Ginger supplements can be beneficial in treating autoimmune diseases: Study
Ginger supplements can play an important role in controlling inflammation for people living with autoimmune diseases, a new study has found.
Researchers studied the impact of ginger supplementation on a type of white blood cell called the ‘neutrophil’. They were especially interested in neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation, also known as NETosis, and what it may mean for controlling inflammation.
According to the study published in the journal JCI Insight, ginger consumption by healthy individuals makes their neutrophils more resistant to NETosis. This is important because NETs are microscopic spider web-like structures that propel inflammation and clotting, which contribute to many autoimmune diseases, including lupus, antiphospholipid syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
“There are a lot of diseases where neutrophils are abnormally overactive. We found that ginger can help to restrain NETosis, and this is important because it is a natural supplement that may be helpful to treat inflammation and symptoms for people with several different autoimmune diseases,” said Kristen Demoruelle, senior co-author, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, US.
During the clinical trial, the researchers found that daily intake of a ginger supplement for seven days (20 mg of gingerols/day) by healthy volunteers boosted a chemical inside the neutrophil called cAMP. These high levels of cAMP then inhibited NETosis in response to various disease-relevant stimuli.
“Our research, for the first time, provides evidence for the biological mechanism that underlies ginger’s apparent anti-inflammatory properties in people,” said Jason Knight, senior co-author, MD, PhD, associate professor at the University of Michigan.
The researchers expected that providing more evidence about ginger’s benefits, including the direct mechanism by which ginger impacts neutrophils, would encourage healthcare providers and patients to discuss whether taking ginger supplements as part of their treatment plan could be beneficial.
“We think ginger may have a real ability to complement treatment programs that are already underway. The goal is to be more strategic and personalized in terms of helping to relieve people’s symptoms,” said Knight.
At IIT Bay Area Alumni annual conference, resilience and reinvention were the buzz words
With Resilience & Reinvention: Thriving Through Turbulent Times as the theme, the Indian Institute of Technology Bay Area Alumni (IITBAA) conference on September 16 in Santa Clara turned out to be a vibrant engagement not only for the former students, but also startups and aspiring entrepreneurs from various American states. And just as significant was artificial intelligence, and its impact on business.
IITAA president Nidhi Kannoujia spoke to indica about the conference and its takeaways, and how the fundamental theme itself is so relevant. “From November 2022, the tech sector began their layoffs. A lot of professionals are going through a difficult time. First, there was Covid-19, and now the layoffs. There’s a lot going on.”
Kannoujia, an IIT Roorkee 2003 alumna, said the layoffs could mean that some people may end up leaving the country. “From the economic perspective, sometimes, here is no way to avoid it. You need the strength and resilience to go through the experience. We wanted to make sure that we address that topic,” Kannoujia told indica.
She felt that at most such events, success stories dominate. “The real inspiration,” she said, “comes from the failure stories. We all fail but we don’t talk about it openly. Listening to people who have gone through that path, and who have built great things is important. We need to bring those ideas and experiences to light. The goal of this conference was to talk about both successes as well as enduring failures. It’s an act of courage to stand up for yourself when no one is supporting you. We have had several such stories at the conference.”
Though the conference discussed success and failure in-depth, a large number of people — more than 1,000 — who attended exemplified positivity and optimism. Kannoujia, who took over as president in 2021, said, “We had 20 startups and six sponsors. When we started our registration process, we knew it would begin slow and then catch up, that’s why we had planned to host at least 1,000 participants. We truly believe this conference brings value to the community.”
She added, “Once you build a strong community with purpose, you don’t have to go and sell yourself. We proved last year that we can do this well. Last year, we received encouraging notes from sponsors. They loved it and we had a returning gold sponsor.”
Kannoujia said that an equal voice for all sections of the community has been one of her key contributions after taking over. “We have 15 members on the board, 50 percent of whom are women and from the LGBTQ community. It’s a diverse team, with a diversity of ideas. In the previous term, we were a nine-member board. We have nearly doubled that because we want to build bigger initiatives and you need a team to do that. We have tripled the number of ongoing programs.”
She said IITBAA has connected with 20,000-plus IITans in the Bay Area. “I still don’t think we have reached every single one of them. Our focus is on making it meaningful for them so they feel valued to be engaged with us. We have also reached out to IITs in India because we are not stopping here. We have been speaking to IIT directors in India and we are making sure that we start building those bonds and making those meaningful connections now. We are providing the IITs in India a window to Silicon Valley.”
This year’s conference also focused largely on Generative AI (GenAI) as the next frontier. “Technology is always evolving, and then there is one tech that cuts across every industry. That’s what Gen AI is. Be it the health, security , or longevity, GenAI is the next frontier. Even though there was no intention of making this a GenAI conference, it organically became a dominant topic of discussion as scores of IITians have invested in this technology.”
What is her personal view on AI, indica asked. “I work for a security company where I lead the products. From a security perspective, privacy compliance and governance are the big considerations in GenAI. These considerations are very important because no technology works in isolation. It is eventually affecting our lives. This is one of the reasons why the California Consumer Protection Act came into force to protect privacy, which means that my consent is needed for access to my data. I need to say yes, my silence is not a yes. I think that is a very big deal in the security industry. AI has multiple facets, one of them is security and that is going to be a very big deal.”
On concerns about the security aspect of AI, she said: “President (Joe) Biden had issued a directive on security in 2021. It’s called Zero Trust. Every company has to comply with the Zero Trust rule. That being said, the areas of concern also represent an opportunity to solve a problem. We need to focus on solutions. For someone who builds security products, I would think of it as a big opportunity to solve those problems, because we don’t have an option. If this is coming, you have to be smarter and bigger than the problems.”
Is the leak to CBC News about human and signals intelligence in Nijjar killing a subtle warning to India?
By Mayank Chhaya-
The leak to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) News that Ottawa has human and signals intelligence implicating India in the killing of the Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar is clearly meant to be a less than subtle warning to New Delhi not to escalate bilateral tensions.
CBC News has reported that the Canadian government has “amassed both human and signals intelligence in a months-long investigation” that show India’s involvement in the killing.
“That intelligence includes communications involving Indian officials themselves, including Indian diplomats present in Canada, say Canadian government sources,” CBC News said.
The fact that the claim has not come directly from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or any of his colleagues but via a media leak shows that Ottawa is bent upon forcing New Delhi’s hand.
CBC News also said that behind closed doors “no Indian official has denied the bombshell allegation at the core of this case — that there is evidence to suggest Indian government involvement in the assassination of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.”
That is deeply problematic for India even though so far it is just a media leak. However, as it is understood by both sides these are tactics of the Trudeau government to gradually ramp up the issue to a point where the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi feels compelled to make a significant comment.
The CBC story also said something that India would be watching closely. “The intelligence did not come solely from Canada. Some was provided by an unnamed ally in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance,” it said. The Five Eyes alliance consists of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It is not inconceivable that the unnamed ally to have provided some intelligence is the United States given its extraordinary ability to surveil globally.
It is in this context that what U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said yesterday assumes importance. “I firmly reject the idea that there is a wedge between the U.S. and Canada. We have deep concerns about the allegations and we would like to see this investigation carried forward and the perpetrators held to account,” he said.
