Archives  >  2020  >  January  >  31st

Jamia, Shot At

1. What’s the story?

On Thursday morning, a pro-CAA activist shot at peacefully marching students of Jamia Millia Islamia university, injuring one. Shockingly enough, even though the police was present at the site of altercation, eye witnesses suggest that they did not step in to stop the violence. The attacker, who identified himself as “Rambhakt Gopal”, was later arrested. Minutes before the shooting, he had allegedly gone live on Facebook claiming that he was going to give all the protestors a taste of “azaadi”. 

Tell me more.

“The student injured in the attack has been identified as Shadab Najar, a first-year student pursuing mass communication at the University.

Najar has reportedly received injuries to his arm and is at the Holy Family hospital currently.”

Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke out about the incident soon after, and declared that Delhi’s Police Commissioner had been instructed to take strict action against the miscreant. 

Scores of students from different universities gathered outside the Delhi Police headquarters at ITO on Thursday night condemning the attack on a student near the Jamia Millia Islamia University.

The students said they were protesting against the Delhi Police for being a “mute spectator,” while a teenager opened fire at a group of anti-CAA agitators.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Police has registered an FIR against the teenager under Section 307 (Attempt to murder) of the IPC as well as the Arms Act.”

So, what now?

Shadab seems to be recovering well, and the shooter was swiftly apprehended. However, the protests against CAA and NRC that have been sweeping the nation are not expected to die down anytime soon. 

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated. 

2. What else should I be keeping my eyes on?

India’s banking sector, that’s what. The nation’s banks are facing a serious crisis, and Government measures are not inspiring a lot of confidence. Here is an illustrated guide to our wealth crisis.

“As Budget Day 2020 approaches, newspapers are full of advice to the government over what measures might get the Indian economy out of the deep trouble it seems to be in. There are suggestions about increasing government expenditure, spurring demand, offering employment and more.

But the biggest challenge facing the government will be handling India’s banks. Even before the Gross Domestic Product growth estimates fell precipitously this financial year, India’s banking system was in trouble.

The financial sector’s woes were a key part of what was described as the Twin Balance Sheet Challenge, involving over-indebted corporates unable to take out more loans and a huge number of non-performing and stressed assets held by public sector banks, hampering their ability to lend.”

3. What more?

After three years of deliberations, Britain is finally ready to leave the European Union on Friday, 31st January. This will be followed by an 11-month transition period, following which the separation will be complete.

“During the transition the UK will continue to obey EU rules and pay money to the EU. Most things will stay the same but there will be some changes: UK MEPs (Member of European Parliament) will lose their seats … Prime Minister Boris Johnson will need to be invited specially if he wants to attend EU summits … the UK will be able to start talking to countries around the world about setting new rules for buying and selling goods and services … Blue passports will be making a return, more than 30 years after they were replaced by the current burgundy design…” and British criminals, if they flee to Germany, can’t be extradited back to the UK since “Germany’s constitution does not allow its citizens to be extradited, unless it’s to another EU country.”

4. Anything else?

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2016, Facebook had promised to make the privacy settings for its users more robust. Now, the culmination of that promise — the Off-Facebook Activity tool — is out for users. And what it reveals is terrifying in its scope. Facebook’s new privacy tool is a data landfill

““Easily understand” is an interesting choice of phrase. It implies that the personal information Facebook has about each of its users can be presented to those users in a way that they can readily process and comprehend. It implies a data set that is, at a minimum, literally fathomable—from a company that has only ever been motivated to be unfathomably large, and know unfathomably much. But the amount of information Facebook has about each of its users undercuts the goal to present it in a way that could be useful.

To find out more about what kind of interactions Tinder shared with Facebook, I can’t just turn to the Off-Facebook Activity tool in my browser or in Facebook’s mobile app. It is not immediately obvious, but after messing around for a few minutes, I find I can do so on the general “download your information” page, where all of my personal posts, comments, photos, location data, log-in attempts, and device IDs are also available to download in a massive Zip file, in exchange for just one reentry of my password. 

