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During NPR, no verification of citizenship or document collection: Nityanand Rai

The government informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that till now it “has not taken any decision to prepare National Register of Citizens (NRC) at the national level”.

Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai was responding to a question by Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) Chandan Singh and Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s (TRS) Nama Nageswara Rao on whether the government had any plans to introduce the NRC all over the country.

While replying to another question, Mr. Rai said the “government is in discussion with the States having concerns in regard to the preparation of National Population Register (NPR)”.

Mr. Rai said in a written reply that “during the exercise of updation of NPR, no verification is done to find individuals whose citizenship is doubtful”.

Several Opposition-ruled States have vociferously opposed the NPR, slated to begin from April 1 onwards along with the decennial Census. According to the Citizenship Rules, 2003, the NPR is the first step towards the compilation of the NRC.

Form not finalised

The NPR form is yet to be finalised and notified but the trial form last year collected details from 30 lakh respondents on 21 parameters, including the place of birth of father and mother and the last place of residence.

On December 9 last year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had told Parliament that “there is no need to create a background for NRC; we are clear that NRC ought to be done in this country, our manifesto is the background.”

To a question on whether the government had finalised the questionnaire for the NPR, Mr. Rai said, “The demographic and other particulars of each family and individual are to be updated/collected during the exercise of updation of NPR. No document is to be collected during this exercise.”

Efforts on to trace duo from Kozhikode, who were advised isolation for 28 days

Taking precautions: An ambulance driver of a Kochi hospital putting on protective apparel on Tuesday. AFP

Two persons who had returned from China recently and were under observation for novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection in Kozhikode, Kerala, have left the country for Saudi Arabia, violating the State Health Department’s instructions to remain under home quarantine till the end of the 28-day incubation period of the virus.

District Medical Officer V. Jayasree said efforts were being made to trace the two persons.

Speaking at a special council meeting convened by the Kozhikode Municipal Corporation to discuss steps to be taken on the ground to contain the outbreak, Dr. Jayasree urged councillors to be alert and keep a watch on people in their respective wards who had returned from China and other nCoV-affected countries.

The ward-level committees, headed by the councillors, would consist of health workers and anganwadi and ASHA workers, she said.

A source said the departure of the two potentially infectious persons had left the health administration, charged with ensuring that proper healthcare facilities were extended to all, red-faced. The health authorities also faced reluctance from air passengers returning from abroad to disclose their travel history for fear of being asked to go into quarantine at their homes.

City was declared a world heritage site by the organisation in July last year

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot will dedicate the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) world heritage site certificate for Jaipur to the people at a function here on Wednesday. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay will be felicitated on the occasion.

Ms. Azoulay’s visit to Jaipur assumes significance after the UNESCO declared the Walled City, famous for its grid plan-based architecture and buildings constructed with the pink facade, as a world heritage site in July last year.

The International Council on Monuments and Sites had earlier inspected the city in 2018 after its nomination. The council took into account the architecture of streets with colonnades, which intersect the centre, creating large public squares called chaupars. The uniform facades of markets, residences and temples in the main streets had also impressed the council.

Director (Tourism) Bhanwar Lal said here on Tuesday that a brochure on “intangible heritage promotion project” would also be released at the function.

Cultural tourism

The project, signed between the Tourism Department and UNESCO, aims at developing 10 new cultural tourism destinations in the State, for which the tourists could extend their stay by at least one extra day.

Dr. Lal said the project would be implemented during the next three years at a cost of ₹7.50 crore. It will directly benefit about 1,500 artistes in the districts such as Jodhpur, Barmer, Jaisalmer and Bikaner, known for folk music and traditional handicrafts.

The capital city of Jaipur, included in the list of world heritage sites, was founded in 1727 by the then Kachwaha Rajput ruler of Amber, Sawai Jai Singh II. The city was established on the plains and built according to a grid plan interpreted in the light of Vedic architecture.

