India’s Chandrayaan-2 moon mission to take off on July 22, Isro confirms

On July 15, less than an hour before its 2:51 am scheduled take-off, the launch of Chandrayaan-2 had to be postponed due to a snag in its most powerful rocket.


Days after its scheduled take-off had to be postponed due to a technical glitch, India’s second mission to the Moon — Chandrayaan-2 — is now confirmed to be launched on Monday (July 22).

“Chandrayaan-2 launch, which was put off due to a technical snag on July 15, 2019, is now rescheduled for 2:43 pm IST on Monday, July 22, 2019,” said an Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) official.

Chandrayaan-2 was originally scheduled to take off in the first week of January but was rescheduled for 2:50 am on July 15.

It had to again be postponed after a snag was observed in its most powerful rocket, less than an hour before its launch from a spaceport. Isro scientists had put the launch on hold to assess the seriousness of the problem with the heavylift rocket GSLV Mk-III rocket carrying the satellite that put a halt to the ambitious Rs 976 crore lunar mission.

ALSO READ: Chandrayaan-2: A timeline of India’s mission to the moon from 2003 to 2019

The lift-off of the three-component spacecraft weighing 3,850 kg and comprising an orbiter, the lander and the rover will take place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, off the coast of Andhra Pradesh.

The satellite is supposed to explore the uncharted lunar south pole, 11 years after Isro’s successful first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, which made more than 3,400 orbits around the moon and was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009.

It will take 54 days to accomplish the task of landing on the moon through meticulously planned orbital phases.

Business Standard


India risking US ire? Pentagon against any country buying S-400 from Russia

India inked an agreement with Russia last October to procure a batch of the S-400 missile systems at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore.


Business Standard : The US is keen to make its defence partnership with India stronger, the Pentagon has said, but made it clear that it is against any country purchasing military equipment, including the S-400 missile defence system from Russia, that is designed to counter America’s sophisticated fifth-generation aircraft.

The remarks by a top Pentagon official came in response to a question on India going ahead with its decision to purchase the S-400 missile defence system from Russia.

India inked an agreement with Russia last October to procure a batch of the S-400 missile systems at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore.

“Our defence partnership with India I think is strong and we’re looking to make it ever stronger,” David J Trachtenberg, the deputy under secretary of defence for policy, told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.

When asked if the US can have a major defence partnership with India, which is going ahead with a decision to buy the S-400, Trachtenberg said, “I think the message we are sending is that we want to make sure that other countries are not purchasing equipment that is designed to counter our sophisticated fifth-generation aircraft.”

“The other message we’re sending is that we are consistent in our approach on this.”

Trachtenberg’s comments also come a day after President Donald Trump has announced that the US would not sell the F-35 fighter jets to Turkey after Ankara purchased the S-400 missile defence system from sanctions-hit Russia.

Trachtenberg said America’s decision to unwind Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme was no surprise as its concerns had repeatedly been communicated to the Turkish government.

“Our reaction today is a specific response to a specific event. It is separate and distinct from the broader range of security interests where the United States and Turkey work together against common threats,” he said.

The official said the military-to-military relationship between the two countries remained strong. He added that the US would continue to participate with Turkey in multilateral exercises, as well as engage with the country on a broad range of NATO issues.

“While Turkey’s decision is unfortunate, ensuring the security and integrity of the F-35 programme and the capabilities it will provide to our partners remains our top priority,” Trachtenberg said.


Nearly 30 new car, 20 two-wheeler launches lined up till March 2020

Rise of the millennial population, increasing disposable income and availability of innovative mobility solutions will drive the market.


Passenger vehicle (PV) and two-wheeler sales in the country have been bleak in the past few months, despite inquiries being good, due to poor consumer sentiment. To create excitement among consumers, especially during festivals, car manufacturers have lined up around 25-30 launches and two-wheeler makers have lined up another 20 between August 2019 and March 2020. The new launches include electric and hybrid vehicles.

On an average, car makers, excluding luxury ones, invest around Rs 1,500-2,000 crore to launch a new car.

Two-wheeler and PV retail sales dropped by five per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively, in June 2019, compared to last year.

