Daily Current Affairs 13.01.2022 (Qualification test of cryogenic engine for Gaganyaan successful,Reaping India’s demographic dividend,Somanath appointed new Chairman of ISRO,BARC ratings for news channels to resume soon,‘Alarmed by intolerance against minorities’,Russia, NATO lay out stark differences on Ukraine crisis,Squaring up to India’s education emergency)

Daily Current Affairs 13.01.2022 (Qualification test of cryogenic engine for Gaganyaan successful,Reaping India’s demographic dividend,Somanath appointed new Chairman of ISRO,BARC ratings for news channels to resume soon,‘Alarmed by intolerance against minorities’,Russia, NATO lay out stark differences on Ukraine crisis,Squaring up to India’s education emergency)


1. Qualification test of cryogenic engine for Gaganyaan successful

The performance during the 720-second trial met the objectives, says ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation successfully conducted the qualification test, for 720 seconds, of cryogenic engine for the Gaganyaan programme at the ISRO Propulsion Complex at Mahendragiri.

ISRO said the performance met the objectives and the parameters closely matched with the predictions. “This successful long-duration test is a major milestone for the human space programme — Gaganyaan. It ensures the reliability and robustness of the cryogenic engine for induction into the human-rated launch vehicle for Gaganyaan,” it said.

This engine will undergo four more tests for a cumulative duration of 1,810 seconds. Then, another engine will undergo two short-duration tests and a long-duration test to complete the cryogenic engine qualification.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is expanding its wings to one more vertical – indigenous Human Spaceflight Programme. ISRO is working on an Indian crewed orbital mission – Gaganyaan- that would take Indian astronauts to space by 2022. Gaganyaan will be the first Indian crewed orbital spacecraft under the Human Space Flight programme of ISRO. It is scheduled to be launched with the powerful GSLV Mk III rocket by 2022 to commemorate the 75th year of India’s Independence. It was announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15th August 2018.

India could potentially become the fourth country to send a man in space, after the erstwhile USSR, the US and China. Denmark also has a manned space flight scheduled for 2022.

The current plan is to have two unmanned and one manned flight under Gaganyaan Programme. The first un-crewed flight is planned in December 2020 and second in July 2021. Following two successful unmanned flights, first crewed mission is scheduled in December 2021.

Spacecraft carrying people may be operated by human crew, or remotely operated from ground stations or may be autonomous. The Gaganyaan is a largely autonomous spacecraft. The crewed spacecraft is intended to orbit in the low Earth orbit for 5-7 days and then bring back the crew module safely.

Gaganyaan Objectives

The main objective of the Gaganyaan mission is technology demonstration. The programme will source 60-70% components and value-added services from Indian industries. ISRO has already developed and demonstrated many critical technologies like crew module configuration, crew escape system, thermal protection, deceleration and flotation systems and re-entry capability.

Other Objectives Includes:

  • Enhancement of science and technology levels in the country.
  • A national project involving several institutes, academia and industry.
  • Improvement of industrial growth
  • Inspiring youth.
  • Development of technology for social benefits.
  • Improving international collaboration.

Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC)

ISRO created a Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) in January 2019 at the ISRO Headquarter campus in Bengaluru. The responsibilities of the HSFC include endto- end mission planning, development of engineering systems for crew survival in space, crew selection and training and also pursuing activities for sustained human space flight missions.

The HSFC will function as a nodal agency with the existing ISRO centres support the implementation and etsting of spacecraft.

Launching of Gaganyaan

Gaganyaan consists of a service module and a crew module, collectively known as the orbital capsule.

In the Gaganyaan composite capsule, the crew module is mated to the service module, and together they are called the orbital craft. The craft will be equipped with emergency mission abort and emergency escape system that can be exercised at the first stage or second stage of the rocket burn. In future crewed flights of ISRO, an upgraded version of the spacecraft with rendezvous and docking capabilities are also envisaged.

The crew module with capacity to carry 2-3 astronauts and a volume of about 8 m3 will have controlled cabin environment. During the mission, crew will carry out a microgravity experiment.

About 16 minutes after lift-off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, the rocket will inject the spacecraft into an orbit, 300- 400 km above the Earth. The capsule will rotate around the Earth every 90 minutes and astronauts will be able to witness sunrise and sunset. The astronauts will be able to see India from space every 24 hours.

Challenges for Gaganyaan Astronauts

The Gaganyaan mission is so challenging because for the first time humans will be launched into space and must be brought back safely. Making a crew module where the astronauts can live in Earth-like conditions in space and bring the spacecraft back to Earth after the flight are challenging.