Sullivan said Washington is working closely with Ottawa on the issue. “It is a matter of concern for us. It is something we take seriously. It is something we will keep working on, and we will do that regardless of the country,” he said.
“There’s not some special exemption you get for actions like this. Regardless of the country, we will stand up and defend our basic principles and we will also consult closely with allies like Canada as they pursue their law enforcement and diplomatic process,” he said in a clear message to India. In the event that Canada does indeed conclusively prove India’s involvement in the killing in a court of law, there could be serious consequences from India, including from the U.S.
If the CBC report is accurate, then India will have to begin to recalibrate its approach to the crisis which has so far been one of dismissiveness even while justifiably pointing out Canada’s decades-long soft-pedaling of the Khalistan activities on its soil beginning as early as 1982. It was then that then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had asked then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the current prime minister’s father, to extradite Talwinder Singh Parmar who headed the Babbar Khalsa International. Trudeau Sr. refused only to witness three years later with Talwar having allegedly masterminded the bombing of the Air India flight 182 named Kanishka, killing all 329 onboard.
Ironically an official website of the Canadian government even today describes the Kanishka bombing thus: “On June 23, 1985, a bomb exploded on Air India Flight 182 en route from Toronto to London, England killing all 329 people aboard, most of them Canadians. To this day, the Air India bombing is still the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history.”
Of course, thinly hiding behind all this is the flagrant U.S. hypocrisy in having itself carried out several killings of those it regards as terrorists on foreign soil. It should not surprise anyone that if it comes to that stage even New Delhi would not shy away from pointing out the hypocrisy in Washington taking a moral high ground where it has absolutely no justification to.
India, US to participate in 19th edition of joint military exercise
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
The Indian Army will be participating in the 19th edition of a joint military exercise with the United States for ‘Yudh Abhyas 2023’ in Alaska. The exercise will entail exchanging the best practices, enhancing interoperability and strengthening the bond between the two Armies.
“Indian Army contingent will be participating in 19th Edition of joint military Exercise Yudh Abhyas at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, USA. The Exercise will entail exchanging best practices and enhancing interoperability to mutually learn from each other & strengthen the bond between the two Armies,” the official handle of the Indian Army posted on X (formerly Twitter).
The joint exercise will take place from September 25 to October 8 at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, US. A total of 350 Indian soldiers will participate in the exercise under the leadership of a Brigadier.
Intelligence on Nijjar’s killing provided by Five Eyes ally: Report
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Intelligence provided by an ally from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance and communication intercepts between Indian officials that led Ottawa to hold New Delhi responsible for Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing, the CBC News reported.
Citing government sources, the news outlet said Canada amassed intelligence involving communications between Indian officials, diplomats and information “provided by an unnamed ally in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance”, during a month-long probe on Nijjar’s killing.
Other than Canada, the five eyes intelligence sharing network is made up of the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and was founded in 1946.
Canadian PM’s Justin Trudeau’s accusations on Nijjar’s death has snowballed into a major diplomatic crisis with New Delhi and Ottawa taking a number of steps, including expelling diplomats and issuing advisories, in a tit-for-tat move. Trudeau has so far declined to offer any definitive proof.
The report said that Canadian officials went to India on several occasions seeking cooperation in the investigation of Nijjar’s killing, which took place outside a Sikh temple in Surrey on June 18, 2023.
Further, it said that Canadian National Security and Intelligence Adviser Jody Thomas was in India over four days in mid-August, then again for five days this month in which the last day saw a tense meeting between the prime ministers of the two nations.
No Indian official denied the allegations during closed door meetings, the Canadian government sources told CBC News.
In New York, after attending the United Nations General Assembly, Trudeau told the media on Thursday that the decision to share the allegations on the floor of the House of Commons “was not done lightly… It was done with the utmost seriousness”.
While the Canadian government has not released the evidence linking Indian agents to Nijjar’s death, they have suggested that it could emerge during an eventual legal process, the news outlet reported.
When asked about the intelligence reports, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told CBC News that she couldn’t comment without risking the investigation and Canada’s obligations to its Five Eyes partners.
India has vehemently rejected Trudeau’s claims, calling them “absurd”, and accused Canada of sheltering Khalistani terrorists and anti-India elements, saying it is “deeply concerned about Canadian political figures openly expressing their sympathy for “such elements”.
It asked Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating on its soil.
“We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to rule of law. Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern,” a Ministry of External Affairs statement noted.
No place for hate in Canada, says country’s Public Safety Dept on online threats to Hindus
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Canada on Friday said there is no place for hate in the country amid circulation of an online video in which Hindu Canadians are told to leave the country. Public Safety Canada, the department responsible for safety of public said, “the circulation of video is offensive and hateful, and is an affront to all Canadians and the values we hold dearly.”
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Public Safety Canada said: “There is no place in Canada for hate. The circulation of an online video in which Hindu Canadians are told to leave Canada is offensive and hateful, and is an affront to all Canadians and the values we hold dearly.”
“Acts of aggression, hate, intimidation or incitement of fear have no place in this country and only serve to divide us. We urge all Canadians to respect one another and follow the rule of law. Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities,” it said.
The video was circulated at a time when India and Canada are enmeshed in a diplomatic row over Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau allegation of involvement of Indian intelligence and the state in the killing of Canadian citizen and Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed in June in British Columbia. Nijjar was declared designated terrorist by India in 2020.
India had rejected claims by the Canada government terming them as “absurd and motivated”.
Families in India concerned over ‘escalating tension’ between New Delhi and Ottawa
Vishal Gulati (IANS)–
With India warning its citizens to “exercise utmost caution” while in Canada amid escalation of the diplomatic row between the two countries, the families of students and permanent residents, particularly the Hindus and Hindu-Canadians residing in the north American nation, are concerned about their well being.
As per official data, Canada is an attractive destination for Indians, especially students. A major chunk of them are from Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Delhi.
As per the data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada issued study permits to 551,405 international students from 184 countries, in 2022, an increase of 24 per cent over 2021, in what Canadian immigration described as a “record-breaking year” for visa applications.
Out of the total international students, 41 per cent (226,450) are Indian students, a majority from cash-rich Punjab, up from 169,460 the previous year.
As per estimates, there were 807,750 study permit holders in Canada last December, over 190,000 more than in 2021, against Canada’s target of 450,000 foreign students by 2022 set out in the country’s 2014 international education strategy.
“We have been much concerned about the well being of both my children who are studying in Canada since the escalation of tension in diplomatic relations between India and Canada after the murder accusation,” Ramesh Uppal, a resident of Ludhiana, told IANS.
He said he said advised the children not to go out alone, take precautions and keep a low profile “as they can be considered soft targets”.
On Wednesday, the Indian government issued an updated travel advisory urging its citizens travelling in Canada and especially those studying there to be cautious because of the “growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate-crimes”.
Indians should also avoid going to venues in Canada where “threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose anti-India agenda,” the ministry said.
Upon graduation, a foreign student may apply for a work permit under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. Under this program, the work permit may be issued for the length of the study program, up to a maximum of three years.
Coming out in support of the Indian diaspora in the wake of Khalistan movement leader in Canada and president of Sikhs for Justice, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who organizes the so-called referendum, asking Hindu-Canadians to leave Canada and go back to India, Canadian Member of Parliament Chandra Arya said, “I have heard from many Hindu-Canadians who are fearful after this targeted attack.
