Chandrayaan-3: ISRO Completes Rocket Assembly, Final Tests Awaited for Launch
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has completed the assembly of the Chandrayaan-3 rocket and is now preparing for the final round of tests before the anticipated launch. The spacecraft, including the indigenous lander module, propulsion module, and rover, is fully integrated, and the payload faring has also been completed. The launch is expected to take place between July 12 and July 19.
Here are the key points:
Key PointsExplanationRocket assembly statusCompleted, with final tests pendingExpected launch date rangeJuly 12 to July 19Mission objectivesDevelop and demonstrate technologies for interplanetary missions, analyze the lunar surface chemically, and perform experiments on the moon’s surfaceLaunch siteSatish Dhawan Space Centre, SriharikotaAssembly location and preparationsUR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) in Bangalore; assembly completed and sent to Sriharikota for launchChandrayaan programme backgroundChandrayaan-1 launched in 2008 and successfully inserted into lunar orbit; Chandrayaan-2’s lander crash-landed on the moon’s surface in 2019 due to a software glitch
Rocket Assembly Completed:
The assembly of the Chandrayaan-3 rocket has been finished, and only the final round of tests remains.
Chandrayaan-3: ISRO Completes Rocket Assembly, Final Tests Awaited for Launch
Final Tests and Launch Schedule:
The rocket will undergo final testing before being moved from the vehicle assembly building to the second launchpad next week. The launch date is likely to be July 13, within the window of July 12 to July 19. ISRO Chairman S Somnath mentioned that they aim for an early launch within this timeframe.
Chandrayaan-3 aims to develop and demonstrate new technologies required for interplanetary missions. The lander will possess the capability to softly land on a designated lunar site and deploy the rover, which will conduct in-situ chemical analysis of the lunar surface. Both the lander and the rover will carry scientific payloads to perform experiments on the moon.
Launch Site and Configuration:
Chandrayaan-3 will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The propulsion module will carry the lander and rover configuration to a 100km lunar orbit.
Payload Assembly and Preparations:
The assembly process for Chandrayaan-3’s payloads started in May to ensure adherence to the planned launch date in July. The assembly was conducted at ISRO’s UR Rao Satellite Centre in Bangalore, followed by transportation to the Sriharikota space port for the launch.
Background on Chandrayaan Programme:
The Chandrayaan programme is an Indian space exploration initiative by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It focuses on lunar exploration and includes various missions aimed at studying the Moon’s surface, composition, and its origin.
Here are some key points about the Chandrayaan programme:
Chandrayaan-1: The Chandrayaan-1 mission was launched on October 22, 2008. It was India’s first lunar mission and the first spacecraft to discover water molecules on the Moon’s surface. The mission also confirmed the presence of high amounts of helium-3, a potential fuel for future nuclear fusion.
Chandrayaan-2: Chandrayaan-2 was India’s second lunar mission and was launched on July 22, 2019. It consisted of an orbiter, a lander named Vikram, and a rover named Pragyan. The objective of the mission was to further explore the Moon’s surface and attempt a soft landing near the lunar south pole. However, the lander lost communication with ground control and the mission was partially successful, but it still provided valuable data.
Objectives: The Chandrayaan programme has several objectives, including mapping the lunar surface, studying the Moon’s mineralogy and geology, analyzing the lunar exosphere (thin atmosphere), and investigating the presence of water ice in the permanently shadowed regions of the Moon.
NCP Leader Ajit Pawar Sworn In As Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, who took oath as the Deputy chief minister of Maharashtra after joining the Eknath Shinde-led government, is the son of Sharad Pawar’s elder brother Anantrao. He made his first foray into politics by being elected to the board of a sugar cooperative in 1982.
Rising through the Ranks: Ajit Pawar’s Political Career in Maharashtra
In 1991, Ajit became the chairman of Pune District Cooperative Bank, a post he served for the next 16 years. Elected as an MP to the Lok Sabha from Baramati in 1991, Ajit later vacated the seat for Sharad Pawar who was the defence minister in the P.V. Narasimha Rao government. He later went on to become a Member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Baramati Assembly Constituency.