In spite of utmost care, there are always formidable risks involved, such as:

  • Environmental Hazards: Space environment is hostile. There is lack of gravity and atmosphere and danger of radiation. Astronauts may have medical issues with the hostile space environment.
  • Microgravity: Transition from one gravity field to another affects handeye and head-eye coordination. In microgravity astronauts often lose their orientation, vision, muscle strength, aerobic capacity, weight and bone density. The consequent loss of strength could be a serious problem in case of a landing emergency.
  • Pressure: The human blood starts boiling if there is no pressure; hence inside the crew acceptable atmospheric pressure has to be maintained.
  • Radiation Exposure: Though the radiation exposure is not of much consequence to Gaganyaan, it has relevance to our future human space flight programme. In space stations, astronauts receive over ten-times higher radiation than what people are subjected on the Earth.
  • Isolation: Astronauts may encounter depression, cabin fever, fatigue, sleep disorder and other psychiatric disorders.
  • Sensory Systems: During spaceflight astronauts are in extreme environment state that may result in the weakening of their senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch, vestibular (motion and equilibrium system) and proprioception system (awareness of the relative position of one’s own parts of the body).
  • Physiological and Metabolic Requirements: All the things necessary for supporting physiological need of astronauts, like food, water, medicine, and human waste removal have to be addressed. A composite waste management system has to be designed to minimise and store the waste efficiently.
  • Life Support System: In human spaceflight, an Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) supplies the essentials, maintains the acceptable environment and deals with the management of waste products. Shielding against harmful external influences such as radiation and micro-meteorites is also ensured. The ECLSS maintains a steady cabin pressure and air composition, removes carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, controls temperature and humidity and also manage the other important parameters like fire detection and suppression, food and water management and emergency support.
  • Artificial Atmosphere: There are two basic choices for an artificial atmosphere, either an Earth-like mixture of oxygen in an inert gas such as nitrogen or helium or argon, or pure oxygen. A conventional nitrogen-oxygen air is used in the most modern crewed spacecraft (e.g., International Space Station, Soyuz spacecraft).

Aerospace Technology Challenges

Launch Escape System/ Crew Escape System: Space flight requires much higher velocities than air transportation, which in turn requires high energy density propellants. This results in dissipation of large amounts of energy to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere. There are many potential risks during the pre-launch, launch and post-phase, including the explosion of rocket into a fireball. Launch escape system safety features have to be built to minimize the loss. ISRO successfully conducted a Pad Abort Test on 5 July 2018 to determine how well the system could get the crew of a spacecraft to safety in an emergency on the launch pad.

Re-entry and Recovery: Normal satellites launched for communication, remote sensing or scientific applications remain in space, even when their life is over. Any human space flight, however, has to come back safely to Earth. Further, the spacecraft’s reentry into the atmosphere has to be very precise following a pre-planned trajectory in terms of speed and angle. Even the slightest deviation could end into a disaster. For this, a heat shield that can withstand the temperature of thousands of degrees needs to be developed. After re-entry, the capsule should land at a designated spot in the sea from where Navy or Coast Guard would bring it back to the mainland. Re-entry of the human spaceflight into Earth’s atmosphere is a very complex technology. There are few examples of re-entry disasters.

Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) was an experimental test vehicle for Gaganyaan. It was launched by GSLV Mk III on 18 December 2014 to an altitude of 126 km from the Second Launch Pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. After about 20 minutes of lift-off, the CARE module re¬entered, deployed its parachutes as planned and splashed down into the Bay of Bengal. The crew module was recovered by the Indian Coast Guard from the Bay of Bengal about 600 km from Port Blair in the Andaman Islands and about 1600 km from the Sriharikota launch site.

Space Suit: ISRO had displayed the Gaganyaan crew model and orange space suits at the Bengaluru Space Expo (BSX-2018) in September 2018. The space suits were designed at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.

Astronaut Training

The Indian astronauts will be addressed as “Vyomnauts”. ISRO’s Human Space Flight Centre and Glavcosmos, which is a subsidiary of the Russian state corporation Roscosmos, signed an agreement on 1 July 2019 for cooperation in the selection, support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts. An ISRO Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) is setup in Moscow to facilitate the development of some key technologies and establishment of special facilities which are essential to support life in space.

ISRO has signed an MoU with the Indian Air Force (IAF) for crew management activities. The IAF in consultation with ISRO prepared an extensive road map for the selection and training of the future Vyomnauts for the Gaganyaan mission.

The Rocket – GSLV Mklll

One of the most important requirements is the development of a launch vehicle that can carry heavy payloads into space. The Gaganyaan composite module is likely to weigh —7.8 tonnes. ISRO’s main launch vehicle, the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle), which carried the Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan missions too, can carry payloads that are barely up to 2 tonnes, and that too only to orbits at about 600 km altitude from the Earth’s surface. After focused efforts on developing an indigenous cryogenic engine to power the rocket, ISRO successfully tested GSLV Mklll to deliver heavier payloads much deeper into space.

GSLV Mk III, which is also referred as the Launch Vehicle Mark 3, LVM 3 or GSLV III, will be used to launch Gaganyaan. GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4-ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability o fhte GSLV Mk II.

Relevance of a Manned Space Mission for India

Boost to Industries: The Indian industry will find large opportunities through participation in the highly demanding Space missions. Gaganyaan Mission is expected will source nearly 60% of its equipment from the Indian private sector.

Employment: According to the ISRO chief, the Gaganyaan mission would create 15,000 new employment opportunities, 13,000 of them in private industry and the space organisation would need an additional manpower of 900.

