CURRENT AFFAIRS – 15/07/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS - 15/07/2023

CURRENT AFFAIRS – 15/07/2023

India’s third lunar odyssey commences with perfect launch

Spacecraft enters elliptic parking orbit; soft landing likely on August 23; Chandrayaan-3 testament to our scientists’ relentless dedication: Modi

India’s third moon mission, Chandrayaan-3, was successfully launched onboard a Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM-3) rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 2.35 p.m. on Friday.

This is India’s second attempt at soft-landing robotic instruments on the lunar surface after the previous attempt, Chandrayaan-2, failed in 2019. Thus far, only three countries, the U.S., Russia and China, have successfully soft-landed on the moon.

Speaking to reporters after the launch, ISRO Chairman S. Somanath said the next 42 days are crucial. “The landing is currently planned on August 23 at 5.47 p.m. IST, if everything goes as per plan,” he said.

Hailing the launch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Chandrayaan-3 scripts a new chapter in India’s space odyssey. It soars high, elevating the dreams and ambitions of every Indian.”

Perfect launch to India’s third lunar odyssey

“This momentous achievement is a testament to our scientists’ relentless dedication. I salute their spirit and ingenuity!” the tweet added.

Minister of State Jitendra Singh, who was present at the launch, said, “It is indeed a moment of glory for India. Thank you Team ISRO for making India proud… Today is also a day of vindication: vindication of the dream Vikram Sarabhai [had] six decades ago.”

Around 16 minutes after the LVM-3 lifted off, the spacecraft separated from the rocket. It was an integrated module comprising the propulsion module, the lander module, and the rover. It entered an elliptic parking orbit (EPO). The EPO’s closest approach to earth was around 170 km and farthest, at 36,500 km.

The propulsion module will carry the lander (containing the rover) from the EPO around earth to a circular orbit around the moon, at an altitude of 100 km. This module also carries an instrument called ‘Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planetary Earth’ (SHAPE), to study spectral emissions coming from earth.

According to ISRO, the lander can soft-land at a specified lunar site and deploy the rover. The rover will perform in-situ chemical studies of the lunar surface as it moves around. The lander also has scientific instruments to study the lunar surface and subsurface.

Success of Chandrayaan launch vehicle gives Gaganyaan a leg-up

With a human-rated Launch Vehicle Mark (LVM) to be used for the upcoming Gaganyaan mission, the LVM-3’s successful launch of the Chandrayaan-3 on Friday gained significance, as it has further enhanced the reliability of the launch vehicle.

Following the launch, LVM project director Mohan Kumar said that the rocket used for the Chandrayaan-3 mission used multiple systems that were rated for humans. “The human-rated S200 [solid strap-on motors] that were used earlier were again used, and the L110 Vikas engine has also completely become human-rated today,” he said.

ISRO’s Gaganyaan project is expected to demonstrate India’s human spaceflight capability by launching three astronauts to an orbit of 400 km for a three-day mission, and then bringing them safely back to earth, landing them in Indian seas.

The success of the Chandrayaan-3 launch was celebrated by several public and private sector units all over the country that played an active role in the mission. For instance, Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (MIDHANI), the defence PSU, had developed and supplied various critical and strategic materials for the three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle.

It supplied cobalt base alloys, nickel base alloys, titanium alloys and special steels for liquid engine, nozzles for liquid stages, gas bottles, thrusters, cryogenic upper stage components, rocket motor casing, propellant tanks and investment castings of nickel alloys, stainless steel for exhaust unit, etc., said an official release.

Kerala government undertaking Keltron in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala Minerals and Metals (KMML) in Kollam, and long-time industry partners of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) such as Ananth Technologies Ltd (ATL) and Kortas Industries Pvt Ltd supplied many components. Keltron supplied 41 electronics modules and various power modules. Many of the critical components on the mission used alloys from titanium sponge produced by the KKML. KMML has a 500-tonne capacity titanium sponge plant at Chavara, Kollam, a joint venture with the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL). A Kerala-based rubber products firm supplied the a crucial flex seal. Vajra Rubber Products in Thrissur supplied S-200 thrust vector control flex seal for the vehicle.

