1. India’s first private rocket lifts off from ISRO spaceport
The six-metre-tall launch vehicle Vikram-S is named after Vikram Sarabhai; the rocket is developed by the Hyderabad-based start-up Skyroot Aerospace Private Limited
It was a historic moment when Vikram-S, India’s first privately-developed rocket, lifted off precisely at 11.30 a.m. on Friday from Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) launchpad in Sriharikota.
Developed by Hyderabad-based start-up Skyroot Aerospace Private Limited, the six-metre-tall vehicle hit a peak altitude of 89.5 km and then splashed into the Bay of Bengal about five minutes after the launch. This mission was titled Prarambh.
The rocket Vikram-S is a single-stage solid fuelled, sub-orbital rocket developed over two years by incorporating advanced technologies including carbon composite structures and 3D-printed components.
Equipped with a gross lift off mass of 545kg, and payload mass of 80 kg, Vikram-S carried with it three customer payloads, which will map the measurement and validation of certain flight parameters and payload integration processes.
This was a technology demonstration flight to showcase the capabilities of the company. The rocket will help validate the technologies that will be used in the subsequent Vikram-1 orbital vehicle of Skyroot that is planned for launch next year, subject to technical clearance by IN-SPACe.
Founded by Pawan Kumar Chandana and Naga Bharath Daka in June 2018 Skyroot Aerospace is a two-time national award-winning space startup.
2. Prison inmates across country likely to get Aadhaar as UIDAI allows enrolment with Induction Document as proof
UIDAI has agreed to accept the Prisoner Induction Document as a valid document for Aadhaar enrolment or update.
To cover prison inmates across the country, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has agreed to accept the Prisoner Induction Document as a valid document for Aadhaar enrolment or update.
Though the campaign to extend Aadhaar to prisoners was launched in 2017, the process did not proceed on expected lines, since the enrolment required valid documents prescribed by the UIDAI. To simplify the process and make Aadhaar available to all prisoners, the UIDAI decided to accept the Prisoner Induction Document, generated from the ‘ePrison’ module and certified by the authorised prison officer, police sources said on Friday.
As of December 31, 2021, the National Crime Records Bureau has reported that there were 1,319 prisons in the country, including 148 central jails, 424 district jails, 564 sub-jails, 32 women jails and 10 borstal schools, with a total of about 5.5 lakh inmates.
Section 57 of The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, allows the use of Aadhaar number for establishing the identity of an individual for any purpose, if the use of the number is subject to the procedure and obligations under Section 8 and Chapter VI of the Act.
Ministry rolls out SOP
In a note to the heads of the prisons in all States and Union Territories on Thursday, the Ministry of Home Affairs called for making use of the dispensation made available by the UIDAI and facilitating the enrolment/update of Aadhaar through special camps. The Aadhaar saturation level in the country has crossed 93%, and it is nearly 100% among the adult population. Continuing with the measures to enrol all eligible residents, it was decided to conduct regular enrolment camps at the jails in co-ordination with the State governments, the Ministry said, and roll out a standard operating procedure.
The use of Aadhaar could help to regulate the day-to-day prison administration work, such as production of inmates in court and their return to prison, transport, health facilities, shifting of inmates to hospitals outside prisons, interviews, free legal aid, parole, temporary release and education/vocational training, the Ministry said.
3. ‘Al Qaeda, IS emerged as major challenges post regime change’
Without naming Afghanistan or its rulers, Amit Shah flags new equations in South Asia and the growing influence of terrorist organisations in the region; he also warns that financing of terror weakens the economy of countries
The growing influence of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State has emerged as major security challenge after the regime change in South Asia in 2021, Home Minister Amit Shah said at an international conference on terror financing on Friday, without specifically mentioning the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Highlighting another aspect of security challenges in the region, Mr. Shah met his Bangladeshi counterpart on the sidelines of the conference and raised the issue of attacks on temples and Hindu minority community in that country, according to a government official.
In its official statement on Mr. Shah’s meeting with Bangladeshi Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that “both sides had productive exchanges on border management and common security-related issues.” Mr. Shah also met Ministers from Ethiopia and Maldives on the sidelines of the conference.