Only 55 lakh registered for scheme at urban centres, says response to RTI plea

For every 100 anganwadi beneficiaries in the country, only seven are in urban areas, according to the government’s response to a Right to Information (RTI) query from The Hindu. This is primarily because of a severe lack of anganwadis in cities, leading to poor coverage of the government’s flagship programme in early childhood development.

Six services

Anganwadis or day-care centres are set up under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) by the Women and Child Development Ministry to provide a package of six services. The services include supplementary nutrition; pre-school non-formal education; immunisation, nutrition and health education; as well as referral services. The aim of the scheme is to reduce infant mortality and child malnutrition. Beneficiaries include children in the age group of six months to six years, and pregnant women and lactating mothers.

While there were a total 7.95 crore beneficiaries of the anganwadi scheme in the country, as on September 30, 2019, only 55 lakh were registered at urban anganwadis, according to the government’s reply on January 28 to the RTI plea.

This is primarily because of an acute paucity of anganwadi centres in urban areas. There are as many as 13.79 lakh anganwadis operational across the country, out of which 9.31 lakh centres are linked to the government’s web-enabled data entry system called Rapid Reporting System. Of those anganwadis that can be monitored online, 1.09 lakh centres are in urban areas and the remaining 8.22 lakh were in rural areas of the country, according to the RTI reply.

As per Census 2011, 32% of India’s 1.2 billion population live in cities, though experts have said that if the definition of an urban settlement was broadened, the share of urban population will be much higher. A recent first-of-its kind pan-India study on nutrition status, the Comprehensive National Nutrition Survey 2016-18, found that 35% of children under five were stunted and 17% were wasted. It also said 22% of children in the age group of 5-9 years were stunted and 23% were thin for their age. Also, 20% of those in the 10-19 years age group were thin for their age.

Draft paper

With these facts before it, the NITI Aayog has prepared a draft working paper to strengthen the ICDS programme in urban areas, keeping in mind challenges such as migration and population density.

Details of 120 million Indians freely available on Internet: Greenbone report

Digital distress: A doctor or a hospital is legally bound to maintain patient confidentiality.Getty Images/iStockphotoipopba

Medical details of over 120 million Indian patients have been leaked and made freely available on the Internet, according to a recent report published by Greenbone Sustainable Resilience, a German cybersecurity firm.

What is even more worrying is that the number of data troves containing this sensitive data went up by a significant number in the Indian context a month after Greenbone’s initial report was published. The updated report also places Maharashtra at the top of the States affected by the leak.

The first report was published in October last year, in which Greenbone revealed a widespread data leak of a massive number of records, including images of CT scans, X-rays, MRIs and even pictures of the patients.

The follow-up report, which was published in November, classifies countries in the “good”, “bad” and “ugly” categories based on the action taken by their governments after the first report was made public. India ranks second in the “ugly” category, after the U.S.

The report says that in 60 days after the first report was put out, the number of data troves bearing the patients’ information went up from 6,27,000 to 1.01 million, and that the images of patients’ details rose from 105 million to 121 million.

“It is a notable fact for the systems located in India, that almost 100% of the studies (data troves) allow full access to related images,” the report states.

As per the follow-up report, Maharashtra ranks the highest in terms of the number of data troves available online, with 3,08,451 troves offering access to 6,97,89,685 images. The next is Karnataka, with 1,82,865 data troves giving access to 1,37,31,001 images.

“The leak is worrying because the affected patients can include anyone from the common working man to politicians and celebrities. In image-driven fields like politics or entertainment, knowledge about certain ailments faced by people from these fields could deal a huge blow to their image. The other concern is of fake identities being created using the details, which can be misused in any possible number of ways,” a Maharashtra cybersecurity officer said.

Medico-legal expert Lalit Kapoor said any communication between a doctor and a patient was privileged one. “A doctor or a hospital is thus ethically, legally and morally bound to maintain confidentiality,” he said.

PACS servers

Greenbone’s original report says the leak was facilitated by the fact that the Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) servers, where these details are stored, are not secure and linked to the public Internet without any protection, making them easily accessible to malicious elements.

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