ISRO To Conduct Maiden Test Flight Of Gaganyaan Mission On October 21
Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Space, Science, and Technology, officially announced that, on October 21, The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is poised to make history as it prepares to conduct the first in a series of critical test flights in anticipation of the much-anticipated Gaganyaan mission, which marks India’s maiden charge into manned space exploration.
Testing the Crew Module: A Pivotal Step
The forthcoming test flight will be executed at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, a renowned launch facility. The primary objective of this mission is to evaluate the “crew module,” the pivotal component that will house Indian astronauts during their journey into space. The crew module’s success is paramount, as it directly impacts the safety and well-being of the astronauts who will soon embark on this historic journey.
Mission Overview: A Bold Journey to the Cosmos
The test mission entails launching the crew module into outer space and orchestrating its return to Earth, with a successful touchdown in the Bay of Bengal. To ensure a seamless and safe recovery process, the Indian Navy has initiated mock operations to prepare for this momentous occasion. The recovery process is a crucial aspect of the mission, ensuring the astronauts’ safe return to Earth’s surface.
Crew Escape System: A Lifeline in Space
Accompanying the crew module is the ‘crew escape system,’ a failsafe mechanism designed to protect astronauts in the event of complications during the spacecraft’s ascent into space. This system’s function is to rapidly separate from the spacecraft and guide the crew to safety back on Earth, where they will be picked up by dedicated Navy personnel. The crew escape system’s successful operation is paramount to the overall safety of the mission.
Test Vehicle Abort Mission (TV-D1): A Crucial Step
The first test in the series, known as Test Vehicle Abort Mission (TV-D1), replicates the actual mission’s conditions but with an ‘unpressurized’ crew module. This scenario tests the system’s performance without exposing the astronauts to unnecessary risk.
The test vehicle is a single-stage liquid-fueled rocket designed explicitly for this abort mission, carrying payloads that include the Crew Module (CM) and Crew Escape Systems (CES).
During the launch, the CES will separate from the CM at an altitude of about 17 kilometers. The sequence will then autonomously execute the necessary steps, culminating in a safe landing of the CM in the sea, approximately 10 kilometers off the coast of Sriharikota.
Setting the Stage for Mankind’s Giant Leap
The success of the TV-D1 test mission marks a pivotal stage in ISRO’s preparation for the Gaganyaan mission. This accomplishment will not only validate the technology and systems but also build the foundation for the upcoming unmanned and ultimately manned Gaganyaan missions. These missions hold immense promise for India’s role in space exploration.
A Promising Future: The Vyommitra Mission
Mr. Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State for Space, Science, and Technology, also announced that a test flight scheduled for next year will introduce “Vyommitra,” a female robot astronaut. This unique mission is another step forward in India’s pursuit of scientific and technological excellence, showcasing its commitment to inclusivity and diversity in space exploration.
IMF Maintains 2.5% Growth Forecast for Pakistan
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has decided to keep Pakistan’s economic growth forecast at 2.5%. This figure remains consistent with the IMF’s previous report and is in line with official projections, although it falls short of the official target by 1%.
Contradiction with Previous Government’s GDP Claim
The IMF, like the World Bank, has not accepted Pakistan’s claim of 0.3% GDP growth for the previous year. Instead, the new report suggests an economic contraction of 0.5% for the last fiscal year, which coincided with the government of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). There were allegations that the previous government had pressured the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to present a positive growth figure.
Varying Growth Forecasts
Among international financial institutions, the IMF’s 2.5% growth projection is the highest. In contrast, the World Bank has forecasted 1.7% growth, the Asian Development Bank predicts 1.9%, and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) anticipates growth around 2%. Given Pakistan’s annual population growth rate of 2.6%, maintaining economic growth below this rate could lead to increased unemployment and poverty in the country.
Long-Term Growth Projection
The IMF’s report projects that Pakistan’s economic growth may reach 5% by the year 2028, with this forecast subject to change due to rapid economic developments within the country.
Reduction in Inflation Projection
The IMF has revised its inflation projection for Pakistan downward, now forecasting an average annual inflation rate of 23.6% for the current fiscal year. This is a notable decrease from the previous projection made in July, which was 2.3% higher. In June of the next year, the IMF predicts an annual inflation rate of 17.6%, though it still remains significantly higher than the official targets set by the central bank and the federal government.
