Sharp-eyed Cartosat-3 to take to the skies today
PSLV-C47 will carry the earth observation satellite and 13 small ones
- Advanced earth observation satellite Cartosat-3, which is due to be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR at Sriharikota in coastal Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday morning, will have the ‘sharpest eye’ of civil remote sensing satellites in the world.
- It will be carried by PSLV-C47. Thirteen small satellites of two U.S. customers will be the secondary payloads.
- A 26-hour countdown began for the launch on Tuesday morning.
- One of Cartosat-3’s cameras offers a ground resolution of 25 cm — this means it can pick up an object of a minimum of that size from a height of around 500 km.
- Currently, WorldView-3, a satellite owned by U.S. company Maxar, has the best ground resolution of 31 cm.
- So far, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has orbited eight Cartosats since May 2005. Data from most of them, especially the last four Carto-2 series ones, launched in relatively quick succession in the past three years, are exclusively used by the armed forces.
- The previous best view from a Cartosat was 65 cm, as put in the last three or four satellites in the Cartosat-2 series — 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F. However, an existing policy allows only government and government authorised agencies to access ISRO's high-resolution imageries below a resolution of 1 m.
- At 1,625 kg, Cartosat-3 is unusually heavy and more than double the mass of the previous eight in its class. Many new technologies have been built in, such as a highly agile or flexible camera; high-speed data transmission, advanced computer system and new power electronics, according to the website Space Skyrocket.
Most advanced satellite developed in India: Sivan
Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) K. Sivan has termed Cartostat-3 the most complex and advanced satellite India has ever developed. It is also the satellite with the highest-ever resolution that the ISRO has developed till date.
- Speaking to the media here on Tuesday, Mr. Sivan said the 26 hour countdown for the launch of PSLV- C47, which will carry the Tuesday morning.
- Expressing satisfaction over the preparations, he said the launch would take place at 9.28 a.m. on Wednesday, from the second pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- Cartostat-3 is mainly an earth observation satellite, which will provide spatial, spectral and temporal data for various fields including urban planning, agriculture, water resource management, environment and disaster management.
- The ISRO chairman said the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter was doing fine and had been producing data which, in turn, was being given to the scientific community for proper analysis.
Rating agency lowers growth projection
- India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra) has revised downwards its growth projection for the second quarter of the current financial year to 4.7% and the full-year growth estimate to 5.6%, it announced on Tuesday.
- “This is the fourth revision and has come in after the agency had revised its FY20 GDP growth forecast only a month ago to 6.1%,” Ind-Ra said in a report.
- “This revision became inevitable as the high-frequency data now suggest that the agency’s estimate of second quarter FY20 GDP growth coming in a little higher than 5% is unlikely to hold.” It said GDP growth for the quarter ended September this year “is likely to be 4.7%”.
Action to combat global warming inadequate: UNEP
‘Countries must cut greenhouse gas emissions three-fold’
- Ahead of the 25th edition of the Conference of Parties (COP) in Madrid in December, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned that countries’ action to combat global warming is inadequate.
- On the whole, countries must cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at least three-fold to have a fighting chance at containing the severest effects of global warming.
- “Unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6% each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement,” says a statement accompanying the UNEP report.
- Anticipated emissions
- Every year, the UNEP assesses the gap between anticipated emissions in 2030 and levels consistent with the 1.5°C and 2°C targets of the Paris Agreement.
- The report finds that greenhouse gas emissions had risen 1.5% per year over the last decade and emissions in 2018, including from land-use changes such as deforestation, hit a new high of 55.3 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent. Global temperatures have already risen about 1°C since pre-industrial times and negotiations, such as the COP, are aimed at preventing temperatures from rising more than one degree. Current commitments by countries will see temperatures rise by 3.2°C over pre-industrial levels.
- ‘Bleak findings’
- According to the report, the summary findings are bleak. “Countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global GHG emissions. Deeper and faster
- cuts are now required.”
- India is the third-largest emitter behind the United States and China respectively. India’s per capita emissions, however, are significantly below the United States, China and many others.