At the third “No Money for Terror” conference, Mr. Shah chaired the session on “Global Trends in Terrorist Financing and Terrorism”, attended by Ministers from 20 countries and representatives of 72 countries and multilateral bodies.
‘No link to religion’
Addressing the conference, Mr. Shah emphasised that the threat of terrorism cannot and should not be linked to any religion, nationality, or group.
The Home Minister said that after August 2021, the situation in the South Asian region has changed. Without naming Afghanistan or its new rulers, Mr. Shah identified the regime change and the growing influence of terrorist organisations as major challenges in the region, adding that these new equations have made the problem of terror financing more serious.
“Three decades ago, the whole world has had to bear the serious consequences of one such regime change, the result of which we all have seen in the horrific attack of 9/11. In this background, last year’s changes in South Asian region are a matter of concern for all of us. Along with Al Qaeda, organisations in South Asia like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed continue to spread terror,” he said.
Mr. Shah said that terrorists’ safe havens or their resources should never be ignored and double-speak of such elements who sponsor and support them should be exposed. “Unfortunately, there are countries that seek to undermine, or even hinder our collective resolve to fight terrorism. We have seen that some countries protect terrorists. Protecting a terrorist is equivalent to promoting terrorism,” said Mr. Shah.
“Therefore, it is important that this conference, the participating countries and the organisations should not take a selective or complacent perspective of the challenges of this region,” he added.
Mr. Shah said that the financing of terrorism is more dangerous than terrorism itself, because the “means and methods” of terrorism are nurtured from such funding. Furthermore, the financing of terrorism weakens the economy of countries.
“India condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and we believe that no reason can justify an act, such as taking innocent lives,” the Home Minister said.
Reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement earlier in the day, Mr. Shah said that India has been, for several decades, a victim of terrorism sponsored from across the border.
The Minister said that India has strengthened the fight against terrorism and its financing by amending the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), strengthening the National Investigation Agency (NIA), and giving a new direction to financial intelligence.
He stated that it is the result of such continuous efforts that terrorist incidents in India have come down drastically, which in turn, has also resulted in a drastic reduction in the economic losses caused by terrorism.
Dynamite to Metaverse
Terrorist groups understand the nuances of modern weapons and information technology, and the dynamics of the cyber and financial space very well, and use them, said the Home Minister. He said that this transformation of terrorism from “dynamite to Metaverse” and “AK-47 to virtual assets” is definitely a matter of concern for the countries, and a common strategy is required to fight it.
Mr. Shah said that although significant progress has been made to confront terrorism by fortifying the security architecture, legal and financial systems, “terrorists are finding new ways to carry out violence, radicalise youth and raise financial resources.”
The emerging trends of the illegal trade of narcotics and the challenge of narco-terror have given a new dimension to terror financing, he said.
In view of this, there is a need for close cooperation among all nations, he said, pointing out that virtual assets are being used by terrorists for financial transactions. To crack down on the use of virtual asset channels, funding infrastructure and the dark net, a “robust and efficient operational system” is required, he added.
4. India and Russia agree to deepen cooperation on counter-terrorism at UN
Ahead of India’s presidency of the UN Security Council in December, India and Russia agreed to “deepen cooperation” on counter-terrorism issues and “enhance bilateral coordination” at the United Nations, statements issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The statements followed talks between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and Secretary (West) Sanjay Verma in New Delhi, and come four days after India abstained from yet another vote at the UN General Assembly that called for reparations to be paid by Russia for the war in Ukraine.
“The consultations reaffirmed mutual commitment to further strengthen bilateral coordination and constructive cooperation at the UN platform on the basis of its Charter and in line with the special and privileged strategic partnership between Moscow and New Delhi,” a statement issued in Moscow said after the talks, adding that they had discussed the situation in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, and conflict on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
The two sides also discussed India’s presidency of the UNSC in the month of December, which will be India’s last month in the UNSC. Among other events, India plans to chair a special briefing on challenges to the global counter-terrorism architecture on December 15, and Mr. Verma briefed Mr. Vershinin on India’s “priorities” during the month, the MEA said.
“Both sides held wide-ranging discussions on issues on the UN Security Council agenda and recent developments. They agreed to deepen cooperation on counter-terrorism at UN and other multilateral platforms,” the MEA statement added.