Factors Contributing to Inflation
Inflation in Pakistan has been driven by increases in the prices of energy, petroleum products, and currency devaluation. The recent stabilization of the Pakistani rupee, partly due to military-led efforts against currency smuggling, has brought some relief.
Current Account Deficit and Remittances
The IMF suggests that Pakistan’s current account deficit may remain around 1.8% of GDP for the current fiscal year, slightly exceeding the official target. Additionally, remittances to Pakistan have seen a decrease, with a decline of 11.5% in September compared to the same month the previous year.
Unemployment Rate and Global Economic Outlook
The IMF projects a decrease in the unemployment rate in Pakistan from 8.5% in the previous year to 8% in the current fiscal year. Globally, the IMF anticipates a slowdown in economic growth from 3.5% in 2022 to 3% in the current year. It further expects growth to slow to 2.9% next year, slightly down from previous projections in July.
Govt Introduces Shreshta Scheme For Quality Education Of Scheduled Caste Students
In a remarkable move towards enhancing education and bolstering the socio-economic advancement of Scheduled Caste (SC) students, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has unveiled the ‘Scheme for Residential Education for Students in High Schools in Targeted Areas’ (SHRESHTA). The primary objective of this initiative is to extend the influence of government development programs and address service gaps in regions predominantly inhabited by SC communities within the education sector.
SHRESHTA: Nurturing Holistic Development and Quality Education for SC Students
SHRESHTA, designed to provide high-quality education to SC students, aims to create an environment conducive to their holistic development and secure their future prospects. The scheme’s implementation comprises two distinct approaches. The first category includes top CBSE/State Board-affiliated private residential schools known as SHRESHTA institutions.
The second implementation approach relates to existing NGO/VO-operated schools and hostels. This approach is specifically intended for educational institutions up to the 12th grade that are managed by voluntary organizations (VOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Identifying Outstanding Talent with National Entrance Test for SHRESHTA (NETS)
One of the core components of the SHRESHTA scheme is the identification and nurturing of outstanding SC students. To accomplish this, the National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct the National Entrance Test for SHRESHTA (NETS). This national-level examination will serve as a crucial selection tool, ensuring that only the best and brightest students are given the opportunity to excel.
Admission to Top Institutions for Classes 9 to 12
Students who perform exceptionally well in the NETS will gain admission to schools affiliated with CBSE/State Boards for their education from Class 9 to 12. These schools are carefully selected by a dedicated selection committee.
Selection Criteria Based on School Performance
The selection committee evaluates the performance of these schools, ensuring they meet specific criteria. Institutions boasting a pass rate exceeding 75 percent for classes 10 and 12 over the past three years will be among those chosen for admitting these exceptional students. This criterion emphasizes the government’s commitment to providing SC students with top-quality education.
Addressing Educational Disparities and Creating Equal Opportunities
The SHRESHTA scheme underscores the government’s commitment to fostering socio-economic progress among SC students. It also ensures that they receive a top-tier education. This initiative aims to address educational disparities and create equal opportunities for students belonging to the SC community. It does so by partnering with grant-in-aid institutions run by non-governmental organizations and residential high schools that provide high-quality education.
Fostering Inclusive Education through SHRESHTA
Through SHRESHTA, the government is striving to create an inclusive educational landscape that empowers SC students. The scheme’s focus exemplifies a significant step towards achieving equitable growth and development. By supporting high-achieving SC students with access to quality education, the government is laying the foundation for a more inclusive society.
Dedication to Inclusive Education
As the government launches the SHRESHTA scheme, it aims to provide SC students with access to the best educational resources. It ensures that they are equipped with the tools needed to break barriers and overcome challenges. This initiative stands as a testament to the government’s dedication to inclusive education. It represents a bold step towards not only enhancing the educational prospects of SC students but also fostering their socio-economic advancement, ultimately contributing to a more equitable and progressive society.
Petroleum Minister Inaugurates 26th Energy Technology Meet At Bharat Mandapam
In the esteemed presence of notable dignitaries, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, the Hon’ble Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Housing and Urban Affairs inaugurated the 26th Energy Technology Meet at Bharat Mandapam, New Delhi. Shri Hardeep Singh Puri spoke about the country’s achievements in the green and clean energy sector during the 26th Energy Technology Meet, shedding light on the nation’s accomplishments and its future goals.
