17-yr-old Jammu boy Ashfaq Mehmood develops file-sharing app after ban on Chinese apps

Agencies
August 3, 2020

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Rajouri, Aug 3: Ashfaq Mehmood Choudhary, a 17-year-old boy from Chattyear of Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district, has developed a file-sharing app 'Dodo Drop' which would enable users to share audios, videos, images, and texts between two devices without Internet access.

While speaking to media persons, Ashfaq Mehmood said that the 'Dodo Drop' application is an alternative to the Chinese 'SHAREit' app. "The Indian government has banned several Chinese apps due to data breaching, and among those apps was SHAREit which was used for sharing files.

Users faced a lot of problems due to the ban, and so I decided to make this file-sharing app. With 'Dodo Drop', users can share audios, videos, images, and even texts," he said.

Ashfaq said that it took him four weeks to develop the application, and it was launched on August 1 this year. The 'Dodo Drop' application has a transfer rate of up to 480 mbps, which is faster than the SHAREit app and is "quite easy" to use.

"Users can transfer data comprising photos, videos, audios, apps, texts, etc. between two devices with no Internet access. The transfers are fully encrypted and secure," he added.

"Our Prime Minister has always asserted the need for decreasing the dependency on foreign products and apps and to focus on the development of India-based apps. I tried to be part of the initiative of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' by developing an India-based file-sharing app. I want to develop global-standard apps for India," he added.

"We support and cooperate with him. He generates his own income by working on some projects and utilises it. We will continue to support him," said Parvez Ahmed Choudhary, Ashfaq's father.

In July, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) banned 47 apps, which were variants and cloned copies of the 59 apps banned earlier in June. These banned clones included SHAREit Lite, Tiktok Lite, Helo Lite, BIGO LIVE Lite, and VFY Lite.

The 59 apps had been banned by the Centre in June in view of the information available that they were engaged in activities which were "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity and defence" of the country.

Almost all the apps banned had some preferential Chinese interest and the majority had parent Chinese companies.

The ban came amid border tensions with China in the Eastern Ladakh region.

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Agencies
September 25,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 25: As part of a Right to Education project, Public sector units have claimed to have constructed 1.4 lakh toilets in government schools. But in a survey by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) almost 40% were found to be non-existent, partially constructed, or unused, reported The Hindu.

On Wednesday, in an audit report presented in Parliament, CAG said over 70% did not have running water facilities in the toilets, while 75% were not being maintained hygienically.

In September 2014, Ministry of Human Resource Development had launched Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan to meet the Right to Education Act’s mandate that all schools must have separate toilets for boys and girls.

There are around 10.8 lakh government schools across the country. Overall, more than 1.4 lakh toilets were built by 53 central public sector enterprises (CPSEs).

The audit by CAG conducted a physical survey of a sample of 2,695 toilets built by these companies in 15 States.

In the survey, CAG found out that CPSEs identified but did not construct 83. Another 200 toilets were reported to be constructed, but were non-existent, while 86 toilets were only partially constructed.

Another 691 toilets “were found not in use mainly due to lack of running water, lack of cleaning arrangements, damages to the toilets and other reasons like use of toilets for other purposes, toilets locked up, etc,” said the audit report.

99 schools had no functional toilets while 436 had only one functional toilet, out of the 1,967 co-educational schools surveyed.

It means that the objective of providing separate toilets for boys and girls was not fulfilled in 27% of the schools, said CAG.

To effectively change the behaviour of students, the project norms required the CPSEs to build toilets with running water and hand washing facilities, and to maintain the toilets for three to five years while charging the annual expenses to their CSR budgets.

The survey has found that 72% of constructed toilets had no running water facilities inside, while 55% had no hand washing facilities at all. The audit also noticed “cases of defective construction of toilets, non-provision of foundation/ramp/staircase and damaged/overflowed leach pit, which led to ineffective use of toilets,” read the report.

75% of toilets did not follow the norm for daily cleaning at least once a day. The survey found that 715 toilets were not being cleaned at all, while 1,097 were being cleaned with a frequency of twice a week to once a month. “Cases of non-provision of soap, bucket, cleaning agents and disinfectants in toilets and inadequate cleanliness of pathway were also noticed,” said the report.

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Agencies
September 14,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 14: A total of 13 states have so far decided on their borrowing options to meet their GST compensation shortfall and almost all have decided to go for the first option proposed by the Centre, source said.