“I urge Hindu-Canadians to stay calm but vigilant. Please report any incident of Hinduphobia to your local law enforcement agencies.
“The Khalistan movement leader is trying to provoke the Hindu-Canadians to react and divide the Hindu and Sikh communities in Canada.
“Let me be clear. Vast majority of our Canadian Sikh brothers and sisters do not support Khalistan movement.”
He said most Sikh Canadians may not publicly condemn the Khalistan movement for several reasons but they “are deeply connected to the Hindu-Canadian community. Canadian Hindus and Sikhs are connected through family relationships and shared social and cultural ties”.
“This direct attack on Hindu-Canadians by the leader of the Canadian Khalistan movement is further escalation of the recent attacks on Hindu temples and public celebration of the assassination of Hindu Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by terrorists,” said the Trudeau’s party MP.
In a video message, Chandra said Canada has high moral values and “we fully uphold the rule of law”.
“I can’t understand how glorification of terrorism or a hate crime targeting a religious group is allowed in the name of freedom of speech and expression,” he said, adding “Hindu Canadians keep a low profile and are considered soft targets.”
Responding to a question on fear among students in Canada, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said they have issued an advisory to take precautions. “Our consulate is working there. We have said that if they face any problem, they can contact our consulate.”
As India suspended visa services in Canada citing “operational reasons”, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal said “this is set to create great hurdles, uncertainty and anxiety for Punjabis”.
Saying he was deeply concerned over the indefinite suspension of visa services for Canadian nationals to India, Badal said “it affects lakhs of Punjabis residing as overseas nationals of Indian origin or as students in that country”.
“This is set to create great hurdles, uncertainty and anxiety for Punjabis, especially to members of the most patriotic community of the Sikhs who have not only made unparalleled sacrifices for the freedom of the country but also for fighting off foreign aggression in borders.
“The visa facility hurdles will particularly hit our youth who go to Canada in thousands as students every year and who are now residing there. I have been flooded with calls and messages from Punjabis in Canada and their families and relatives back home, seeking the Akali Dal’s intervention to ensure safe and smooth travel to their homeland.”
Realising the gravity of the situation, the Shiromani Akali Dal urged the two countries’ governments to find a solution to the matter at the earliest.
Private agency, BLS, hired for initial scrutiny of visa applications of Canadians, posted a note on its website, saying, “Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice. Please keep checking the BLS website for further updates.”
The diplomatic relationship between India and Canada soured over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
Indian American aspirant Vivek Ramaswamy wants to expand ties with India, to achieve “economic independence” from China
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Indian American entrepreneur and Republican presidential candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy said on Thursday that he would be looking forward to expanding relations with countries like India, as he rolled out his trade policy aimed at achieving “economic independence” from China.
Ramaswamy (38) cited India, Israel, Brazil and Chile as countries he wants to build trade relations with in order to cut financial ties with China, as per a report by New York Post.
He counted upon India, along with Israel, to remove the “pharmaceutical dependence” on China and further involve India along with Brazil and Chile in obtaining rare earth mineral imports like lithium, which is needed for semiconductors.
Addressing a crowd assembled at a plastics manufacturing plant in New Albany, Ohio, he put forth a four-point plan to counter the Chinese Communist Party through “a pro-trade approach to sensibly decoupling from China” that he says will balance economic issues with national security concerns.
Ramaswamy began his address by criticising the decision to admit China to the World Trade Organization in 2001, saying the US had “lost the plot” in assuming it could “export Big Macs and Happy Meals and somehow that was going to export our values to the CCP reported the New York Post.
“Now who’s our top adversary today? It’s not the USSR — that fell back in 1990…as some seem to forget, our top adversary today is Communist China,” he said.
Going on the same lines as his first GOP primary debate, he reiterated that “The climate change agenda is a hoax.”
“The issue has nothing to do with the climate and everything to do with letting China catch up to the US” economically, as Beijing’s greenhouse gas emissions have remained far higher than other developed nations’, the New York Post reported.
“To declare independence from China, we must declare independence from the climate change agenda here at home…I have no problem with the existence and purchase of electric vehicles. But I do have a problem with a subsidized industry that falsely tilts the scales towards China,” Ramaswamy said.
He added, “We depend on China for rare earth minerals, and mineral oil refining capacity in order to provide those electric vehicles in the United States. So when you, as taxpayers, subsidize EVs, we are actually subsidizing the Chinese Communist Party on whom we rely for the production of those EVs. The same story for the solar panels in this country.”
Ramaswamy’s plan involves turning to countries like India, Brazil and Chile for rare earth mineral imports, many of which contain reserves of lithium needed for semiconductors, an essential component of many electronic products, as per The New York Post.
The Ohio entrepreneur’s second plank takes aim at last year’s passage of the CHIPS Act, which he called a “Green New Deal masquerading in CHIPS clothing” for having pushed renewable energy initiatives while ignoring steps to secure semiconductor supply chains.
To prevent China’s economic dominion over semiconductor manufacturing, he suggested “reopening and expanding trade relationships with our friends in Japan and South Korea,” who would also “compete” with US semiconductor manufacturers, according to The New York Post.
Ramaswamy’s third plank would be aimed at ending the “US military’s reliance” on China for strategic materials and limiting foreign entanglements, including the war in Ukraine, which he said in his prepared remarks has “exacerbated shortages in our military stockpiles.”
In his speech, Ramaswamy also took issue with the size of the US defence budget, saying the Pentagon spent “over USD 3 trillion in wars spanning Afghanistan to Iraq over the last 20 years that did not advance US interests.”
Finally, Ramaswamy pledged to cut off the “pharmaceutical dependence” on China and instead strengthen trade relationships with Israel, India and other nations.
“That same country that unleashed hell on the world with COVID-19, with the man-made virus, that same country that’s waging a one-sided, illicit Opium War lacing fentanyl into other drugs crossing the border illegally, is the same country that we depend on for 95 per cent of our imports for our over the counter medicines that we take every day. This is unacceptable,” the New York Post quoted him as saying.
“The key synthetic precursors for making fentanyl come from — you can’t make this stuff up — come from Wuhan,” he added.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan: Deeply concerned about Canada’s allegations about India
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Amid a diplomatic standoff between India and Canada following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations that India was involved in the killing of Canadian citizen and Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Thursday said he will not be going into the substance of private diplomatic conversations, but “the US is consulting with Ottawa closely and is in touch with the Indian government as well.”
Addressing a press briefing, Sullivan said the US supports the efforts that are being taken in the investigation and perpetrators held to account. He rejected the reports that are trying to create a gap between the US and Canada on the issue.
In response to a question on the ongoing fierce diplomatic standoff, Sullivan said, “As soon as we heard from the Canadian Prime Minister publicly about the allegations, we went out publicly ourselves and expressed our deep concern about them. Our support is for a law enforcement process to get to the bottom of exactly what happened and to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable.”
He added, “Not going to get into the substance of private diplomatic conversations, but we are in constant contact with our Canadian counterparts. We are consulting with them closely. We support the efforts that they are undertaking in this investigation, and we have also been in touch with the Indian government as well.”
