1. President bats for mediation as a dispute resolution tool
Kovind flags reluctance among judiciary to adopt mediation
President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday advocated the concept of mediation in the judicial process and said it is yet to find widespread acceptance due to certain bottlenecks, adding that all stakeholders should display a positive attitude to achieve the desired result.
“Truly speaking, in mediation, everyone is a winner. Having said that, one has to admit that the concept is yet to find widespread acceptance across the country. Not enough trained mediators are available at some places,” he said.
Addressing the two-day National Judicial Conference on Mediation and Information Technology organised at Kevadia in Gujarat, Mr. Kovind said the misconception among lawyers about mediation being a “threat to their profession” has largely been removed in the last two decades. All stakeholders have recognised mediation as “an effective tool for dispute resolution,” he added.
The President also praised the top court’s mediation and conciliation project commission which has started imparting mediation training for dispute resolution.
The President added the topmost objective of switching the justice delivery system to information and communication technology (ICT) should be for improvement of access to justice and justice delivery.
“What we are aiming at is not change for sake of change, but change for the sake of a better world,” he said.
The two-day conference is being attended by the Chief Justice of India, the Union Law and Justice Minister, Gujarat Governor and CM and others.
The Mediation Bill, 2021
- The Mediation Bill, 2021 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on December 20, 2021. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), where parties attempt to settle their dispute (outside courts) with the assistance of an independent third person (mediator). The Bill seeks to promote mediation (including online mediation), and provide for enforcement of settlement agreements resulting from mediation. Key features of the Bill include:
- Applicability: The Bill will apply to mediation proceedings conducted in India where: (i) all parties reside in, are incorporated in, or have their place of business in India, (ii) the mediation agreement states that mediation will be as per this Bill, or (iii) there is an international mediation (i.e., mediation related to a commercial dispute where at least one party is a foreign government, a foreign national/resident, or an entity with its place of business outside India). In these cases, if the central or state government is a party, the Bill will only apply to: (a) commercial disputes, and (b) other disputes as notified by such government.
- Pre-litigation mediation: In case of civil or commercial disputes, a person must try to settle the dispute by mediation before approaching any court or certain tribunals as notified. Even if the parties fail to reach a settlement through pre-litigation mediation, the court or tribunal may at any stage of the proceedings refer the parties to mediation if they request for the same.
- Disputes not fit for mediation: Disputes not fit for mediation include those: (i) relating to claims against minors or persons of unsound mind, (ii) involving prosecution for criminal offences, (iii) affecting the rights of third parties, and (iv) relating to levy or collection of taxes. The central government may amend this list of disputes.
- Mediation process: Mediation proceedings will be confidential. A party may withdraw from mediation after the first two mediation sessions. The mediation process must be completed within 180 days (even if the parties fail to arrive at an agreement), which may be extended by another 180 days by the parties. In case of court annexed mediation (i.e., mediation conducted at a mediation centre established by any court or tribunal), the process must be conducted in accordance with directions or rules framed by the Supreme Court or High Courts.
- Mediators: Mediators only assist the parties to settle their dispute, and cannot impose a settlement on the them. Mediators may be appointed by: (i) the parties by agreement, or (ii) a mediation service provider (an institution administering mediation). Mediators must disclose any conflict of interest that may raise doubts on their independence. Parties may then choose to replace the mediator.
- Mediation Council of India: The central government will establish the Mediation Council of India. The Council will consist of a chairperson, two full-time members (with experience in mediation or ADR), three ex-officio members (including Secretaries in the Ministries of Law and Justice and Finance), and one part-time member (from an industry body). Functions of the Council include: (i) registration of mediators, and (ii) recognising mediation service providers and mediation institutes (providing training, education and certification of mediators).
- Mediated settlement agreement: Agreements resulting from mediation must be in writing, signed by the parties and authenticated by the mediator. Such agreements will be final, binding, and enforceable in the same manner as court judgments (except agreements arrived at after community mediation). Mediated settlement agreements (besides those arrived at in court referred mediation or by Lok Adalat or Permanent Lok Adalat) may be challenged only on grounds of: (i) fraud, (ii) corruption, (iii) impersonation, or (iv) relating to disputes not fit for mediation.
- Community mediation: Community mediation may be attempted to resolve disputes likely to affect the peace and harmony amongst residents of a locality. It will be conducted by a panel of three mediators (may include persons of standing in the community, and representatives of RWAs).
- Interface with other laws: The Bill will override other laws on mediation (except certain laws such as the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, and the Industrial Relations Code, 2020). The Bill also makes consequential amendments in certain laws (such as the Indian Contract Act, 1872, and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996).
2. Offering freebies is a policy call of a political party: ECI
Panel tells court it does not have powers of deregistration
Offering or distributing freebies either before or after an election is a policy decision of a political party, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has told the Supreme Court.
The poll body was replying to a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay that the promise and distribution of “irrational freebies” by political parties amounted to bribery and unduly influencing voters. It vitiated free and fair elections in the country, the petition said.
But the ECI adopted a hands-off approach, saying “whether such policies are financially viable or have adverse effect on the economic health of the State is a question that has to be considered and decided by the voters of the State”.
The election body said it cannot regulate policies and decisions that may be taken by the winning party when they form the government.
“Such an action, without enabling provisions of law, would be an overreach of powers,” the ECI said in its affidavit.