Ajit Pawar’s Success in Baramati Assembly Constituency
By Pawar’s side since 1991-’92, he harboured dreams of being the heir apparent after Pawar broke away from the Congress to form the NCP in 1999. He was elected as MLA from the Baramati Assembly Constituency in 1995, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014. and previously in 2019 winning by a vote margin of 1,65,265 votes.
Ajit was elevated to the Cabinet minister rank in Maharashtra at the age of 40 in 1999 after having served as a junior minister for over nine years.
He has taken charge of some heavyweight ministries such as Irrigation, rural development, water resources, and finance that helped him spread his clout throughout the state, including his own pocket borough of west Maharashtra.
Ajit Pawar’s Demands and the Parth Pawar Controversy
In 2019, problems cropped up between uncle and nephew as Ajit demanded that his son Parth be fielded from Maval constituency. It was said that NCP supremo Sharad Pawar had dropped his plans to contest Lok Sabha elections from Madha constituency to make way for Parth to contest from Maval.
Brajendra Navnit to be India’s ambassador to WTO for 9 months
Indian government announced the extension of Brajendra Navnit’s tenure as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the World Trade Organization (WTO) by nine months. This decision comes ahead of the crucial 13th ministerial conference of the WTO in 2024. Navnit’s extended term demonstrates India’s commitment to promoting its key priorities on the global trade stage.
Background and Tenure Extension
Brajendra Navnit assumed office as India’s Ambassador to the WTO in June 2020, with his initial tenure scheduled to end on June 28, 2023. However, the government’s recent decision has extended his term until March 31, 2024 which reflects the recognition of his valuable contributions and the need for continuity during critical negotiations.The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) has also approved the proposal of Department of Commerce for extension in tenure of foreign deputation of Brajendra Navnit.
Other awaited proposals
1.Extending Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Waiver for Covid-related Products
India also seeks a decision on extending the waiver for global intellectual property rights concerning Covid therapeutics and diagnostics. Currently, such a waiver is available for Covid vaccines. India believes that expanding this flexibility will enhance global access to affordable and life-saving medical treatments during the ongoing pandemic.
2.Opposition to Selective Carbon Border Measures
New Delhi has expressed objections to the selective application of carbon border measures, specifically targeting “trade-exposed industries” like steel, aluminum, chemicals, plastics, polymers, and fertilizers. India argues that these measures should not unfairly disadvantage its industries and that the underlying competitiveness concerns must be adequately addressed.
World UFO Day 2023 : 02 July
World UFO Day, celebrated annually on July 2, serves as a platform for individuals around the globe to delve into the intriguing realm of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). This day, initially observed on June 24, aims to raise awareness about UFOs, spark conversations, and foster an exchange of ideas regarding the existence of extraterrestrial life.
Origin of World UFO Day
World UFO Day traces its roots back to two significant events in the United States. The first event occurred on June 24, 1947, when pilot Kenneth Arnold reported observing several unidentified objects near Mount Rainier, Washington. Subsequently, on July 2, 1952, radar operators confirmed multiple UFO sightings over Washington. To avoid conflicts with other UFO-related events, the official date for World UFO Day was shifted to July 2, honoring this notable occurrence.
Significance of World UFO Day
World UFO Day holds great significance as it encourages open discussions and debates surrounding the existence of extraterrestrial life. This occasion provides a platform for enthusiasts and researchers to share theories, exchange information, and contemplate humanity’s position within the vast cosmos. By embracing the notion of life beyond Earth, World UFO Day sparks curiosity, wonder, and the exploration of new possibilities.
Types of Celebrations
1.Exhibitions and Documentaries
On this day, exhibitions are organized to showcase various aspects of UFO sightings, including photographs, eyewitness testimonies, and historical records. Additionally, documentaries exploring UFO encounters and investigations are screened, providing valuable insights into the subject matter.
