Wednesday 07th January 2015 04:55 EST

Space triumph
The first lines of the opening paragraph of the Hindu’s editorial (December 19) put India’s latest space success in context. “It has been a glorious year for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The successful launch of Mangalyaan into Mars orbit on September 24 on its maiden attempt was the crowning glory. On December 18, the space organization followed it up with another stupendous success with the first experimental launch of a GSLV Mark III vehicle and the safe splashdown of a crew vehicle in the Bay of Bengal off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands after re-entry into the atmosphere and best exemplify the maturing of the Indian space programme and its capability to take the country’s space missions to greater heights.”
Cryogenic engine
The 639-tonne Geosynchronous Satellite launch Vehicle (GSLV Mark III) will enable India to carry heavier communications satellites into a higher orbit, hence save valuable foreign exchange by not relying on foreign agencies for such ventures in future. India is still developing the third and final stage of its own cryogenic engines [ which provide greater thrust]for the achievement to be complete.  (Business Line, Mint December 19)
US pressure
The previous cryogenic engines were Russian. The Clinton administration applied strong pressure on the Yeltsin government in Moscow to abort the deal to continue supplying these engines, following those already supplied. President Putin vowed that Russia would never bow to such pressure ever again. Prior to this, the Reagan administration reneged on its undertaking to provide India with supercomputers, which India ultimately developed itself. The Indian software for the Tejas warplane was confiscated from Lockheed - which had been contracted as a consultant - by the US State Department, delaying the entire project by almost a decade.  It is as well that these events are best not forgotten.
Putin visit
Kanwal Sibal, a former Indian foreign secretary, in an editorial-page column in the Telegraph (December  16) summed up President Putin’s recent visit to India as a success on every count, not least in his rapport with Prime Minister Modi.  Sibal concluded: “Putin declared that he is highly satisfied with his visit and its results, while Modi  has stated that the summit had reinforced his conviction in the extraordinary value and strength of the India-Russia partnership.” Sibal drew attention to  “inopportune” US cautions to India on its ties with Russia, but these had had no impact on New Delhi, for whom it was “Business as usual” with Moscow
Bullish on India
Adrian Mowat, Chief Emerging Market and Asia Equity Strategist at JP Morgan, the Wall Street investment bank, was upbeat on the prospects of the emerging economies of India and Indonesia in the light of falling oil prices. The oil price dynamics made him more bullish on the Indian story, he said.
Record defence
Prime Minister Modi’s government has cleared a record number of 41defence acquisitions worth $19 billion in only four sittings of the Defence Acquisitions Council much to the relief and delight of service chiefs, long accustomed to the dilatory procedures of the defence ministry. The pace of the decision making has impressed service chiefs. “I don’t recall the council passing these many procurement proposals and in four meetings,” said Air Marshal R.K. Sharma. The sum cleared in the previous fiscal was less than half the present sum. The modernization of the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy will hopefully gain fresh traction  (Mint December 17)
DRDO scientist
Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Director, Research Centre (RCI) Immarat, near Hyderabad, was given the Honorary Fellowship of the Computer Society of India during its recent Golden Jubilee celebrations in Hyderabad. The RC I, the critical complex of laboratories which designs India’s missiles, is part of the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO. Dr Reddy received the award for his outstanding contribution to the growth of computers, information technology, and his leadership in the designing and development of a wide range of on-board mission computers, navigation computers and miniaturized high-speed computers based on System-on-Chip for a variety of DRDO-manufactured missiles including those of the short-range, medium range and intercontinental-range Agni series.
Dr Reddy led the development of real-time mission software for missiles and initiated important projects, which included their high-speed avionics (Hindu December 17)
New technologies
to benefit India
McKinsey Global Institute has identified 12 new technologies that could give a fillip to India’s economic growth and aid poverty reduction. The listed technologies range from Mobile Internet to cloud computing to advanced genomics. Mobile Internet is the most critical of these technologies, and will likely reach 700-900 million Indians by 2025. In all, these technologies can add $550 billion to $1 trillion to economic value by 2025.