Exceeding Biofuel Blending Targets
Shri Hardeep Singh Puri proudly announced that India has exceeded its biofuel blending targets, a critical component of the nation’s green energy strategy. The initial goal was to achieve a 10 percent biofuel blending rate by November 2022.
Surpassing expectations, India reached this milestone five months ahead of schedule. Furthermore, the ambitious target of 20 percent biofuel blending, originally set for 2030, has now been advanced to 2025. This remarkable progress demonstrates India’s commitment to cleaner energy sources and reduced environmental impact.
Addressing Energy Challenges: Availability, Affordability, and Sustainability
In his address, Minister Puri emphasized the significance of managing three crucial challenges in the energy sector: availability, affordability, and sustainability. He highlighted that, despite these challenges, India has not allowed the issue of sustainability to hinder its progress. On the contrary, the country has accelerated its efforts towards building a more sustainable energy future.
Overcoming Self-imposed Limits
Shri Puri acknowledged that India had imposed a 20 percent blending limit on itself, mainly because automobile manufacturers claimed that blending beyond this point would require substantial engine modifications. However, India has now successfully achieved the 20 percent blended fuel and is vigorously working on the establishment of ethanol and biogas production plants.
Furthermore, the automobile industry is making significant strides in technological advancements, exemplified by the recent introduction of the Green Hydrogen Bus by India Oil. This development marks a transition towards a new technological mindset, with the introduction of electric cars and flexible-fuel vehicles.
India’s Rising Energy Demand
Highlighting India’s growing energy demand, Minister Puri projected that the country’s energy requirements would serve as the driving force for future economic growth.
Currently, India stands as the world’s third-largest consumer of oil.
The third-largest LPG consumer.
The fourth-largest LNG importer
The fourth-largest refiner.
Additionally, it ranks as the fourth-largest automobile market globally. India’s energy demand is set to grow exponentially in the coming years, making the nation a pivotal player in the global energy landscape.
India’s Global Impact
Minister Puri emphasized that India is poised to account for 25 percent of global energy demand growth over the next two decades. With the launch of the Biofuels Alliance, he anticipates a substantial increase in the global biofuel market, projecting a growth from $92 billion to $200 billion in the near future.
However, he underlined that this is just the beginning of the biofuels story. The introduction of 10 percent ethanol blending has already led to significant savings on India’s import bill, and these savings are expected to increase with the 20 percent blending goal.
Energy Consumption as a Growth Indicator
The Minister stressed that a reliable indicator of a country’s growth is its energy consumption. India’s energy consumption is currently three times the global average, further emphasizing its rapid development and growth. In conclusion, he called for more collaborative events like the Energy Technology Meet, encouraging countries to participate and benefit from valuable discussions on sustainable energy solutions.
What is Hamas, the Palestinian militant group?
In October 2023, Hamas, an Islamist militant group governing the Gaza Strip, launched a massive surprise attack on southern Israel, killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers and taking dozens as hostages. This unprecedented assault has led to a significant escalation in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Origins of Hamas
Hamas, short for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement), was founded in 1987 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a Palestinian cleric with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
It emerged during the first intifada as the political arm of the Brotherhood in Gaza.
Hamas has a complex leadership structure, including an exiled politburo responsible for setting overall policy, with Ismail Haniyeh as its current political chief.
Yahya Sinwar oversees day-to-day affairs in Gaza, and Marwan Issa and Mohammed Deif lead the military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Hamas faces financial challenges due to its designation as a terrorist organization by several countries.
Historically, it received funding from Palestinian expatriates and private donors, as well as some Islamic charities.
Qatar has provided financial assistance, while Iran is a significant benefactor, contributing funds, weapons, and training.
Turkey has been accused of funding Hamas, and it has also received foreign aid via the Palestinian Authority and UN agencies.
Hamas Governance in Gaza
Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Hamas has been the de facto authority in the territory.
It won a majority in the PA’s legislature in 2006 and established its government.
It gained popularity for the social services it provided and as a rejection of Fatah’s perceived corruption.
Hamas established a judiciary and put in place authoritarian institutions in Gaza.
It governs in accordance with sharia-based Palestinian Basic Law but has been more restrictive in some areas, such as dress codes and gender segregation.