He further said: “And I will leave it at that for today. Only to say that I have seen in the press some efforts to try to drive a wedge between the United States and Canada on this issue. And I firmly reject the idea that there is a wedge between the US And Canada. We have deep concerns about the allegations and we would like to see this investigation carried forward and the perpetrators held to account. That is what the United States has stood for from the moment this emerged in public and we will continue to stand for that until this fully plays its way.”
Earlier, on Monday, Trudeau accused the Indian government of being behind the assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The chief of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) — a Sikh extremist organization banned by India and a “designated terrorist”, Nijjar was killed in a targeted shooting at British Columbia in Canada’s Surrey in June this year.
India , rejected the allegations, terming them “absurd” and “motivated”.
“We have seen and rejected the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement. “Allegations of Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated.”
It added, “Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister and were completely rejected. We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to the rule of law,” it added.
New Delhi on Tuesday expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a reciprocal move to Canada expelling a senior Indian diplomat in light of the claim of New Delhi’s involvement in the killing of the wanted separatist leader.
The MEA said the Canadian diplomat was asked to leave India within the next five days.
“The High Commissioner of Canada to India was summoned today and informed about the decision of the Government of India to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India,” the MEA stated on Tuesday.
“The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days. The decision reflects the Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” it added.
Canada yet to provide evidence on Khalistani terrorist Nijjar’s killing, despite claims of proof
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is yet to provide any evidence to back his allegations on India’s involvement in the death of Khalistani operative Hardeep Nijjar. However, Canada based news platform CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) reported on Thursday that Canada has amassed human and signal intelligence in the probe.
CBC claimed, citing sources, that the intelligence gathered by the Canadian government includes conversations with Indian diplomats in the country.
It claimed that some Indian officials have “not denied” the existence of the intelligence in private.
This comes after Trudeau alleged India’s role behind the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. New Delhi has denied such allegations calling them ‘absurd’ and ‘motivated’.
In his news conference in New York on Thursday, the Canadian Prime Minister did not present any evidence to back his claims. Trudeau was repeatedly quizzed on the nature of the allegations but stuck to reiterating that there were “credible reasons” to believe that India was linked to the death of Nijjar.
“There are credible reasons to believe that agents of the Government of India were involved in the killing of a Canadian on Canadian soil. That is… there is something of utmost foundational importance in a country’s rule of law in a world where international rules-based order matters” said Trudeau.
“We call upon the Government of India to take seriously this matter and to work with us to shed full transparency and ensure accountability and justice in this matter,” added Trudeau.
As per CBC News, the intelligence did not come solely from Canada, and some were also provided by an unnamed ally in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada).
In connection with the case, several Canadian officials have gone to India seeking ‘cooperation’ in the investigation of Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s death the report said.
Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Adviser Jody Thomas was in India for over four days in mid-August, then again for five days this month. That last visit overlapped with the meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, CBC News reported.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday however said that no information has been shared by Canada regarding the killing of Nijjar.
“We are willing to look at any specific information that is provided to us, but so far we have received no specific information from Canada,” said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a briefing.
“From our side, specific evidence about criminal activities by individuals based on Canadian soil has been shared with Canada but not acted upon… Yes, I do think there is a degree of prejudice here. They have made allegations and taken action on them. To us, it seems that these allegations by the government of Canada are primarily politically driven,” Bagchi added.
Hardeep Nijjar, a designated terrorist in India, was shot dead outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18 this year.
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang: India could be one of the great exporters of AI
India is on the cusp of a huge opportunity as AI pervades all sectors across the world, according to Jensen Huang, president and CEO, Nvidia, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of graphics processing units.
Huang shared his thoughts with indica on AI and India’s place in the global arena on the sidelines of the Indian Institute of Technology Bay Area Alumni (IITBAA) conference held at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California last weekend where he was the opening keynote speaker.
Huang told indica: “This is India’s decade owing to the geopolitical environment, the development. One of India’s great natural resources are its amazing IT professionals. And all of a sudden here comes Artificial Intelligence, which requires data, which India has an abundance of because of the last 10 years of 5G and digitalization, and the richness of the computer science ecosystem.”
He added: “With the appropriate AI infrastructure, I think that India could be one of the great exporters of AI. This is a phenomenal opportunity.”
Huang was in India in the first week of September when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It was their second meeting. It lasted nearly 90 minutes.
Huang said he highlighted the need to invest in AI infrastructure the same way India invested in building its 5G. “Second, the desire and the need to reskill IT professionals into AI professionals. There is a large workforce of IT professionals in India. When it becomes reskilled into the largest AI workforce in India, that is going to create incredible opportunities,” Huang told indica.
A blog post by Nvidia said Huang’s meeting with Modi at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg — the prime minister’s official residence in New Delhi — took place as India was preparing to host a gathering of leaders from the G20, including US President Joe Biden.
“Had an excellent meeting with Mr. Jensen Huang, the CEO of NVIDIA,” Modi had said in a social media post. “We talked at length about the rich potential India offers in the world of AI.”
Following his meeting with Modi, Huang met with several dozen researchers from global powerhouses of science and technology, such as the Indian Institute of Science and the various campuses of the Indian Institutes of Technology, for an informal dinner.
The post said: “The attendees represented some of the top minds in fields as diverse as large language models, astrophysics, medicine, quantum computing, and natural language processing. The evening’s discussions ranged across topics from using technology to address language barriers, improve agriculture yields, bridge gaps in healthcare services, and transform digital economies, to addressing some of the grand scientific challenges of our time.”
Nvidia, now a $26 billion software and processing units giant, began its India operations in Bangalore (as it was known then) almost two decades ago. It now has four engineering development centers — in Gurugram, Hyderabad, Pune and Bengaluru.
On September 20, Indian tech major Infosys and Nvidia announced to expand their strategic collaboration with the aim to help enterprises worldwide drive productivity gains with generative AI applications and solutions. The alliance will bring the Nvidia AI Enterprise ecosystem of models, tools, runtimes and GPU systems to Infosys Topaz — an AI-first set of services, solutions and platforms that use generative AI technologies.
Exciting presence of carbon in Europa’s subsurface ocean
By Mayank Chhaya-
Europa, one of Jupiter’s likely 95 moons often regarded as the most promising place for life apart from Earth, became even more so with the discovery of carbon originating in its subsurface ocean.
This discovery, which has important implications for the potential habitability of Europa’s ocean, has been made by NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
“Astronomers using data from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope have identified carbon dioxide in a specific region on the icy surface of Europa. Analysis indicates that this carbon likely originated in the subsurface ocean and was not delivered by meteorites or other external sources. Moreover, it was deposited on a geologically recent timescale,” NASA announced today.
The discovery has excited scientists who have long regarded Europa as the most promising place for life outside earth. Although until recently they knew that beneath its water-ice crust lies a salty ocean of liquid water with a rocky seafloor, they did not know if contained life-supporting chemicals such as carbon.
“On Earth, life likes chemical diversity – the more diversity, the better. We’re carbon-based life. Understanding the chemistry of Europa’s ocean will help us determine whether it’s hostile to life as we know it, or if it might be a good place for life,” said Geronimo Villanueva of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, lead author of one of two independent papers describing the findings.
“We now think that we have observational evidence that the carbon we see on Europa’s surface came from the ocean. That’s not a trivial thing. Carbon is a biologically essential element,” added Samantha Trumbo of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, lead author of the second paper analyzing these data.