The webpage it leads me to shows the 685 times I’ve opened the Tinder app in the past six months (dating is a numbers game!), and each “ACTIVATE_APP” is time-stamped. 

It took a good chunk of my morning to even uncover the proof that this is information someone definitely has. According to the file labeled “12.html,” Facebook also knows exactly when I did something described as “VIEW_CONTENT” on my credit-card company’s website. Whether someone, somewhere knows what kind of content was viewed is not specified. According to “210.html,” I did something referred to only as “CUSTOM” on Glamour’s website on both September 19, 2019, and November 21, 2019. Facebook does not specify who is doing the customizing—Glamour or Facebook or me. (Later, Facebook told me it could refer to a range of activities, such as signing up for a rewards program or an event. When I asked the company for comment on whether these data were useful and actionable for most users, I was directed to Zuckerberg’s blog post.)”

5. Is that all?

Madrassas, or Islamic schools, have existed in India for centuries, and have played a significant role in educating young Muslims. However, Madrassa students have traditionally not done well in mainstream universities. One initiative, now, is changing that

“In India, each year, around 3,50,000 students graduate from madrassas, with most of them ineligible or incompetent to apply for most courses in mainstream universities, resulting in limited career opportunities. Since centuries, madrassas have played a pioneering role in educating Muslims. Even now, madrassas are the only centres of knowledge for thousands of Muslim children who acquire their primary, and perhaps the only formal education, from these institutions. Though these institutions might have been compatible with the times before, the lack of modern scientific teachings in the present-day madrassa curriculum has been an issue garnering a lot of criticism from both, within and outside the Muslim community. This is where time stands still, and though education should be constantly evolving, madrasa education has rarely moved with the times. Thanks to this, students from these institutions are unable to improve their own monetary conditions or provide good leadership to the community after graduating.

Five years ago, keeping in mind these lack of opportunities an overwhelming number of students from madrassas face, bridge courses were initiated by some Muslim educators to connect madrassa students and universities.

The bridge courses aim to acquaint these madrassa alumni with basic knowledge of English language, arithmetic, science, social sciences and basic computer skills so as to bring them on par with students graduating from other schools.

“In most madrassas, students aren’t even aware of the fundamentals of formal or modern education since the emphasis is solely on religious teaching,” says Rashid Shaz, a professor of English Literature who started the bridge course at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), a prominent minority institute in the country. “These students have fewer options to sustain in the outer world. They find few or no jobs as they can’t pursue professional courses. Even students from ‘recognised’ madrassas who want to study in universities have essentially options of studying Urdu or Arabic literature and theology only.””

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at how Hollywood is replacing its artists with AI. According to experts, this might make its future rather bleak

“One of the six biggest studios in Hollywood, Warner Bros., recently announced a deal with Cinelytic, a startup in Los Angeles that uses algorithms and data to predict a film’s success before the film is made or even greenlit. Cinelytic’s technology uses variables like genre and specific performers to predict how much money a movie could make, based on how those variables typically perform in different markets. So if you want to gauge how a movie will ostensibly perform with Michael B. Jordan instead of Oscar Isaac in the starring role, you can do that. Just plug and play.

The shift toward algorithms is also reflected in Hollywood’s increasing foray into faking performance, slowly pushing the actor’s craft (and, in some cases, the animator’s) out of the picture. Consider the deepfake-style Lion King of 2019, or the strange case of an animated Will Smith in Gemini Man, which drew on old footage of Smith to create a kind of “digital mask” of his younger self that could be projected onto his current face. Or the presence of Carrie Fisher in the last two installments of the latest Star Wars trilogy, both of which were filmed after her death and used previously shot footage and some fancy CGI to revive the star.

In November 2019, it was announced that James Dean, who died in 1955, will be “resurrected” via CGI to play the leading role in a live-action Vietnam War movie called Finding Jack. “We searched high and low for the perfect character to portray the role of Rogan, which has some extreme complex character arcs, and after months of research, we decided on James Dean,” the movie’s co-director told the Hollywood Reporter, adding that Dean’s family views this “as his fourth movie, a movie he never got to make,” and that they “do not intend to let his fans down.””

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