India lockdown throws online delivery out of gear, millions cry

Agencies
March 25, 2020

In an unprecedented crisis despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi assuring the continuation of essential services like food and groceries, online marketplaces like Flipkart and Amazon along with delivery platforms like Bigbasket, Grofers and FreshToHomes hit a major blockade on Wednesday as local authorities shut warehouses and sent delivery boys back, even harassed them.

Millions of people across cities were left helpless at homes as essential items like fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk, meat and fish etc did not reach their doors despite placing orders well in advance. Later, the orders went dry.

While Grofers' warehouse in Faridabad was closed by the local law enforcement agencies, Bigbasket complained that the police stopped its delivery partners and "some of them were even beaten up by for no fault of theirs".

"We are not operational due to restrictions imposed by local authorities on movement of goods in spite of clear guidelines provided by central authorities to enable essential services. We are working with the authorities to be back soon,' Bigbasket tweeted.

In a statement to IANS, Bigbasket said that it will help to have better coordination between the Centre and state, and between the state and local police to "ensure that our delivery vans and bikes don't get stopped by the police. Bigbasket and bb daily are not taking new orders".

Furious people stormed the social media platforms, writing their plight to NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant on Twitter.

"Sir, all e-commerce are down. Believe me I tried everything (Grofers, Bigbasket, Flipkart, Amazon, Big Bazaar), no delivery till 31st March or Server Down or No Service. Need to think how we can enable them through digital India," tweeted one user.

Kant tweeted back to Bigbasket: "They should give me specifics - State & location. I will act on it by getting in touch with concerned authorities & sorting it out. Govt guidelines exempt them. We will ensure that citizens are not impacted".

Kant also responded to Grofers: "Cold storages & Warehouses as well as delivery of all essentials goods including food, pharma thru E-Commerce are exempted under MHA order. I have spoken to CS & DGP, Haryana . They have taken immediate action to ensure that supply chains efficiently function for the citizens".

The subscription-based hyperlocal delivery startup FreshToHome sent messages to its customers, saying that despite the government declaring food delivery as essential, "we are facing hardships in continuing our operations".

"Please bear with us as we are working hard to unblock local authority hurdles," said the FreshToHome team.

Reports later surfaced that the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has initiated talks with the state Chief Secretaries asking them not to restrict movement of people engaged in home delivery of essential items, mentioned in the list of exempted items circulated by the Home Ministry.

Meanwhile, Flipkart said it has temporarily suspended its operations and services - including grocery items. The marketplace has decided to halt all orders from March 25 for all three supply chains -- groceries, non-large goods and large items.

"Flipkart has temporarily suspended orders as we assess the possibilities of operating in the lockdown. We are prioritising the safety of our delivery executives and seeking the support of the local governments and police authorities to meet the needs of our customers as they stay home during this lockdown," Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Flipkart, said in a statement.

E-commerce giant Amazon said the company has to "temporarily stop taking orders and disable shipments for lower-priority products.

"For all pending customer orders on lower-priority products, we are reaching out to customers and giving them a choice to cancel their orders, and receive a refund for prepaid items," said the company.

Witnessing a surge in demand, supermarket chain Biz Bazaar entered the fray, with launching doorstep delivery services in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Gurugram.

However, within no time, Big Bazaar was flooded with calls, forcing the company to issue a statement, saying that "In light of the recent announcement, we are receiving an unprecedented number of requests for doorstep delivery. There could be a delay due to the restrictions on movements".

Already battling massive surge in demand, the online delivery platforms faced other issues too, including zero access to several high-rises across the country which have gone under complete lockdown with all entry and exit gates locked.

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Agencies
January 14,2021

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Madurai, Jan 14: The renowned bull taming event “Jallikattu” began in Tamil Nadu with traditional fervour and enthusiasm at Avaniyapuram in this district on Thursday.