According to NASA, Webb found that on Europa’s surface, carbon dioxide is most abundant in a region called Tara Regio – a geologically young area of generally resurfaced terrain known as “chaos terrain.” “The surface ice has been disrupted, and there likely has been an exchange of material between the subsurface ocean and the icy surface,” it said.
Trumbo was quoted as saying, “Previous observations from the Hubble Space Telescope show evidence for ocean-derived salt in Tara Regio. Now we’re seeing that carbon dioxide is heavily concentrated there as well. We think this implies that the carbon probably has its ultimate origin in the internal ocean.”
“Scientists are debating how much Europa’s ocean connects to its surface. I think that question has been a big driver of Europa exploration,” said Villanueva. “This suggests that we may be able to learn some basic things about the ocean’s composition even before we drill through the ice to get the full picture.”
Since carbon is not stable on Europa’s surface its presence indicates that it was supplied on a geologically recent timescale.
Europa has a diameter of 1,944 miles. A NASA backgrounder about Europa says, “Scientists think Europa’s ice shell is 10 to 15 miles (15 to 25 kilometers) thick, floating on an ocean 40 to 100 miles (60 to 150 kilometers) deep. So while Europa is only one-fourth the diameter of Earth, its ocean may contain twice as much water as Earth’s global ocean.”
[Photo Courtesy:Europa by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the late 1990s. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]
Gangster Sukhdool Singh’s murder in Canada, part of series of gangwar revenge killings
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
The murder of gangster Sukhdool Singh, alias Sukha Duneke in Canada, was revenge for the murder of Gurlal Brar, a close relative of US-based gangster Goldy Brar according to sources. A gang member of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang has taken responsibility for the murder, and claimed that Sukhdool was killed when he was at his flat in Winnipeg city in Canada.
Sources say the murder was executed by two gang members, who pumped eight bullets into the head of Sukhdool at a corner house where he lived.
Goldy Brar, sources say, was monitoring the hit and wanted people to know Sukhdool had been killed for the murder of his cousin Gurlal.
Notably, the murder of Gurlal in October 2020, allegedly triggered a rivalry between the gangs of Davinder Bambiha and Lawrence Bishnoi.
The former student leader of the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU), Gurlal Brar was shot dead in October 2020 by two motorcycle-borne men who pumped at least six bullets into his body outside a nightclub in Chandigarh’s Phase-1 Industrial Area.
Gurlal had been facing several criminal cases. The murder was executed by alleged members of the Davinder Bambiha gang.
Meanwhile, Intelligence agencies have confirmed the death of Sukhdool Singh, alias Sukha Duneke.
“His uncle and daughter here have given information about his death. We are authenticating the details. As per our record 15-16 cases are registered against him,” said SSP of Moga, J Elanchezhian.
Duneke was part of the Davinder Bambiha gang from Moga district. He fled Punjab in 2017 allegedly with the help of local policemen. Sukha Duneke obtained a passport and police clearance certificate on forged documents with the help of these policemen to flee to Canada, even as seven criminal cases were registered against him.
In 2022, Duneke allegedly conspired to kill kabaddi player Sandeep Singh Nangal with the help of his associates during a kabaddi match at Mallian village in Jalandhar.
He was allegedly associated with the pro-Khalistan outfits and was said to be linked to Canada based Khalistan operative Arshdeep Singh aka Arsh Dala a designated terrorist in India.
Duneke mostly made calls for extortion and indulged in contracted killings. More than 20 criminal cases of murder and other heinous crimes have been registered against him in Punjab and nearby states.
US Senate confirms Charles Brown as chairman of joint chiefs of staff
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
The US Senate has confirmed Air Force General Charles Brown as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, local media reported. The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Brown as the country’s top military officer with overwhelming majority 83-11 and he will assume the post on October 1, succeeding Mark Milley.
US President Joe Biden had formally announced Brown’s nomination on May 25.
The months-long delay of Brown’s confirmation was caused by Senator Tommy Tuberville’s blockade due to his opposition to a Department of Defence policy related to service members’ need for abortions, Xinhua news agency reported.
He was the first Black service chief in US military history when he was confirmed as chief of the Air Force in 2020 and the second Black officer to chair the Joint Chiefs after Colin Powell who served the role between 1989 and 1993.
US “coordinating” with Canada, “engaging” with India: White House on diplomatic standoff
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Adrienne Watson, on Wednesday rejected reports of the US rebuffing Canada after the latter accused the Indian government of behind the assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Watson said they are “coordinating and consulting” with Canada and also “engaging” with the Indian government.
Watson made the statement in response to reports in the American media that Washington has distanced itself from Canada’s allegation about New Delhi’s involvement in the killing of Nijjar, a wanted Khalistani leader in India.
The report highlighted the diplomatic challenges faced by the Biden administration as it seeks to maintain strong relations with both India and Canada.
In a post shared on X, Adrienne Watson stated, “Reports that we rebuffed Canada in any way on this are flatly false. We are coordinating and consulting with Canada closely on this issue. This is a serious matter and we support Canada’s ongoing law enforcement efforts. We are also engaging the Indian government.”
Earlier, US National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said “serious allegations” were levelled by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau against India in the killing of Nijjar, adding that the US wanted the matter handled in a “transparent” way.
In an interview with CBS News, an American television news channel, Kirby urged India to cooperate in the investigation.
“These allegations are serious and we know that Canadians are investigating and we certainly don’t want to get ahead of that investigation. We urge India to cooperate in that investigation as well,” Kirby said in the interview.
Weeks before Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that Indian officials were involved in the killing of Nijjar, officials in the country sought public condemnation of the murder from their allies, including the United States, but were met with reluctance, The Washington Post reported.
The alleged assassination of Nijjar led to behind-the-scenes discussions among senior officials from the ‘Five Eyes’ countries in the weeks leading up to the G20 Summit in Delhi, the report said. However, no public mention was made before the summit.
‘Five Eyes’ is a security alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the US.
Bilateral relations between India and Canada have hit a sharp downward spiral after Prime Minister Trudeau on Monday alleged that “Indian agents” were behind the shooting of Hardeep Nijjar.
Nijjar, the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF) — a Sikh extremist organisation banned by India and a “designated terrorist” was killed in a targeted shooting at British Columbia in Canada’s Surrey in June 2018.
India, however, rejected the allegations by the Trudeau administration, terming them “absurd” and “motivated”.
“We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.
“Allegations of Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated,” the MEA added in its statement.
“Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister and were completely rejected. We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to the rule of law,” it added.
India on Tuesday expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a reciprocal move to Canada expelling a senior Indian diplomat in light of the claim of New Delhi’s involvement in the killing of the wanted separatist leader.
The MEA said that the Canadian diplomat was asked to leave India within the next five days.
“The High Commissioner of Canada to India was summoned today and informed about the decision of the Government of India to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India,” the MEA stated.
“The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days. The decision reflects the Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” it added.
Indian-origin MP says Canadian Hindus ‘soft targets’, urges them to be calm, vigilant
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Stating that Hindu Canadians are ‘soft targets’, Indian-origin MP Chandra Arya (pictured above) on Thursday urged the community to stay calm, vigilant and report incidents of Hinduphobia in the face of a recent video by a Khalistani leader threatening and asking them to leave the country.