The ECI referred to the top court’s own decision in the S. Subramaniam Balaji case that the poll body cannot intervene in promises made in election manifestos released by parties before the announcement of the election dates, after which the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) kicked in.
It said new MCC guidelines were framed in consultation with political parties, keeping in mind the potential influence freebies may have on a level playing field. A letter from the ECI had even advised parties to submit their declarations along with copies of manifestos.
The ECI did not agree with Mr. Upadhyay’s plea to seize the election symbols of parties which promise gifts. The lawyer had wanted an additional condition that “a political party shall not promise/distribute irrational freebies from the public funds before election” to be inserted in the Election Symbols Order of 1968.
The recognition and continuation of state and national parties are based on one touchstone — electoral performance, the ECI countered.
“Barring parties from promising/distributing freebies from public funds before election may result in a situation where parties will lose their recognition even before they display their electoral performance in elections,” the ECI reasoned.
It said parties can be de-registered only if they had registered through fraud or forgery or if they were declared illegal by the Centre or if they had stopped abiding by the Indian Constitution.
However, the ECI said it has been, for years, appealing to the Centre to arm it with the powers to deregister political parties.
In a letter to the Law Minister in July 1998, the Chief Election Commissioner had said that out of over 650 parties registered with the ECI, only 150 or so contested elections in 1998.
The letter was referred to in another communication in July 2004 when the ECI had sent a set of 22 proposals for electoral reforms, including powers to deregister political parties.
The Election Commission is a permanent and an independent body established by the Constitution of India directly to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the power ofsuperintendence, direction and control of elections to parliament,state legislatures, the office of president of India and the office of vice-president of India shall be vested in the election commission.
Composition Election commission of India:
The constitution provides for the following provisions in relation to the composition of the election commission:
- The election commission shall consist of the Chief Election Commissioner and a such number of other election commissioners, if any, as the president may from time to time fix.
- The appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners shall be made by the president.
- When any other election commissioner is so appointed the chief election commissioner shall act as the chairman of the election commission.
- The president may also appoint after consultation with the election commission such regional commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the election commission.
- The conditions of service and tenure of office of the election commissioners and the regional commissioners shall be such as the President may by rule
CEC & EC
- Today, the Election Commission has been functioning as a multi-member body consisting of three election commissioners.
- The chief election commissioner and the two other election commissioners have equal powers and receive equal salary, allowances and other perquisites, which are similar to those of a judge of the Supreme Court.
- In case of difference of opinion amongst the Chief Election Commissioner and/or two other selection commissioners, the matter is decided by the Commission by majority.
- They hold office for a term of six years or until they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier and can resign at any time or can also be removed before the expiry of their term.
“Members of EC not supposed to be clones of each other and divergence of views natural”
-Sunil Arora (Present CEC)
- The Commission has been given powers for determining the territorial areas of the electoral constituencies, preparing electoral rolls, notifying the dates and schedules of elections, granting recognition to political parties, allotting election symbols to parties, determine the code of conduct in times of elections etc.
- ECI is empowered to advise the President and Governor on matters relating to the disqualifications of the members of Parliament and state legislature respectively.
- To advise the president whether elections can be held in a state under president’s rule in order to extend the period of emergency after one year.
- It advises the High Courts and Supreme Court in matters related to post-election disputes between candidates and political parties.
- It also acts as a court for settling disputes related to granting of recognition to political parties and disputes arising out of the allotment of election symbols to them.
State Election Commission.
- The Election commission is not concerned with the elections to panchayats and municipalities inthe states. For this, the Constitution of India provides for a separate State Election Commission.
- The Constitution of India vests in the State Election Commission, consisting of a State ElectionCommissioner, the superintendence, direction, and control of the preparation of electoral rolls for, and the conduct of all elections to the Panchayats and the Municipalities (Articles 243K, 243ZA).
- The State Election Commissioner is appointed by the Governor.
- ECI and SECs-
The provisions of Article 243K of the Constitution, which provides for setting up of SECs, are almost identical to those of Article 324 related to the EC. In other words, the SECs enjoy the same status as the EC.
3. Improved GSLV to be ready by this year
Modifications have been made to its cryogenic upper stage as per panel’s recommendations
The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) with improvements added to its cryogenic upper stage (CUS) is expected to be ready in the second half of this year.
A high-level panel which examined last year’s failed GSLV-F10/EOS-03 mission had recommended measures for making the CUS more robust. Indian Space Research Organisation’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) is tasked with making the required modifications to the cryogenic engine-powered upper stage of the GSLV Mk II rocket.
A senior official of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), ISRO’s lead unit on launch vehicles, says the next GSLV flight will be held once the modifications are incorporated.
The GSLV-F10 mission on August 12, 2021 was designed to place the earth observation satellite EOS-03 in a geosynchronous transfer orbit, but the upper stage of the rocket malfunctioned, forcing the space agency to abort the mission. A national-level Failure Analysis Committee (FAC) later concluded that a leak in a Vent and Relief Valve (VRV) had led to a lower build-up of pressure in the Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) propellant tank, leading to a failed mission.
To avoid leaks
Modifications planned include a mechanism to ensure sufficient pressure in the tank before the engine burns and strengthening of the VRV to avoid leaks.
On Thursday, Union Minister of State for Science & Technology Jitendra Singh informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that computer simulations as well as multiple ground tests, “closely simulating the conditions in the GSLV-F10 flight, had validated the analysis of the FAC.” He points out that the satellite for the next GSLV mission is expected to be ready for launch in the fourth quarter of 2022 and the mission failure is not likely to delay “related projects”.
