Karnataka’s Challakere to be ISRO’s astronaut training hub
Plan ready for Space Flight Centre to come up at Chitradurga
India’s world-class facility for training astronauts will come up not in the space headquarters in Bengaluru, nor in any glitzy metropolis. It will be established in three years at Challakere, a shrubby, arid oilseeds town on the Bengaluru-Pune NH4 in Chitradurga district of Karnataka.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has proposed a ₹ 2,700-crore master plan to create top infrastructure that will house its young Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC).
Sivan, ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, told The Hindu, “Everything connected with events and planning of the HSP [Human Spaceflight Programme] will shift to our campus at Challakere. We want to establish a self-contained facility there so that in future, whatever training and activities we are now doing in Russia for the Gaganyaan crew can all be done by us here.” When ready, the 400-acre ISRO land at Challakere will be the single-stop consolidating infrastructure and activities related to space travellers.
The country pays a hefty, unnamed sum to use such facilities abroad. The first set of four astronaut candidates for the first Gaganyaan mission of 2022 are to train in Russia. The amount sought for the HSFC is over and above the ₹10,000-crore approved budget of Gaganyaan. Pending its approval, the centre may take 2-3 years at the earliest to be set up, but would come up after the first Indian crewed flight.
Marble domes of Aurangabad’s Bibi Ka Maqbara to get new glow
ASI to carry out scientific conservation of monument
The marble domes of Bibi Ka Maqbara, the famous 17th century Mughal-era monument in the city, are set to get a new shine.
The domes and other marble parts of the mausoleum will undergo scientific conservation, an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official The work is estimated to cost ₹45 lakh.
The structure, known as the ‘Taj of the Deccan’ because of its striking resemblance to the Taj Mahal, was commissioned by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1660 in the memory of his wife Dilras Banu Begum.
Deputy Superintending Archaeologist Shrikant Mishra said its domes and minarets, which are built in marble, as well as the marble screens inside would undergo scientific conservation. The work, which will go on for six months, will involve cleaning and and carrying out a chemical treatment to give it a new glow, he said. The paintings inside the entrance of the mausoleum, too, will undergo cleaning.
Due to the strong resemblance, it is also called the Dakkhani Taj (Taj of the Deccan).
Bibi Ka Maqbara is the "principal monument" of Aurangabad and its historic city.
An inscription found on the main entrance door mentions that this mausoleum was designed and erected by Ata-ullah, an architect and Hanspat Rai, an engineer respectively. Ata-ullah was the son of Ustad Ahmad Lahauri, the principal designer of the Taj Mahal.
NAL wants govt. push for Saras takeoff
It says Centre should buy at least 50-60 Saras Mk2 aircraft to make production commercially viable
The government needs to be the “launch customer” to make Saras Mk2 commercially viable, the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL), which has developed the first indigenous light transport aircraft, told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology.
The 19-seater aircraft, developed with a target cost of ₹50 crore, is at least 20-25% lower in cost than other aircraft in the similar
The aircraft has been in the making for long. The first prototype flew in 2004. But without the initial push from the government, the manufacturing capacity required for commercial production could not be set up, the NAL said.
On a five-day tour of ISRO facilities from December 25 to 30, the committee members visited the NAL on December 28 and were briefed about the aircraft. Later, NAL Director Jitendra J. Jadhav sent a report on the plan for commercial Committee chairperson and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh forwarded the report to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu.
“Our job is to study and recommend. We cannot and should not step into the domain of the executive,” Mr. Ramesh said, explaining why he forwarded the report to Mr. Naidu.
Presently, the NAL has only one order from the Indian Air Force for 15 aircraft.
The NAL has been pitching Saras Mk-2 for the government’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik), since it has the capacity to operate in“ill-equipped”, “semi-prepared” and “unpaved airstrips”. The scheme, launched in October 2016, is aimed at linking areas that have no air connectivity.
The NAL has said in its report to Mr. Ramesh that the governmentshould be the “launch customer”, and place an order for at least 50- 60 aircraft, which can be used for VIP services or tackling emergencies in times of natural calamities.
“With the firm commitment for procurement from the government, industries will come forward to set up manufacturing infrastructure. This will also push the growth of the micro, small and medium enterprises and allied service sector,” Mr. Jadhav said in his report.
National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), is India's first largest aerospace firm. It was established by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) at Delhi in 1959 and its headquarters was later moved to Bangalore in
The firm closely operates with HAL, DRDO and ISRO and has the prime responsibility of developing civilian aircraft in
The CSIR-NAL mandate is to develop aerospace technologies with strong science content, design and build small and medium-sized civil aircraft, and support all national aerospace programmes.
NAL/HAL SARAS - multirole light transport aircraft
NAL NM5 - Five Seater - General Aviation Aircraft
Army to sign MoU for 7.5 lakh AK-203 assault rifles
They will be manufactured by an Indo-Russian joint venture
For years, the Indian military and paramilitary forces have been trying to find an alternative to INSAS rifle
The INSAS rifle encounters problems like gun jamming, rifle going into automatic mode when it was set for three-round bursts and oil falling on a user’s eyes during the combat
AK-203 is an advanced version of AK-47 and it’s magazine can hold 30 bullets.
The Army is likely to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in a month for the procurement of over 7.5 lakh AK-203 assault rifles, which are to be manufactured locally by an India-Russia joint venture (JV), a Defence source said. The Defence Ministry has already floated a Request For Proposal for the supply of 6.71 lakh rifles.
