Current Affairs for NDA, CDS, AFCAT, Airforce X&Y Groups – News
Analysis from THE HINDU (January 12, 2019)
1. ISRO cranks up Gaganyaan project
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Friday said
work on ‘Gaganyaan’, the project to send a manned mission to space by 2022,
would start soon at the newly created Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC).
“Gaganyaan is our highest priority now,” K. Sivan, ISRO
Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, told reporters here. “We have put
in a management structure to realise it. The Human Space Flight Centre [based
in Bengaluru] will carry out all activities related to the human programme.
Under it will function the Gaganyaan Project,” he added.
Dr. Sivan also announced the appointment of Unnikrishnan
Nair — who led ISRO’s Advanced Space Transportation Programme at the Vikram
Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and has already worked in the area as the director
of the Human Space Flight Project — as the director of the new centre.
“The year 2019 has started with a big bang with Gaganyaan
getting the government’s approval and budget for putting three astronauts in
space for seven days,” Dr. Sivan said. The astronauts will orbit Earth at a
distance of 400 km.
“The HSPC will work full steam now,” Dr. Sivan said. “We
must select the astronauts, train them, create and ensure livable conditions in
space for them, bring them back safely and later rehabilitate them in their
The heavy lift launch vehicle GSLV Mark III, which got
operational in November after its second successive flight in a row, must be
suitably certified or human-rated. It will have two non-crew flights in
December 2020 and July 2021.
The actual flight with crew is targeted to happen by
December 2021 — to meet the Prime Minister’s goal of August 2022, India’s 75th
2. Trusted workhorse set to get new features
With the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) planning
to keep the fourth and final stage of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)
‘alive’ in space as a useful ‘orbital platform’, the rocket — popularly dubbed
ISRO’s trusted workhorse — is getting added features.
Set for lift-off this month with the Microsat-R payload, the
upcoming PSLV-C44 mission will see a new variant of the PSLV in use. This
variant, tagged PSLV-DL, will be the first to sport two strap-on boosters for
providing added thrust.
Its final and fourth stage — PS4 — will be equipped with
lithium-ion batteries, but no solar panels. An in-house technology, the
lithium-ion cells are critical to keep the spent stage in orbit. Solar panels
will be added, in all likelihood, in the next mission, Vikram Sarabhai Space
Centre (VSSC) Director S. Somanath says.
ISRO had hit upon the idea of transforming the expendable
fourth stage into a makeshift satellite to reduce space debris. In a normal
scenario, the initial stages of the rocket, once they detach, drop back into
the sea. However, stage four, after releasing the payload, wanders around in
space as junk.
If the plan is successful, the spent stage will be
automatically ‘recycled’ into a valuable platform for space-based experiments.
Mr. Somanath said ISRO would perfect the technology with
tests spread over multiple missions. On the C44 mission, the ISRO will also
test the downloading of data from the stage to the ground station. In
subsequent missions, the space agency will carry out experiments using the
3. Will not accept high-value Indian currency, says Nepal
Upset over continued delays by New Delhi in exchanging
demonetised currency, Nepal says it will not accept high-value Indian notes
until the government gives specific assurances against future shocks.
Explaining the Oli government’s recent move to ban all
Indian currency of denominations above ₹100, Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar
Gyawali said India was yet to respond to Nepal’s two-year-old demand for the
return of more than ₹7 crore in demonetised notes held officially by the Nepali
Rashtra Bank (NRB). “We have asked the Indian government on several occasions
to settle the issue,” Mr. Gyawali told presspersons here on Friday. “We have
now decided that on the use of high-value [Indian] currency, we will not allow
it until we get an assurance from the Indian government,” he said.
When ₹500 and ₹1,000 notes were demonetised on November 8,
2016, countries such as Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar were left holding large sums
of the currency. While India settled the issue with Bhutan, it is yet to
respond to Nepal’s requests, officials told The Hindu.
4. Banker, AAP leader Meera Sanyal dead
Meera Sanyal, top banker-turned-activist, who contested the
Mumbai South seat in the last two Lok Sabha elections, passed away at her South
Mumbai residence on Friday evening.
The former country head of Royal Bank of Scotland, the
57-year old Ms. Sanyal was battling cancer for over two years, and is survived
by her husband and two children.
Her colleagues from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said Ms.
Sanyal’s funeral would be a private affair.
Hers was a rare instance of an accomplished business honcho
from Mumbai quitting the rat race to pursue social activism and even foray into
She was the daughter of much-decorated naval officer
Vice-Admiral Gulab Mohanlal Hiranandani.
5. Collegium recommends two names for apex court
The Supreme Court Collegium has recommended Karnataka High
Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and a Delhi High Court judge, Justice
Sanjiv Khanna, for appointment to the apex court. Justice Khanna was appointed
a judge of the Delhi High Court in June 2005 and continue there ever since. If
appointed to the Supreme Court, he would succeed Justice D.Y. Chandrachud as the
Chief Justice of India in 2024.
6. Ranil tables report on constitution proposals
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday tabled an
experts’ report on the proposals to draft Sri Lanka’s new Constitution at the
Constitutional Assembly sitting held in Parliament.
The move enables a discussion in the Constitutional
Assembly, which in turn could help authorities present a draft of the
Constitution in Parliament in the coming months, according to legislators.