The FAC, whose report was published in March, points to a leak in the VRV as the underlying reason for the failure. Pressure build-up in the liquid hydrogen (LH2) propellant tank was low when the upper stage engine was to ignite. This caused the fuel booster turbo pump inside the LH2 tank, which feeds the main turbo pump of the engine to malfunction, affecting the flow of propellant into the engine thrust chamber.
Indian Satellite Launch Vehicles
A launch vehicle is a rocket-powered vehicle used to transport a spacecraft beyond Earth’s atmosphere, either into orbit around Earth or to some other destination in outer space. The launch vehicles have been used to send crewed spacecraft, uncrewed space probes, and satellites into space since the 1950s.
Launch Vehicles are used to transport and put satellites or spacecraft into space. In India, the launch vehicles development program began in the early 1970s. The first experimental Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) was developed in 1980. An Augmented version of this, ASLV, was launched successfully in 1992. India has made tremendous strides in launch vehicle technology to achieve self-reliance in the satellite launch vehicle program with the operationalization of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
Rocket propellant is the reaction mass of a rocket.
A propellant is a chemical mixture burned to produce thrust in rockets and consists of a fuel and an oxidizer.
Fuel is a substance that burns when combined with oxygen-producing gas for propulsion.
An oxidizer is an agent that releases oxygen for combination with a fuel. The ratio of oxidizer to fuel is called the mixture ratio.
Propellants are classified according to their state – liquid, solid, or hybrid.
Liquid Propellants: In a liquid propellant rocket, the fuel and oxidizer are stored in separate tanks and are fed through a system of pipes, valves, and turbopumps to a combustion chamber where they are combined and burned to produce thrust.
- Advantages: Liquid propellant engines are more complex than their solid propellant counterparts, however, they offer several advantages. By controlling the flow of propellant to the combustion chamber, the engine can be throttled, stopped, or restarted.
- Disadvantages: The main difficulties with liquid propellants are with oxidizers. Storable oxidizers, such as nitric acid and nitrogen tetroxide are extremely toxic and highly reactive, while cryogenic propellants being stored at low temperature and can also have reactivity/toxicity issues.
Liquid propellants used in rocketry can be classified into three types: petroleum, cryogens, and hypergolic.
- Petroleum fuels are those refined from crude oil and are a mixture of complex hydrocarbons, i.e. organic compounds containing only carbon and hydrogen. The petroleum used as rocket fuel is a type of highly refined kerosene.
- Cryogenic propellants are liquefied gases stored at very low temperatures, most frequently liquid hydrogen (LH2) as the fuel and liquid oxygen (LO2 or LOX) as the oxidizer. Hydrogen remains liquid at temperatures of -253 oC (-423 oF) and oxygen remains in a liquid state at temperatures of -183 oC (-297 oF).
- Hypergolic propellants and oxidizers that ignite spontaneously on contact with each other and require no ignition source. The easy start and restart capability of hypergolic make them ideal for spacecraft manoeuvring systems.
- Since hypergolic remain liquid at normal temperatures, they do not pose the storage problems like cryogenic propellants. Hypergolic are highly toxic and must be handled with extreme care. Hypergolic fuels commonly include hydrazine, monomethyl-hydrazine (MMH) and unsymmetrical dimethyl-hydrazine (UDMH).
Solid propellant: These are the simplest of all rocket designs. They consist of a casing, usually steel, filled with a mixture of solid compounds (fuel and oxidizer) that burn at a rapid rate, expelling hot gases from a nozzle to produce thrust. When ignited, a solid propellant burns from the center out towards the sides of the casing.
- There are two families of solids propellants: homogeneous and composite. Both types are dense, stable at ordinary temperatures, and easily storable.
- Composites are composed mostly of a mixture of granules of solid oxidizers, such as ammonium nitrate, ammonium dinitramide, ammonium perchlorate, or potassium nitrate in a polymer binding agent.
- Single-, double-, or triple-bases (depending on the number of primary ingredients) are homogeneous mixtures of one to three primary ingredients.
- Advantages: Solid propellant rockets are much easier to store and handle than liquid propellant rockets. High propellant density makes for compact size as well.
- Disadvantages: Unlike liquid-propellant engines, solid propellant motors cannot be shut down. Once ignited, they will burn until all the propellant is exhausted.
Hybrid propellant: These engines represent an intermediate group between solid and liquid propellant engines. One of the substances is solid, usually the fuel, while the other, usually the oxidizer, is liquid. The liquid is injected into the solid, whose fuel reservoir also serves as the combustion chamber.
- The main advantage of such engines is that they have high performance, similar to that of solid propellants, but the combustion can be moderated, stopped, or even restarted. It is difficult to make use of this concept for very large thrusts, and thus, hybrid propellant engines are rarely built.
Sounding rockets are usually one or two-stage solid propellant rockets. They are primarily intended for probing the upper atmospheric regions using rocket-borne instrumentation. They also serve as platforms for testing prototypes of new components or subsystems intended for use in launch vehicles and satellites. The launch of the first sounding rocket US-made ‘Nike Apache’ from Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on November 21, 1963, marked the beginning of the Indian Space Programme.
In 1965, ISRO started launching a series of our own sounding rockets named Rohini from TERLS. RH-75, with a diameter of 75mm was the first truly Indian sounding rocket, which was followed by RH-100 and RH-125 rockets.