Emboldened by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusations, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a designated Khalistani terrorist in India and leader of outlawed Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), asked Indo-Canadian Hindus to leave the country, leaving the community shocked and terrified.
“I have heard from many Hindu-Canadians who are fearful after this targeted attack. I urge Hindu-Canadians to stay calm but vigilant. Please report any incident of Hinduphobia to your local law enforcement agencies,” MP Arya wrote in a long post on X (formerly Twitter) on Thursday.
“Let me be clear. Vast majority of our Canadian Sikh brothers and sisters do not support the Khalistan movement. Most Sikh Canadians may not publicly condemn the Khalistan movement for several reasons but they are deeply connected to the Hindu-Canadian community,” Arya, who hails from Karnataka said.
According to him, the “direct attack” on Hindu-Canadians by Pannun is a further escalation of the recent attacks on Hindu temples and public celebration of the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by terrorists.
“Canada has high moral values and we fully uphold the rule of law. I can’t understand how glorification of terrorism or a hate crime targeting a religious group is allowed in the name of freedom of speech and expression,” Arya said.
He further pointed out that there would be an outrage in Canada if a white supremist attacked any group of racialised Canadians asking them to get out of our country. “But apparently this Khalistani leader can get away with this hate crime,” he said.
Further, Arya said that it is because Hindu Canadians keep a “low profile, they are considered a soft targets”, adding that the community’s success cannot be digested by the anti-Hindu elements.
Citing his own case, Arya said he has been repeatedly attacked for raising a flag with Hindu religious sacred symbol Aum on Canadian Parliament hill.
“Two well-organised groups claiming to represent their faiths have been attacking Hindu-Canadian community leaders, Hindu organisations and even me. For over ten months, I have been attacked for raising a flag with our Hindu religious sacred symbol Aum on our parliament hill,” the Hindu parliamentarian stated.
Members of the Hindu community started coming to Canada 100 years ago. The community has people who migrated from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Southeast Asia and even Africa.
According to Statistics Canada, as reported in the 2021 Census, Hindus rose from 1.0 per cent to 2.3 per cent (close to 830,000 people) of total Canadian population from 2001 to 2021.
November is celebrated as Hindu Heritage Month in Canada. Arya’s strong statement comes as Pannun announced that protests are slated to take place outside Indian consulates in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver on September 25, calling for expulsion of Indian High Commissioner Sanjay Verma.
Pannun’s SFJ will be holding a referendum in Canada on October 29, which will ask voters whether Verma was responsible for the death of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a Sikh temple in Surrey in June this year.
Infosys, Nvidia partner to help firms adopt generative AI, boost productivity
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Indian tech major Infosys and graphics chip giant Nvidia on Wednesday announced to expand their strategic collaboration with the aim to help enterprises worldwide drive productivity gains with generative AI applications and solutions. The alliance will bring the Nvidia AI Enterprise ecosystem of models, tools, runtimes and GPU systems to Infosys Topaz — an AI-first set of services, solutions and platforms that use generative AI technologies.
Through the integration, Infosys will create offerings customers can adopt to easily integrate generative AI into their businesses.
Infosys also plans to set up an Nvidia Center of Excellence, where it will train and certify 50,000 of its employees on Nvidia AI technology to provide generative AI expertise to its vast network of customers across industries.
“Infosys Topaz offerings and solutions are complementary to Nvidia’s core stack. By combining our strengths and training 50,000 of our workforce on Nvidia AI technology, we are creating end-to-end industry leading AI solutions that will help enterprises on their journey to become AI-first,” said Nandan Nilekani, Co-founder and Chairman, Infosys.
Infosys uses the full-stack Nvidia generative AI platform, including hardware and enterprise-grade software to innovate across its business operations, and it is helping customers create generative AI applications for business operations, sales and marketing.
“Generative AI will drive the next wave of enterprise productivity gains,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO, Nvidia.
“Together, Nvidia and Infosys will create an expert workforce to help businesses use this platform to build custom applications and solutions,” he added.
Infosys and NVIDIA are also co-developing AI-powered solutions in areas like 5G, cybersecurity and energy transition.
Indian American presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy to unveil “Independence from China” plan
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Indian American entrepreneur and Republican Presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy will unveil his plan on Thursday on how the US will “declare independence from China.” The details regarding the event mentioned on Ramaswamy’s official website read, “Political outsider and presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy will offer unprecedented detail on how the United States will declare independence from Communist China in a speech on Thursday, September 21.”
In an address he will deliver in Columbus, OH on Thursday, Ramaswamy said he will “delineate the heretofore-unexamined connection between the rise of ‘stakeholder capitalism’ in the West and China’s use of that trend to achieve economic parity with the US by failing to adopt the constraints that multinational institutions apply to the US.”
Further, the preview of his policy speech also includes the use of forced data and technology transfers and even “pro-CCP US lobbying as a condition” to acquire licenses to do business in China, including but not limited to applying constraints in the US while not being able to apply such caps in Beijing.
Ramaswamy will speak about what he terms a “pro-trade approach to sensibly decoupling from China” and “knocked conservatives” who do not support a “trade-led agenda” and call it “unserious.”
He will call for declaring independence from the climate agenda of the US and “declare independence from China” abroad. He will emphasise that the climate agenda has nothing to do with climate and has everything to do with “allowing Beijing to catch up to the US”.
The preview of the speech reads further, “Electric vehicle agenda worsens dependence on China for rare earth minerals and mineral refining capacity: when U.S. taxpayers subsidize EVs, American taxpayers subsidize the CCP”, Fox News reported.
In his address, he will also talk about US military dependence on China. He will propose that limiting engagement in other parts of the world like Ukraine and the Middle East will reopen substantial funds to reinvest in the US’ domestic base without the need to enhance the country’s military budget, according to a Fox News report.
Ramaswamy will also propose reducing the US’ pharmaceutical dependence on China by bolstering trade partnerships with Israel and India, Fox News reported.
He will call for making similar efforts with regard to rare earth minerals with countries like India and Brazil. He will propose all American companies to declare “lithium independence” from China and increase their imports from Chile.
Last week, Ramaswamy vowed to end the H-1B visa program if elected to power, US-based Politico reported.
Terming the H-1B Visa as “indentured servitude”, Ramaswamy called it to replace the “lottery system” for an “actual meritocratic admission”, adding that the US needs to eliminate chain-based migration.
“The lottery system needs to be replaced by actual meritocratic admission. It’s a form of indentured servitude that only accrues to the benefit of the company that sponsored an H-1B immigrant. I’ll gut it,” Ramaswamy said in a statement to Politico.
He added, “The people who come as family members are not the meritocratic immigrants who make skills-based contributions to this country.”
Notably, H-1B is a non-immigrant visa, which is highly sought after including in India. This allows US companies to employ foreign workers in occupations that require some technical expertise
These visas are highly sought after, and the demand for these workers in the US has only increased with time.
US govt announces $600 mn in Covid tests manufacture
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced an investment of $600 million in the manufacture of new at-home Covid-19 tests and will deliver the tests for free to households across the country.
