Brief Internet

Indian Railways Is Accused of Duping Passengers On Ticket Cancellation, Amounts To Rs 7 Crore!

On social media, people have come out in droves to voice their opinions about the Indian Railways allegedly duping them out of money as well as wasting their time by keeping their booking portal open whilst still in lockdown.

In a recent discovery, it has been found out that the Indian Railways will have to let go of a whopping Rs 1,490 crores it made in revenue. This is mainly because they made a humongous booking of 94 lakhs in two phases – prior to the announcement of the first 21-day lockdown and secondly, before the announcement of the extension of the lockdown.

Due to the nationwide outbreak of Coronavirus all the transportation services, including railways, came to a complete halt. This resulted in the cancellation of tickets booked for the period of lockdown.

It was mentioned by the officials of the Indian Railway that they will have to forgo Rs 830 crores for the 55 lakh bookings it made for travelling between March 22 and April 14.

It was also made known by the same officials that the passenger train services only suspended on March 22 which was 3 days prior to the 21-day lockdown coming into force. This is quite understandable as the first phase of the lockdown was a decision that came all of a sudden out of nowhere and was put into effect haphazardly.

However, what came next is really appalling. The Indian Railways opened up for bookings once again between April 15th and May 3rd. This is when they further did another 39 lakh bookings and made Rs 660 crores in revenue.

Now the question that needs to be asked here is:

  • Why is there so much of a communication gap between the internal workings of the government bodies?
  • How is it possible that the Indian Railways had no clue whatsoever about the extension of the lockdown till May 3rd?

The Indian Railways has now announced that because of the lockdown, the IRCTC portal for booking further tickets will now become inoperational with the exception of the cancellation option remaining active.

They have also said that they will be refunding all passengers who booked tickets during this entire period. Besides, all the passenger train services will be kept under halt until further notice is received by them from the Prime Minister’s office.

Convenience Fee: Bone Of Contention

Now while the news of the refund put people at ease momentarily, they soon began to realise that the refunded amount was missing the added convenience fee that the Indian Railways charge on every booking.

A nominal convenience fee of Rs 15 for booking non-AC train tickets and Rs 30 for the air-conditioned and first-class train ticket is charged by The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation aka IRCTC.

This has now led to a huge outcry of people on social media who are now claiming that this was a Ponzi scheme by the Indian Railways all along and they have been deliberately duped.

If one calculates the amount the Indian Railways have made from the convenience fee of 94 lakh bookings, it could roughly be around Rs 21.5 crores which is a huge sum of money!

Even we give Railways the benefit of doubt for the first phase of lockdown – which was an unplanned directive by the government – it was no less than a blunder made by the Indian railways who started accepting bookings from April 15th without any clarity on the suspension of extension of the ongoing lockdown.

Only from the cancellation of tickets with a travelling date between April 15 to May 3rd Indian railways minted over Rs 7 corer as in convenience fees.

In response to this, the Indian Railways in a statement has said that they do not typically refund the convenience fee they charge on all bookings because it goes towards the day-to-day maintenance of the facility of ticketing along with its upgrades.

While this is a valid response to all the outcry that is being observed on social media, it also begs the question if it stands correct from an ethical standpoint of view. It was the responsibility of the Indian Railways itself to have shut down their booking facility in coordination with the Government directives which they definitely failed to do. Therefore all the passengers, in turn, had to incur this charge.

What is your take on this situation? Do you think Indian Railways is at the faulty side here? Do let us know in the comments below. We will keep you posted on all further developments.

Brief Mobile Mobile Apps

Aarogya Setu App Raises Serious Privacy Concerns: Should You Download It?

The Government of India has been aggressively pushing the adoption of a new app called ‘Arogya Setu’ which aims to act as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 outbreak. However, there have now arrived some concerns related to the app’s privacy measures.

Earlier this month, Aarogya Setu, the mobile app developed by the ministry of electronics and IT was launched to help citizens identify their risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.

The app has been made available both on Google Play and Apple App Store and has already crossed 10 million downloads.

This app aims to keep its users informed about crossing paths with someone who might have tested positive for the coronavirus. The app tracks a user via Bluetooth and location-generated social graph, which is then able to show if the user has had any interaction with anyone who has tested positive for the virus.