The Hyderabad-headquartered Ananth Technologies Ltd (ATL), which has exclusive facilities in Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru for supporting ISRO’s space programmes, contributed to the avionics packages for the LVM-3 mission, including on board computers on the launch vehicle, navigation system, control electronics, telemetry, power systems and various vehicle interface units.

In Bhubaneswar, technicians and students of the Central Tool Room and Training Centre are eagerly waiting to see the successful soft landing of the vehicle on the moon’s surface. The CTTC has also supplied critical components. The Bhubaneswar-based central PSU has manufactured several flow control valves used in the LVM-3. It also supplied gyroscopes, propellant walls and parts, and sensors. The CTTC also manufactured some links and components of the wheel mechanism of the moon lander.

(With inputs from Kerala, Telangana and Karnataka bureaus and PTI)

‘Over the moon’: praises pour in across party lines

Top political leaders cutting across party lines hailed the successful launch of India’s third moon mission, Chandrayaan-3 on Friday.

Lauding the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the successful launch, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday said it was testimony to the vision, foresight, determination and accomplishments of all previous Prime Ministers, including Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Taking to Twitter, the Congress president said, “Our collective happiness is over the moon. Thanks to the tremendous ingenuity, dedication, skill and hard work of our scientists, engineers and everyone involved in the successful launch of the Chandrayaan-3 Mission. We are extremely proud of each one of you for this remarkable achievement. We express our sincere gratitude to the extraordinary team at ISRO.”

Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet, “Today, more than a billion of us look to the sky, beaming with pride. Chandrayaan-3 is the fruit of decades of labour by the scientific community since the launch of India’s space programme in 1962, followed by the creation of ISRO in 1969. The success of this mission will make us only the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. A truly incredible feat! Congratulations to the entire team at ISRO.”

Congratulating the ISRO team, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar said this “extraordinary feat” highlights the advancement made by India in space science and research.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also hailed the successful launch and said the “tireless pursuit of the ISRO scientists has propelled India on the path of scripting a remarkable space odyssey for generations to cherish.”

Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, “Great visuals – these embody the skill, passion and spirit of New India. Our quest for space excellence takes-off in style. Chandrayaan-3.”

(With inputs from PTI)

Facts about the News 

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said that it successfully integrated the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft with the Launch Vehicle Mark-III (LVM3) at the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota ahead of its launch, which is scheduled to launch at 2.30 PM on July 14. 

 Objective of the Chandrayaan-3 mission

  • Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on to the unsuccessful Chandrayaan-2 mission, and it has the same objective—to demonstrate the capability of soft landing on the Moon by delivering a lander and a rover on the lunar South Pole
  • The Chandrayaan-2 mission ended in tears on September 6, 2019, when the mission’s Vikram lander failed to make a soft landing.
  • The failure happened about 13 minutes after the spacecraft began its descent. So far, only three countries have actually managed to land on the Moon–the United States, the erstwhile Soviet Union and China.

Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft

The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft consists of three parts–the lander module, propulsion module and a rover.

  •  The lander is designed to make a soft landing at a specific site on the Moon and deploy the rover.
  • The rover will carry out chemical analysis of the lunar surface. Both the lander and the rover carry many scientific payloads for experiments on the lunar surface.
  • The propulsion module has one main function—to carry the lander and rover from “launch vehicle injection” to a 100-kilometre circular polar lunar orbit before it separates from the other modules. The propulsion module also has a scientific payload that will begin operation after separation.