Once debated in Parliament, the draft would have to be passed
by a two-thirds majority in the House, and later endorsed by citizens in an
7. Ashok Chawla resigns as NSE chairman
Ashok Chawla resigned as the chairman and public interest
director of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday after the Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI) informed a Delhi court that the Centre had given
the go-ahead to prosecute five people, including Mr. Chawla, in the
“Ashok Chawla has resigned as public interest
director/chairman of the board of directors of the National Stock Exchange of
India Ltd (NSE) with immediate effect in [the] light of recent legal
developments,” the NSE said in a statement.
8. Hardik and Rahul pay for their indiscretion
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has
suspended Hardik Pandya and K.L. Rahul, pending an enquiry, for comments made
on the TV show Koffee with Karan.
An official BCCI media release late on Friday evening said
the two players would return to India immediately and an enquiry and
proceedings will be made against them.
The senior selection committee will soon name their
replacements for the ODI series against Australia and the tour of New Zealand.
BCCI legal cell member Indranil Deshmukh advised the
Committee of Administrators (CoA), following a request from member Diana
Edulji, of the action that may be taken.
CoA head Vinod Rai had wanted a two-match ban on
Edulji had also sought the views of BCCI acting president
C.K. Khanna, acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry.
9. Three Indians among five leaders
Young Indian talent continued to get its share of attention
after some fiercely-fought draws and few decisive encounters on the leading
boards in the fourth round of the Delhi International Open chess tournament
here on Friday.
After D. Gukesh, N.R. Visakh and Rohit Krishna proved equal
to Russian Grandmasters Alexandr Predke, Ivan Rozum and Georgia’s Luka
Paichadze — seeded two, five and seven — 16-year-old Neelash Saha continued his
splendid run to stay among the leaders.
The day that began with 23 leaders ended with just five in
the lead. Besides Saha, who upstaged Armenian GM Karen Movsziszian, others in
the leaders’ group were Diptayan Ghosh, Debashis Das and the two Iranians,
former champion Ehsan Ghaem Maghami and Masoud Mosadeghpour.
10. Vatican nuns will compete for Olympic glory
The newly-formed Vatican Athletics team, which is aiming to
compete in international competitions, including the Olympics, was officially
launched on Thursday after reaching a bilateral agreement with vaticanthe
Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).
So far there are 60 members of Vatican Athletics — the first
Sports Association constituted in the Holy See — which includes nuns, priests,
Swiss Guards and other workers.
Monsignor Melchor Josş Sŕnchez de Toca y Alameda, president
of Vatican Athletics, said at the launch that the Olympic Games were “the dream
but not in the short term”.
“The dream that we have often had is to see the Holy See
flag among the delegations at the opening of the Olympic Games,” he said.
But in the immediate future Vatican Athletics would like to
be present at smaller competitions such as the Mediterranean Games.
Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malago
praised the latest initiative at the Holy See which already has football and
11. China’s moon rover prepares for a rough ride
China on Friday hailed its historic mission to the far side
of the moon as a “complete success” so far but said new challenges await its
rover as it explores rugged terrain.
The Chang’e-4 probe — named after a moon goddess — made the
world’s first soft landing on the moon’s “dark side” on January 3, a major step
in China’s ambitions to become a space superpower.
The mission sent the first panoramic image of its landing
site on Friday, showing the grey moonscape it is exploring and the track marks
left by the rover in the lunar soil.
12. Musk unveils prototype of Mars-bound rocket
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has unveiled the first pictures of a
retro-looking, steely rocket called Starship that may one day carry people to
the Moon and Mars.
Mr. Musk posted pictures on Twitter late on Thursday of the
test version of the Starship Hopper, which awaits its first flight test in
Texas in the coming weeks.
The prototype, built in Boca Chica, along the Gulf Coast of
Texas, is nine metres in diameter — like the future rocket will be — but is
Its first test flights — suborbital “hops” reaching several
km in the air before landing back on Earth — could come in March or April.
An orbital prototype is expected in June. That version will
be paired with a massive rocket booster known as the Super Heavy.
SpaceX has said the duo could some day transport people from
city to city on Earth, as well as propel passengers around the Moon, to the
lunar surface, and even to Mars and back.
13. ‘Oceans are heating up at a fast pace’
The world’s oceans are heating up at an accelerating pace as
global warming threatens a diverse range of marine life and a major food supply
for the planet, researchers said on Thursday.
The findings in the U.S. journal Science, led by the Chinese
Academy of Sciences, debunk previous reports that suggested a so-called pause
in global warming in recent years.
The latest technology shows no such hiatus ever existed,
raising new concerns about the pace of climate change and its effect on the
planet’s main buffer — the oceans.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC)
Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC)
National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)
15. Things to Remember:
ISRO Chairman – Dr. Kailasavadivoo Sivan
German Chancellor – Angela Merkel
16. Improve your Vocabulary:
Meaning 1 – A confident and forceful statement of fact or
Example – ‘his assertion that his father had deserted the
Synonyms – declaration, contention, statement, claim,
submission, postulation, averment, opinion, proclamation, announcement,
pronouncement, assurance, attestation, affirmation, protestation, profession,
swearing, insistence, avowal
Meaning 1.1 – The action of asserting something.
Example – ‘the assertion of his legal rights’
Synonyms – defence, upholding