Not so swachh
Sanitation cannot be a separate ideal without reference to other forms of deprivation
- India’s high-profile Swachh Bharat programme has won it plaudits globally for its goal of providing sanitation to all, but as new survey data from the National Statistical Office (NSO) show, it remains a work in progress. The quest to equip houses in the countryside with a toilet has led to an expansion, but there was a deficit of about 28% as of October last year and not 5% as the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Gramin) had claimed. The declaration that the country has ended open defecation in its rural areas, made to international acclaim on Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, must return to the wish list, going by this survey. It is extraordinary that many States that were declared to be free of open defecation simply did not qualify for the status, according to the NSO data. The Centre has disputed the survey results, but it should ideally treat it as a fresh assessment of how much ground is yet to be covered. The data could help it review performance in States such as Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, where the lack of toilets is reported to be higher than the national average. More fundamentally, the survey provides an opportunity to review other social determinants such as education, housing and water supply which have a strong influence on adoption of sanitation. It would be pointless to pursue sanitation as a separate ideal, if communities are unable to see its benefits due to overall deprivation.
- The Central government has been reiterating its claims on rural India becoming entirely open defecation-free (ODF) on the basis of declarations made by States. Just last week, the Ministry of Jal Shakti said the coverage in 5,99,963 villages had risen from 38.7% in 2014, to 100% this year. It is indisputable that the number of toilets has gone up significantly, and for which taxpayers remitted about ₹20,600 crore as a cess since 2015, until the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax. Yet, there is evidence to show that this has not translated into use everywhere. The NSO survey results add a new dimension, since they controvert data relied upon by the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on ODF. It will take a marathon programme to bring all-round development to India’s villages, which have not really benefited from years of fast-paced economic growth. Rural housing and water supply are key to bringing toilet access to all, and it is doubtful whether the 2.95 crore subsidised dwellings targeted to be built by 2022 under the government’s flagship housing programme can bridge the shortfall. It is well-recognised that development indices are low in some States, and local bodies lack the capacity and resources to bring universal sanitation even where political will is present. Sustained work to eliminate black spots in coverage and a massive urban programme are critical to ending open defecation and universalising toilet access.
- The appetite of the Indian state for counting its people is evidently insatiable. The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner has completed a 10-year project of data collection, at the household level, for the Census of 2021. The individual level data collection for the National Population Register is also to be uploaded next summer, alongside the Census. As of January 2019, nearly 123 crore Aadhaar cards had been issued. In Parliament, recently, yet another exercise in counting was proposed, for a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC). While its predecessors were counting “residents” rather than “citizens”, the objective of this latest initiative is to count citizens — specifically to sift and sort citizens from non-citizens, to include and exclude, and having done so to weed out “infiltrators” destined for detention camps and potential deportation.
Taint of a label
- The rationale for a nationwide NRC, its feasibility, and, above all, its moral legitimacy, are Under the Foreigners’ Act, 1946, the burden of proof rests on the individual charged with being a foreigner.
- Since the Citizenship Act provides no independent mechanism for identifying aliens — remember the Supreme Court struck down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, or IMDT Act, in 2005 — the NRC effectively places an entire population under suspicion of alienage.
- With what justification can a state that does not have the ability to “detect” aliens, or even to secure its borders against illegal immigrants, set out to find aliens by elimination? This is tantamount not only to using an elephant to crush an ant, but of torturing the elephant to do
The cost of ‘authentication’
- Let us also consider the resources needed to conduct such an NRC before discussing the deep moral misgivings such a project must provoke. The Assam NRC is reported to have cost ₹1,600 crore with 50,000 officials deployed to enrol almost 3.3 crore applicants in an exercise that even its champions acknowledge to be deeply flawed, as it ended up excluding 19 lakh people. On this basis, and taking as an indicative number the Indian electorate of
- 9 crore, a nationwide NRC would require an outlay of ₹4.26 lakh crore, which is more than double the presumptive loss in the 2G scam, and four times the budgetary outlay for education this year.
