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Facebook Officials Played Down Hate In India, Reveals Internal Report – dot newz

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The documents have been sent to the US Congress by a whistleblower.

New Delhi:

Content espousing hate surged in India around key events from elections to Covid and protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, show Facebook’s internal documents reviewed by NDTV. The documents reveal how despite the spike in inflammatory and anti-minority content India, Facebook’s senior officials downplayed the threats it posed just a year earlier, raising the question of whether they did enough to combat it.

A document from July 2020, titled “Communal Conflict in India”, for instance, showed how offline harm was often accompanied by online hate, during key moments of crisis.

The report said one of the reasons that motivated it was the “recent spike in inflammatory content and hate speech in India” and “marked rise in violence against Muslim Minority in India over the last 18 months”.

It found that in December 2019 — which saw over 80 per cent increase in inflammatory content over the baseline around the time of the anti-CAA protests — online content on Facebook and WhatsApp included “misinformation on protests, demonizing content (against Muslims) hate speech and inflammatory spikes”.

The same document also showed how in March 2020, at the start of the first COVID lockdown, there was a 300-plus per cent in spike in inflammatory content. Online content at the time blamed Muslims for the spread of Covid 19.

These documents are part of disclosures made to the American Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to American Congress in redacted form by whistleblower Frances Haugen’s legal counsel. The redacted versions received by the US Congress were reviewed by a consortium of news organizations, including NDTV.

Internal documents also reflect the human impact of this spike in hate, captured in interviews of Muslims and Hindus in India conducted by Facebook. The team found that Muslim users felt particularly threatened or upset, while Hindus did not express similar fears. A Muslim man from Mumbai said that he was scared for his life, and that he was worried that all “Muslims are going to be attacked” due to the wide circulation of Islamophobic hashtags like #CoronaJihad.

However, a document from just a year before this, January 2019, “Critical Countries: Review With Chris Cox” said that “there is comparatively low prevalence of problem content (hate speech etc) on Facebook” in India. Mr Cox is a senior Facebook executive, who was in charge of the company’s applications including Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram at the time. The document goes on to say that “surveys tell us that people generally feel safe” in the country and “experts tell us that the country is stable”.

This supposed “clean chit” was just months before the high pitched Lok Sabha polls, and the very divisive Delhi election campaigns.

However, by 2021, the tune seems to have changed.

Documents from the time show that Facebook’s assessment of India had changed in an apparently belated acknowledgement of spiralling online and offline hate. Documents, which were related to then upcoming 2021 state elections in the country, said that “India has been assessed as severe for Societal violence… with recurring mobilization along identity fault lines, tied by both the press and civil society groups to social media discourse”.



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China Poses Significant Challenge To India’s Strategic Goals: Air Chief – dot newz

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Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said the Indian Air Force needs to be rapidly modernized. (File)

New Delhi:

Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari said that China poses a significant long term challenge to India’s strategic goals. He said it should be made clear to the world that today’s India has the capability and will to respond at a level that the nation deems appropriate.

“China poses a significant and long-term challenge to India’s strategic goals. Both People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) have enhanced their military capabilities in equipment and infrastructure. The Indian Air Force (IAF) needs to be rapidly modernized, expand its fleet and improve indigenous manufacturing capabilities,” the IAF chief said at a seminar conducted by the Centre for Air Power Studies.

The IAF needs to be rapidly modernized, expand its fleet and improve indigenous manufacturing capabilities, he urged.

The IAF chief said that China’s hegemonic and entrapping policies can provide opportunities for India to leverage in trade and military domains.

He also asserted that India has demonstrated its capabilities during a standoff on the northern border while simultaneously handling the national COVID-19 response.

“In the future, we could be attacked from all fronts, starting from economic strangulation to diplomatic isolation and military stand-offs to information blackouts, in the form of attack by a distributed denial of services. We will need to prepare for the full spectrum,” the Air Force chief cautioned.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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Gen Rawat Was On “Very Safe” Mi-17V-5, Crash Confounds Experts – dot newz

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India owns a fairly large fleet of Mi-17V-5 helicopters that are often used to ferry VIPs.