Some individuals choose to celebrate World UFO Day by organizing skywatching events. These gatherings involve observing the night sky in search of unidentified aerial phenomena. Participants can use telescopes, binoculars, or even their naked eyes to scan the heavens for any unusual sightings, fostering a sense of wonder and anticipation.
3.Film Screenings and Book Discussions
Another way to commemorate World UFO Day is by organizing film screenings of classic science fiction movies centered around extraterrestrial life. Additionally, book clubs can select UFO-related literature to discuss and analyze, allowing participants to explore diverse perspectives on the subject.
Gross GST Collection in June Reaches ₹1.61 Trillion, Marking Fourth Occurrence Above ₹1.60 Trillion
India’s Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection for the month of June reached ₹1.61 trillion, according to the Ministry of Finance. This amount represents a significant 12% increase compared to the revenue collected from GST in the same month of the previous year. It is also noteworthy that this is the fourth time the gross GST collection has surpassed the ₹1.60 trillion mark since the introduction of GST.
Breakdown of June’s GST Revenue
Out of the total GST revenue collected in June, CGST (Central Goods and Services Tax) accounted for ₹31,013 crore, SGST (State Goods and Services Tax) amounted to ₹38,292 crore, and IGST (Integrated Goods and Services Tax) stood at ₹80,292 crore, which includes ₹39,035 crore collected on imported goods. Additionally, cess collected, including ₹1,028 crore on import of goods, totaled ₹11,900 crore. The government further allocated ₹36,224 crore to CGST and ₹30,269 crore to SGST from IGST. Following regular settlements, the Centre and the States reported revenues of ₹67,237 crore and ₹68,561 crore, respectively, for CGST and SGST.
Consistent Growth in GST Collection
India has witnessed a consistent upward trend in GST collection. In April, the country achieved a record-high GST collection of ₹1.87 lakh crore, followed by ₹1,57,090 crore in May. Notably, this marks the 16th consecutive month that gross GST collection has exceeded ₹1.4 lakh crore and the seventh time it has crossed the ₹1.5 lakh crore mark since the inception of GST.
Positive Impacts of GST Implementation
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted the benefits of GST, emphasizing its role in reducing taxes for consumers by eliminating the cascading effect of ‘tax-on-tax.’ She also praised the dedication and commitment of tax officers, attributing their efforts to making monthly GST revenues of ₹1.60 lakh crore the “new normal.”
Average Monthly GST Collection Comparison
The average monthly gross GST collection for the first quarter of the financial years 2022, 2023, and 2024 stands at ₹1.10 lakh crore, ₹1.51 lakh crore, and ₹1.69 lakh crore, respectively. This demonstrates a consistent growth trajectory in GST revenue over the years.
GST’s Contribution to Revenue Buoyancy
Minister Sitharaman also emphasized that GST has played a pivotal role in augmenting the revenue buoyancy of states. By streamlining the taxation process and eliminating the cascading effect, GST has contributed to the overall economic stability and growth of the nation.
India’s External Debt Reaches $624.7 Billion at End-March 2023
India’s external debt has witnessed a slight increase, reaching USD 624.7 billion at the end of March 2023, according to data released by the Reserve Bank. However, the debt-to-GDP ratio has declined during the same period. Valuation gains resulting from the appreciation of the US dollar against major currencies, including the Indian rupee, yen, SDR, and euro, amounted to USD 20.6 billion.
External Debt Growth and Debt-to-GDP Ratio:
The external debt of India rose by USD 5.6 billion compared to the previous year, when it stood at USD 619.1 billion as of March 2022. The Reserve Bank data reveals that the debt-to-GDP ratio decreased from 20 percent in March 2022 to 18.9 percent in March 2023.
Valuation Effects on Debt Calculation:
Valuation gains due to the appreciation of the US dollar against major currencies accounted for USD 20.6 billion. If the valuation effect is excluded, the external debt would have increased by USD 26.2 billion instead of USD 5.6 billion from March 2022 to March 2023.