The sounding rocket program was indeed the bedrock on which the edifice of launch vehicle technology was built. The experience gained was of immense value in the mastering of solid propellant technology and allied systems of the launch vehicles. Several scientific missions with national and international participation have been conducted using the Rohini sounding rockets.
Operational Sounding Rockets
Currently, operational sounding rockets include three versions namely RH-200, RH-300-Mk-II, and RH-560-Mk-III. These cover a payload range of 8 to 100 kg and an apogee range of 80 to 475 km. The details are given below.
|Payload (in kg)||10.5||70||100|
|Altitude (in km)||75||120||550|
|Purpose||Meterology||Middle atmospheric studies||Upper atmospheric studies|
Operational sounding rockets are further divided in two groups:
- Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV)
- Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV)
Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV)
The Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) project was born out of the need for achieving indigenous satellite launch capability for communications, remote sensing and meteorology.
The Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 (SLV-3) was India’s first experimental satellite launch vehicle, which was an all solid, four-stage vehicle weighing 17 tonnes. It had a height of 22m and it was capable of placing 40 kg class payloads in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
The first experimental flight of SLV3, in August 1979, was only partially successful. The next launch on July 18, 1980, from Sriharikota Range (SHAR), successfully placed Rohini satellite, RS-1, into orbit, thereby making India the sixth member of an exclusive club of space-faring. Apart from the July 1980 launch, there were two more launches held in May 1981 and April 1983, orbiting Rohini satellites carrying remote sensing sensors.
The successful culmination of the SLV-3 project showed the way to advanced launch vehicle projects such as the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV)
Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) was developed to act as a low-cost intermediate vehicle to demonstrate and validate critical technologies. With a lift-off weight of 40 tonnes, the 23.8 m tall ASLV was configured as a five-stage, all-solid propellant vehicle, with a mission of orbiting 150 kg class satellites into 400 km circular orbits. The strap-on stage consisted of two identical 1m diameter solid propellant motors, Under the ASLV program, four developmental flights were conducted.
- The first developmental flight took place on March 24, 1987,
- and the second on July 13, 1988.
- ASLV-D3 was successfully launched on May 20, 1992, when SROSS-C (106 kg) was put into an orbit of 255 x 430 km.
- ASLV-D4 launched on May 4, 1994, orbited SROSS-C2 weighing 106 kg. It had two payloads, Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) Experiment and Retarding Potential Analyser (RPA), and functioned for seven years.
ASLV provided valuable inputs for further development.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is the third generation launch vehicle of India. It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages. PSLV has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately.
After its first successful launch in October 1994, PSLV emerged as the reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle of India with 39 consecutively successful missions by June 2017.
During the 1994-2017 period, the vehicle has launched 48 Indian satellites and 209 satellites for customers from abroad. Besides, the vehicle successfully launched two spacecraft – Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013 – that later traveled to Moon and Mars respectively.
PSLV earned its title “the workhorse of ISRO” through consistently delivering various satellites to Low Earth Orbits, particularly the IRS series of satellites.
It can take up to 1,750 kg of payload to sun-synchronous polar orbits of 600 km altitude. Due to its unmatched reliability, PSLV has also been used to launch various satellites into Geosynchronous and Geostationary orbits, like satellites from the IRNSS constellation. The PS4 is the uppermost stage of PSLV, comprising of two Earth storable liquid engines.
Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)
Indian National Satellite System (INSAT)
Geostationary Satellite (GSAT)
Launched Missions → Chandrayaan-1, Mars Orbiter Mission, Space Capsule Recovery Experiment, IRNSS, Astrosat.
Vehicle Variants and Launch Capability
- PSLV-Core Alone
- PSLV XL
- No. of Solid Strap-ons : Six (9T)
- Payload capability to SSPO (600 km) : 1550 kg
PSLV – Core Alone
- No. of Solid Strap-ons: NIL
- Payload capability to SSPO (600 km) : 1100 Kg
- No. of Solid Strap-ons: Six (12T)
- Payload capability o SSPO (600 Km) : 1700 kg
- Payload capability o sub GTO (284 x 20650 km) 1425 Kg
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is capable of placing 2 ton class of satellites like the INSAT and GSAT series of communication satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-II (GSLV Mk II) is the largest launch vehicle developed by India, which is currently in operation. This fourth-generation launch vehicle GSLV Mk-II has the capability to launch satellites of lift-off mass of up to 2,500 kg to the GTO and satellites of up to 5,000 kg lift-off mass to the LEO.
GSLV Mk-II is a 49 m tall, three stage vehicle with a lift-off mass of 416 ton.
- The first stage comprises of a S139 solid booster with four liquid strap-on motors, each weighing 40 tons.
- The second stage (GS2) is a liquid engine carrying 37.5 tons of liquid propellant.
- The third stage is the indigenously built Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) which uses typically 15 tons of cryogenic propellants (Liquid Hydrogen (LH2) as fuel and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) as Oxidiser).
- GSLV Mk-I : (Russian Cryogenic)
- GSLV Mk-II : (Indigenous Cryogenic)
- GSLV Mk-III : (Indigenous Cryogenic)
Cryogenic rocket engine – Fuel or oxidizer (or both) is gases liquefied and stored at very low temperatures.
- A cryogenic rocket engine is a rocket engine that uses a cryogenic fuel or oxidizer, that is, its fuel or oxidizer (or both) are gases liquefied and stored at very low temperature.