The critical investments in 12 US manufacturers in seven states “will strengthen our nation’s production levels of domestic at-home Covid-19 rapid tests and help mitigate the spread of the virus”, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
Beginning September 25, households will again be able to order four free tests through COVIDTests.gov, the agency said, adding that these tests will detect the currently circulating Covid-19 variants and are intended for use through the end of 2023.
The initiative follows four previous rounds in which the US federal government and the US Postal Service provided more than 755 million tests for free to households nationwide.
It is also meant to complement ongoing federal efforts to provide free Covid-19 tests to long-term care facilities, schools, low-income senior housing, uninsured individuals and underserved communities, with 500 million tests provided to date through these channels, according to the agency.
Justin Trudeau goes for broke over Khalistan
By Mayank Chhaya-
In leveling the explosive charge of the Indian government’s complicity in the killing of the Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has gone for broke.
In the process, he has perhaps irretrievably damaged India-Canada relations at least as long as he is the prime minister. Coming back from this precipice for the two countries could take years.
What is remarkable is that Trudeau chose to make the allegations by citing his intelligence service but without providing any specific evidence. However, Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, has spoken about quiet diplomacy that preceded Trudeau’s parliamentary statement but without any results.
In order to understand, the state of the Nijjar investigation without any arrests or even a formal police statement, Mayank Chhaya Reports spoke to the well-known Canadian journalist and writer Terry Milewski who has spent decades tracking the Khalistani movement outside India.
Rathi Murthy, Expedia’s head of technology explains how AI is changing the travel industry
Rathi Murthy, Chief Technology Officer and President of Expedia Product & Technology says when the pandemic hit and the company started receiving unprecedented volumes of calls for cancellation, they invested in AI driven technology.
“We invested money during that time to build an AI-driven chatbot to take our calls. And that’s really where we started to leverage our data. Our virtual agent is equipped today to take more than 300 million calls,” said Murthy, one of the keynote speakers at annual IIT Bay Area Conference held Sept 16 at Santa Clara Convention Center, California.
Since then, all of Expedia’s departments, whether for travel or partner concerns, have been driven by AI.
When asked by moderator Ayan Mukerji, CEO Infogain, about how is Expedia using Artificial Intelligence to improve the experience of travelers, she said Expedia entered the travel industry 25 years ago. At that time, it was a house of 21 digital brands. Not everyone knows many of these brands really belong to the Expedia Group.
“We still have about 70% of the travel ecosystem offline. We want to be the powerhouse that transforms the travel industry by providing our services.”
Today, Expedia is powered by more than 70 petabytes of data and 20-plus years of tech innovation, making it one of the world’s largest travel platforms.
“Our Smart Shopping algorithm calculates 1.26 quadrillion combinations of rate descriptors for hotel room types. It’s almost impossible for travelers to compare all of them according to individual preferences. Here we leverage AI. We can embrace travelers’ experiences across our platform through AI,” she said.
Expedia recently introduced Generative AI (GenAI) to enable travelers to choose from a variety of options. “We know booking patterns, travel preferences, pricing, and availability. Not knowing how our traveler is going to use this data because planning a trip is complex, we give them options according to their preferences mentioned in meetings, comments, and feedback. We’ve seen travelers facing difficulty in making a choice. So we introduced the GenAI.”
Speaking about the precautions that Expedia is working on while using AI, she said: “There is a fear of getting carried away by responses from AI models which could prevent us from providing relevant options. We have been creating a responsible AI. I think this is super important because we all need to ensure that we use AI for good.”
Another worry is rising costs. “I think the cost down the line is going to get crazy. The more we keep using it, the fear is how much efficiency can we drive and how expensive it is going to become for us.”
Sharing her experience of working with partners and tech providers seamlessly, she said: “Our business is connecting partners at some point. We have to connect with a large number of suppliers, airlines, foreign police, cruise lines, hotels, and suppliers. That’s one side of the business which is really the strength that we bring to the table. On the tech side as well, we have spent a lot of time working on a giant transformation. It’s like changing the tires when the cars run together 100 miles per hour because we’ve been transforming the business, and driving the innovation so quickly. We can’t do it all alone.”
Murthy was previously a senior Vice President and CTO for Gap, Inc and CIO for Enterprise Growth at American Express, and was named Top Woman in Cloud Innovation in 2014, and among the Most Influential Women in Payments in 2015.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been interested in creating and driving transformations. For me, it’s mostly the joy of leveraging technology to drive business value. I’ve been fascinated to go across many different sectors. I have worked with healthcare, e-commerce, media, Yahoo, and finance sector, FinTech companies, and retail. It is a perfect fit for me, a dream that is coming true and I’m having a lot of fun.”
India’s foreign minister Jaishankar briefs PM Narendra Modi on Canada issue
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Amid diplomatic standoff between India and Canada over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, External Affairs Minister (foreign minister) S. Jaishankar is learnt to have briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the developments.
According to sources, Jaishankar met the Prime Minister in Parliament and is learnt to have briefed him over the developments related to Canada, sources said.
Diplomatic ties between the two nations hit an all-time low when on September 18, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had alleged in his Parliament that Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between Indian government agents and the murder of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly had said on the same day that an Indian diplomat had been expelled.
On Tuesday, India, while expelling a senior Canadian diplomat, had described the allegations by Trudeau as “absurd and motivated”.
The High Commissioner of Canada to India (Cameron Mackay) received a summon on Tuesday (September 19) during which the Government of India conveyed its decision to expel a senior Canadian diplomat currently stationed in the country. The concerned diplomat has been officially instructed to depart from India within the next five days, a statement issued by the external affairs ministry mentioned.
“The decision reflects Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities,” the statement had said further.
Khalistani leader Pannun threatens Indo-Canadian Hindus, asks them to leave
iNDICA NEWS BUREAU–
Stating that pro-Khalistan Sikhs have always been loyal to Canada, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, leader of radical Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), threatened Indo-Canadian Hindus and asked them to leave the country in a video which went viral on Wednesday.
The emboldened dare from Pannun, legal counsel of SFJ, which is a banned terror outfit in India, comes after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused New Delhi of involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, resulting in tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats.
“Indo-Canadian Hindus, you have repudiated your allegiance to Canada and Canadian constitution. Your destination is India. Leave Canada, go to India,” Pannun, who faces 22 criminal cases in India’s Punjab state, said in the 45-second video clip.
“Pro Khalistan Sikhs have always been loyal to Canada. They have always sided with Canada and have upheld the laws and the constitution,” Pannun said.
Pannun announced in the video that another referendum to weigh support for Khalistan will be held in Canada on October 29, and it will be asking voters whether Indian high commissioner Sanjay Verma was responsible for Nijjar’s killing in June.
Responding to the threatening video, Ottawa-based researcher and commentator Rupa Subramanya wrote on X: “If a white supremacist had threatened saying all people of color must leave Canada, imagine the uproar. Yet, when a Khalistani threatens Hindus in Canada at an event in Canada, everyone bats their eyelid and looks the other way.”
On Tuesday, Pannun told Vancouver-based Global News that protests are slated to take place outside Indian consulates in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver on September 25.
“We will not allow the Indian consulates to function and we’re going to push the Canadian government to name the individuals who are responsible for assassinating and giving the orders to hit Nijjar,” Pannun told the news channel.
The SFJ has reportedly said that it will also be calling for the expulsion of India’s High Commissioner to Canada Sanjay Kumar Verma.