Vision statement
These technologies could contribute 20-30 per cent to India’s Gross Domestic Product from now to 2025m ensuring a better quality of life for the people. “For all India’s prowess in IT, large parts of its economy have yet to benefit from new technologies. That is about to change. The combined economic impact of the 12 technologies in 2025 could be up to six times the value of the Indian IT industry. They can contribute as high a share of the national economy as the entire manufacturing sector does today. “Some of the revolutions are happening right now setting up the base for these technologies….The Digital India programme which has been announced by the Indian government makes the adoption of these technologies a  huge opportunity and not just aspiration,” said Noshir Kaka, Managing Director, India, McKinsey (Mint December 17)
Tech Mahindra’s
innovation drive
Tech Mahindra, part of the Mahindra Group, has invested $100 million in the last few months on an innovation initiative at its sprawling facility on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Says C.P Gurnani, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra, “It has got three arms. Ile the 15 labs focus on the internal talent  by encouraging employees to come up with creative ideas, Solution Scape works on building different solutions for different sectors such as banks, oil and gas.” The third component is Co-Create that lets employees, partners and customers to co-build products and solutions. He concludes: “But the investments you make on the innovation will yield results in the long run. We are investing for the future, though you cannot show these in your utilization rates.” (Business Line December 17)
Agra arrest
Nani Kishore Valmiki alias Kishore Lal Valmiki, the main accused in the religious conversion controversy, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police in mid-December. He was interrogated on his role in the conversion of 56 of poor Muslim families living the environs of Agra. Vaslmiki contested a seat in the Agra Municipal election on a BJP ticket. According to a Muslim rag picker Valmiki promised  to acquire ration cards and lured them with other material benefits if they converted to the Hindu faith. (Hindu December 17)
Modi’s riot act
Narendra Modi has already displayed sufficient vision and resolve to become a truly great Indian prime minister. Whether he achieves this iconic status will surely depend on the modernization of his country economy: it is the economy, stupid was the message the visibly irate prime minister conveyed to BJP MPs. The columnist Swapan Dasgupta wrote thus on the editorial page of the Telegraph newspaper (December 19): “For the Modi government, the next few months are certain to be challenging. The government seems clear on its priorities but there are sufficient roadblocks that have to be negotiated calmly. It is important to ensure that subterranean currents remain firmly under control and don’t create diversions from the path the electorate voted to travel down”- a calibrated reference to the conversion circus organized by the lunatic fringe of the Sangh Parivar and its affiliates, and the unease this is causing to the Indian mainstream (Karen Thapar in Hindustan Times, December 18).
Patels are our shared blessing
President Pranab Mukherjee autobiography relates a few tidbits from India’s past to which he was privy. In August 1946, a year before Indian independence, Calcutta was convulsed by communal violence in the wake of the Direct Action Day call by Mohammed Ali Jinnah to force the India’s partition and the creation of Pakistan. The “Great Calcutta Killings,” that followed was organized and directed by Bengal’s then Muslim League chief minister H.S.Suhrawardy,.
When the bloodbath had ceased and peace was restored, Suhrawardy and Sarat Bose, put their heads together and came up with the cockeyed plan for a united Bengal that would have the option of remaining a separate entity from India or Pakistan, with Calcutta as its capita.
Shyma Prasad Mookerjee, then a Congressman and subsequently the founder of the Jan Sangh, the progenitor of today’s BJP, had spoken out for a partitioned Bengal, believing, correctly, that co-habitation with the Muslim League was impracticable after all that had happened. Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru turned the contentious issue over to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. India’s ‘Iron Man’ dismissed the harebrained scheme with the remark that the new India would be seriously diminished without Bengal and its metropolis. A possible disaster was nipped in the bud.
Switching locales, Amit Roy, the Telegraph’s Correspondent in London, told how Peter Hollingworth, a Deputy District judge at the Preston Magistrates’ Court, ruled that plaintiff, one Deepa Patel 22, be present on a particular day for a hearing. Deepa’s legal representative said her client was unable to oblige at such notice. Judge Hollingworth responded with the condescending observation that, “With a name like Patel and her ethnic background, she won’t be working anywhere important where she can’t get time off.” British-born and bred Deepa Patel, who works in an office and has a law degree, understandably affronted by the gratuitous comment, vented her anger in no uncertain terms. Judge Hollingworth duly stepped down from the bench. Amit Roy’s “Patel count” at public schools, a few years earlier, had revealed “that it was the most common surname at Dulwich College, an indication that even South London shopkeepers of modest means wanted the best for their children.” Taking on the Patels is a risky business! Long may they and their kind prosper.

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