CARE Ratings says that demand might remain muted till the second quarter before it starts picking up from the third quarter due to festival and pre-buying before BS-VI implementation from April 1, 2020. Also, with higher MSPs announced, farm income is expected to be marginally higher and encourage rural spending.

To cash in on this, car makers have lined up nearly 25-30 new launches. Some of them include Maruti Suzuki Ertiga Cross and S-Presso, Hyundai New Grand i10, Tucson Facelift and Hyundai New Elite i20. Honda would be launching Honda HR-V and New City, while Tata would introduce the Buzzard and Altroz. Skoda expects to launch Karoq, and Renault to launch Renault Triber and Kwid Facelift.

Vikas Jain, national sales head, Hyundai Motor India Ltd, said that sometimes, a slowdown in the market is a cyclical phenomenon. Due to practical challenges such as volatility in fuel prices, high interest rates and increase in insurance premium, some of the buyers are deferring their purchase decision.

The long-term outlook is good considering that the penetration of PVs in India is still very low at around 20 out of 1,000 people. The rise of the young millennial population, increasing disposable income and availability of innovative mobility solutions will drive the market.

Business Standard


One small step for a man’: Did we mishear Armstrong’s first words on Moon?

Armstrong insisted that he actually said, ‘That’s one small step for a man.’ In fact, in the official transcript, Nasa transcribes the quote as ‘that’s one small step for (a) man’.


Business Standard : On July 20, 1969, an estimated 650 million people watched in suspense as Neil Armstrong descended a ladder towards the surface of the Moon.

As he took his first steps, he uttered words that would be written into history books for generations to come: “That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”

Or at least that’s how the media reported his words.

But Armstrong insisted that he actually said, “That’s one small step for a man.” In fact, in the official transcript of the Moon landing mission, NASA transcribes the quote as “that’s one small step for (a) man.”

As a linguist, I’m fascinated by mistakes between what people say and what people hear.

In fact, I recently conducted a study on ambiguous speech, using Armstrong’s famous quote to try to figure out why and how we successfully understand speech most of the time, but also make the occasional mistake.

Our extraordinary speech-processing abilities

Despite confusion over Armstrong’s words, speakers and listeners have a remarkable ability to agree on what is said and what is heard.

When we talk, we formulate a thought, retrieve words from memory and move our mouths to produce sound. We do this quickly, producing, in English, around five syllables every second.

The process for listeners is equally complex and speedy. We hear sounds, which we separate into speech and non-speech information, combine the speech sounds into words, and determine the meanings of these words. Again, this happens nearly instantaneously, and errors rarely occur.

These processes are even more extraordinary when you think more closely about the properties of speech. Unlike writing, speech doesn’t have spaces between words. When people speak, there are typically very few pauses within a sentence.

Yet listeners have little trouble determining word boundaries in real time. This is because there are little cues – like pitch and rhythm – that indicate when one word stops and the next begins.


India’s decentralised renewables workforce to double by 2022-23: Report 

This comes at a time when India is facing a 45-year high unemployment rate.


Business Standard : India’s decentralised renewable energy (DRE) sector–which generates, stores and distributes renewable energy locally–could employ nearly 100,000 more people by 2022-23, according to a new report.

While most of these jobs are expected to be long-term, women constitute only a quarter of the workforce in this sector. With this addition, the DRE sector’s workforce could double in size–from about 95,000 jobs in 2017-18 to 190,000 jobs by 2022-23–if the mini-grid market “continues to expand at a rapid pace”.

The number of informal jobs in the DRE sector is expected to remain stable at around 210,000, noted the first Powering Jobs Census 2019: The Energy Access Workforce report by Power For All, a coalition campaigning to scale DRE, released on July 15, 2019.

This comes at a time when India is facing a 45-year high unemployment rate, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey released by the National Sample Survey Office in May 2019. Of nearly 61 million jobs created in India over 22 years post-liberalisation of the economy in 1991, 92% were informal jobs, according to an IndiaSpend analysis.

The report captures DRE employment data for 2017-18 to establish a baseline that explores the link between Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 (access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all) and SDG 8 (inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for all).