- The work of “authenticating” 87.9 crore people would entail the deployment of 1.33 crore officials. In 2011-12 (the most recent official data available), the total number of government employees in India was 2.9 crore. If, like the Census, this exercise is to be managed exclusively by the Central government, the additional personnel needed would make this a truly novel employment generation programme. One way or another, the entire population of India and more than half its government officials will be involved, for at least the next 10 years, in counting and being counted — by all reckonings, an exceptionally productive contribution to the nation’s Gross National Happiness. The remainder can be involved in building the new detention centres that will be needed to incarcerate the unhappily excluded.
- While the limitations of administrative capacity in India are a public secret, this is a nightmarish prospect for poor and unlettered citizens whose ancestors have known no other land but this, but who are unable to produce acceptable documentation.
- Few lessons have evidently been learned from the Assam experience that yielded unanticipated outcomes, especially unwelcome to those who were most enthusiastic about it. We would be silly to shut our eyes to the practices of “paper citizenship” acquired through what Kamal Sadiq has called “networks of kinship” and “networks of profit”.. As in Assam, such an enrolment drive could actually put undocumented nationals at risk of losing their citizenship in a futile search for non-national migrants who are invariably better documented. The fear of not having papers has already led to many suicides; we should brace ourselves for many more.
- Among the many uncertainties that persist is that about the cut-off date. March 1971 has little relevance beyond Assam. The speculation about a July 1948 date for the rest of India is implausible in light of constitutional provisions, post-Partition jurisprudence, and the enactment of the Citizenship Act in 1955.
- Second, will enrolment in the NRC be compulsory or voluntary (as in Assam), and what might the consequences of not seeking registration be? Finally, there is the federal imperative of seeking the consent of State governments. Already, many States in northeast India are erupting in protest. It is sobering to recall that political considerations alone have prevented the implementation, for over two decades, of the Supreme Court ruling awarding citizenship to Chakma and Hajong tribals in Arunachal Pradesh.
- If the NRC carves out paths to statelessness for groups that are disfavoured, the Citizenship Amendment Bill creates paths to citizenship for preferred groups. The implicit assumption in the NRC is that the infiltrators are Bangladeshis (read Muslims) who must be disenfranchised and stripped of any markers of citizenship that they may have illegitimately acquired.
- The explicit promise of citizenship in the CAB is to migrants belonging to specified religious groups — all except Muslims — who will be eligible for fast-track citizenship because they are persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
- The Bill does not specify what, if any, evidence would be required for validating claims of religious persecution. Nor does it offer similar respite to the victims of sectarian religious persecution in neighbouring countries, such as the Ahmadiyas or the Rohingyas.
- It has been unequivocally asserted in Parliament that the NRC and the CAB are unrelated. Such assurances are however unlikely to assuage the anxieties of Muslim citizens given the larger ecosystem for minorities in India.
- Vigilante violence against minorities and legal impunity for its perpetrators, the triple talaq legislation and the reading down of Article 370, are suggestive of a state-society consensus on the status of minorities as second- class citizens in the New India.
- The cumulative import of these developments is the entrenchment of a conception of citizenship inconsistent with that adopted at Independence. At the end of a prolonged debate on citizenship, the Constituent Assembly settled on the principle of jus soli or birth-based citizenship as being “enlightened, modern, civilized” as opposed to the “racial citizenship” implied by the rival descent-based principle of jus sanguinis.
- A shift from soil to blood as the basis of citizenship began to occur from 1985 onwards. In 2004, an exception to birth-based citizenship was created for individuals born in India but having one parent who was an illegal migrant (impliedly Bangladeshi Muslim) at the time of their birth. The CAB and the NRC will only consolidate this shift to a jus sanguinis citizenship regime.
- Constitutionally, India is a political community whose citizens avow the idea of the nation as a civic entity, transcending ethnic differences. The NRC-CAB combination signals a transformative shift from a civic-national conception to an ethno-national conception of India, as a political community in which identity determines gradations of citizenship.
- In the final analysis, the minutiae of implementation —from cut-off dates to resource constraints — are only cautionary arguments against this potential misadventure.
- The compelling argument against it lies in its adverse repercussions for the delicate but fraying plural social fabric of this nation; for the civilizational qualities of humaneness and hospitality that have marked our history; and, above all, for the equality of citizenship, based on birth and without regard to creed, that our Constitution