Arogya Setu also has a self-testing feature wherein the user is made to answer a number of questions based upon which he/she is suggested if they might have potential COVID-19 symptoms or not. If the app predicts that a user does show the symptoms of COVID-19 then the information is passed on to a government server which then is supposed to help the government start the isolation procedure.

Arogya Setu: An ‘Unhealthy’ App For Privacy?

The New Delhi-based IFF (Internet Freedom Foundation), in a detailed report and analysis on contact tracing apps, has recently raised some serious concerns about the app’s collection of information, purpose limitation, data storage, transparency and accountability.

The Internet Freedom Foundation aka IFF is an Indian non-governmental organisation that conducts advocacy on digital rights and liberties and their concerns have come amid the Indian Government’s claim that the Arogya Setu App has been designed with a “privacy-by-design” approach.

The report points out the fact that there is no specification when it comes to which department or ministry or officials will be able to access the data collected by the app.

Sidharth Deb who is the IFF’s parliamentary and policy counsel along with being the author of the report, in a statement has said that “the disclosed purpose for the app is vague enough for the government to repurpose it or expand its scope.”

He also mentioned that the involvement of the health ministry when it comes to the creation of this app has been minimal which stands in stark contrast with that of the Google-Apple announcement to create a similar app together with the public healthcare authorities.

IFF’s report has also raised concern about the Aarogya Setu’s use of data location data via GPS trails in addition to that of using Bluetooth. According to the foundation, this heavily deviates from global standards related to privacy as apps are restricted to only Bluetooth-based technology to match devices without revealing the exact location.

It has been pointed out by the report that this framework has been sternly suggested by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has been implemented in the case of the TraceTogether app of Singapore which performs the same functions as that of the Arogya Setu App.

Siddharth Deb has further added that the GPS trail feature wouldn’t apply indoors such as in mass transit situations lie the metro or trains and therefore Bluetooth is a more sensible and preferred choice from the standpoint of usability as well as privacy.

Lastly, the report added the fact that there are also chances of misidentification aka a false-positive if the device is switched or is shared among two or more people. It has been shown by the report how the algorithm-based predictive model which the Arogya Setu app is currently using to determine if a user has come in contact with a COVID-19 positive patient is completely deviating from how a contact tracing app usually works.

It is quite alarming that these concerns that have been raised about the Arogya Setu app came in at a point of time when people have already installed it in droves. Therefore, the Indian Government should definitely try to resolve and mitigate this issue as soon as possible. We will keep you posted on future developments.

Brief Internet

Nandan Nilekani In Hot Water Due To GST Glitches?

The shortcomings of Infosys Ltd. which is the service provider for the GSTN portal has been clearly visible via the continually persisting glitches in the GST Network (GSTN) portal. This has led to a lot of difficulty for taxpayers as well as disrupted the efforts of the Indian Government to enable a habit of improved compliance among taxpayers.

Looks like the government have had enough of such technological glitches. The centre has reportedly asked the Indian tech giant Infosys Ltd to fix the glitches of the GST Network portal within a maximum of 15 days worth of time.

On March 5, in a communication, Infosys was told by the ministry that their progress in trying to resolve the challenges being faced by the taxpayers seemed “tardy”. It was also made known to the in the same communication that despite several requests being made to the company the problem and glitches still exist. The problems included slowing down of GSTN portal, login errors and auto-logouts.

Because of all the glitches by the Infosys executives who failed to address the concerns related to the GST platform, the deadline for filing returns had to be delayed by the government.

A person who has been following the development so far and is familiar with it has mentioned that Infosys has been asked by the government to specifically look into glitch which is causing the tax portal’s capacity to be stuck at 1.2 lakh concurrent sessions.

Nandan Nilekani, the Non-Executive Chairman of Infosys has also been reportedly asked to come up with a detailed presentation. The government wants him to give an explanation on the software giant’s failure to fix technical glitches before the federal indirect tax body, GST Council which is scheduled to meet on March 14 next week.

Infosys, including this time, has reportedly declined the offer to comment on this issue twice. The previous instance being earlier in January related to GSTN’s performance.