Technological Development: Human Space flights are frontier field in the science and technology. The challenges the Human Space Flights provide to India, and the benefits accruing from taking up those missions will be very high and will lead to further thrust for technological developments in India

Spurs Research and Development: It will boost research and technology development. With a large number of researchers with proper equipment involved, HSF will thrust significant research in areas such as materials processing, astro-biology, resources mining, planetary chemistry, planetary orbital calculus and many other areas

Motivation: Human space flight will provide that inspiration to the youth and also the national public mainstream. It would inspire young generation into notable achievements and enable them to play their legitimate role in challenging future activities

Prestige: India will be the fourth country to launch human space mission. The Gaganyaan will not only bring about prestige to the nation but also establish India’s role as a key player in the space industry.

2. Reaping India’s demographic dividend

India has a unique opportunity to develop and grow richer before ageing sets in

A nation’s growth requires the productive contribution of all segments of society, particularly the children and the youth, who need to be provided opportunities for self-expression. Household and national investments in children and youth yield long-term returns in terms of high productivity of the economically active population till they enter the elderly cohort.

Fertility decline

As fertility declines, the share of the young population falls and that of the older, dependent population rises. If the fertility decline is rapid, the increase in the population of working ages is substantial yielding the ‘demographic dividend’. The smaller share of children in the population enables higher investment per child. Therefore, the future entrants in the labour force can have better productivity and thus boost income. With the passage of time, the share of the older population rises and that of the working age population begins to fall and hence the dividend is available for a period of time, ‘the window of demographic opportunity’.

However, realisation of the benefits of potential demographic dividend is not automatic and thus presents many challenges. Without proper policies, the increase in the working-age population may lead to rising unemployment, fueling economic and social risks. This calls for forward-looking policies incorporating population dynamics, education and skills, healthcare, gender sensitivity, and providing rights and choices to the younger generation.

With falling fertility (currently 2.0), rising median age (from 24 years in 2011, 29 years now and expected to be 36 years by 2036), a falling dependency ratio (expected to decrease from 65% to 54% in the coming decade taking 15-59 years as the working age population), India is in the middle of a demographic transition. This provides a window of opportunity towards faster economic growth. India has already begun to get the dividend. In India, the benefit to the GDP from demographic transition has been lower than its peers in Asia and is already tapering. Hence, there is an urgency to take appropriate policy measures.

Forward-looking policies

Countries like Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea have already shown us how demographic dividend can be reaped to achieve incredible economic growth by adopting forward-looking policies and programmes to empower the youth in terms of their education, skills and health choices. There are important lessons from these countries for India.

The first is to undertake an updated National Transfer Accounts (NTA) assessment. Using NTA methodologies by Lee and Chen (2011-12) and M.R. Narayana (2021), we find that India’s per capita consumption pattern is way lower than that of other Asian countries. A child in India consumes around 60% of the consumption by an adult aged between 20 and 64, while a child in China consumes about 85% of a prime-age adult’s consumption. The NTA data for India needs to be updated to capture the progress made on such investments since 2011-12. State-specific NTAs need to be calculated every year and States need to be ranked for investing in the youth.

The second is to invest more in children and adolescents. India ranks poorly in Asia in terms of private and public human capital spending. It needs to invest more in children and adolescents, particularly in nutrition and learning during early childhood. Given that India’s workforce starts at a younger age, a greater focus needs to be on transitioning from secondary education to universal skiling and entrepreneurship, as done in South Korea.

The third is to make health investments. Health spending has not kept pace with India’s economic growth. The public spending on health has remained flat at around 1% of GDP. Evidence suggests that better health facilitates improved economic production. Hence, it is important to draft policies to promote health during the demographic dividend. We need more finance for health as well as better health facilities from the available funding.

The fourth is to make reproductive healthcare services accessible on a rights-based approach. We need to provide universal access to high-quality primary education and basic healthcare. The unmet need for family planning in India at 9.4% as per the latest National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) is high as compared to 3.3% in China and 6.6% in South Korea, which needs to be bridged.

Fifth, education is an enabler to bridge gender differentials. The gender inequality of education is a concern. In India, boys are more likely to be enrolled in secondary and tertiary school than girls. In the Philippines, China and Thailand, it is the reverse. In Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, the gender differences are rather minimal. This needs to be reversed.

Sixth, India needs to increase female workforce participation in the economy. As of 2019, 20.3% of women were working or looking for work, down from 34.1% in 2003-04. New skills and opportunities for women and girls befitting their participation in a $3 trillion economy is urgently needed. For example, a girl who passes Class 10 needs more choices to learn skills that will help her find appropriate work. She will need safe transport to travel to work. Finding work will likely delay her age of marriage and make her participate in the economy more productively, as also exercise her rights and choices. South Korea’s female workforce participation rate of 50% has been built on i) legally compulsory gender budgeting to analyse gender disaggregated data and its impact on policies, ii) increasing childcare benefits, and iii) boosting tax incentives for part-time work. It is predicted that if all women engaged in domestic duties in India who are willing to work had a job, female labour force participation would increase by about 20%.