Minister for Cooperation Sellur K Raju and District Collector T Anbalagan flagged off the event at 0800 hours that will go on till 1600 hours.

It is the first officially permitted Jallikattu event organized as part of the ongoing Pongal festivities in the state.

Official sources said, around 430 tamers and 830 registered bulls were participating in the day-long event.

Former AICC President Rahul Gandhi will watch the Avaniyapuram Jallikattu today -- in what is scheduled to be his first visit to the state ahead of this year’s assembly election as part of the party’s “Rahulin Tamizh Vanakkam” initiative.

Mr Gandhi, who will arrive by a special flight at Madurai from New Delhi this afternoon, will drive straight to the venue.

After witnessing the event for a couple of hours, he will return to the National Capital.

The Congress leader will be accompanied by TNCC president K.S.Alagiri, Congress Legislative Party Leader K.R.Ramasamy and DMK’s youth wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin and others. Around 2,000 policemen were deployed at the Jallikattu venue under the direct supervision of Commissioner of Police Prem Anand Sinha.

The Jallikattu event is being conducted by ensuring compliance with the COVID-19 safety norms.

Arrangements have been made in the spectators’ gallery to ensure personal distancing. The spectators were allowed after undergoing thermal screening and wearing face masks.

The Palamedu Jallikattu will be held on Friday.

Chief Minister Edappadi K.Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O.Panneerselvam will witness the World-renowned Alanganallur Jallikattu event here on Saturday.

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Agencies
January 9,2021

New Delhi, Jan 9: The Department of Revenue (DoR), Ministry of Finance has clarified that any purchase of gold, silver, jewellery, or precious gems and stones below Rs 2 lakh does not require PAN or Aadhaar of a customer as mandatory Know Your Customer (KYC) document.

Sources said that the notification issued under PML Act, 2002, on December 28, 2020, is a requirement of FATF Dealers in Precious Metals and Precious Stones (DPMS) to carry out KYC and Customer Due Diligence only when they conduct cash transactions above Rs 10 lakh.

"This is a requirement of FATF (Financial Action Task Force) - the global money laundering and terrorist financing overseer which as the inter-governmental body sets international standards aimed to prevent illegal activities on terror funding and money laundering," they added.

According to sources, one of the recommendations requires the DPMS sector to fulfil obligations of Customer Due Diligence (CDD) when they conduct cash transactions above a certain limit (USD/EUR 15,000). India is a member of FATF since 2010.

"The misinformation being circulated in certain section of media that any purchase, even if below Rs 2 lakh, of gold, silver, jewellery or precious gems and stones in cash require KYC are baseless," sources added.

Since in India, cash transactions above Rs 2 lakh are not allowed under section 269ST of Income-tax Act, 1961, dealers not receiving cash more than Rs 2 lakh in compliance with the existing provisions of the Income-tax Act will not be covered under this notification, they said further.

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Agencies
January 15,2021

California, Jan 15: Facebook has sued two developers in Portugal for scraping user-profiles and other data from its website.

Using the business name "Oink and Stuff," the defendants developed browser extensions and made them available on the Chrome store.

"They misled users into installing the extensions with a privacy policy that claimed they did not collect any personal information," said Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation at Facebook.

Four of their extensions -- Web for Instagram plus DM, Blue Messenger, Emoji keyboard and Green Messenger -- were malicious and contained hidden computer code that functioned like spyware.

When people installed these extensions on their browsers, they were installing concealed code designed to scrape their information from the Facebook website, but also information from the users' browsers unrelated to Facebook -- all without their knowledge.

"If the user visited the Facebook website, the browser extensions were programmed to scrape their name, user ID, gender, relationship status, age group and other information related to their account," Romero said in a statement on Thursday.

The defendants did not compromise Facebook's security systems. Instead, they used the extensions on the users' devices to collect information.

"We are seeking a permanent injunction against defendants and demanding that they delete all Facebook data in their possession," she mentioned.

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