- A Cryogenic rocket stage is more efficient and provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant it burns compared to solid and earth-storable liquid propellant rocket stages. Specific impulse achievable with cryogenic propellants (liquid Hydrogen and liquid Oxygen) is much higher compared to earth storable liquid and solid propellants, giving it a substantial payload advantage.
- Oxygen liquefies at -183 deg C and Hydrogen at -253 deg C also entails complex ground support systems like propellant storage and filling systems, cryo engine and stage test facilities, transportation and handling of cryo fluids, and related safety aspects.
Difference Between PSLV & GSLV
PSLV (Polar satellite launch vehicle)
- First launch 1993
- Can carry up to 1425 kg satellite in GTO
- Can carry up to 1750 kg in LEO orbit
- For launching Indian remote sensing satellites (IRS)
- Used for Chandrayaan & Mars Mission
- four stages propellant using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately
GSLV (Geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle)
- First launch 2001
- Can carry up to 2500 kg satellite in GTO orbit
- Can carry up to 5000 kg satellite in LEO orbit
- Developed mainly for launching Indian National satellites (INSAT)
- The next version is GSLV MK-3
- Three stages propellant using solid, liquid & cryogenic propulsion in order
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MK3 (GSLV Mk 3)
The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV MkIII) also known as LVM3, is the next generation launcher being developed by ISRO for achieving self-reliance in the launch of 4 ton class of communication satellites to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbits (GTO).
GSLV Mk-III is a 43.43 m tall three stage vehicle with a lift-off mass of 640 tones.
The launcher is designed to be a versatile launcher to launch payloads to other orbits as well and will have a payload capability in excess of 10 tons to Low Earth Orbits (LEO). Once GSLV-MkIII becomes operational, India would be able to dispense the procured launches for 4-ton class communication satellites.
The powerful cryogenic stage of GSLV Mk III enables it to place heavy payloads into Low Earth Orbits of 600 km altitude. The Cryogenic Upper Stage (C25) is powered by CE-20, India’s largest cryogenic engine, designed and developed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre. GSLV Mk III uses two S200 solid rocket boosters to provide the huge amount of thrust required for lift off. The S200 was developed at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.
It will allow India to achieve complete self-reliance in launching satellites as –
- It will be capable of placing 4-tonne class Geosynchronous satellites into GTO
- It will be capable of placing 8-tonne class satellites into LEO
Significance of GSLV MK3
- GSLV will cost just one-third of the money spent on foreign agencies, which will reduce satellite launch cost as well as will save Forex
- It will enhance India’s capability to be a competitive player in the multimillion-dollar commercial launch market. It will help in earning foreign exchange.
- The GSLV will help ISRO put heavier communication satellites of GSAT class into orbit.
- Reduction of dependence on foreign agencies gives a strategic boost in this high tech sector
Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD)
Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) is one of the most technologically challenging endeavours of ISRO towards developing essential technologies for a fully reusable launch vehicle to enable low-cost access to space. The configuration of RLV-TD is similar to that of an aircraft and combines the complexity of both launch vehicles and aircraft.
The winged RLV-TD has been configured to act as a flying testbed to evaluate various technologies, namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, and powered cruise flight. In the future, this vehicle will be scaled up to become the first stage of India’s reusable two-stage orbital launch vehicle.
RLV-TD consists of a fuselage (body), a nose cap, double delta wings, and twin vertical tails. It also features symmetrically placed active control surfaces called Elevons and Rudder. This technology demonstrator was boosted to Mach no: 5 by a conventional solid booster (HS9) designed for low burn rate. The selection of materials like special alloys, composites, and insulation materials for developing an RLV-TD and the crafting of its parts is very complex and demands highly skilled manpower. Much high technology machinery and test equipment were utilized for building this vehicle.
Objectives of RLV-TD:
- Hypersonic aero thermodynamic characterisation of wing body;
- Evaluation of autonomous Navigation, Guidance and Control (NGC) schemes;
- Integrated flight management;
- Thermal Protection System Evaluation;
RLV-TD was successfully flight tested on May 23, 2016, from SDSC SHAR Sriharikota validating the critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance & control, reusable thermal protection system, and re-entry mission management.
The satellites are launched into orbit by multi-staged satellite launch vehicles that can be used only once i.e. they are expendable. These launch vehicles carry oxidiser along with the fuel for combustion to produce thrust. Launch vehicles designed for one time use are expensive and their efficiency is low because they can carry only 2-4% of their lift-off mass to orbit. Thus, there is a worldwide effort to reduce the launch cost.
Nearly 70% of the propellant (fuel-oxidiser combination) carried by today’s launch vehicles consists of oxidiser. Therefore, the next generation launch vehicles must use a propulsion system which can utilise the atmospheric oxygen during their flight through the atmosphere which will considerably reduce the total propellant required to place a satellite in orbit.
Also, if those vehicles are made re-usable, the cost of launching satellites will further come down significantly. Thus, the future re-usable launch vehicle concept along with air-breathing propulsion is an exciting candidate offering routine access to space at far lower cost.
Considering the strategic nature of air-breathing technology which has the potential to bring a significant shift in the launch vehicle design, worldwide efforts are on to develop the technology for air breathing engines. Ramjet, Scramjet and Dual Mode Ramjet (DMRJ) are the three concepts of air-breathing engines which are being developed by various space agencies.
