enter the country of the United States temporarily – for tourism, education, business, medical treatment, temporary work, and other similar reasons.

H-1B Visa: It is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ graduate-level workers with expertise in specialized fields such as IT, medicine, engineering, accounting, science, architecture, etc.

L-1 Visa: A non-immigrant visa document available to those employees of an international company with offices in both the United States and abroad.

H2A Visa: This visa allows foreign nationals into the US for temporary agricultural work.

J-1 Visa: It is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to research scholars, professors, and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange.

Few Stats and Details:

  • Annually, the total number of H1-B visas issued will be 85,000 (65,000+20,000 Masters Quota). Of them, 70% of these work permits have been received by Indian nationals, the majority of them being software engineers working for technology companies.
  • For the next fiscal year (FY2021), 67.7% of the 275,000 H1-B applications received were for Indian nationals followed by China with 13.2% petitions.
  • The H-1B workers (around six lakh people), who are already in the US will not be impacted by this suspension act. According to IT analysts, only 20% of the six lakh H-1B permit holders are employed by Indian service companies.
  • This suspension of visas does not affect the people who are already in the US and waiting for visa renewals and H-1B visa holders who are currently not in the US can still re-enter the country.
  • Students pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), degrees in US Universities are spared from this restriction. Also, students who take up the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program are allowed to work in US states for 12 months after graduating. Students of STEM get an additional 24 months of work experience in the country and are considered a ticket to an H-1B visa.
  • Regarding L1 visas, Trump has suspended the visas that allow the transfer of executives of an organization to their work unit in the US. This move is going to impact both Indian and US technology companies who shuffle employees for critical technology projects.

Will Trump’s H-1B visa suspension help American job seekers?

Donald Trump, during the 2016 US presidential campaign shocked the public when he suggested that he would ban Muslims from entering the US and this remark is widely condemned even by people of his party. Within a week of his inauguration in January 2017, Trump announced a ban on entry of people from Middle East countries with an argument that the targeted countries were among the concerns not cooperating with the US in intelligent sharing.

The Muslim ban upheld and emboldened him to use the same in many other circumstances and since the pandemic began, he has banned multiple groups through the proclamation and two of those bans have collectively affected hundreds of thousands of people seeking immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The April 22nd ban stopped issuing immigrant visas and the June 22nd ban targeted workers coming to the US in the H-1B, H-2B, H2A, J-1, and L-1 visa categories.

There is a little plausible evidence that these travel bans have a positive impact on US unemployment or job seekers. Employers in the past have shown that they are not going to let go of the unfilled positions or accept unqualified US workers to fill the gaps and will instead turn to outsource.

Some occupation categories covered in the ban include long-term and a severe shortage of workers of which physicians treating the COVID-19 patients are pivotal at the moment. More than a quarter of doctors in the US are from outside the US. So blocking their immigration not only prevents them from solving the shortage but also makes the repercussions potentially worse.

The situation in IT is not much better as the US unemployment rate for computer occupations has decreased from 3% in January 2020 to 2.8% in May 2020. As about half of the H-1B visas go to tech sector employers, it is hard to see how this order to suspend the visas will help the vast majority of workers in the US who are into other sectors.

Also, there is a serious possibility that the US could be inviting retaliation by other countries against 8.7 million Americans that live outside the US. It seems that the temporary suspension on visas, as a whole, may not pledge completely the fulfilling of unemployed US workers get jobs but sprang into action seeking hope of employment and economic revival due to the pandemic.




Galwan Valley Issue: ‘India-China’ Face-off at the border

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This image is in reference to oneindia.com:https://www.oneindia.com/india/india-china-standoff-live-both-sides-agree-on-disengagement-of-troops-along-lac-3105566.html

India and China engaged in a face-off in the Galwan valley that happened on the evening of 15 June 2020 the day being Monday. It is considered the most deadly clash in the past four decades in which twenty Indian soldiers including a commanding officer of an infantry battalion lost their lives. This is considered the first time after the 1962 war that soldiers have died in clashes in Ladakh, on the India-China border at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The last deaths on the LAC were ambuscade of an Assam Rifles patrol in Arunachal Pradesh by Chinese in 1975 and the last military engagement between the two armies was at Nathu La in Sikkim in 1967 in which 88 soldiers of India lost their lives and more than 300 Chinese soldiers were killed. All these incidents took place before the two countries signing various agreements for maintaining peace and tranquility on the border, starting from 1993.

