1. Exports cross $400-bn annual target as goods shipments jump
Prime Minister congratulates farmers, weavers and MSMEs on the achievement
India’s annual goods exports crossed the $400-billion mark for the first time ever, the government announced on Wednesday, buoyed by an increase in shipments of merchandise, including engineering products, apparel and garments, gems and jewellery and petroleum products.
Marking the “first time ever” development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the manufacturers, farmers and weavers for achieving this target.
Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal asserted that neither the COVID-19 pandemic nor the global uncertainties following the Ukraine crisis had affected India’s ability to reach its export goals.
Milestone, says Modi
“India set an ambitious target of $400 billion of goods exports and achieves this target for the first time ever. This is a key milestone in our Aatmanirbhar Bharat journey,” Mr. Modi said in a message.
Exports had reached $331.02 billion in the pre-pandemic fiscal year of 2018-19. Shipments have so far increased by $25.19 billion during the month of March and by March 31, the total figure is expected to be $410 billion, the government said.
Commenting on the development, Mr. Goyal said the boost in the exports was likely to bolster India’s position in the ongoing negotiations for Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with several trade partners.
Noting that the agriculture sector too had recorded its highest-ever export during 2021-22 with the help of export of “rice, marine products, wheat, spices and sugar”, Mr. Goyal termed the development a “Made in India blockbuster” and a “collective show of strength”.
“A country which is self-confident, which provides for its needs where people respect domestically made products — and we are able to work with the rest of the world from a position of strength and are able to take on challenges of all sorts and compete on the strength of our farmers who toil day and night to produce truly exotic and wonderful fruits and vegetables and our fishermen who go out into the sea… it’s truly a time for all of us to reflect on our strengths and our future,” said Mr. Goyal, who dedicated the achievement to everyone in “Team India”.
The Minister attributed the success to the coordination between the government, the industry and various Ministries, including the diplomatic arm. He said Indian embassies and envoys had explored new opportunities across the world to help achieve the target.
“We broke every silo within the government… our missions abroad, and collectively everybody worked for a common purpose,” said Mr. Goyal who thanked banks, insurance companies and India’s diplomats.
“Crossing $400 billion is a remarkable achievement particularly as we will be adding over $110 billion in one year to reach here, despite huge logistics challenges, including container shortage, sky rocketing freight and liquidity constraints,” said A. Sakthivel, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO).
2. American mathematician Sullivan wins Abel prize
His ‘ground-breaking contributions to topology’ is honoured
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has awarded the Abel prize for the year 2022 to American Mathematician Dennis Parnell Sullivan, who is with the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The citation mentions that the award has been given, “For his groundbreaking contributions to topology in its broadest sense, and in particular its algebraic, geometric and dynamical aspects”.
Topology is a field of mathematics which was born in the 19th century and has to do with properties of surfaces that do not change when they are deformed. Topologically, a circle and a square are the same; similarly, surfaces of a doughnut and a coffee mug with one handle are topologically equivalent, however, the surface of a sphere and a coffee mug are not equivalent.
“Dennis P. Sullivan has repeatedly changed the landscape of topology by introducing new concepts, proving landmark theorems, answering old conjectures and formulating new problems that have driven the field forwards,” says Hans Munthe-Kaas, chair of the Abel Committee, in a press release given by the Academy.
The release further says that Prof. Sullivan has found deep connections between a variety of areas of mathematics. One of his key breakthroughs is in developing a new way of understanding rational homotopy theory.
3. The Artemis programme, NASA’s new moon mission
How will the next generation of lunar exploration operate and what are its objectives?
Artemis I is an uncrewed space mission where the spacecraft will launch on SLS — the most powerful rocket in the world — and travel 2,80,000 miles from the earth for over four to six weeks.
NASA will a gateway in the lunar orbit to aid exploration by robots and astronauts. It is touted as a critical component of NASA’s sustainable lunar operations and will serve as a multi-purpose outpost orbiting the moon.
The learnings from the Artemis programme will be utilised to send the first astronauts to Mars.
The story so far: On March 17, theNational Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) rolled out its Artemis I moon mission to the launchpad for testing at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, United States. The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule of the mission were hurled out to the launchpad by NASA’s Crawler-Transporter 2 vehicle.
What is the Artemis mission?
NASA’s Artemis mission is touted as the next generation of lunar exploration, and is named after the twin sister of Apollo from Greek mythology. Artemis is also the goddess of the moon.
Artemis I is the first of NASA’s deep space exploration systems. It is an uncrewed space mission where the spacecraft will launch on SLS — the most powerful rocket in the world — and travel 2,80,000 miles from the earth for over four to six weeks during the course of the mission. The Orion spacecraft is going to remain in space without docking to a space station, longer than any ship for astronauts has ever done before.
The SLS rocket has been designed for space missions beyond the low-earth orbit and can carry crew or cargo to the moon and beyond. With the Artemis programme, NASA aims to land humans on the moon by 2024, and it also plans to land the first woman and first person of colour on the moon.
With this mission, NASA aims to contribute to scientific discovery and economic benefits and inspire a new generation of explorers.
NASA will establish an Artemis Base Camp on the surface and a gateway in the lunar orbit to aid exploration by robots and astronauts. The gateway is a critical component of NASA’s sustainable lunar operations and will serve as a multi-purpose outpost orbiting the moon.
Other space agencies are also involved in the Artemis programme. The Canadian Space Agency has committed to providing advanced robotics for the gateway, and the European Space Agency will provide the International Habitat and the ESPRIT module, which will deliver additional communications capabilities among other things. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency plans to contribute habitation components and logistics resupply.
What is the mission trajectory?
SLS and Orion under Artemis I will be launched from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, U.S. in the summer of 2022. The spacecraft will deploy the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS), a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen-based propulsion system that will give Orion the thrust needed to leave the earth’s orbit and travel towards the moon.
On its way to the moon, Orion will be propelled by a service module provided by the European Space Agency (ESA). The spacecraft will communicate with the control centre back on Earth through the deep-space network. It will fly around 100 km above the surface of the moon and use its gravitational pull to propel Orion into an opposite deep orbit around 70,000 km from the moon, where it will stay for approximately six days. The aim of the exercise is to collect data and to allow mission controllers to assess the performance of the spacecraft.
To re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, Orion will do a close flyby within less than 100 km of the moon’s surface and use both the service module and the moon’s gravity to accelerate back towards the earth. The mission will end with the spacecraft’s ability to return safely to the earth.
What are the future missions in the Artemis programme?
The second flight under the programme will have crew on board and will test Orion’s critical systems with humans onboard. Eventually, the learnings from the Artemis programme will be utilised to send the first astronauts to Mars. NASA plans on using the lunar orbit to gain the necessary experience to extend human exploration of space farther into the solar system.