A ramjet is a form of air-breathing jet engine that uses the vehicle’s forward motion to compress incoming air for combustion without a rotating compressor. Fuel is injected in the combustion chamber where it mixes with the hot compressed air and ignites. A ramjet-powered vehicle requires an assisted take-off like a rocket assist to accelerate it to a speed where it begins to produce thrust.
Ramjets work most efficiently at supersonic speeds around Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound) and can operate up to speeds of Mach 6. However, the ramjet efficiency starts to drop when the vehicle reaches hypersonic speeds.
A scramjet engine is an improvement over the ramjet engine as it efficiently operates at hypersonic speeds and allows supersonic combustion. Thus it is known as Supersonic Combustion Ramjet or Scramjet.
A dual-mode ramjet (DMRJ) is a type of jet engine where a ramjet transforms into a scramjet over Mach 4-8 range, which means it can efficiently operate both in subsonic and supersonic combustor modes. An important development in ISRO’s Air Breathing Propulsion Project (ABPP) occurred on August 28, 2016, which was the successful flight testing of its Scramjet.
The first experimental mission of ISRO’s Scramjet Engine towards the realisation of an Air Breathing Propulsion System was successfully conducted from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota on August 28, 2016. With this flight, critical technologies such as ignition of air breathing engines at supersonic speed, holding the flame at supersonic speed, air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems have been successfully demonstrated. The Scramjet engine designed by ISRO uses Hydrogen as fuel and the Oxygen from the atmospheric air as the oxidiser. The August 28 test was the maiden short duration experimental test of ISRO’s Scramjet engine with a hypersonic flight at Mach 6.
ISRO’s Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), which is an advanced sounding rocket, was the solid rocket booster used for this test of Scramjet engines at supersonic conditions. Some of the technological challenges handled by ISRO during the development of Scramjet engine include the design and development of Hypersonic engine air intake, the supersonic combustor, development of materials withstanding very high temperatures, computational tools to simulate hypersonic flow, ensuring performance and operability of the engine across a wide range of flight speeds, proper thermal management and ground testing of the engines. India is the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of a Scramjet Engine.
4. ‘Carbon dioxide removal is necessary’
To get to net zero, you need technologies for this process: UN group member
Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council for Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and member of the High-Level Expert Group constituted by United Nations Secretary-General, speaks on the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), its implications for India and what the expert groups strives to achieve. Edited excerpts
What are your observations on the latest IPCC report?
It’s a stark reminder of what we know about the impact of climate change and that the world is on an unsustainable pathway. Compared to the aspirational goal of keeping temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius to 2 degrees Celsius under the Paris Agreement, the world is on track for a 3.5-4 degrees Celsius pathway (increase in temperature by the end of the century).
What is important to remember is that the space for bringing it back to a sustainable pathway is shrinking. Some of the new things that this report says is exposing this disjuncture between the slowing growth rate of emissions and the increase in absolute emissions.
The growth rate of emissions has dropped from 2.1% a year (2001-2009) to 1.3% in the last decade. However, the increase in emissions in the last decade has been the highest ever. Another important message from the report is that carbon dioxide removal (from the atmosphere) is almost necessary to stay within the net zero ambitions that the world has set for itself.
You mean that we need technologies that will aid carbon capture?
No, this is different. Carbon capture happens at the source, say a power plant or cement plant (where the emitted carbon dioxide is trapped and usually stored underground). What I mean is actually sucking existing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. This includes a spectrum of technologies from forests, which are natural sinks, to things like ‘enhanced weathering’, (that involves using) certain kinds of rocks that can absorb CO2 better; ocean fertilisation (increasing the alkalinity of oceans and thus their ability to absorb carbon dioxide) or it could be mechanical techniques like direct air capture (DAC). These technologies are under development and the governance mechanism for them is missing.
While India has committed to increasing forests, there doesn’t seem to be a conversation on say developing DAC technologies in India? Does this mean India has to fund technology development on these lines?
I have advocated for some time that India should be thinking about greenhouse gas removal as an important area of research. The equations don’t add up otherwise. To get to net zero (India has committed to a net zero year of 2070) means that you will still have some sources of carbon dioxide that you can’t eliminate and so you need technologies (to remove the CO2). Whether it will be through natural sinks or mechanical processes, is something that requires serious thinking.
The latest report seems to suggest coal plants without carbon capture should no longer be allowed. However India’s policy, while committed to increasing solar and wind, is to build more coal plants. How do we reconcile this?
The IPCC report says that if you don’t have CCS (carbon capture and storage) then coal consumption will have to fall to 67-82% by 2030 globally. At my organisation, we have (forecast scenarios with) CCS and without CCS. Even if we had CCS, we would need 5,600 gigawatts ( 1 gigawatt, or GW, is a billion watts) of solar power to meet our net zero targets (at 2070) and if we didn’t, we’d need about 7,000 GW.
India’s trajectory shows that there is continued near-term use of coal in the power sector and industry. However, the question is, how do we use this coal more efficiently, that means burning less coal and emitting less while getting the same amount of energy (as at present). Secondly, we have to experiment with CCS technologies to ensure the plants in operation can abate emissions. Finally, India has to start investing in technologies this decade even if they will reach scale only beyond 2030.
You are part of an expert group — the only Indian — constituted by the UN Secretary General to set stronger and clearer standards for net-zero emissions pledges by non-State entities — including businesses, investors, cities. What is this group expected to do?