Pro-Khalistan leader Nijjar, who was declared a “wanted terrorist” by the Indian government, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen on the premises of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, of which he was the head, in the Sikh-dominated Surrey city on June 18.
The police in India’s Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have registered separate FIRs against Pannun, a law graduate from Panjab University in Chandigarh, over threats and attempting to disturb peace, stability and communal harmony, IANS reported earlier.
Countries like Canada, the UK and the US, with a sizable Sikh diaspora, have allowed the outlawed group to conduct anti-India activities, including holding illegal referendums to building a campaign for secession of Punjab.
How a California-based non-profit is helping survivors of domestic violence
The 31st annual gala of Narika, a non-profit organization that focuses on working with survivors of domestic violence and helping them achieve a life of dignity with economic and financial independence, was recently held in San Jose, California.
At the gala, Narika expressed appreciation to its supporters and benefactors and also launched a fundraiser on September 10. The non-profit was founded in 1992 by a group of immigrant women to help survivors of domestic violence in the local communities of the Bay Area.
Based in Fremont, CA, Narika is active in Alameda, Contra Costa counties, and the South Bay Area. Marking a new chapter in the organization’s history, Sanjay Singh, became the first man to don the mantel of the president of Narika’s board of directors. “The gala was a huge success,” he told indica. “We had a packed house, and we raised over $300,000.”
Singh is a business and technology leader who has held various organizational leadership roles in Informix, Sybase, and IBM.
He said, “The number of people seeking our help has grown dramatically. It is both a reflection of our deepening and expanding services as well as an increase in reporting of such cases.”
“Domestic violence cases increased during the pandemic period. We registered a 300% rise in the number of cases being reported at that time. Since 2020, thanks to greater awareness, the number of calls to our helpline has also gone up.”
He said the important aspect of their outreach is that the community has steadfastly stood behind the cause. “Every year more and more people know about what we do, directly relate to the cause,” said Singh. “But still a lot of people don’t.”
He added, “It has been challenging for us because the numbers are high and there are looming cuts in our grants lineup. Even the small company and corporation funding has dried up this year because of the tech industry downturn.”
The $300,000 collected at the fundraiser may come as some relief for Narika.
Singh said some of the experiences of survivors are shocking. “We get a lot of cases where the perpetrators use phone trackers to spy on what the survivor is doing or who she is talking to – is it family members or someone else.”
He said age is hardly a factor. Perpetrators are across all age groups, including middle-aged and senior men. “Many people who come from India. In many cases, they found a way to leave their wives back in India. Transnational abandonment is on the rise and it is a significant issue. We need education as well as policy-level changes. Not to mention collaboration at both federal and state levels.”
To help survivors, Narika has set up a transitional home. The organization helps them regain their confidence and economic independence.“ Sometimes they don’t even know whom to call for help because a lot of these survivors are in the immigration phase where there is a sense of fear that if they report any kind of physical violence, then their family, kids may get deported. They have all kinds of questions and apprehensions because they are not familiar with the laws here.”
Once survivors muster the courage and means to contact the organization, Narika then guides them and connects them with the resources available. “We also evaluate their needs to provide legal help, vocational training, child support, or other aids. We support them until they are ready to stand on their own feet. Sometimes we work with the supporters for two, or three years, whatever time it takes for them to feel independent again,” Singh added.
“Emotional support is fundamental to the help that Narika extends to the survivors because they want to talk about their experiences and fears with someone to whom they can relate, somebody who can understand and empathize with them.”
To help the traumatized survivors find their footing, Narika’s transitional home which started earlier this year plays a key role. Singh said that they would love to house more families and are looking for funding streams to expand the transitional home program, however, at present the transitional home can hold two only families.
Setting up the transitional home was a big step for Narika believes Singh. “Now that we have the transitional home, our advocates feel more confident. We would like to continue expanding this because it is the backbone of Narika. These services are important to tackle the issue of homelessness which is a critical area that impacts Domestic Violence.”
Narika’s SEED program, which is one of the longest running job training, educational and empowerment program, offers free classes to empower the survivors with computer education, financial education, resume development, and interview skills. Each year 150- 200 survivors attend these classes. “When the clients are past the initial fear and emergency, then they want to stand on their feet and that takes months. We offer a 360-degree program – job training, interviews, resume preparation, and regular follow-ups by our case manager. Our goal is to ensure that they are emotionally and financially independent when they walk out of here,” he said.
US consulting countries to break deadlock on adding UNSC permanent members: Biden
Arul Louis (IANS)–
The US is holding consultations with many countries to break the gridlock on reforming the UN Security Council and adding more permanent members, President Joe Biden said.
Speaking to world leaders at the high-level annual session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, he said: “We need to be able to break the gridlock that too often stymies progress and blocks consensus on the Council. We need more voices and more perspectives at the table.”
“The United States has undertaken serious consultation with many member states. And we’ll continue to do our part to push more reform efforts forward, look for points of common ground, and make progress in the year ahead,” he said.
He recalled that at last year’s meeting, he had announced support for increasing the number of permanent and non-permanent members in the Council.
The US has said that it will support India, Germany and Japan to become permanent members along with representation for Africa and Latina America-Caribbean region.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who spoke before him, also called for reforming the Council.
The leaders of the other four permanent members of the Security Council are staying away from the high-level meeting handing over the spotlight to Biden, who made boosting international cooperation, especially with countries of the Global South, the centre-piece of his address.
He mentioned the Quad and the India-to-Europe Economic Corridor as examples of global cooperation he is pursuing.
“In every region of the world, the United States is mobilising strong alliances, versatile partnerships, common purpose, collective action to bring new approaches to our shared challenges,” he said.
“In the Indo-Pacific, we’ve elevated our Quad partnership with India, Japan, and Australia to deliver concrete progress for the people of the region on everything from vaccines to maritime security,” Biden said.
“The groundbreaking effort we announced at the G20 connect India – to connect India to Europe through the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel will spur opportunities and investment across two continents,” he said.
Turning to China, he offered an assurance that the US efforts to build international cooperation were not directed against Beijing which is paranoid about other countries cooperating.
“Now, let me be clear: None of these partnerships are about containing any country. They are about a positive vision for our shared future,” he said.
He held out to Beijing an olive branch while also throwing the gauntlet.
Offering to work with China “on issues where progress hinges on our common efforts”, he said that the US sought to “responsibly manage the competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict”.
“We are for de-risking, not decoupling with China,” he declared.
But he warned, “We will push back on aggression and intimidation and defend the rules of the road, from freedom of navigation to overflight to a level economic playing field that have helped safeguard security and prosperity for decades.”
Biden assured Ukraine of unrelenting support as it fights Russia’s invasion.
He said: “Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalise Ukraine without consequence. The answer is no. We must stand up to this naked aggression today to deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow.”
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that many seats in the General Assembly Hall could become empty if Russia’s aggression is not stopped.
“The goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you, against the international rules-based order,” he said.
He cautioned countries against making deals with Russia, citing the fate of Putin’s collaborator Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the private militia Wagner Group, who died in a mysterious plane crash.
“I am aware of their attempts to make some shady dealings behind the scenes. Evil cannot be trusted. Ask Prigozhin if one bets on Putin’s promises,” Zelensky said.
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