Difference between LAC and LoC:

India has many border-related disputes with its border sharing neighbors China and Pakistan. These issues sometimes led to situations like the escalation of war among these countries. Being a citizen of India, one must know the borders of our country and the cause of disputes with neighboring countries.

What is LoC?
‘Line of Control’ is a live line demarcated by the militaries of India and Pakistan where a lot of activities like firing and face to face interaction between the countries are held. It denotes a boundary separating parts of the Indian Union Territory (UT) i.e. Jammu & Kashmir which is controlled by India and illegally occupied by Pakistan. The length of LoC is way long around 776 kilometers.

What is LAC?
‘Line of Actual Control’ is a boundary between India and China with no concrete settlement on ground positions. The concept of “Line of Actual Control” is framed in a bilateral agreement in 1993. The LAC separates India-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory which is nearly 50 to 100 kilometers distance maintained by the armies of two countries.

The LAC is divided into three regions with the western sector in Ladakh, the middle sector in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, and the eastern sector spans Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Around 2,000 km is the LAC as per the Chinese government while India considers it to be 3,488 km long.

As the escalation happened at Galwan valley in Ladakh which is a western sector region of LAC, the entire discourse loops around this point.

What exactly happened in the Galwan Valley on Monday (June 15 2020)?

For the past few weeks, high tensions had been running in the area with a large number of soldiers and military equipment deployed along the LAC. Though the LAC in Galwan Valley was never disputed by the two sides of the military, the Chinese moved into the Indian side of LAC. Negotiations had been conducted between local military commanders of both armies for a mutually agreed disengagement process, after the meeting at the level of Corps Commanders on June 6, 2020. In this process, a buffer zone has been created between LAC and the junction of the Shyok and Galwan rivers to avoid faceoff between the two armies. So, as a first step, the two armies were to move back by a kilometer each in that area. Colonel B Santosh Babu was monitoring this process. He noticed that a Chinese camp was still existing in the area and went to get it removed. This soon led to the exchange of fisticuffs and blows resulting in injuries and deaths.

To avoid unintentional escalation by opening fire, the soldiers on both sides are avoided to carry weapons. This is in tune with the 1996 agreement between the two countries on Confidence-building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC in the India-China border areas. It imposed restrictions on military equipment, aircraft, and blasts in the vicinity of the LAC.

There were no shots fired. Then how did the soldiers die? What is the casualty or injuries from in the Chinese army?

It has been learned from the recent incident that the Chinese army used blunt objects to cause injuries. Besides, some soldiers have been pushed into the fast-flowing Galwan river and most of the deaths were due to injuries aggravated by intense cold in the high altitude region.

Reportedly 20 soldiers were killed in the Indian army and the official statements put out by the Army and the Ministry of External Affairs have no details of any injuries or deaths to Chinese soldiers though the first statement amended by the army on Tuesday was to say that there were casualties on both sides. Even the Chinese government or the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) hasn’t provided any details of soldiers killed or injured in the clash.

How about the situation from here on? What can be the key takeaway?

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has categorically stated that the Chinese had violated the LAC in the Galwan valley region and hence the current situation. The two countries are still in talks at military and diplomatic levels. At the moment, any escalation into a major conflict looks distant away but the conflict situations have a dynamic strand of their own, and the events can overtake the best-laid plans.

A military conflict, if occurs, can be localized to an area, can be along the whole border, or be in any one sector. Unless there is another provocation, the two sides must be able to resolve the situation peacefully.

‘SLEEP’: A Temporary Conscious Suspension

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More or less, everyone on this planet loves to lay themselves on a soft couch or mattress and take a nap to evaporate all the stress, tiredness, and sought of messy convergence in their cerebral space and we name this action of doing as Sleep.

            ‘As dark black accumulates over the blue skies,

             the vertical spine inclines horizontal,

            eyelids stagger very many winks,

           setting the human system to an interim shutdown’

                                                         –  A quick-wick elucidating stanza of ‘sleep’

The notion of sleep is thought of as the time in which the mind and body are shut down, but it is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening takes place. What lies in the mystery is why our bodies are programmed to such a long period of slumber. But scientists do understand some of the sleep’s critical functions and the reasons we need it is for better health and wellbeing.

As we go through a lot many things in a day, the human brain takes an incredible amount of information. A nap at the end of the day plays a vital role to help us solidify and consolidate memories. Rather being directly logged and recorded, firstly, the thoughts and experiences need to be processed and stored and this happens while we sleep. The bits and pieces of information are transferred from a tentative and short-term memory to long-lasting memory feed in the brain, in an overnight sleep and the process is called “Consolidation”. According to researchers, people tend to retain information and perform better on memory tasks after a healthy sleep. Our bodies require long periods of sleep to restore and rejuvenate, grow muscle, restore tissues, and synthesize hormones.