In one word, the purpose of this group is trust. The world of climate action is far more disperse than from 30 years ago when the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was formulated. On one hand, you have national governments come out with policies on their climate actions. Sometimes these become international commitments and at other times these are devolved into what could be done by actors who aren’t part of governments — companies, cities etc. We’ve seen that when national governments aren’t as ambitious about what needs to be done, other actors step us. This all means, that there are various sources of climate action, they could all feed into national commitments, or they could lead by example to inspire States to do more. This means that what these other actors do needs to be credibly defined, credibly monitored, reported and verified. This would create trust in the multilateral process to keep nudging climate action forward.
5. W boson mass less than expected: study
If confirmed by other experiments, it would be a sign of new physics
The grand explanation physicists use to describe how the universe works may have some major new flaws to patch, after a fundamental particle was found to have more mass than scientists thought.
“It’s not just something is wrong,” said Dave Toback, a particle physicist at Texas A&M University and a spokesperson for the U.S. government’s Fermi National Accelerator Lab, which conducted the experiments. If replicated by other labs, “it literally means something fundamental in our understanding of nature is wrong.”
The physicists at the lab crashed particles together over ten years and measured the mass of 4 million W bosons. These subatomic particles are responsible for a fundamental force, and they exist for only a fraction of a second before they decay into other particles.
The difference in mass from what the prevailing theory of the universe predicts is too big to be a rounding error or anything that could be easily explained away, according to the study by a team of 400 scientists from around the world published in the journal Science. If confirmed by other experiments, it would present one of the biggest problems yet with the standard model of particle physics.
The standard model says a W boson should measure 8,03,57,000 electron volts, plus or minus six. “We found it slightly more than that,” said Giorgio Chiarelli, scientist for the Fermi team and research director for the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics.
Scientists have long known the standard model isn’t perfect. It does not explain dark matter or gravity well.
6. A constitutional crisis in Pakistan
Where does the Supreme Court stand on the Imran Khan government-Opposition clash?
The story so far: With his actions over the past week, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, and former pace bowler and cricket captain, has given the term “slog overs” a new meaning, pulling surprise after surprise in order to stave off what seems like the inevitable: the end of his government. What was meant to be the final hour, the no-confidence motion brought by Opposition parties on April 3, ended up becoming just the first chapter in a week of dramas, that began when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) leaders stood up in the National Assembly, and asked the Deputy Speaker Muhammad Qasim Khan Suri, presiding that day, to reject the no-trust motion on the grounds that it was authored through a “foreign conspiracy”.
What did the court rule?
The Deputy speaker complied, and Mr. Khan then tried to ensure that rather than the Opposition bringing another no-trust motion, he would resign and push through the dissolution of the Pakistani assembly, with an order from President Arif Alvi to that effect. Four days later, ruling on an appeal from the combined opposition, the Supreme Court struck down all the actions of April 3, calling them “unconstitutional and illegal”, reinstating Mr. Khan, and the National Assembly, and ordering them to go through with the trust vote as originally planned. Each side insists its actions have been decided by Pakistan’s Constitution, adopted in 1973.
What did it say on the ploy used by the government?
In an eight-page judgment on April 7, the Supreme Court said the Deputy Speaker’s decision to dismiss the no-trust motion; Mr. Khan’s move to seek dissolution of the National Assembly without seeking a vote; President Alvi’s decision to dissolve the Assembly, appoint a “Caretaker Prime Minister” of Mr. Khan’s choice and order fresh elections, were all “contrary to the Constitution and of no legal effect”, and set them aside. It added that “any order by the Prime Minister and the President shall be subject to the order of this Court”, establishing its supremacy over all other institutions, and in an unusual outcome, made the Prime Minister who had willingly resigned from office, the Prime Minister again, and the Assembly that had been disbanded, convene to vote on the no-trust motion. The Supreme Court also consulted with the Election Commission, which made it clear it could not hold elections for another four to six months, while under the Constitution, a caretaker Prime Minister, who oversees elections, cannot be in office for more than three months. Legal experts said the Supreme Court dispensed with the constitutional term “doctrine of necessity” which the PTI government had used to explain its actions.
What is the ‘doctrine of necessity’?
The ‘doctrine of necessity’, proposed by constitutional scholars in France and the U.K., validates an action “which is otherwise not lawful [but] is made lawful by necessity”, and has often been used through Pakistan’s democratic history. It was first used in 1954, after the-then Governor General of Pakistan, Ghulam Mohammad, dismissed the Constituent Assembly, an act that was upheld by the Supreme Court a year later. However, after its regular abuse and misuse in Pakistan to validate unconstitutional acts, about 100 scholars and legal experts wrote to Pakistan’s Chief Justice, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, on April 6, a day before the verdict, appealing that the doctrine must be “buried”.
Is this the first time the Supreme Court has been asked to adjudicate such a case?
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has often been asked to intervene in cases of constitutional friction, particularly given that the all-powerful military establishment has also sought its backing for summary dismissals of governments and coups in the past. Both in 1977, and in 1999/2000, the Pakistani Supreme Court upheld the military coups by General Zia-ul-Haq against Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and General Pervez Musharraf against PM Nawaz Sharif respectively even though it had held in favour of Mr. Sharif when he was dismissed by civilian President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1993. At times, it was the Supreme Court that helped install a regime – like General Musharraf’s – and was also instrumental in its removal, as Chief Justice Ifthikar Ahmed Chaudhury did in 2008.
