City Buzz: Omicron in India | Pepsico rights revoked … and more

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Representative image | Photo: Creative Commons, Flickr

Omicron variant now in India

On December 2, India confirmed its first two cases of the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, inside the country. Two people from Karnataka, a 46-year-old doctor and a 66-year-old traveler from South Africa, have tested positive for the variant which has triggered global panic. All primary and secondary contacts of both have been identified and are under observation. Two other confirmed cases have been reported, in Jamnagar and Mumbai in Gujarat.

In Mumbai, 14 people are also under observation and two people, including a child, have tested positive at Chennai airport. Twelve suspected cases of Omicron are being treated at Delhi hospital, pending genome sequencing results. In Bengaluru, 23 people arrived from South Africa between November 28 and December 1, of whom 18 were screened and tested negative.

Source: Firstpost | News18 | The Indian Express | living mint | NDTV


Read more: Why you might have a national digital ID card without even asking for it


New crypto law to signal many investment programs

India’s new cryptocurrency bill will signal several investment programs, launched by individuals and cryptocurrency exchanges. These programs are similar to chit funds, multi-level marketing (MLM), and systematic investment plans (SIP). The new cryptocurrency law aims to create a regulatory framework to control the sale and purchase of crypto assets.

Regulators include the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), which had expressed security concerns about investments by individuals collecting money from people on behalf of investments in assets cryptographic, especially in small towns.

“Some individuals are observed to go to small towns and collect money from people, mostly in cash, with the promise of big returns in cryptocurrency,” said a person familiar with representations to central lawmakers. . “It’s exactly like chit funds, but without any framework or regulation.”

After the initial panic over rumors of a total cryptocurrency ban in India, the government assured that the new law will only regulate its use.

Source: The Economic Times | Business intern

Farm fires are gone, but air pollution in Delhi remains the same

On December 3, the Union government told the Supreme Court it was combining a law enforcement task force and 17 flying squadrons to monitor the city as the government tried to curb the rise in pollution levels. Over the past seven days, Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) has been classified as “severe” for four consecutive days. This peak occurs despite the decline in thatch burning, which many blame for the city’s annual winter pollution.

smog view over west delhi
West Delhi | Photo: Creative Commons, Flickr

Less rain and low wind speed are now cited as possible causes. The ban on entry of diesel vehicles into Delhi and the total ban on all construction and demolition are also currently in force.

Source: Hindustan Times


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PepsiCo loses rights to potato variety Lays

In 2019, multibillion-dollar conglomerate PepsiCo sued four Gujarati farmers for cultivating the potato variety used in the company’s Lays crisps. Farmer groups had since launched a campaign calling for government intervention. Two years later, the company’s registration of this potato variety was revoked by the Plant Variety Protection and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV & FRA).

“The Authority’s acceptance of the revocation request, including on the grounds that it is contrary to the public interest, sends an important signal that farmers’ rights cannot be taken lightly by the holders of the rights. DPI in the country, ”said Shalini Bhutani, legal researcher and expert in agricultural IPR, hailing the judgment as a precedent. “This should prevent further intimidation of farmers through vexatious intellectual property lawsuits.”

Farmers feared the Pepsi lawsuit in 2019 would set a precedent for other crops and argued that the law allows them to grow and sell any variety of the crop or seed, as long as they don’t distribute no brand seeds of registered varieties.

Source: The Hindu

No plan to ban Israeli company responsible for Pegasus spyware: Center

On December 3, the Union’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology announced to Parliament that it had no information about the United States banning the NSO Group that created the now infamous software spy Pegasus. The spyware has sparked global concern over its misuse to wiretap the phones of journalists, activists and politicians. The group, along with its lesser-known competitor Candiru, have been accused of selling spyware to governments, who in turn used it to spy on citizens.

In November, the US Department of Commerce blacklisted the two companies and added them to the list of foreign establishments that engage in malicious cyber activity.

Source: The Indian Express

(Compiled by Saachi D’Souza)

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