In reality, how much sleep does a human body need?

Since we all need to retain information and learn skills to thrive in our lives, healthy sleep is critical. The duration of sleep varies with stages in human life. An infant roughly needs 11 to 14 hours, school-age children between 9 to 11 hours, teenagers between 8 to 10 hours while an adult requires 7-9 hours of sleep. Younger people, during the critical periods of growth and learning, require a heavy dose of slumber for optimal development and alertness.

Unfortunately, a person can’t deprive sleep and log on to many hours of sleep later to make up sleep deprivation (although paying back ‘sleep debt’ is a good idea to compensate for the deprivation) because it may lead to several health criticalities that have a long term effect.

When and why do people have trouble sleeping?

Stress, jet lag, a severity in health condition, the medication was taken or even the amount of coffee one drinks are some well-pronounced reasons causing sleeplessness. This inability of sleeplessness is called ‘Insomnia’. It can also be caused due to other sleep disorders or mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. This change in sleep patterns or habits may have a negative impact as a reflection on the functioning of the human system.

Most common sleep disorders known notably are:

  • Restless legs syndrome: A condition in which there exists an irresistible urge to move legs (or arms) during the night. It occurs to a person only during resting or lying down and is usually due to aching, tingly, uncomfortable, or creeping sensations.
  • Jet lag: A sleep disorder mostly seen in persons who travel quickly across countries i.e.,(multiple time zones).
  • Narcolepsy: It is a chronic sleep disorder that causes overwhelming drowsiness in the daytime.
  • Sleep apnea: Breathing in a person stops temporarily during sleep which leads to awakening periodically.
  • The delayed sleep phase is a disorder in which the biological clock is delayed significantly. In this, the sleep and wake up timings will be much late than other people and are mostly seen in teenagers of this era.
  • Shift work sleep disorder occurs when a person’s work schedule and biological clock are out of sync.

These disorders may be rectified by consulting a physician, using the medication, and making a change in daily habits.

Another way is an improvement in sleep hygiene, revising daytime activities, and learning to relax. Putting them in action will help to decline insomnia without any reliance on sleep specialists or over the counter sleeping pills.

Health issues due to sleep deprivation:

In a nutshell, sleeplessness is caused due to a consistent lack of sleep or reduced sleep quality. As your body needs air, water, and food to function at its best, so is the role that sleep plays.

The long term effects of sleep deprivation are real which drain your mental abilities and puts your physical health at risk. From weight gain to a weakened immune system, science has linked poor slumber with many health issues.

  • Diabetes: Lack of sleep affects the insulin release in the body which alters the sugar levels in the blood and increases the risk of type-2 diabetes.
  • Blood pressure increases if the sleep duration lowers less than 5 hours.
  • Obesity: Sleep affects the levels of two hormones namely leptin and ‘Leptin’ signals brain that you have had enough food. Lack of sleep reduces leptin and raises ghrelin, which is an appetite stimulant that tends you to overeat thereby causing overweight.
  • The risk of heart disease is another major health concern. Sleeplessness causes an increase in blood pressure which releases unnecessary chemicals that cause inflammation and these secretions play roles in causing heart diseases.

How can one have a sound sleep?

  • Improvement in daytime habits like sticking on to consistent sleep schedules, getting done with regular exercise, limiting caffeine intake, alcohol, and nicotine, managing stress, and mood swings can give a good and timely rest to the body.
  • Developing a relaxing bedtime routine:

1) Prepare the mind and body to sleep at a set time.

2) Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool.

3) Avoid a heavy meal and too much fluid intake at night.

4) Take a warm water bath.

5) Read a book of your will.

6) Listen to soothing music to unwind from thoughts.

7) Turn off digital screens at least an hour before bedtime.

  • Whether one may have a sleep disorder or not, it is normal to wake up at times in the middle of sleep. Try to get back to sleep in such midnight waking. If you are unable to sleep back, try to focus on your breathing, meditate, and practice various relaxation methods.
  • Experience both daylight and darkness as light can influence the body’s internal clock, regulating sleep and wakefulness.
  • Avoid lengthy naps during day hours.
  • Visualize things that make you happy as they give feels of peace and calmness.

When can we stop wearing a mask?

