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Data Mining, The Internet, And Cybersecurity: 3 ‘Modern’ Challenges India Has To Face

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Like any other country in the world, India, too, has its own socio-economic and governance problems. Some issues like economic slowdown, unemployment, deteriorating health care, education quality, and communalism have been worrying India since before independence.

These problems still persist and have held India tightly in their jaws. But, besides these conventional challenges which India is yet to resolve, the modern world has brought new problems for India to be tackled. The dynamic nature of the world economy, the disrupting innovation, and dominance of the market have brought India to the crossroads with a complex web of confrontations which, if not unraveled, may cause unprecedented harm.

We will discuss three such modern enigmas that India is currently facing:

  1. Public Data Mining And Privacy Rights: Privacy of Indian citizens is at the risk amidst the digital revolution, and the collection of personal data by the government and corporate. The potential of big data in artificial intelligence, product marketing, etc. has made it valuable like oil. Today, we enter our personal information, details of daily activities a thousand times a day in the virtual world. Apps like WhatsApp, Facebook have been found guilty of breaching the privacy of users many-a-times in the recent past, the latest case being the Pegasus case.
    The potential of big data in artificial intelligence, product marketing, etc. has made it valuable like oil. Image credit: aadhar-card.com

    Governments themselves sit on the biometric data of citizens without really having any data security framework. This data can be misused for crime, targeted advertising, terrorist activities or political propaganda even without the consent of citizens. The lackadaisical approach of the government over these issues makes it more worrisome. Despite the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment on rights to privacy (Puttaswamy vs. the Union of India) or the Justice Srikrishna committee’s report on data protection law, India has not yet taken any concrete steps over it.

  2. The 4th Industrial Revolution (IR): What a fancy word ‘revolution’ is, which indicates positive and transformative change. The fourth IR has introduced robots with human intelligence, IoT, higher productivity in factories, etc. Today’s strenuous work of switching on TV can be accomplished by Alexa, the AC in our homes can be controlled from the outside, and humans are being freed from daily mundane work. But, besides this, the fourth IR is bringing many disruptive changes, that will be difficult to handle if remedial actions are delayed.
    Manual jobs like computer operators, parts assembling in factories, and many more will be automated in the coming decades. Image Credit: Hemant Mishra/Mint via Getty Images

    The prime concern is the employment crisis. Manual jobs like computer operators, parts assembling in factories, and many more will be automated in the coming decades. China has already built a robot journalist to read the news in the studio. We can’t even imagine the level of crisis the economy may go through in this transition. Experts are speculating the possible consequences in their own way without any surety. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has already given its estimates on job loss in India due to automation.

  3. Cybersecurity: It’s very common to read about online frauds done by hacking into bank accounts, hacking of educational institutes’ websites, the way card details of several account holders are leaked. People can’t even imagine that only by clicking on a link in a text message can pauperise them.
    The cyberspace is being misused at a gross level. We are still not prepared to tackle this challenge.

    We are surrounded by invisible thieves who are keeping an eye on our activities and are ready to loot us. Cyber terrorism has taken a great toll on the government’s capability to mitigate internal security risks. Hawala transactions are carried out in one click by overground groups, propaganda is spread out by posting a video or enticing lines/posts on social media.

    Any critical information possessed by several agencies regulated by the government is prone to leakage. The cyberspace is being misused at a gross level. We are still not prepared to tackle this challenge.

While we are still struggling with our conventional problems, these modern-day challenges have added to India’s worry. If we talk about the one-line solutions to these issues, these can be:

  • India should frame a data protection law having unambiguous provisions and detailed responsibilities of every stakeholder like corporate and citizens to make a balance between the use of data for public welfare and privacy rights as soon as possible.
  • Niti Ayog has already prepared a policy layout on artificial intelligence (AI). The foremost need to tackle the 4th IR is the re-skilling of the workforce. It has to be corroborated by aligning the education curriculum to modern industrial needs, for example, starting professional courses on machine learning (ML), AI, etc., via an industry-academia collaboration. However, similar steps have already been taken by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which introduced a chapter on AI in the school syllabus and IIT Hyderabad is starting a B.tech course on AI.
  • Cybersecurity has to be ensured by the participation of all stakeholders like government, citizens, corporates. A robust institutional mechanism should be established with the capacity building of investigating teams, police reforms, and more. New technologies must be leveraged by the agencies like ED, NIA in investigations and evidence collection.

Overall, I feel the government has to counter the misuse of cyberspace by cyber technologies itself.

While we are still struggling with our conventional problems, these modern-day challenges have added to India’s worry.

India is on the path of sustainable development but before achieving that, it has to cross many new obstacles. So, it is imperative to be visionary and recognise the new challenges and possible disruptions from them in the future and be prepared for them.

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Featured Image credit: Getty Images, Flickr.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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