Composition of External Debt:
As of March 2023, long-term debt (with an original maturity of over one year) amounted to USD 496.3 billion, registering a decline of USD 1.1 billion compared to March 2022. The share of short-term debt (with an original maturity of up to one year) in total external debt increased from 19.7 percent in March 2022 to 20.6 percent in March 2023.
The ratio of short-term debt (original maturity) to foreign exchange reserves also increased from 20 percent in March 2022 to 22.2 percent in March 2023. The largest component of India’s external debt remained the US dollar-denominated debt, accounting for 54.6 percent, followed by debt denominated in the Indian rupee (29.8 percent), SDR (6.1 percent), yen (5.7 percent), and the euro (3.2 percent).
Components of External Debt:
Loans constituted the largest component of India’s external debt, with a share of 32.5 percent, followed by currency and deposits (22.6 percent) and trade credit and advances (19.9 percent). Debt securities also accounted for a portion of the external debt.
Debt service, which includes principal repayments and interest payments, slightly increased to 5.3 percent of current receipts by the end of March 2023, compared to 5.2 percent in March 2022. This reflects higher debt service obligations.
Centre’s Fiscal Deficit Narrows to 11.8% as Non-Tax Revenue Surges: CGA Data
According to official data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), the central government’s fiscal deficit for the financial year 2023-24 stood at Rs 2.1 lakh crore or 11.8% of the full-year budget estimates at the end of May 2023. This marks a significant improvement compared to the previous year when the fiscal deficit was 12.3% of the budget estimates.
Fiscal Deficit Declines Year-on-Year
In May 2022, the fiscal deficit was reported to be 12.3% of the budget estimates for the financial year 2022-23. However, in May 2023, the deficit narrowed to 11.8% of the budget estimates for 2023-24, showcasing the government’s efforts to manage its expenditure and revenue more efficiently.
Centre’s Fiscal Deficit Narrows to 11.8% as Non-Tax Revenue Surges: CGA Data
Understanding Fiscal Deficit
Fiscal deficit represents the difference between the total expenditure and revenue of the government. It is a crucial indicator of the government’s borrowing needs. The reduction in fiscal deficit implies a decrease in the amount of borrowing required by the government to finance its operations.
Actual Fiscal Deficit at May-End 2023
In absolute terms, the fiscal deficit at the end of May 2023 was Rs 2,10,287 crore, as per the CGA data. This data indicates a positive trend towards achieving the government’s fiscal targets for the current financial year.
Non-Tax Revenue Surge Boosts Fiscal Situation
One of the key contributors to the improvement in the fiscal deficit was a significant surge in non-tax revenue, which increased by a remarkable 173%. This surge was largely driven by the dividend received from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Mixed Performance of Tax Revenues
While the non-tax revenues showed robust growth, the net tax revenue experienced a contraction of 9.6% during the same period. This points to the need for continued efforts to strengthen tax collection mechanisms.
The total expenditure incurred by the central government during the first two months of 2023-24 was Rs 6.25 lakh crore, which represents 13.9% of the estimates presented in the Union Budget for the current fiscal year.
Composition of Expenditure
Out of the total revenue expenditure, a significant portion of Rs 1.1 lakh crore was allocated towards interest payments, while major subsidies received Rs 55,316 crore.
Capital Account Spending
On the capital account, the central government spent Rs 1.67 lakh crore during the period under review. This indicates a focus on investments and infrastructure development.
Economic Outlook and Future Projections
Given the encouraging fiscal deficit trends and the surge in non-tax revenues, Aditi Nayar, Chief Economist at Icra, expects fiscal concerns to remain limited. It is also predicted that the Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy committee may not raise policy rates in the immediate term.
State Government Borrowings
However, Nayar points out that higher state government borrowings in the coming quarter could have implications for the 10-year G-sec yield, which is expected to remain in the range of 7.0-7.2% for the remainder of the first half of the fiscal year.
Devolution of Share of Taxes to States
As per the CGA data, the central government transferred Rs 1,18,280 crore to the states as their share of taxes up to May 2023, which indicates efforts to support and strengthen the finances of state governments.