Seventh, India needs to address the diversity between States. While India is a young country, the status and pace of population ageing vary among States. Southern States, which are advanced in demographic transition, already have a higher percentage of older people. These differences in age structure reflect differences in economic development and health – and remind us of States’ very different starting points at the outset of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. But this also offers boundless opportunities for States to work together, especially on demographic transition, with the north-central region as the reservoir of India’s workforce.

Eight, a new federal approach to governance reforms for demographic dividend will need to be put in place for policy coordination between States on various emerging population issues such as migration, ageing, skiling, female workforce participation and urbanisation. Inter-ministerial coordination for strategic planning, investment, monitoring and course correction should be an important feature of this governance arrangement.

3. Somanath appointed new Chairman of ISRO

He played a major role in development of the GSLV Mk-III

Eminent rocket scientist S. Somanath has been appointed Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Space Secretary.

Dr. Somanath is taking over the reins of ISRO at a critical juncture when sweeping reforms and critical missions are set to define the forward journey of the storied space agency.

Commenting on his priorities, Dr. Somanath told The Hindu that space sector reforms, which involves hand-holding the private sector and start-ups so that they emerge as key partners in the sector’s development, find a top spot on his list.

“We have to hold their hand and support them to come up. The idea is that the space ecosystem should become more vibrant, economically viable and self-sustaining. IN-SPACe is defining a new model, which is also designed to expand our space economy. The ₹16,000-crore space economy that we have in India today should grow to a ₹60,000-crore space economy,” said Dr. Somanath, who has been serving as the Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST).

The senior space scientist is also taking over at a time when ISRO has numerous missions and projects — the Gaganyaan human spaceflight mission included — waiting in the wings. Further, the COVID-19 has played havoc with ISRO’s schedules over the past two years, setting another challenge.

Looking back, Dr. Somanath recalls his younger days, when, as a student, he developed a keen passion for space technology. He joined the VSSC in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project in 1985, after obtaining his B.Tech. in mechanical engineering from the TKM College of Engineering, Kollam, and a Master’s in aerospace engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore with specialisation in structures, dynamics and control.

Dr. Somanath has played a major role in the development of the PSLV and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III (GSLV Mk-III). He joined the GSLV Mk-III project in 2003, and served as Project Director from 2010 to 2014. “Somanath is an expert in the area of system engineering of launch vehicles. His contributions in PSLV and GSLV MkIII were in their overall architecture, propulsion stages design, structural and structural dynamics designs, separation systems, vehicle integration and integration procedures development,” according to ISRO.

Later on, he had a two-and-a-half-year stint as Director, Liquid Systems Propulsion Centre (LPSC), Valiamala, where he contributed to the development of the indigenous cryogenic stages for the GSLV. Dr. Somanath took over as the Director, VSSC, in January 2018.

Dr. Somanath’s wife Valsala is employed in the GST Department, Kerala. They have a daughter, Malika, and a son, Madhav, both of whom are engineers.

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)

  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is the space agency under Dept of Space.
  • ISRO headquarters are in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
  • ISRO was initiated under Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the founding father of Indian space programme, during 1960’s. Vikram Sarabhai is the father of Indian Space Program. Hence Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre is located at Kerala.
  • Dr. K. Sivan is the ISRO Chairman, Department of Space.
  • ISRO’s vision is to harness space technology for national development, while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.
  • Indian space programme had 3 distinct elements such as,
    1. Satellites for communication and remote sensing,
    2. The space transportation system and
    3. Application programmes

Antrix Corporation Limited (ACL)

  • ACL was established in 1992 as a Marketing arm of ISRO for promotion and commercial exploitation of space products, technical consultancy services and transfer of technologies developed by ISRO.
  • It is a Mini ratna company.

NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) (established in Mar 2019)

  • NSIL is a Central Public Sector Enterprise of Government of India and Commercial Arm of ISRO. For almost a decade, ISRO has been planning to hand the production over to public and private industries and itself focus on its core job of space R&D.
  • It was incorporated for commercially utilising research and development activities carried out by ISRO with an authorised share capital of Rs 100 crore and initial paid up capital of Rs 10 crore.
  • It is the 2nd commercial entity and a new business arm of Department of Space (Bengaluru) to promote Indian space commerce.
  • It is under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS) and the Company Act 2013.
  • The main objective of NSIL is to scale up industry participation in Indian space programmes.


  • Transfer of Small Satellite technology to industry: NSIL will obtain license from DOS/ISRO and sub-license the same to Industry
  • Manufacture of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) in collaboration with Private Sector
  • Production of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) through Indian Industry
  • Production and marketing of Space based products and services, including launch and application
  • Transfer of technology developed by ISRO Centres and constituent units of DOS
  • Marketing of spin-off technologies and products/services, both in India and abroad.
  • It would also be tasked to “commercially exploit the R&D work done by ISRO centres and DoS constituents”
PT Shots The first satellite launched by india is ‘Aryabhata’. It was developed and was launched using a Soviet Launcher InterCOSMOS. In 1980s, Bhaskara-I & II missions were pioneering steps in the remote sensing area whereas ‘Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment (APPLE)’ became the forerunner for future communication satellite system.