The report covers India, Kenya and Nigeria: The DRE sector is estimated to add more than 260,000 direct, formal jobs in these countries by 2022-23. In India, 36 companies in the sector were surveyed.

Renewable appliance firms are the “job engine”

End-user product providers–that is, companies that sell pico solar appliances (that use small amount of power for gadgets such as calculators, cameras and mobile phones), solar home systems, and other small, off-grid appliances directly to customers–are the “job engine of the sector”, the report said, adding that they are expected to add 86,000 direct, formal jobs nationwide by 2022-23.

These companies alone accounted for 97% of 95,000 DRE jobs created in 2017-18. In addition, they added 470,000 “productive-use jobs”–created by the DRE end users as a result of newly-acquired or enhanced electricity access–in the same year.


114,000 affected as rains flood 154 villages in Meghalaya’s West Garo Hills

Rising waters of the Brahmaputra and the Jinjiram rivers, both flowing from Assam, submerged the low-lying areas of the district, an official said.


Incessant rain across Meghalaya for the last seven days and rising waters of two rivers flooded the plains of West Garo Hills district, affecting at least 1.14 lakh people, officials said on Monday.

A total of 57,700 people, residents of 50 villages in Demdema block and over 66,400, residents of 104 villages in Selsella block have been affected due to the floods, they said.

Rising waters of the Brahmaputra and the Jinjiram rivers, both flowing from Assam, submerged the low-lying areas of the district, an official said.

Meanwhile, the low-lying areas of the state’s capital city Shillong were also flooded.

“A flood-like situation was created in the low-lying areas of the city,” the Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills district, M W Nongbri,” said.

The Meghalaya government on Sunday announced seven days of Gratuitous Relief (GR) for the flood-affected people of West Garo Hills district, an official said.

Efforts are on to evacuate the flood victims and take them to safer locations, the official said.

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma could conduct an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas on Sunday due to inclement weather, the MLA of Phulbari, S G Esmatur Mominin, said.

“We are continuously monitoring the situation and will keep the people informed if the situation worsens,” said the MLA.

“We have seen the effect of the flood on the people and have come to help them at this time,” the MLA of Selsella, F C A Sangma, said.

She had cancelled a programme in Kolkata and reached her constituency on Sunday morning to take stock of the situation.

Arrangements were being made to provide drinking water and other relief materials, the official said.

Business Standard


States with gender equality are doing better on new employment index

Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh lead Indian states on the quality and quantity of jobs they provide to their people.


High economic growth does not necessarily lead to better jobs, and states that do better on gender equality performed better on a new employment index.

Andhra Pradesh (including Telangana), Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh lead Indian states on the quality and quantity of jobs they provide to their people, while Bihar, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh (UP) are last, the index reveals.

Good quality productive jobs that offer good wages are an impetus for sustainable economic growth,” Sabina Dewan, president and executive director at research organisation JustJobs Network, said at the launch of A Just Jobs Index for India, on June 21, 2019.

Supported by Azim Premji University in partnership with the Centre for Policy Research, a think tank, the Index tracks the performance of states by employment, formality, benefits, income equality, and gender equality, based on a set of equally weighted indicators.

Despite economic growth, the pace of job creation has been slow, the report said. The country faces rising unemployment with 71% of workers employed in the informal sector, and inconsistent job creation across states.

India’s unemployment rate was 6.1%–rural (5.3%) and urban (7.8%)–in 2017-18, according to the government’s Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), released on May 31, 2019.

Gujarat, which has “consistently maintained” net state value-added (NSVA) growth rates of 10% or higher during the period 2012-13 to 2016-17, did not do as well in creating quality jobs, ranking 18 on the index.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana lead the pack, as we said, with 57.3 points, followed by Maharashtra (57.2) and Chhattisgarh (56.39), while UP (32.04) is below Bihar (37.28) and Odisha (37.70) at the bottom of the list.

For each indicator, the index uses a mean of the available values for the period 2010-2018, using data from various government sources, such as surveys conducted by the National Sample Survey Office, the Labour Bureau, the Annual Survey of Industries, the Reserve Bank of India and the PLFS.

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