GSTN: The Way Forward For Increased Tax Compliance?

One of the main reasons the central government is pushing so hard to iron out the glitches in the GSTN platform is because of the fact that this problem has put a halt to the Indian government’s mission to improve tax compliance and eliminate tax evasion. First, a proper and reliable technology system needs to be put in place which can seamlessly collect data and process it without any glitches for this mission to take off and finally turn into a reality. It is the technology system that enables government officials to take enforcement action when a particular suspected case of tax evasion shows multiple red flags.

It has been acknowledged by various government officials that even after it has been two years since the rollout of the online GST platform, it has still not shown any signs of stability in terms of performance and reliability. Several taxpayers have also filed their disappointments related to the platform claiming that the repeated glitches have led them to delay filings well beyond the deadline which has then led to penalties. These complaints from the taxpayers have also led to the Supreme Court recently asking the swift mitigation of the technical difficulties of the platform by the government.


State-Wise Number of Aadhaar Card Issued In India: 2019

wdt_IDIndian States/UTTotal Population (Projected 2019)Numbers of Aadhaar assigned (2019)Saturation %
4Himachal Pradesh7,384,0227,560,770102.39
∑ = 171,851,515 ∑ = 178,151,918
More Actionable Insights

The above table represents the state-wise number of Aadhaar assigned in India as of 2019. The UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) has issued a total of 121.6 crore Aadhaar cards in 37 states/union territories of India as of January 2020. That means approximately 89.8% of Indians live in those 37 states/union territories now have Aadhaar cards.

Table ID124

The above graph is a part of Dazeinfo GraphFarm – the most trusted source of hundreds of thousands of market graphs. Our team of researchers mines millions of data points every month to bring the most updated and validated set of data points representing the comprehensive view in a graphical format. From mobile to e-commerce, from Retail to healthcare, from startups to SMEs we have carefully designed thousands of graphs for those who value and understand the importance of data visualisation.

Brief Internet News & Culture

Data Sovereignty in India: Personal Data Protection Bill Is Here!

Back in 2018, a panel headed by former Supreme Court judge BN Shrikrishna was created to formulate a data protection bill for Indian citizens. The decision to create such a panel came in the wake of growing data breaches by big tech, most notably, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Scandal.

This bill, which has been coined the Data Protection Bill was approved by the Union Cabinet headed by PM Narendra Modi this Wednesday.

Data storage and monopolization by big tech has been a burning issue in recent times, as governments and citizens alike are becoming more aware of the implications of personal data being stored in databases of international giants like Facebook, Google, Apple, etc. Thus, legal regulations in favor of citizen data protection have become the need of the hour.

Data Protection Bill: Key Provisions

The bill will be proposed for final approval in the Parliament’s winter session. Some major provisions under the bill have to deal with how tech giants handle Indian users’ personal data, the exercise of consent by consumers, and penalties for breaking the laws.

First and foremost, the bill defines personal data as any credentials that can be used to specify an individual’s identity such as their religious background, ethnicity, biometrics, sexual orientation, etc.

The bill will make it mandatory for all tech firms with an Indian consumer base to store sensitive personal data about Indian consumers in servers based in India, instead of overseas ones. However, it allows for the processing of data overseas, granted that the data owner consents to it. Non-consensual data processing is only permitted in cases of national interest and security or court order, and other urgent instances.

If a company fails to adhere to these laws, they’ll be liable to a penalty of 15 crore or 4% of the company’s global annual revenue, depending on which amount is greater. Additionally, the bill proposes a jail term of up to three years for the executive in-charge of conduct of an offending company, according to sources.

The bill also states that minor offenses can be penalized with a fine of 5 crore or 2% of the company’s global revenue.

The bill could also possibly mandate the establishment of a Data Protection Authority as a regulatory body for data processing activities, judging by the initial propositions made for the bill in 2018.

Pros and cons of the bill

The Data Protection Bill would limit the ability of international tech giants to exploit user data, and could possibly secure Indian users from data breaches. It would also create greater local activity by tech companies, and, thus, generate jobs for Indians.

However, the bill lacks provisions that empower citizens at an individual level. It fails to address or grant individual rights and agency to data owners.