Chandrayaan-3’s LVM-3

  • LVM-3 or Launch Vehicle Mark-III, is a three-stage medium-lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO and earlier known as the GSLV Mark III. It is the most powerful rocket in the space agency’s stable and will be used to launch the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
  • The vehicle is 43.5 metres tall and has a diameter of 4 metres. It has a lift-off mass of 640 tonnes. It can carry a payload of upto 8,000 kilograms to a low-Earth orbit. Going further, it is capable of carrying about 4,000 kilograms of payload to a geostationary transfer orbit.
  • Its cryogenic upper stage is powered by CE-20, which according to ISRO is India’s largest cryogenics engine. It also uses two S200 solid rocket boosters to provide the thrust required for takeoff. The core stage is powered by two L110 liquid-stage Vikas rockets.

India, France set to co-develop jet engine

Taking the defence cooperation between India and France to a new level, the two countries announced that they will extend their “ground-breaking” defence cooperation in advanced aeronautical technologies by supporting the joint development of a combat aircraft engine and also an engine for the Indian multi-role helicopter (IMRH) being designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

This is among the several announcements made by the two sides on the defence front. Both nations also announced cooperation on small and advanced modular reactors and finalisation of the joint Earth observation satellite, among others.

India, France set to co-develop jet engine

“A road map on this project will be prepared between Safran and DRDO before the end of this year,” the joint statement issued after bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron said. “They also support industrial cooperation for motorization of heavy-lift helicopters under the IMRH programme with Safran Helicopter Engine, France. To enable progress on the IMRH programme, a Shareholders’ Agreement between HAL, India and Safran Helicopter Engine, France has been concluded for engine development.”

These ventures are in line with the spirit of trust that prevails between India and France in the sharing and joint development of critical components and technology building blocks, based on the successful Indo-French experience in technology transfer, the statement said.

Last month, HAL and General Electric General Electric signed an MoU to potentially manufacture the F-414 engine for the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft-MK2 subject to license approval from the U.S. Congress. India has been looking for a more powerful engine to power the fifth-generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) under development.

“Defence cooperation has been a strong pillar of our ties. It is a symbol of deep mutual trust between the two countries. France is an important partner in Make in India and self-reliant India,” Mr. Modi said in the joint press statement along with French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the bilateral talks at Elysee Palace.

On Thursday, the Defence Acquisition Council accorded preliminary approval for the procurement of 26 Rafale-M fighters to operate off India’s aircraft carriers and three additional Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines from France.

The two leaders also welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Mazgon Dockyard Ltd., Mumbai and Naval Group for the construction of three additional Scorpene submarines.

Further, other defence industrial partnership initiatives are a contract being concluded between Safran Helicopter Engine and HAL for the “Transfer of Technology of Forging and Castings” for the Shakti Engine which powers HAL built helicopters. “Another MoU between Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), and Naval Group France, a leader in European Naval Defence Industry to collaborate in the field of surface ship that caters to fulfil the requirement of India and International Naval forces,” the joint statement stated. Both countries are also working towards adopting a road map on Defence Industrial Cooperation and in view of the uptick in defence industrial collaborations, India is setting up a Technical Office of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at its Embassy in Paris, the statement said.

Referring to the Bastille Day parade where he was the chief guest, Mr. Modi said we all saw the fly-past of Indian Rafale jets, while an Indian Navy ship was also present in a port of France and the contingents of all three Services marched.

Virtual summit, virtual silence

At a media briefing on July 4, India’s Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra vehemently asserted that the fact that the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit was held virtually “in no way signifies, hints, insinuates the dilution in the objectives that we are trying to seek of the SCO Summit”. He did not disclose, however, any reason for not holding the summit physically or in hybrid mode. To emphasise India’s commitment to the SCO, Mr. Kwatra dwelt on the political, economic and cultural initiatives the country had taken and the 134 meetings and events which it had convened during its SCO presidency. What Mr. Kwatra overlooked was the legitimate point —it is precisely because India had invested so much effort in the SCO that the summit should have been held physically or in a hybrid manner. That would have imparted it greater salience.

Mr. Kwatra’s failure to give even one credible reason for having a virtual summit indicates that India is moving away from the approaches which led it to become an SCO full member in 2017. At that stage Prime Minister Narendra Modi still held the belief that he could reach a modus vivendi with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the contentious issues which plague the India-China relationship. Hence, despite the SCO’s origins and the influence exercised by China over it, he enthusiastically went ahead with India’s full membership.

