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Daily Briefing: SC orders probe into Pegasus scandal; NITI Aayog okays study on facial recognition tech in India

The study on facial recognition, to be conducted by an independent think-tank, will have a budget of Rs 23.17 lakh.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
October 28, 2021 8:16:41 am
A look at the top news today, October 28, 2021.

Good morning, 

Big Story 

Making clear that the State cannot get “a free pass every time the spectre of ‘national security’ is raised”, the Supreme Court set up a three-member committee to look into allegations of unauthorised surveillance using the Pegasus spyware. The matter will be heard again after eight weeks.

And by refusing to accept the blanket argument of national security made by Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, the court moved the needle on holding the government accountable. In fact, it said that from now on, the Government will have to plead its case.

Only in the Express

NITI Aayog has approved a proposal to conduct a study on the use of facial recognition technology in India. The study, to be conducted by an independent think-tank, will have a budget of Rs 23.17 lakh.  Sources said NITI Aayog member Dr VK Saraswat flagged the issue of “misuse/malpractices” related to facial recognition technology.

From the Front Page

India expressed “concern” over China’s new land boundary law, calling it a “unilateral” move that has implications on bilateral border agreements. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India expects that China “will avoid action” under the pretext of this law, which could “unilaterally alter the situation” in border areas.

A day after members of Hindu outfits forcibly entered an Agra engineering college and created ruckus inside campus, three Kashmiri students of the institute were arrested for allegedly sharing anti-India messages after Pakistan’s win over India at a T20 World Cup match. The administration of Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College, which already rusticated the three students on Monday, announced that it would be shut down until action is taken against those who forcibly entered the college. 

Must Read 

With the JD(U) and its NDA allies ramping up campaigning efforts ahead of the upcoming by polls in Tarapur constituency in Munger district, the RJD is pinning hopes on caste calculations to upset the ruling party. While the JD(U) has stuck to a candidate from Kushwaha community, which has sent winners from the seat since 1980, the RJD has taken a calculated risk in fielding a candidate from another OBC community, Vaishyas. The RJD strategy appears to revolve around efforts to split votes from Vaishya community, traditionally BJP supporters, while consolidating its own Yadav vote bank.

What caused the hours-long power outage in Mumbai last year? Several theories have emerged over the months, some more bizarre than others. An international cybersecurity firm and a Maharashtra minister suggested that the outage was due to cyber sabotage by Chinese hackers. Well, according to a report by a technical audit committee, it occurred due to cascade tripping. ”The Talegaon Kalwa line was damaged in heavy rains on October 10. This led to a load on three other lines,” Principal Secretary in the Energy Department, Dinesh Waghmare said. 

Last week, a team of cyber security researchers red-flagged a critical security issue in Sebi-registered KYC registering agency CDSL Ventures Limited (CVL), which it claimed, could be exploited for unauthorised access to sensitive personal and financial data of investors. The vulnerability was fixed on Tuesday — a week after it was first reported. 

NCB’s Mumbai Zonal Director, Sameer Wankhede, is under the scanner after he was accused of benefitting from the reservation for Scheduled Castes (SCs) despite being Muslim and ineligible for the quota. Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik claimed that the NCB official, who is in charge of the case against Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan, is the son of an SC, who converted to Islam before marrying his mother. If the allegations are proven, Wankhede could lose his job.

And Finally 

Ace cueist Pankaj Advani, who has won the World and Asian snooker crown multiple times, stamped his supremacy at the GSC World Snooker Qualifiers by winning all 12 matches (6 each in the Y-Camp and Z-Camp). The 36-year-old talks to the Indian Express about his recent win, and how the coronavirus-induced lockdowns changed his perspective about the sport. “I was even more hungry, even more keen to play and very grateful for the opportunity to finally be able to travel oversees and represent the country,” he said. 

Delhi Confidential: In a recent meeting of his Council of Ministers earlier this week, PM Narendra Modi suggested that the ministers could have a carpooling system to come for the meeting, sources said.  Apparently, the suggestion was to get one Cabinet minister and two junior ministers in the same car. This will not only save energy but also give them an opportunity to share information about their ministries with each other, he is learnt to have told the ministers.

In this week’s episode of the ‘Love Matters’ podcast, Evelyn Sharma is joined by journalist and co-founder of the India Love Project, Niloufer Venkatraman, to talk about the stories they’ve gathered of love that transcends religion, caste, ethnicity and gender.

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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