ISRO’s Launch Vehicles or Indian Satellite Programme launch vehicles

1) GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle)

  • GSLV delivers the communication satellites to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) of about 36000 Km altitude.
  • GSLV Mk II has the capability to launch satellites of mass of 2500 kg to GTO. GSLV Mk II is a 3 stage vehicle with 1st stage using solid fuel, 2nd stage using Liquid and 3rd stage using Cryogenic Upper Stage using cryogenic engine.
  • Geostationary satellites orbit around the earth in 24 hours and since the earth rotates with the same period, the satellite would appear fixed from any point on earth.

2) PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle)

  • PSLV is ISRO’s Workhorse – Forex earner. PSLV is the 1st Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages.
  • PSLV delivers the EOS/ RSS satellites in sun synchronous polar orbit and lower mass satellites (1400 kg) to elliptical GTO.
  • It is a 4-staged launch vehicle with first and third stage using solid fuel and second and fourth stages using liquid fuel. Strap-on motors also used with PSLV to augment the thrust.
  • PSLV improved it’s carrying capacity from 850 kg to 1.9 tonnes.
  • It has 3 variants
    1. PSLV – CA (Core Alone) = without the solid strap on boosters.
    2. PSLV with 6 solid strap on boosters.
    3. PSLV QL with 4 strap on boosters. 1st flight of PSLV QL was PSLV C45 (EMISAT). 2nd is PSLV C50 (RISAT).
    4. PSLV XL = Top model with 6 extended solid strap on boosters. It was used for Chandrayaan 1 in 2008 and MOM in 2013.
  • PSLV C50 to use PSLV QL which has 4 strap on boosters. It will launch RISAT & 9 small foreign satellites from Japan, Italy, Israel & US. RISAT will be used for Agriculture, Forestry, Disaster Management support & National security.
  • Till now PSLV launched 50 Indian Satellites & 222 Foreign satellites for 20 countries.
  • PSLV C47 = Cartosat. C46 – RISAT. C45 – EMISAT. C43 – HySIS. C37 – 104 satellites.

Indian Satellite Programme of India

Communication Satellites

  • Estbalished in 1983 with INSAT 1B in the Asia Pacific region placed in the Geostationary orbit.
  • The INSAT system provides services to telecommunications, television broadcasting, satellite newsgathering, societal applications, weather forecasting, disaster warning and Search and Rescue operations.
  • Eg. GSAT 7A, GSAT-11, EDUSAT etc.

Earth Observation Satellites or Remote Sensing Satellites

  • Started with IRS 1A in 1988.
  • Varieties of instruments have been flown onboard these satellites like Transponder and Camera.
  • Applications cover agriculture, water resources, urban planning, rural development, mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, ocean resources and disaster management.
  • Eg. HySIS (PSLV C43); Cartosat (PSLC C40 – 100th mission); RESOURCESAT, SCATSAT, SARAL and MeghaTropiques with France; Oceansat, Technology Experiment Satellite (TES), Rohini and Bhaskara.
  • Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas was prepared in 2016 by ISRO using RSS

Navigation Satellite: Regional Positioning System

  • It is to meet the Civil Aviation requirements and meet the user requirements of positioning, navigation and timing.
  • For Civil Aviation: GAAN:
    1. GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation is an augmentation system to engance the accuracy and integrity of GPS signals. It is implemented jointly by AAI and ISRO. It relies on the positioning system of ISRO’s GSAT satellites.
    2. GEMINI system: is a portable receiver linked to ISRO satellites, that is “fail proof” and warn fishermen of danger. GEMINI works on GAGAN (GPS aided Geo Augmented Navigation System).
    3. South Central Railway (HQ – Secundrabad) fitted with Real Time Train Information System (RTIS) to monitor speeds and movement. It is developed by Center for Railway Information Systems (CIRE) with the help of GAGAN of ISRO and AAI.

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)

  • For positioning, navigation and timing, ISRO is establishing a regional satellite navigation system.
  • IRNSS has 3 satellites in geostationary and 4 satellites in geosynchronous orbits (inclined).
  • ISRO’s NavIC (Navigation in Indian Constellation) is Indian system of 8 Satellites is an indigenous positioning or Location Based System (LBS) which works like GPS but within the 1500 km radius over the subcontinent.
Gagan Enabled Mariner’s Instrument for Navigation and Information (GEMINI) device For effective dissemination of emergency information and communication on Ocean States Forecast and mapping of Potential Fishing Zones (PFZ) to fishermen. Ministry of Earth Sciences. GEMINI is a portable receiver linked to ISRO satellites. It can send signals upto 300 nautical milesINCOIS, Hyderabad in collaboration with AAI utilized the GAGAN (ISRO + AAI) satellite. The drawback of this device is that it only allows one-way communication, i.e, it can’t be used by fishermen to make calls. Also it is expensive. Bhuvan (Sanskrit for Earth) is a Geoportal of ISRO, allowing a host of services covering visualization, free data download, thematic map display and analysis, timely information on disaster and project-specific GIS applications. Recently an upgraded geo-imaging web portal, Bhuvan Panchayat 3.0 was launched. It uses high resolution data from Earth Observation Satellites and offers detailed information to Panchayats. It is jointly implemented by Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Dept of Space, ISRO.

Why in news?