“About 1 lakh rifles will come directly from Russia and the remaining will be manufactured by the JV in India. The MoU should be signed in a month,” an official
The rifles will be manufactured by the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh. The facility is being set up by the Ordnance Factories Board from the Indian side, and Rosoboron Exports and Kalashnikov on the Russian side.
The Army has appointed Major General Sanjeev Senger as the Chief Executive Officer of
In addition to the AK-203, the Army recently began inducting the first batch of 10,000 SIG-716 assault rifles.
The force has been looking to replace the indigenous INSAS rifles, which are currently in use, with modern rifles.
The present government’s zealous pursuit of the CAA citing human rights violations in theneighbourhood and illegal immigration from it is a foreign policy self-goal. Clearly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could not have, if it were to derive domestic political utility from it, talked about illegal immigration to India without castigating Bangladesh, nor could it have pontificated about the human rights violations of non-Muslims in the region without pointing fingers at Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It is such political expediency that has landed the government in an unenviablediplomatic spot today.
It would, however, be foolish of those of us who are outside the government to assume that the leadership did not foresee the negative fallout its policies and rhetoric on India’s relations with two of its best friends in the region, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, at a time when it does not have many friends in the neighbourhood.
But that is not the point. That the BJP leadership would have, most likely, foreseen the serious loss of diplomatic capital with these countries and yet gone ahead with its anti-neighbour rhetoric given its domestic political utility is what makes it singularly worrying. Put differently: the political bosses of the Indian government decided to sacrifice the country’s crucial foreign policy interests at the altar of domestic political contingencies.
This becomes a diplomatic double whammy given how India is already losing its traditional heft and influence in the region and at a time a China-led balance of power is emerging in the region. Once again, New Delhi is not unaware of it. On the contrary, South Block’s foreign policy mandarins are wary of the Chinese state’s sure-footed engulfment of the neighbourhood. And yet, the political bosses have preferred domestic political gains over diplomatic benefits, relegating foreign policy to the whims of electoral outcomes
That from a foreign policy point of view the CAA is short-sighted is obvious, and that it will adversely affect India’s regional influence and standing is an unavoidable outcome; what is shocking is that the political leadership does not seem bothered by it. That is what should worry us.
From Kashmir to the NRC to the CAA — one reckless action after another — New Delhi seems to have finally exhausted the goodwill of the international community. In December, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called the CAA “fundamentally discriminatory” — something unheard of in recent memory. Again in December, the United States, arguably India’s best friend today, urged the country to “protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with India’s Constitution and democratic values”. The same month too, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) referred to CAA as not only “highly discriminatory and arbitrary” but also contrary to New Delhi’s “obligations under international human rights laws”.
New Delhi’s attempts to reach out to the international community, albeit selectively, while assiduously avoiding those critical of its policies, have not met with much success. When India’s External Affairs Minister pulled out of a meeting with senior members of the U.S. Congress after U.S. lawmakers refused New Delhi’s demands to exclude Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal — she has been critical of the Indian government’s policies in Kashmir — the message that went out was that India is unable to justify its own policies. Or that it does not bother with what others think of it.
For a government that steadfastly shied away from internationalising domestic issues, its own actions have done precisely that thereby bringing lasting damage to the country’s reputation. Now, one might ask as to why a state should worry about its reputation and whether it is not enough to use one’s material power to achieve foreign policy outcomes. For one, the BJP has traditionally been more concerned about India’s reputation, at least as a rhetorical plank, than anyone else. Second, India’s traditional foreign policy pursuit has been a careful mix of soft power and material capability with the balance often tilting in favour of soft power. Finally, REPUTATION, among other things, is critical in aiding India’s quest for a place at the high table of international politics, such as acquiring a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seat.
More so, status quo powers, as opposed to revisionist ones, are far more favoured by the international order. India was the region’s quintessential status quo power that the world loved to engage and promote. This key characteristic of India may be undergoing a dramatic change, with many viewing India as a reckless power with revisionist ambitions — just as Pakistan has long been viewed.
Great power equations
India is a major power with great power ambitions and may even be an indispensable power in some respects. However, if India decides to shape its foreign policy based purely on domestic calculations, its indispensability and system-shaping abilities will take a serious hit. A great power, among other things, is a state that is willing to live up to certain global expectations and has the ability and willingness to help with system maintenance.
Great powers have traditionally been supportive of India’s rise in the global order and have more or less stood by India in its pursuit of power and reputation. This is bound to change thanks to the government’s domestic preoccupations. While the Trump White House may be indulgent towards New Delhi, at least for now, the patience of the Washington establishment is fast running out. If there is a Democratic government in Washington DC next year, things might get harder for New Delhi. Moscow’s unequivocal support for New Delhi is now a thing of the past, and New Delhi’s fall from grace suits Beijing more than anyone.
When was the last time we heard a mention of rising India? When was the last time someone “seriously” argued that India should be part of the UNSC? Our sheen has come off and the world is beginning to see the ugly realities within.
Moreover, thanks to the heavy political fire-fighting that it needs to do on a daily basis on issues such as Kashmir, the NRC, and the CAA, much of New Delhi’s diplomatic capital is spent on doing precisely that. Its focus on crucial regional and global issues seems to be waning fast. With little talk of renegotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, no appetite to be part of the Afghan peace process, and disinterest in the Indian Ocean’s geopolitics, among others, the regime in New Delhi resembles a provincial capital today.
Meanwhile, the world is watching as we make a spectacle of ourselves.