The bill’s provisions also create the need for sophisticated infrastructure that would allow safe encryption and storage of data, with minimum possibilities of breaches. However, India lacks that kind of infrastructure at this point. This also makes way for the possibility of the Indian Government to leave it up to tech companies to come up with the right kind of infrastructure.

However, the most striking criticism of the bill is its facilitation of data sovereignty. While the bill prevents international giants from exploiting consumer data, it also transfers this ability into the hands of the Indian Government. Thus, it puts the government over a competitive advantage over international tech giants and, thus, does nothing to put an end to the commercialization of user data.

The government’s unfettered access to data also poses threats to individual privacy and undermines individual sovereignty.

When looked at alongside the recent IT Act Amendment allowing for content screening and tracking, a pattern emerges pointing towards a potentially stifling digital landscape for Indians in the coming years.

Brief Internet News & Culture

New IT Act Amendment To Make Online Content Screening Possible by January 2020

The Indian Government is in the process of considering amendments to the 2011 Intermediary Guidelines of Section 79 of the IT Act.

The proposed amendments deal with the concern of malicious, incorrect, and unlawful content on the internet, according to Sanjay Dhotre, Minister of State for Electronics and IT who relayed the amendments to the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

One of the main provisions of the current Intermediary Guidelines of the IT Act mandates intermediaries – social media platforms and messaging platforms primality – to provide clear cut guidelines to its users about the kind of content they can post/circulate on the platform. These regulations restrict the circulation of fake news, inappropriate/obscene content, copyrighted content, and prejudiced or hateful content.

The aforementioned amendments seek to take regulation of unlawful content even further. If adopted, intermediaries will be required to periodically remind users of the guidelines, urging them to comply with them.

Additionally, the government is pushing for the traceability of posters of content deemed unlawful in order to make the process of taking down inappropriate content swifter. The intermediaries will be required to take down content within 24 hours of receiving a notice from the Supreme Court.

This proposal to make it compulsory for tech companies to provide traceability of its users is highly controversial and has sparked considerable opposition from big tech companies like Facebook.

The amendments also seek to make it mandatory for companies with over 50 lac users to have regional offices in India for the purpose of monitoring content.

Where it all started

The idea of adding such a provision to the Act surfaced sometime last year when the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) released a draft proposing amendments to the IT Act. The amendments prescribed increased surveillance and filtering of social media content. However, they were proposed without any consultation with the public and its representatives.

Later, in October this year, Rajiv Kumar, the secretary of MeitY submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court urging it to act on previous promises made to amend the Intermediary Guidelines Rules, 2011.

This led to a Supreme Court hearing, in which one of the main focal points was urging WhatsApp to allow decryption of its messages for regulatory purposes of the Indian Government, which Facebook global executive Nick Clegg had already refused to in a hearing back in September 2019.

In the same Supreme Court hearing, the Union was given a time frame of three months to come up with new regulatory amendments for the Intermediary Guidelines.

Keeping these developments in mind, Indians should expect at least a part of the proposed amendments to come into effect by January 2020. As mentioned above, these amendments are controversial and pose a massive ethical question regarding the extent of government sovereignty. It will be interesting to see where big tech companies such as Facebook will stand on the matter, considering their current adamancy to protect user data.

The amendments And the Data Protection Bill

Another related development in the information technology sphere of the Indian Government is the possibility of the Data Protection Bill to finally be discussed in the winter session of the Parliament.

This bill has come under scrutiny by citizens for being more self-serving than dedicated to the protection of the citizens’ data.

It is being seen as the Indian Government’s attempt to capitalize on user data highlighted by propositions such as mandatory local storage of citizens’ data and providing the government complete authority to monitor citizen data if seen necessary.

Brief Companies Google Internet Technology

Sorry! Can’t Censor The Web: Google Tells To Indian Government

Despite of amid pressure from Indian Government, search engine giant Google has announced that it cannot censor the web content in India. As the number of internet users in India is around 121 million, it’s difficult to mentor each and every user across the website. Google is among the 21 companies which are facing controversy in India for hosting obscene and offensive contents.

