Israel Current Affairs - 2020

FICCI study on Onion Price Rise: India should follow Israel, Brazil

India is witnessing price hikes in retail onion up to Rs 100 per kg currently in November 2019. Government had introduced the TOP-Tomato Onion Potato Scheme in 2018-19 Budget to address this problem. However, the scheme has not taken off well.

The FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) on Novmber 8, 2019, submitted a report to the GoI analyzing the problem. The Federation has also provided solutions to the current problems being faced in the country due to price rise of Onions.

Highlights of the study

  • Around 40% of total onions produced were damaged this year (2018-19) in the periods of heavy rainfall due to lack of post-harvest storage facilities
  • FICCI suggests long term solution studying Brazil and Israel models. It recommends low cost technologies for storing Onions
    • Israel stores onions in open ventilated warehouses. The warehouses are ventilated through continuous forced air.
    • Brazil stores onions in low-cost well ventilated silos systems. They are built at farm levels. Brazil also uses refrigerated rooms to store the vegetables.
  • The report says that for the first time GoI is incurring a buffer stock loss of 57,000 tons. This is 25% of the total buffer stock

India’s current measures

  • In India very few startups use farm level refrigeration for perishables
  • GoI through “Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture” promoted low cost thatched bamboo storage. According to the study, India lacks in storage systems that sustain monsoon.
  • In India Onion is cultivated throughout the year in several places. Onion scarcity occurs only during July to September. In order to maintain regular supply during the lean period GoI stores onions in ventilated warehouses. The losses are high in these systems. Around 20% to 40% of onions are lost

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WhatsApp confirms ‘Targeted’ Spyware Attack

WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging apps in the world with about 1.5 Billion users worldwide confirmed a targeted spyware attack on its platform.

Key Highlights

  • Threat: A security flaw in WhatsApp acted as a vulnerability, which allowed hackers to insert malicious software on user’s phones by calling the target using the app.
  • This latest exploit impacts Android devices and Apple’s iPhones, among others. It was discovered by company in early May and WhatsApp quickly attempted to fix it and even rolled out an update within 10 days.
  • Concern: WhatsApp is a “secure” communications app as the messages shared on platform are end-to-end encrypted, which means they should only be displayed in a readable form on sender or recipient’s device. However, the surveillance software used in spyware would have let an attacker read messages on potential target’s device.
  • Impact: Such attacks are designed to compromise users data stored on mobile device and thus puts information stored by billions of people at risk.
  • Potential Attacker: As per a spyware dealer, the hacking tool was developed by ‘NSO Group’, a shadowy Israel-based firm, which has earlier been accused of helping governments from Middle East to Mexico snoop on activists and journalists. Several security researchers also found similarities between the malicious codes with other tech which have been developed by the firm.
  • Restraint: to protect against potential targeted exploits, WhatsApp encouraged its users to upgrade to latest version of its app, and to also keep their mobile operating system (OS) updated as an added precaution.

About NSO Group

  • The group gained prominence in 2016 when several researchers accused it of helping to spy on an activist in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  • In past it has been referred as a “cyber-arms dealer”.
  • ‘Pegasus’, a highly invasive tool is NSO’s flagship software. It is capable of switching on a target’s phone camera and microphone, gather location data and can even access and collect data from it.
  • But, the firm denied any participation in potential spyware.

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