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India, U.S. push to tackle mounting threats, online and offline

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2. India, U.S. push to tackle mounting threats, online and offline

In a fresh bid to tackle the mounting threats in cyberspace and from more traditional terrorist foes such as the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, senior officials from the Indian and U.S. governments came together here this week to boost collaborative efforts under the aegis of the 2015 U.S.-India Cyber Dialogue.

Even as this “whole-of-government” initiative was under way in the U.S. capital, U.S. Assistant to President Barack Obama for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Lisa Monaco, met Indian Deputy National Security Adviser Arvind Gupta to discuss U.S.-India collaboration against “Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and other terrorist threats.”

The latter discussion comes scarcely weeks after an alleged LeT operative was, for the first time since Ajmal Kasab of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, captured alive in the border region near Pakistan.

In a series of meetings on August 11 and 12, leaders from both sides appeared to define the cyber space threat in the broadest terms, including within its ambit enhanced cyber security information sharing, cyber incident management, combating cyber crime, Internet governance issues, norms of state behaviour in cyber space and even cyber security cooperation in the context of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India,” initiative.

Ban on porn sites

The discussion of “norms of state behaviour in cyber space,” has additional significance in the context of the Indian government’s recent announcement that it would be banning 857 websites allegedly hosting pornographic content, but then revoking this ban following an uproar on social media and elsewhere over this move’s perceived trampling on the right to privacy.

The talks may also have presented the Indian side with an opportunity to discuss questions about the U.S. National Security Agency’s global Internet and telephone communications surveillance programme, which has come under fire since whistle-blower Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed possible abuses of the programme and has generated pressure to rein in the NSA’s spying activities.

In addition to Mr. Gupta, officials participating in the cyber security dialogue included U.S. Cyber Security Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President Michael Daniel, Department of State Coordinator for Cyber Issues Christopher Painter and the Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary for Policy Planning, Counterterrorism, and Global Cyber Issues Santosh Jha.

The joint statement coming out of the meetings noted that in addition to the formal dialogue, the delegations met with representatives from the private sector to discuss issues related to cyber security and the digital economy, and the Indian delegation also met Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Further, the statement announced, the two countries had decided to hold the next round of the Cyber Dialogue in Delhi in 2016.


1.‘Start-up, stand up’ campaign is Modi’s new route to push growth

In his second Independence Day address as Prime Minister here on Saturday, Narendra Modi acknowledged that whether it was the goal of ending corruption or electrifying 18,500 more villages in 1,000 days, nothing could be done without the efforts of “Team India”, the 1.25-billion people of the country.

Demonstrating his felicity for coining catchy titles for government campaigns, the Prime Minister announced the “Start-up India, Stand up India scheme aimed at promoting entrepreneurship at the bottom of the pyramid.

Each of the 1.25 lakh bank branches across the country, he said, should encourage at least one Dalit or Adivasi entrepreneur and one woman entrepreneur. But Mr. Modi disappointed ex-servicemen as he failed to announce the implementation of the long-pending one rank, one pension scheme.

2.‘Tiny bit’ found in India too

When the entomologists laid insect traps in Yercaud in Tamil Nadu a few months ago, they did not expect that India would join the club of countries that are home to a unique insect.

For, they were surprised to find the world’s smallest flying insect, a fairyfly that goes by the name Kikiki huna.

Measuring a mere 0.16 mm, Kikiki huna is a multicellular organism that is smaller than single-celled organisms.

Kikiki huna has been found in Chidambaram as well. While the insect’s functions are yet to be determined, Kikiki was first discovered in Trinidad around 20 years ago and later in Hawaii.

It has also been found in Australia and Argentina. It derives its name from Hawaiian which means ‘tiny bit’.

Prashanth Mohanraj from the National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources (NBAIR), Bengaluru, said Kikiki huna is an engineering and artistic marvel.

A marvel

“It can do everything that a larger insect can do. It has a brain, a nervous and digestive system. It is the sheer marvel of creation… it is a great find as we didn’t expect it to turn up in our traps,” he said.

He said that like all fairyflies, Kikiki huna lays its eggs in the eggs of other insects. “The entire life stage is passed in the single egg, from which it emerges as an adult,” he said.

Not visible to the naked eye, the tiny insect has eluded many entomologists, said Abraham Verghese, director of NBAIR. He said that the challenge is now to study the tiny insect and understand its role.

National pride

“Insects in our country are poorly known… we still have over a lakh species to identify. Each has a role to play in the ecosystem,” he said.

Dr. Mohanraj said that the presence of such exquisitely crafted organisms within the confines of our borders should be a source of national pride and ensuring their continued survival should be our duty.

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