China’s acts as reason

China’s actions towards India in 2020 and the evolving international order have obviously compelled a re-appraisal of Indian interests in the SCO. This is evident from the point of not only holding a virtual summit but also Mr. Modi’s combative assertiveness on issues of concern to India (terrorism and connectivity) on which it rightly has fundamental differences with China and Pakistan. On terrorism Mr. Modi said, “Some countries use cross border terrorism as an instrument of their policies, provide shelter to terrorists. SCO should not hesitate to criticise such nations. There should be no double standards on such serious matters.” While neither Pakistan nor China will change course on terrorism, the issue resonates in the Central Asian Republics that continue to have deep concerns of terrorist groups using Afghanistan.

On connectivity, though, which is a core issue for the SCO, India’s isolation in the organisation is apparent. Mr. Modi reiterated India’s position that connectivity projects should respect national sovereignty. His target was China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which violates Indian sovereignty. Significantly, though, Mr. Xi announced, in his address at the summit, that on BRI’s 10th anniversary, “China will hold the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation”. For him, the BRI is the “path of happiness benefiting the whole world”.

The BRI and the Eurasian game

The BRI’s negative consequences have not inhibited the enthusiasm of SCO members for it. India, therefore, needs to be alive to the danger of China integrating Eurasia and shutting it out of the region with Pakistan’s active support. This is not to suggest that India should endorse the BRI, which is an instrument of Chinese expansionism, but it has to find ways to maintain close ties with Eurasia. Certainly, the promotion of Buddhist heritage, however laudable the endeavour, will not help in drawing SCO members towards India and prevent their growing links with China. Besides, the Chabahar project (Iran) has not moved ahead as it needs to. India has to devote far greater resources and energy to develop connectivity through Iran though it is not easy to deal with it. Active air corridors with the Central Asian Republics and a pragmatic policy towards Afghanistan (that does not mean the diplomatic recognition of the Taliban) are also essential to remain, howsoever tenuously, in the Eurasian game.

A silence on the Ukraine war

Expectedly, the SCO Declaration was silent on the Ukraine war. India, Pakistan or China also did not refer to it in their summit statements. Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned Ukraine and castigated the West. It is also noteworthy that he thanked SCO countries for “supporting the Russian leadership in defending constitutional order” in the wake of “armed rebellion”. Mr. Xi, who has been Mr. Putin’s supporter during the entire period of the Ukraine war, made no reference of support for Russia in his summit statement.

The virtual summit ensured that Mr. Modi did not have to meet any of the leaders, including Pakistan’s Shehbaz Sharif, personally. That avoided ripples of the kind the SCO Foreign Ministers meeting generated in Goa, in May 2023. The price though paid in avoiding controversies and embarrassment including what would have been caused by the optics of Mr. Putin in India was in the demonstration of where India currently stands in Eurasia and its western neighbourhood.

Many eyes will now be on the BRICS summit in South Africa in August where Mr. Xi and perhaps Mr. Putin will be present. Will Mr. Modi go to South Africa or prefer to avoid any chance of muddying the waters before his great moment in the diplomatic sun — the G-20 summit in Delhi in September?

India’s lack of a credible explanation in hosting a virtual Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit indicates New Delhi’s diplomatic drift as far as the SCO is concerned.

Facts about the News

  • Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a permanent intergovernmental international organization.
  • Formed on 15 June 2001 in Shanghai(China)
  • Before the creation of SCO in 2001 , Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan were members of the Shanghai Five.
  • Later, it include Uzbekistan and renamed with SCO
  • India and Pakistan JOINED IN 2017.
  • On September 2021 it was announced that Iran would become its full time member.
  • Official language- Russian and Chinese.

Members- Russia, China, the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India, Pakistan and Iran

Observer Countries – Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia

Dialogue Partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey

The SCO has been an observer in the UN General Assembly since 2005.