In another case involving Mr. Sharif, whose brother Shehbaz Sharif is the Opposition’s candidate for PM now, the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif in 2017 from holding public office over the “Panama Papers” case, forcing Mr. Sharif to step down. In 2012, the Supreme Court disqualified PPP Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, over a contempt case. Given that no Pakistani PM has completed the full five-year team of an elected Assembly, the Supreme Court has had a say in practically every PM’s tenure. On many occasions, including the present, the Supreme Court has been accused of attempting a “judicial coup”.
What happens next?
It is clear that Imran Khan’s current tenure as Prime Minister is in the “last few balls of the last over”, a term he invokes to say he will keep fighting till the end. Forty years ago, in what was described as his finest hour, Mr. Khan stepped down as Pakistan’s cricket captain, after delivering the country its first World Cup win. Accused now of being an “Ain Shikanee” or “Constitution breaker” by the Opposition, it would be hard to argue that his actions this week covers the now 69-year-old Khan in similar glory.
7. Has Mullaperiyar dam panel been changed?
What are the Supreme Court’s orders to Tamil Nadu and Kerala on the supervisory committee?
The story so far: On April 8, the Supreme Court ordered the reconstitution of the Mullaperiyar dam’s supervisory committee, which will include one technical expert each from Tamil Nadu and Kerala (the two States involved in the dispute concerning safety of the dam), and empowered the panel with functions and powers on par with those of the National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA), a body envisaged under the Dam Safety Act, 2021.
What is the dispute?
Located in Idukki district of Kerala, the 126-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is owned, operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu for several purposes, including irrigation, drinking water supply and hydro-power generation. In late 1979, after the eruption of the controversy over the structural stability of the dam, it was decided at a tripartite meeting that the water level be lowered to 136 feet against the full reservoir level of 152 feet so that Tamil Nadu could take up strengthening measures. In view of execution of a large portion of the measures, the Supreme Court, in 2006 and 2014, held that the water level be raised to 142 feet, up to which Tamil Nadu stored water even last year. The court’s judgment of 2014 also provided for the formation of the supervisory committee and the completion of the remaining work by Tamil Nadu. But, there has been no end to litigation over the dam with Kerala witnessing landslides in recent years. Though there had been no reports of landslides in the vicinity of the dam site, the events in other parts of the State led to a renewed campaign against the dam. The Kerala government proposed that the existing dam be decommissioned and a fresh one be built, the options of which are not completely acceptable to Tamil Nadu which wants to complete the remaining strengthening work and restore the level to 152 feet.
Why was the Dam Safety Act framed? How does it affect Mullaperiyar?
The Central government had mooted a bill on dam safety on account of the absence of a proper dam safety institutional framework. The Dam Safety Act, 2021, which came into force last December, deals with the subjects of surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of stipulated dams across the country, all of which hold relevance to the Mullaperiyar dam.
Broadly, the law, which holds dam owners responsible for the construction, operation, maintenance, and supervision of dams, has designed two sets of bodies, one at the level of the Union government and another at the level of States. The National Committee on Dam Safety (NCDS) would devise dam safety policies and recommend necessary regulations while the NDSA would implement policies and address unresolved issues between States, apart from being the regulatory body.
At the other level, the State Dam Safety Organisation and State Committees on Dam Safety have been envisaged. There is one more function attached to the NDSA, by which the NDSA would assume the role of a State Dam Safety Organisation for a dam located in one State and owned and operated by another. This is why Mullaperiyar comes under the law’s purview.
What has the Supreme Court ruled?
Apart from vesting the supervisory committee with powers and functions of the NDSA, the court has empowered it to decide on all outstanding matters related to the safety of the dam and conduct a fresh review of its safety. For any act of failure, “appropriate action” will be taken against the persons concerned not only for having violated the directions of the court but also under the Act, which talks of one year imprisonment or fine or both for refusal to comply with directions of bodies formed under the law. As required by the Supreme Court in its latest order, the two States are expected to nominate, within two weeks, one representative each to the supervisory committee, in addition to one nominee each.
8. India has lowest tech talent demand-supply gap: Nasscom
‘India’s digital tech talent growing 5x faster than in core IT’
India may be currently facing a huge scramble for digital talent, but the good news is that the country is well placed with a lowest tech talent demand supply gapwhen compared to major economies including the U.S., U.K. and China, said industry body Nasscom.
“India’s tech talent demand supply gap at 21.1% is the lowest compared to other major economies,” said Sangeeta Gupta, Senior VP and Chief Strategy Officer, Nasscom. “The increasing pool of graduates coupled with a maturing talent ecosystem is helping the growth of digital talent pool in the country despite the churn for the right talent.”
Talent continues to remain a key advantage for Indian IT. In FY22, the country’s technology industry employed more than 5.1 million people of which some 1.6 million were digitally skilled, she said.
“India has emerged as an unparalleled human capital destination being the ‘digital talent nation’ to the world, with Indian IT being the flag bearer,” Ms. Gupta added.
In order to maintain this growth trend, the tech industry has been pursuing internal reskilling programmes and collaborations with EdTech companies to train their employees and develop the future workforce in digital skills.
“Our digital tech talent is growing 5x faster compared to core IT talent. Notably, digital talent supply across key digital skills such as cloud computing, AI, big data analytics and IoT has increased at a CAGR of over 20% in the last five years,” Ms. Gupta noted.