Good morning, dear reader! Here’s your morning news and views brief for today.
ISRO To Launch 31 Satellites On 12 January: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to launch its polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) with 31 satellites on 12 January from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Apart from India’s Cartosat-2 series satellite, the PSLV-C40 would carry two micro satellites besides 28 of different sizes and shapes belonging to various countries. “PSLV C-40 rocket will launch the Cartosat and 31 small satellites at 9.30am on 12 January,” ISRO public relations director D P Karnik said. Of the 31 small satellites, 28 are from foreign countries and two from ISRO. The two desi small satellites are microsat and nanosat, which are technology demonstrators. The Cartosat is a follow-up satellite to provide high resolution scene specific spot imageries for civilian and military applications. The advanced remote sensing satellite Cartosat, also called ‘eye in the sky’ because of its surveillance capabilities, is capable of providing scene-specific spot imagery. This is the first launch of the PSLV after the failure of the mission on 31 August last year.
India’s Fastest Supercomputer Unveiled: India’s fastest and first “multi-petaflops” supercomputer was dedicated to the nation by Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan. Named “Pratyush”, meaning the sun, the high performance computing (HPC) facility has been established at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, and will be a national facility for improving weather and climate forecasts. While inaugurating the facility, the minister said that it would be India’s number one HPC facility in terms of peak capacity and performance. The IITM said that the facility would help the country with better forecasts in terms of monsoon, extreme events, tsunamis, cyclones, earthquakes, air quality, lightning, fishing, hot and cold waves, flood and drought among others.
Bootleggers May Face Death Penalty In UP: The Uttar Pradesh (UP) governor has given the green light to a bill that will send those dealing in illicit liquor in the state to the gallows. The bill, which provides for death penalty and life imprisonment to such offenders, was passed by the state legislature recently. UP has now become the third state after Delhi and Gujarat to have an act under which bootleggers may be sent to the gallows if consumption of spurious liquor leads to loss of life. The UP Excise (Amendment) Bill, 2017, has the provisions of death penalty, life sentence and a fine to the tune of Rs 10 lakh and not less than Rs 5 lakh in case of death due to consumption of spurious liquor. It also provides for rigorous imprisonment up to 10 years and not less than six years in case of disability caused by consumption of spurious liquor and fine to the tune of Rs 5 lakh and not less than Rs 3 lakh.
Italy Court Acquits Two Top Executives In AgustaWestland Chopper Case: An Italian appeals court on Monday acquitted two former executives in AgustaWestland chopper scam case. Giuseppe Orsi, former chief executive of the state-controlled defence group, formerly known as Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, once at the head of helicopter unit AgustaWestland, were cleared of charges as “there isn’t sufficient proof”, the court said. The Italian court’s order is a setback for the Central Bureau of Investigation, which had chargesheeted both Orsi and Spangnolini along with former Air Force chief S P Tyagi and others last September. In December 2016, Italy’s highest court had ordered a re-trial of the case, after the former executives of the Rome-based group were found guilty on corruption charges related to a 560 million euros contract to supply a dozen helicopters to New Delhi.
SBI To Raise $2 Billion Through Overseas Bonds: India’s largest lender is planning to raise $2 billion by issuing bonds in US dollar or in some other convertible currency in the current and the next financial year. State Bank of India’s board has approved the fund raising on Monday. The lender may raise the funds in more than one tranches. The funds could be used to boost credit demand. SBI has an overseas presence through 195 foreign offices in 36 countries. As of March-end 2017, the bank had total overseas assets amounting to Rs 3.6-lakh crore. Total overseas revenue in financial year 2017 stood at Rs 10,683 crore. “The executive committee of the central board… has approved long term fund-raising in single/multiple tranches up to $2 billion,” SBI said in a notification to exchanges. The lender said the fund-raising will take place through a public offer and/or private placement of senior unsecured notes in US dollar or any other convertible currency during fiscal 2017-18 and 2018-19.
Railways To Deploy Drones To Monitor Projects: Railway projects would now be monitored by drones, officials at the national transporter said on Monday. These drones will also aid in crowd management and oversee maintenance works across different railway zones. The cameras (UAV/NETRA) would be used for various activities, especially project monitoring and maintenance of the tracks and other railway infrastructure, the railways said. “Directions have been given to the zonal railways to procure such cameras. This is in line with the railways’ desire to use technology to enhance safety and efficiency in train operations,” it added. The West Central Railways, headquartered at Jabalpur, is the first zonal railway to procure the drone cameras and it has already conducted a trial run of the cameras last week in all of its three divisions.
Hizbul Threatens To Pour Acid In The Eyes Of Those Who Contest Kashmir Panchayat Polls: Terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen has called on its members to pour acid into the eyes of the people who participate in the upcoming panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir. An audio clip, purportedly a leaked conversation between Hizbul’s operational commander Riyaz Naikoo and militant leader Sameer Tiger, was circulated on social media. “You saw in 2016 how many youth lost their eyesight,” the person believed to be Naikoo was heard saying. “That is why we have planned… whosoever fights elections, he will be dragged out of his home and concentrated acid – sulphuric or hydrochloric – will be poured into his eyes so that he loses his eyesight and becomes a burden for his families for life.” The panchayat elections, which were due in 2016, will be held from 15 February. They were postponed because of the unrest that followed the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July 2016. The previous panchayat elections in the state were held in 2011.
200,000 Salvadorans May Be Forced To Leave As US Ends Immigration Protection: The US government announced the end of protected status for about 200,000 Salvadorans in the country since before 2001. Department of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the end of the 17-year-old “temporary protected status” (TPS) for the Salvadorans, which had shielded them from deportation ever since two major earthquakes rocked El Salvador in early 2001. “Only Congress can legislate a permanent solution addressing the lack of an enduring lawful immigration status of those currently protected by TPS who have lived and worked in the US for many years,” said Nielsen. They were given 18 months to leave or be deported, enough time that a legislative solution could be crafted by Congress to allow them to stay. The move came in the wake of the termination of similar TPS protections for 59,000 longtime resident Haitians and 5,300 Nicaraguans late last year, after having been allowed to set deep roots inside the US for decades.
MUST READ OPINIONS AND COLUMNS
Arun Jaitley’s fifth Union Budget: Union Budget 2018 probably the most challenging and important one for the primary steward of the Indian economy. Arun Jaitley has the unenviable task of balancing economic with politics, and this time, the economics – prolonged rural distress and a delayed recovery in economic growth – is shaping the politics.
Economic Reforms Will Bear Fruit In 2018: 2018 will be the year when the three structural reforms of 2017 – bank recapitalisation, insolvency resolution and the goods and services tax – will bear fruit.
India’s Jobless Growth Is Not A Myth: We need to spur formal-job-creating investments in the organised private sector to exploit the demographic dividend before we are forced to face a demographic disaster. If we do not recognise the problem on hand, we will not have any reason to try and find solutions.
Maharashtra Violence: Fanning Caste Fires Can’t Be Justified: Our honourable MPs even forgot that every such incident leaves a scar on the face of social harmony. This doesn’t behove a nation emerging as a global superpower.
Government Mustn’t Be In Denial Over Aadhaar Security; It Is Real, But Largely Fixable: The government is making a serious mistake by pushing it too hard without fixing the privacy and security issues to everybody’s satisfaction.
We hope you enjoyed reading our morning brief. Have a great day ahead!
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