Remembering a long-forgotten hero

A spate of programmes, including exhibition, heritage walk and talk, is planned to celebrate the bicentenary year of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Awadh, who was a fine connoisseur of art

An exhibition, a walk and a talk to be held this weekend in Kolkata will mark the bicentenary year of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last king of Awadh who spent his final years on the outskirts of what was then the capital of British India.

The tribute is the brainchild of visual artist Soumyadeep Roy, who is organising it with the help of, among others, Kolkata-resident Manzilat Fatima, who is the great-great granddaughter of Wajid Ali Shah and his wife Hazrat Mahal.

“Since the nawab was an artist himself, we are celebrating and commemorating his birth anniversary through art. We will be hosting an exhibition, a heritage walk, and a talk,” said Mr. Roy who, with the help of an art grant received from the German consulate back in 2017, has been working on a project on the nawab, and it is his works that will be on display at the exhibition.

An inspiration

“I think we live in polarised times and it’s inspirational to look back at personalities, especially artists, who were more liberal in their approach and had to tackle and overcome boundaries and restrictions in their times. Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was definitely one such artist and personality and there’s something so charming and fascinating in not only the way he made art himself, but also the way in which he facilitated and paved the way for other artists around him,” he said, explaining why he was fascinated by the nawab.

His grant-aided project, titled Huzn, was an exploration into the peripheral lives around the nawab and the people who migrated to Calcutta with him. While working on it, he parallelly began creating artworks on the nawab and it will be those on display at the exhibition, called Intekhab.

The events will take place in Metiabruz, where the exiled Shah spent the last part of his life. “The response has been immense. For the heritage walk alone, where we were expecting a small group, but some 84 people signed up and we had to close registrations. The reason for the overwhelming response might be that people actually want to know about the nawab. Both Metiabruz as well as Wajid Ali Shah have been villainised since the 19th century itself, and yet, their popularity continues to soar. Popular Indian cinema, even contemporary films, are hugely indebted to him and the legacy he left behind,” said Mr. Roy.

Manzilat Fatima said: “Intekhab is a befitting tribute to a king by a visual artist. I am so overjoyed that the city is remembering our great-great grandfather.”

Facts about the News

  • Wajid Ali Shah, also known as Jaan-i-Alam and Akhtarpiya, the twelfth and final King of Awadh, reigned for nine years, from February 13, 1847, until February 11, 1856.
  • His second wife, Muhammad Khanum also known as Begum Hazrat Mahal, fought against the EIC during 1857 Rebellion.
  • His realm, long protected by the East India Company under contract for many years, was acquired by the East India Company in 1856,.
  • The Nawab was exiled to Garden Reach, then a suburb of Kolkata, where he received a substantial annuity for the remainder of his life.
  • He was a poet, writer, dancer, and a patron of the arts. He is recognized for reviving Kathak as a significant genre of Indian classical dance.

Landslides cut off Nathula, other parts of Sikkim

Landslides triggered by heavy rain cut off large parts of northern and eastern Sikkim, including Nathula pass, while efforts were being made to restore connectivity, officials said on Friday. A landslide in the 9th Mile area along the Jawaharlal Nehru Road in the morning cut off Nathula pass, connecting India and China, besides tourist destinations such as Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir, from Sikkim’s capital Gangtok, they said. Border Roads Organisation (BRO) said its personnel have started work to clear the highway and restore connectivity. “It could take at least a day to clear the road for traffic,” a BRO official said. PTI

Facts about the News

Nathu means ‘listening ears’, and La means ‘pass’.

 It is an open trading border post between India and China.

The other passes located in the state of Sikkim are Jelep La Pass, Donkia Pass,Goecha la, Chiwabhanjang Pass.

  • Located at Chashma in the Mianwali district of Pakistan Punjab.
  • The Chashma nuclear power plant will be a 1,200-megawatt nuclear power plant.
  • The installed capacity of the existing four power plants is 1,330 megawatts.