However, executives of these 21 companies have been convened to materialize in a lower court in Delhi on March 13 for purportedly hosting obscene and obnoxious content on their websites as well as services.

Few weeks back Delhi court Justice has also said that if these companies will not censor the objectionable and obnoxious content than they can face ban forever as China did in past.

Interestingly, the companies have challenged the summons in the High Court and the next hearing date is scheduled on 2nd February 2012.

The rivalry between companies and Indian Government started just after the executives of Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and Microsoft had met with IT minister Kapil Sibal in which they were asked to censor the offensive contents related to the individual personalities. However, companies denied the request by saying that checking contents of billion users is not possible in real-time.

Surprisingly, after such ‘turned-down’ request of Indian Government, Google got the notice from Income tax department of India for non-payment of legitimate tax for the year 2008-09.

“You are asking not just censor the Web in India; you are asking to censor the entire world-wide web. The Web has no border “.”I think the idea of censoring everything and pre-clearing everything is going to fundamentally, sort of, taint the growth of the Indian economy in India and vis-a-vis the world,” said by Nikesh Arora, Chief Business Officer, Google.

I feel censoring contents from 121 million internet users from India is not an easy task. Infact with the improvement of infrastructure and network facility, the number of users will only go up in coming days. So, it’s impossible for any of the site to take the view of individual users’ activities on regular basis in real time.

Last but not the least, taking stiff action against companies on this matter will only damage the reputation of the Indian Government as well as Indian law on global platform. So, its important for both the sides to work out the best possible solution of the scenario ‘out-of-court’ in a healthy business environment.

(Source: Times Of India)

Brief Companies Facebook Google Social Media Social News Yahoo YouTube

Social Networking Sites May Face Ban In India For Obnoxious Contents

Rivalry between Web Giants and Indian Government is on its peak. It has taken a new face as Indian Government has green signaled to the prosecution of “21 Internet sites” which includes 10 foreign websites like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and YouTube. Even they have also been warned to face the ban, as done in China, if they fail to oblige the government stand over the contents. Indian Government has taken such step after the stiff between IT minister Kapil Sibal and Executive Managers of Google, Facebook and Microsoft on the scrutinizing of comments by users.

However, earlier this week Delhi High Court had already warned various companies to face the blockage of their operations in India only if they fail to check or sensor the objectionable comments. Although, counsel of Facebook and Google has already pointed out that they can’t check or sensor the comments as it is against their global policy. In reply, court has said that they should make different policy for India as such policies need to alter as per geographic location and culture of the country.

Interestingly, Indian Government has sanctioned the court stances by stating that publishing post against religion or against any human is a criminal offence and its comes under section 153-A, 153-B and 295-A of Indian panel code. These three sections of IPC states that if anyone found out promoting enmity between different groups on the basis of religion, race, language, or intend to outrage any class than they might get sentenced by Court.

“The sanctioning authority has personally gone through the entire records and materials produced before him and after considering and examining the same, he is satisfied that there is sufficient material to proceed against the accused persons under section 153-A, 153-B and 295-A of the IPC,” according to IBN Live.

The matter is still pending in Delhi High Court till the next hearing which is going to take place on March 13, 201. The case was first began when a private Journalist Vinay Rai presented his grieviences against these firms for web casting offensive contents publicly.

The respect and dignity against any human being is prime concern and Government should look for such instant seriously. However, having said that, Government should also evaluate the other side of the coin where thousands on jobs are dependent on such sites. Any volatile attempt to over shadow or block will only only hamper the image of India at global level but also unrest the unemployment situation in India.

In my view, Government should come over personal concerns and objections – if there are few – and find out the WIN-WIN situation by understanding such websites challenges. Remember, we are not China and can’t be !

Brief Tablet Devices Technology

Why Am I fuzzy About The Success of World’s Cheapest Tablet “Aakash”

With days passing by, India is becoming more advanced in terms of technology. Few days earlier India has introduced the world’s cheapest tablet named as “Aakash”. The whole project of tablet was headed by India Government who kept  its price quite lower when compared with other tablets of the same class. Akash has been tagged with just $49.98, where as other tablets cost around few hundred dollars.