India’s attempt to place a geoimaging satellite (GISAT-1) with its GSLV-F10-EOS-3 mission did not succeed. The GSLV-F10 rocket, which blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on Thursday, with the purpose of launching the Earth Observation Satellite EOS-3 into space, failed in its mission due to a “performance anomaly”.

4. BARC ratings for news channels to resume soon

It was suspended after Mumbai police busted a TRP racket

Ratings by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) for the news channels will resume, after the organisation revised its procedures and protocols. The ratings were suspended after the Mumbai police busted a racket involving a private channel’s efforts to tamper the ratings.

In the spirit of the TRP Committee Report and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommendation dated 28.04.2020, M/s BARC undertook an extensive overhauling exercise, revisiting its processes, protocols, oversight mechanism and initiated changes in governance structure, etc. The reconstitution of the Board and the Technical Committee to allow for the induction of Independent Members have also been initiated by the BARC. A permanent Oversight Committee has also been formed. The access protocols for data have been revamped and tightened.

BARC has indicated that in view of the changes undertaken by it, they are reaching out to related constituencies to explain the new proposals and are in readiness to actually commence the release as per the new protocols.

Taking note of the above, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has asked BARC to release the news ratings with immediate effect and also to release the last three months data, for the genre in a monthly format, for fair and equitable representation of true trends. As per the revised system, the reporting of News and Niche Genres shall be on a ‘four week rolling average concept’.

The Ministry has also set up a ‘Working Group’ under the chairmanship of the CEO, Prasar Bharti Shashi Shekhar Vempati, for the consideration of leveraging the Return Path Data (RPD) capabilities for the use of TRP services, as also recommended by TRAI and the TRP Committee report. The Committee shall submit its report in four months.

Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC)

 BARC was established as an autonomous ‘not for profit’ body duly registered under the Companies Act, 2013.

BARC was constituted comprising representatives from all relevant industry associations being Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).

BARC India owns and manages a transparent, accurate, and inclusive TV audience measurement system.

Whereas Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) has 60% stake holding, Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) both have 20%-20% stake holding.

How BARC came into existence?

In 2000s, there were two rating agencies Television Audience Measurement (TAM) and INTAM in India providing data for TRPs. There were major mismatch and disputes in the data provided by both agencies.

TAM bought over the INTAM in 2001, leading to cartelisation in the TRP system, killing any possibility of scrutiny of the figures provided by TAM.

As a result, despite having 35 out of the top 50 programmes in all TV homes, none of the Door darshan channels was present in the top 50 slots in the C&S (Cable & Satellite) homes category, as per the data of TAM.

In another such controversy, a news channel with just 4 per cent prime time news was declared as number 1(“sab se Tez”) by TAM instead of DD National with 92 per cent share in prime-time news.

Data was collected on the basis of 2,000 “BAR-O-meters” installed one each in a house, on the back cover of the TVs.

The controversy was raised in the parliament in 2008. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) asked the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRAI) to frame policy guidelines for rating agencies.

TRAI recommended for self-regulation through an industry-led body, the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). Thus, BARC came into existence.

In Jan. 2014, MIB notified Policy Guidelines for Television Rating Agencies and in 2015 BARC was accredited to television ratings in India. In 2016, TAM exited TV viewership measurement, not BARC is the sole TV rating service provider.

5. ‘Alarmed by intolerance against minorities’

Colombo-headquartered SAHR also flags crackdown on human rights organisations

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, on Wednesday said it was “deeply alarmed and concerned” by the “rising explicit intolerance” against minorities, especially Muslims in India, and the ongoing crackdown on human rights organisations.

In a statement, SAHR said, “In recent times India’s vibrant democracy has been seeing an alarming process of dilution by the rise of xenophobic nationalism and threats to religious minorities who are being pushed steadily and deliberately into becoming second-class citizens in their own country.”

The statement from the Colombo-headquartered regional human rights network comes in the context of the hate speech at a conclave of Hindu religious leaders and political activists in Haridwar in December 2021.

“Such vitriolic speeches instigating communal disharmony and caste-based violence are totally repugnant to the idea and image of India and is damaging its reputation as the world’s largest democracy. The levels of impunity that perpetrators enjoy is especially noteworthy,” SAHR said, adding: “The Hindutva ideology appears to have completely infiltrated politics and state governance, resulting in the disintegration of the rule of law and public institutions such as the law enforcement machinery, leading to relentless online and offline violence against minorities.”

Offensive app

SAHR also referred to the controversial Bulli Bai app, which recently made news for targeted attacks on minorities. The app and the Haridwar event, SAHR observed, indicated “the undisguised visceral hatred unleashed openly and jointly by known political figures, sections of Hindutva ideologists, and the supporting public”.

Further, pointing to developments in regard to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act registrations of non-governmental organisations in India, SAHR observed that authorities seemed to be “on a focused warpath to shut down” critical voices and groups working to promote, protect and uphold fundamental rights.


SAHR is a democratic regional network with a large membership base of people committed to addressing human rights issues at both national and regional levels. SAHR aims at fostering the concept of multiple South Asian identities by enabling people to realise their ideals and aspirations for peace, democracy, secularism and human security, while promoting pluralism in approaches towards social, political, economic and cultural development of different communities, ethnic, linguistic, religious and other groups.