New Delhi:

The Mi-17V-5 helicopters are extremely reliable and are the workhorses of the Air Force, several former army officers told NDTV after one of these choppers crashed in Tamil Nadu, with Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat and several members of his family on board. The crash perplexed the experts, who said the flight from Sulur to Wellington did not involve complications.

Four people are dead and another four who survived, have been taken to a hospital. It is believed that there were 14 people on board, including the chopper’s crew and passengers.

The Indian Air Force has already ordered an inquiry into the crash.

The Mi-17V-5 is the latest twin-engine iteration of the Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopter and is used regularly for high-altitude operations. One of the most advanced military transports that can be used in any topography and weather, it is one of the most powerful choppers used by Indian defence forces.

India owns a fairly large fleet of these helicopters that were purchased and inducted between 2013 and 2018.

Most experts NDTV spoke to described it as a “very reliable, safe, stable, and large” helicopter that is also used to ferry VIPs, including the President and the Prime Minister.

According to information available on the website of Rosoboronexport — the Russian arms supplier — the chopper is designed to “carry personnel, cargo and equipment inside the cargo cabin or on an external sling, drop tactical air assault forces and reconnaissance and sabotage groups, destroy ground targets and carry the wounded”.

“Its armament system includes unguided rockets (up to 80 S-8 80mm unguided aerial rockets), cannons (suspended pods with 23mm cannons and 250 rounds each) and small arms,” the website says.



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‘Smartphones, Scootys, Security’: Congress’ “Women’s Manifesto” Before UP Polls – dot newz

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UP will vote for a new government in 2022, with the Congress challenging the BJP

Lucknow:

Girls studying in Classes 10 to 12 in Uttar Pradesh schools will get smartphones and female graduate students will get scooters, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said Wednesday as part of a six-point “woman’s manifesto” ahead of an Assembly election in the state in a few months.

Ms Gandhi Vadra – who is leading her party’s campaign in the poll-bound state – read out a number of measures and schemes the Congress plans to implement should it win next year’s election, and demanded that all parties understand “the fact women have to bear with exploitation”.

Promises made by Ms Gandhi Vadra today include the offer of three free LPG cylinders for women – a significant offer given the skyrocketing prices of gas cylinders in the country, something for which the BJP (in power in UP and at the centre) has been severely criticised.

“I hope this women’s manifesto will put pressure on other political parties to also speak about similar issues. We want to release a women-specific manifesto so women have freedom of choice… I have seen that women ka bahut shoshan hota hai but they are fighting for their rights,” she said.

Ms Gandhi Vadra also highlighted the Congress’ promise to reserve 40 per cent of its election tickets for women; “this is not only on paper,” she said, giving late Indira Gandhi – India’s first woman prime minister – as an example of the Congress’ contribution to women in politics.

“Our attempt is to bring real women’s empowerment… at the grassroots level. Women’s empowerment is usually spoken about before elections and then mostly restricted to being on paper. We want to actually empower women on ground,” the Congress leader said.

“Parliament and legislative assemblies have an average of 14 per cent participation by women representatives. That needs to increase… we want that 40 per cent of all seats should be represented by women. This will increase their participation in policy-making,” she stressed.

Apart from smartphones, scooters and free gas cylinders, Ms Gandhi Vadra said women senior citizens and widows would get a monthly pension of Rs 1,000, and every new-born girl will get a fixed deposit in her name. All households with women will get a free internet connection.

Ms Gandhi Vadra also flagged the issue of women’s security – a serious subject given the worrying number of violent crimes against women reported from Uttar Pradesh.

“We want 25 per cent of the police to consist of women. All chowkis to have at least one woman officer and constable,” she said, reminding reporters that many crimes were unreported as the police is reluctant to file a case. “More women in the force will help the cause of women,” she said.

The Congress also promised Rs 10 lakh medical cover for women “for any kind of illness or disease”.

UP votes for a new government in a few months time.

The Assembly election here – for 403 seats – is widely seen as an indicator of how the ruling BJP might fare in the 2024 general election, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party will seek a third consecutive term in power.



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