The basic idea behind introduction of cheapest tablet in Indian market is to make it available for students to make them more educated about digital world. Indian government has also announced that they it will subsidize the “Akash” around 22% to 30% for students to make it more affordable and adoptable especially in rural areas.

However, reading a lot by Aakash tablets for several days, I came across various hurdles which will hindrance the success of tablet in market:


At the time of development there was uncertainty about the release of “Aakash”. In July last year it was announced that cheapest tablet is going to be developed and it will be headed by Indian Government. But after some time it looked like the project has been dumped and suddenly the announcement came about the expected release in January 2012. It’s been reveal that around 100,000 unit of “Aakash” will be available by January 2012.  Indian Government has also announced that it will provide these tablets at half of the real price to students at several universities. But still it’s not clear that which universities will be covered for such benefits. Also, there is a cloud of doubt that how people can pre-order the commercial version of the Tablet.


Inflexibility in price range may harness the profit of the tablet. It’s been said that it will be available in multiple price ranges with multiple varients of features. For student it’s expected to be available at the cost of Rs. 1500 – 1750 and for professional it’s available at the cost of Rs. 3,000 (inclusive of taxes). Undoubdetly, and professional version of Aakash will contain more features than student version.


There are several issues related to the listing which might break or make the success of the Tablet. It’s not been revealed by the government that which institutes or universities will be listed for providing the tablets.

One of the most important things is how an organization can run without making profit from its gadget.


It’s a point to notice that in internet users in India are quite less as compared to other countries. For connectivity purpose Aakash will be runing onv GPRS or Wi-Fi network. As we all know that GPRS is one of the costliest and absurdly slow where as Wi-Fi is only available in limited part, so how one can think that it will be successful in such lethargic infrastructure environment.


The basic problem which arises is related to the issues of support. Who will support the tablet? What will be the developer environment around it? What sort of apps will it run? What will be the encouragement for developers to build apps for this particular device?

I don’t want to state that the project is failure. But, I just want to enlighten the hindrance which will be faced after the launch of the “Aakash”. Let’s hope it should be successful in Indian environment and will overcome from all upcoming challenges.


Indian Tax Payers Can Now Dictate About Budget Through Facebook

At the time when Indian Government is facing tough time towards misuse of tax payers’ hard earned money by their own leaders like Raja and Kalmadi, planning commission of India has decided to leverage on the enormous reach of social media to ask the suggestions from Indian people on how they think taxpayer money should be spent. Interesting !!. The so-called India Planning Commission has launched a Facebook page dubbed as “Twelfth Plan”, which refers to spending from 2012 through 2017.

The creator of the page and a corresponding website, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, said the government panel chose Facebook for gathering input in order to hear from “small villages” and individuals rather than just business groups.

The input is also sought because there’s a lot of money on the table. For instance  India’s government has $1 trillion set aside just for fixing potholes and eliminating power shortages, according to Reuters. The news agency quoted Ahluwalia telling reporters:

The intention is not that we are going to necessarily respond to every suggestion. But very often I hear people say that you fellows in the Planning Commission just set up steering groups with your own buddies and people you’ve known, and you’re all over sixty years old and you have people of the same age and most of them don’t have a clue what’s really going on… We must have some mechanism of connecting… If you want to criticize this as gimmicky, please do so.

While seeking input on Facebook seems like such a simple thing, it’s actually revolutionary when it’s a national government asking all of its people how to spend an infrastructure budget over a five year period. And it’s neat to see such a modern approach in a place like India; we are curious about how the endeavor will fare and whether it might become and example for other countries.

However, being as proud Indian and close to ground reality, I am literally failing to understand whether Planning commission has anything to do with “small village suggestion THROUGH FACEBOOK.” How can people from “small villages”, who are still struggling for quality education and a decent life style, gain access to computer with Internet with the sense of “Facebook Page” ?

Certainly, Facebook and other social media websites are one of the prime platform for such innovative conversation but much before an ideal scenario need to be develop and authority should thing about their target audience on ground reality.

I think, Indian Planning Commission itself need some expert social media planners before they trigger such initiatives. I would like to know what do you think about Planning commission effort to get public input via Facebook on how to spend the government’s money?