SAHR seeks to contribute to the realisation of South Asian peoples’ right to participatory democracy, good governance and justice by strengthening regional response, including regional instruments, monitoring human rights violations, reviewing laws, policies and practices that have an adverse impact on human rights and conducting campaigns and programmes on issues of major concern in the region.

SAHR’s basic policy is to identify the gaps in regional initiatives and to undertake activities which do not duplicate the work carried out by other regional or national NGOs. Its strength and legitimacy comes from its democratic structure and broad-based membership of recognised human rights defenders in the region.

6. Russia, NATO lay out stark differences on Ukraine crisis

The alliance defends its ‘open-door policy’, invites Moscow for more talks

The NATO allies warned Russia on Wednesday that they would not compromise on the alliance’s right to defend its eastern members to avoid further conflict in Ukraine, but invited Moscow to further talks on calming security concerns.

Speaking after talks with Russian envoys at NATO headquarters in Brussels, alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned: “There are significant differences between NATO allies and Russia on these issues.”

Gen. Stoltenberg said it would be impossible for the 30 NATO members to agree to Moscow’s core demands for a new security order in Europe, and in particular added that Russia would have no veto on Ukraine’s right to eventually join the alliance.

President Vladimir Putin’s government has issued a series of demands for the West to rule out accepting new members like Ukraine, Georgia or Finland on its eastern flanks and demanded limits on allied deployments in former Soviet allies that joined NATO after the Cold War.

Gen. Stoltenberg said it was “positive” that the two sides had been able to sit down together, reviving the NATO-Russia Council platform, and that NATO members had invited Russia to agree to a series of talks to discuss arms control and “many other issues to prevent a new armed conflict”.

“Russia was not in a position to agree on that proposal. They didn’t reject it either, but the Russian representatives made it clear that they needed some time to come back to NATO with an answer,” he said.

Future members

The West defends NATO’s ‘open-door policy’ towards potential future members, while Moscow is demanding a cast-iron guarantee that the alliance will not expand further towards its territory.

Russia denies that its massive troop build-up around Ukraine is a threat, but the deployment has forced Washington to engage with Moscow to head off fears of an all-out military confrontation.

After the meeting, US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman tweeted: “In today’s NATO-Russia Council, I reaffirmed the fundamental principles of the international system and of European security: Every country has the sovereign right to choose its own path.”

Just ahead of the talks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “The continuation of NATO’s open-door policy and the further advancement of NATO towards our borders is precisely what, from our point of view, threatens us.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance of 1 Eurasian country, 2 North American countries and 28 European countries. It implements the North Atlantic Treaty, signed on April 4, 1949. NATO comprises a system of collective security, wherein its independent member states agree to mutual defense against the attack by any external party. NATO is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.

Russia-NATO relations

Relations between Russia and NATO military alliance were established in 1991 within the framework of North Atlantic Cooperation Council. They joined the Partnership for Peace Programme in 1994. Since then, both the sides have signed multiple important agreements on cooperation. Russia-NATO Council was established in 2002 to handle security issues and joint projects.

7. Squaring up to India’s education emergency

In making up for months of lost formal learning, there needs to be action on the education, health and livelihood fronts

India enforced one of the most strictest, most generalised and continuous school closures creating the largest education emergency in the world. The school closure indicator shows that of the 503 days in India, between March 5, 2020 and July 20, 2021, 404 days were characterised as being at the most severe policy response (requiring closure of all educational institutions); 62 at level 2 (closure of some types of institutions) and only 37 days at level 1 (when school opening was allowed with precautions).

During these days of continuous lockout, the poorest among Indian children — Dalits, tribals and others, lacking devices and electricity — struggled with online classes. Interruptions in child health services, early nutrition and mid-day meals have also affected the growth and development of young children.

India’s education emergency demands immediate action. An ‘Education Emergency Room’ should be set up in every district to coordinate, implement and monitor local plans such as training teachers, bridging the learning gap, arranging public transport, vaccinating the staff etc.

The Maharashtra government’s policy to completely close all schools in the State, even in rural areas which have not seen an increase in cases have irked both parents and teachers alike. They claim these measures as discriminatory to their children who have already lost two years of education as they did not have access to the tools required for so-called remote learning. Here in this article dated August 13 2021, Sajitha Bashir and Anvar Sadath explain how India’s generalised school closures during the pandemic generated a large scale education emergency.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, India enforced among the strictest, most generalised and continuous school and university closures creating in the process the largest education emergency in the world. Federal countries such as the United States and Brazil implemented a variety of school closures and remote/in-person education policies in different jurisdictions. Not so in India, where all States, irrespective of the pattern of evolution of the novel coronavirus disease, followed a uniform policy, with fewer variations.

Policy and indicators

The global Stringency Index, created by the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker, has tracked the closure of educational institutions across all countries since the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic. This indicator is one of eight “containment and closure” indicators and a health information indicator used to calculate the index. Indicators are coded according to the level of strictness of the policy.