Lack of Accountability:
Watchdog groups have noted the lack of transparency in Hamas’s operations, including funding and procurement.
The group also represses media, political opposition, and NGOs, limiting accountability.
Palestinian Perspective on Hamas
Divided Palestinian Territories:
The division between the West Bank and Gaza is widely unpopular among Palestinians. Many view it as a detrimental development for their people.
A significant number of Palestinians in both territories would vote for Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh over PA President Mahmoud Abbas, but Abbas has postponed national elections, potentially to prevent a Hamas victory.
Hamas’s Challenges to Israel
Hamas has historically fired rockets and mortars into Israel, and it gained the ability to build its own missiles after training with Iran’s IRGC.
The group also launched incendiary balloons and carried out incursions into Israeli territory, resulting in conflicts with Israel.
Hamas’s 2023 assault on Israel, “Operation Al-Aqsa Storm,” was unprecedented in its strategy, scale, and secrecy.
It involved launching thousands of rockets into Israel, breaching the Gaza border, and infiltrating Israeli towns.
This attack was a response to Israel’s blockade of Gaza, its occupation of Palestinian lands, and alleged crimes against Muslims, including the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Israel declared war on Hamas in response to the 2023 attack, launching air strikes and ground operations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a “long and difficult war,” and the situation is expected to be extraordinary.
An Israeli invasion of Gaza could lead to wider regional conflicts, potentially involving Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is backed by Iran.
This situation carries the risk of further escalation and instability in the region.
Sheikh Hasina unveils largest project built with Chinese aid
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina marked a historic moment in the country’s infrastructure development by inaugurating the 82-km Padma Bridge Rail Link. This significant project, executed under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is poised to transform Bangladesh’s connectivity and economic landscape.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina unveiled the Dhaka-Bhanga section of the rail route, connecting Dhaka and Jashore via the Padma Bridge.
The inauguration ceremony took place at Mawa Railway Station in Munshiganj.
The remaining portion of the project, linking Jessore, is scheduled to be launched in June next year, according to project officials, as reported by the Dhaka Tribune.
Chinese Contribution and Impact
The Padma Bridge Rail Link stands out as the largest infrastructure project in Bangladesh financed under Chinese preferential loans, with the Exim Bank of China providing a substantial loan of Tk 21,036.70 crore.
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Yao Wen, emphasized the project’s significance under the BRI.
He stated that this landmark initiative is poised to directly benefit 80 million people and could potentially boost Bangladesh’s economic growth by 1.5%.
Economic Boost and Connectivity
The project, estimated to cost Tk 39,246.80 crore, holds the promise of a considerable economic boost for Bangladesh.
It is expected to increase the country’s economic growth by enhancing connectivity and facilitating smoother transportation across regions.
Improved connectivity through the Padma Bridge Rail Link is anticipated to play a pivotal role in stimulating economic activities, encouraging trade, and fostering regional development.
Geography and Demographics of Bangladesh
Located in South Asia, Bangladesh shares borders with India, Myanmar, and the Bay of Bengal to the south.
Approximately 166 million people, making it one of the world’s most densely populated countries.
Bengali (Bangla) is the official language.
Parliamentary democracy with a President as the head of state and a Prime Minister as the head of government.
Textiles and garments, agriculture, and remittances play significant roles in the economy.
Frequent natural disasters, including floods and cyclones, and challenges related to infrastructure and poverty.
Known for its diverse cultural heritage, including music, dance, and a rich culinary tradition.
Rohit Sharma Smashes India’s Fastest World Cup Century
India captain Rohit Sharma smashed his 31st ODI century and put India on course for a mammoth win against Afghanistan in their World Cup 2023 tie at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium. Rohit Sharma completed his hundred off 63 balls, fetching him the record for the fastest century ever by an Indian in the history of World Cup. Before Rohit, the milestone belonged to Kapil Dev off 72 balls against Zimbabwe in 1983, the India captain bested the former all-rounder’s accomplishment by nine balls as India dominated Afghanistan in their chase of 273 and won by 8 wickets.
Earlier during his innings, Rohit knocked down two more impressive milestones. First, he completed 1000 runs in World Cup, becoming only the fourth Indian to the landmark after Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and Sourav Ganguly and then struck three sixes to become the leading six-hitter in international cricket, surpassing ‘Universe Boss’s Chris Gayle.