Out of the 13, 12 states have opted for the first option, under which the Union government has offered states that they could borrow the shortfall arising out of GST implementation, estimated at Rs 97,000 crore. The amount would be borrowed through issue of debt under a special window coordinated by the Finance Ministry.

The first option is to ensure steady flow of resources similar to the flow under GST compensation on a bi-monthly basis. Under this option, the Centre will endeavour to keep the cost at or close to the G-secs yield, and in the event of the cost being higher, will bear the margin between G-secs and average of State Development Loan yields up to 0.5 per cent through a subsidy.

The states which have preferred to opt for this option are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Odisha.

Only Manipur has so far opted for the second borrowing option under which states can borrow the entire compensation shortfall of Rs 2.35 lakh crore, including the Covid-impact portion, through issue of market debt.

Six more states -- Goa, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Himachal Pradesh -- will be giving their choice in a day or two, said people in the know.

A few states have submitted their views to the Chairperson of the GST Council but are yet to decide on the options, according to sources.

In the 41st GST Council meeting last month, the Centre had proposed both options, so that a mechanism could be put in place as an exception this year, as Covid-19 disruptions and lower revenue collections have made it difficult for the Centre to meet its obligation on Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation to states.

Meanwhile states such as Kerala, Telangana, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Chhattisgarh rejected the two options presented by the Centre. Chief Ministers of Kerala, Telangana, Delhi, Tamil Nadu wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that the Centre should borrow to meet the GST revenue shortfall and not the states

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Agencies
September 26,2020

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New Delhi, Sept 26: Describing the three labour codes passed by Parliament as "anti-labour", the Congress on Saturday attacked the government, alleging the legislations have "weakened" trade unions and removed the "security net" for workers.

Parliament on Wednesday approved the three labour codes that will remove impediments to winding up of companies and allow firing of staff without government permission in firms with up to 300 workers from the existing 100.

Attacking the government over the bills, senior Congress leader and former minister of labour and employment Mallikarjun Kharge said the government's claim that the laws will increase ease of doing business is false.

"They have weakened trade unions and finished the security and safety for the workers," he told an online media briefing.

"States' powers have been usurped by the central government with these laws. These codes are anti-worker, anti-labourer and it is important to agitate against them," the Rajya Sabha MP said.

"All parties must oppose these laws. The Modi government only listens to corporates and after these laws it will not listen to trade unions," he said.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera alleged this government is "betraying the interests" of different sections one after another.

As the issue of injustice to farmers was ongoing, this government betrayed workers, just like farmers," he said.

"The government made the excuse while bringing in the new labour laws there will be ease of doing business and it will be beneficial for all. But if you look at the laws it is clear that there is no protection and relief for workers in these laws," Khera said.

Despite the country witnessing the hardships of migrant labourers during the lockdown, there is no provision for them in these laws, he claimed.

"It is in the DNA of the government to set aside democratic principles and force its decisions on the people," Khera alleged and claimed the laws were passed by Parliament in a rush.

Indian National Trade Union Congress president G Sanjeeva Reddy alleged that there is no provision for safety and security of workers in these bills.

"We will protest and struggle against these unjust, anti-labour and anti-trade union laws," he said.

These laws have been brought for strengthening and helping the capitalists and corporates not the workers, he alleged, claiming that under the new provisions, the workers will not be able to go on strike or raise their voice against unjust practices.

There was protection for workers earlier as permission was needed to lay off more than 100 workers, but now that "security net" is gone with the increase in threshold to 300, he said.

"About 2-3 crore small scale industries have been excluded from this protection," he claimed.

On Wednesday, Rajya Sabha had passed by voice vote, the three labour codes on industrial relations, social security and occupational safety amid a boycott by opposition parties, including the Congress and the Left, over the suspension of eight MPs.

The first code on wages was approved by Parliament last year. With passage of these three codes, 29 central labour laws have been codified into four broad codes as contemplated by the government under labour reforms to improve ease of doing business and providing universal social security to workers as well.

The three codes were passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

"The purpose of labour reforms is to provide a transparent system to suit the changed business environment," Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar had said in the Rajya Sabha while replying to the debate on the three labour reforms bills.

The minister had also told the House that as many as 16 states have already increased the threshold for closure, lay off and retrenchment in firms with up to 300 workers without government permission.

The Opposition has also been protesting the passage of three agriculture-related bills -- Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

They have been passed by both Houses and await presidential assent.

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