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In the early modern world, covering nose and mouth to protect against contagious diseases has been a part of traditional sanitary practices. Face masks, as they have been used in health care and community has large traces back historically to a more recent period. A study of the 19th century showed experimentally that respiratory droplets carried cultural bacteria. In response to these findings, surgeons started to wear a face mask from the ’90s of the corresponding century,  which was described as ‘a piece of gauze tied by two strings to the cap and sweeping across the face covering the nose, mouth, and beard’. From then the culture of wearing masks was confined to doctors and surgeons. The masks stood for a strategy of infection control that focuses on keeping germs away, as opposed to killing them with chemicals.

It was mainly during the Manchurian plague of 1910-11 and the Influenza of 1918-19, the usage of face mask turned into a means of protection for medical workers and patients from infectious diseases outside of the operating room. During the time of influenza in 1918-19, wearing a mask became mandatory for police forces, medical workers, and even residents to curb its spread albeit its use was controversial earlier in the US.

Masks vary in the extent to which they filter bacteria and when used properly they offer protection from infection. They come in ‘disposable’ and ‘reusable’ forms. They serve the purpose of preventing the spread of microorganisms residing in the nose and mouth of members of the operating team to the open wound of patients.

The Japanese have a culture of wearing masks long since and the reasons being jotted are health concerns, avoiding dust and pollen entry, to hide facial imperfections, as a fashion statement, and to prevent social anxiety. Some of these seem crazy but are helping them in their rescue from external exposure. Now, wearing a mask has become a widespread act worldwide to curb the stretching of coronavirus wings.

The history of masks and their usage has been briefed to aware of its essence at times required. Apart from their use by surgeons, medical workers, and patients, the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has necessitated its usage because of the virus spread happening through the air, and as we respire there is a huge possibility of virus invasion into the body enabling its multiply and chain us in its bound.

 

How useful is it wearing a mask in this pandemic situation?

During the initial months of coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that masks were unnecessary for people in good health and must be reserved for patients, health-care workers, and others in close contact with the infected. With a surge in the number of cases, the CDC changed its recommendations, saying that all people should wear cloth face coverings in public while emphasizing that surgical and N95 masks should be still reserved for front-line workers. The change was sparked in a short while by the research showing that people without symptoms can transmit the virus and that masks can reduce the number of viral particles released.

It is alluded to wear a mask in both the perspectives of protecting people from getting the coronavirus and preventing people who have it from spreading it. Mostly, it is about the second, about people who are infected with the virus, showing up the symptoms of sweating, coughing, and sneezing in which the respiratory droplets into the air are potent carriers of coronavirus. Hence, masks, social distancing, and hand hygiene, all together, can bring down the effect of the virus in people.

In most respiratory viruses, there is a relationship between dose and severity of response (we are unsure about this with coronavirus) and we should suspect a similar relationship with this virus as well. The more exposure to a higher concentration of virus (being it unconscious) the more is the risk of infection.

There is no empirical evidence that simple masks work for the coronavirus but they work for respiratory viruses and as this virus is showing similarity, it helps in blocking the spread to an extent.

 

Can we expect a flip in the situation (‘mask’ to ‘NO mask’)?

“To be frank, the face mask is the condom of our generation”, says Brian Castrucci who is the president of a public health non-profit foundation named ‘de Beaumont’. He says so as he remembers the times when the HIV epidemic made condoms mainstream in the United States. The same can now be said of face masks which turned a necessity to a ubiquitous pandemic. People should wear masks in public until there are no new cases or very few cases.

Masks mean something seems wrong. We are wearing them just because things are not okay as they were. It is very hard to say something definitive about the future or something about next year, next month or next week will look like, but from expert predictions, we can say “it is almost certain that the future will be masked.

As the economy opens up and we spend more time in public spaces, there seems a possibility that we wear masks. Masks, for one thing, aren’t very big but still many don’t know about how well they work. There is mounting evidence that even the fabric masks help prevent the coronavirus spread which is mainly due to infected droplets from the affected. If masking helps it all in this situation, then it is worth what we are doing now but there is no predictive analysis of when the situation can move from a ‘Mask’ to ‘NO Mask’.

Psychology studies proved the fact that if this culture of masking is going to be a continuum then emotional processing of the brain loses its analyzing capability. When the lower part of the face is concealed, then the emotions of the person tend to seem muted. We do lose information when operating without the benefit of the lower half of our face but this doesn’t affect the feelings equally. But happiness and sadness, the lower face emotions are hard to read. Despite all these factors, it is mandated wear in the current scenario and a flip in the situation may not be seen in the near future as the fear of infection is deep-rooted in the minds of people.

It’s not that everyone loved wearing masks immediately at the beginning but we’ll probably have to keep wearing them for the foreseeable future.