In India, the school closure indicator shows that of the 503 days, between March 5, 2020 and July 20, 2021, 404 days were characterised as being at the most severe policy response (requiring closure of all types of educational institutions); 62 at level 2 (with closure of some types of institutions) and only 37 days at level 1 (when closure was either only recommended or school opening was allowed with precautions). As a result, about 265 million schoolchildren have been taught exclusively through so-called “remote learning”, the largest number in any country for the longest period of time.

This approach contrasted with the response in many other countries. Within a few months of the first lockdown of schools in March 2020, pandemic-hit Europe began resuming in-person schooling for certain groups of children or certain localities. Evidence was mounting of the harm caused to children and young adolescents — learning losses as well as socio-emotional stress — by prolonged school closures and of the ineffectiveness and inequalities of remote learning, even in technologically sophisticated environments.

The Oxford Stringency Index shows that less affluent countries such as Uruguay and Vietnam, also took a more measured approach, imposing the severest policy responses in education only for 140 and 212 days, respectively. (Table above). India’s education policy response was similar to that of Brazil — surprisingly so, as the severity of the pandemic outbreak was much less here during 2020 than in Brazil.

When “hybrid” schooling models (i.e., a combination of in-person and remote teaching) were introduced, countries prioritised children of younger ages, of essential workers and those with special needs, for in-person learning. When the school closure policy was relaxed in a few Indian States during January-March 2021, only high schools were allowed to function to conduct public exams.

By March 2021, 51 countries had resumed in-person education. In another 90 countries, including many in Africa, multiple modalities, rotation of children for in-person classes and part remote/part in-person options were being offered. Similar strategies were not systematically tried in India, even when relaxations were made for public gatherings at festivals and elections, prior to the second wave of the pandemic. India is, therefore, less prepared for school re-openings than many other countries. The trauma of the second wave has generated even more fears of schools becoming the epicentre of the next wave, though the recommendations of the Indian Council of Medical Research to reopen primary schools from July 20, 2021 and the gestures of some of the States now are promising.

The Indian experience

During these hundreds of days of almost continuous lockout, the youngest and the poorest among Indian children — Dalits, tribals and others, and lacking devices and electricity — struggled with online classes. Attendance’ data are neither available nor ‘defined. Many have just given up — especially those who had learnt little in schools. Existing education inequalities will increase.

The national Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) portal of teacher resources claims that usage increased to 3.17 billion “learning sessions” and 37.85 billion “learning minutes”, by the end of May 2021. The educational significance of these metrics is not clear. Meanwhile, many studies and reports from the field by numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals engaged with the recently formed National Coalition on the Education Emergency indicate that teachers, unprepared for remote teaching, forward social media links to their hapless students. Children are expected to submit homework and assessments also through WhatsApp or text.

Kerala provided basic access to remote learning by June 2020 to its four million students through the KITE VICTERs educational TV channel, which broadcast classes for all subjects in each grade. It was made clear that such ‘digital classes’ are not an alternative to regular classes, but to bridge the academic gap. It mandated further continuous follow-ups by teachers. The State leveraged investments made over the last two decades in information technology for schools, including capacity building of teachers and teacher developed digital content. Nevertheless, the universal switch to ‘online’ mode has proved challenging.

The Brazilian State of Sao Paulo gives some clues about the possible impacts of remote learning on India’s locked out children. A recent study published by the Inter-American Development Bank concludes that students in the State “had learned only 27% of the in-person equivalent under remote learning”. The risk of dropout increased by a factor of 2.5. Significantly, however, even a partial reopening of some high schools to allow in-person classes for a few weeks increased students’ test scores by 20%, relative to a control group.

Tragically, for tens of millions of Indian children, the difficulties of remote learning may be the least of their troubles. With families ravaged by disease and job losses, teenagers are caring for the sick and younger siblings, or working for pay.

Interruptions in child health services, early nutrition and mid-day meals have affected the growth and development of young children. Ironically, closed schools are seen as a commitment to children’s safety, while the higher risk of disease transmission by working children or the increase in malnutrition is ignored.

As schools reopen, offering a few standardised “bridge” courses and “remedial classes” may seem like a facile antidote to the months of lost formal learning. Resuming the teaching of “the syllabus” — even a watered down version — and pushing children through to the next grade means kicking the can down the road. In designing appropriate programmes, the experiences of stakeholders will be invaluable.

A complete change is needed

India’s education emergency demands action on the education, health and livelihood fronts. It requires focusing on every child as an individual. Each school should prepare a safe school opening and child support plan, and should receive technical help for this. Teachers must be prioritised for vaccinations. Local adaptations and flexibility are essential. An ‘Education Emergency Room’ should be set up in every district to coordinate, implement and monitor local plans. Many activities have to be coordinated: develop health and sanitation measures in schools and protocols for public transportation; encourage children who were not engaged with schools over the last year to come back; develop tools to help teachers make quick diagnoses of students’ learning gaps; train teachers to use this as a guide to support children’s recovery; offer additional classes or activities; implement school health and nutrition; develop tools to accompany the educational trajectory of each student. Technology should be deployed safely for such purposes that identify and respond to children’s needs.

After months of lockout, will India’s children now luck out?

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.