Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - July 20, 2018

Science & Technology

ISRO has allowed three companies to built satellites They will help assemble 27 spacecraft in three years


  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has roped in three partners to help it assemble 27 satellites at a quick pace over the next three years.
  • ISRO has allowed three industries—two private and one government-run firm—to build as many as 27 satellites in the next three years
  • All three firms will integrate satellites with the help and guidance of Isro by procuring sub-systems from the Isro supply chain

Enlighten about the Company

  • ISRO nodal satellites division URSC (U.R. Rao Satellite Centre) signed separate three-year contracts with Alpha Design Technologies P Ltd and its six consortium members; with defence public enterprise Bharat Electronics Ltd; and with Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, Hyderabad.

27 spacecraft by 2021

  • Each partner will work with the URSC to produce three small to medium satellites each year, or a total of 27 spacecraft by July 2021
  • In all these years of space-faring, only two satellites have been assembled by the industry, the IRNSS-1H and IRNSS-1I, that too on a select-basis, only late last year and early this year.
  • The two satellites were assembled by Bengaluru-headquartered consortium led by Alpha Design Technologies.
  • Now, Isro’s contract for satellites will see the Alpha Design consortium that includes six SMEs— Newtech; Aidin; Aniara; DCX; Vinyas and Exseed Space—defence PSU Bharat
  • Electronics Limited (BEL), and, Tata Advanced systems Limited make three satellites each per annum for the next three years.
  • All three firms will integrate satellites with the help and guidance of Isro by procuring sub-systems from the Isro supply chain.

Enlighten about the contract

  • The contract is for each of the three to make nine 1.6 tonne to 2-3 tonne satellites, based on requirement, which means they’ll make a total of nine every year, and 27 by the end of three years
  • The satellites will be a combination of communication, imaging and meteorological (for disaster management) and the contract has the option of extending the same for another two years, which means 18 additional satellites.

ISRO is gearing up for full-fledged commercial launches from September onwards


  • A PSLV rocket will be launched in that month solely for foreign satellites
  • The full-fledged commercial mission is scheduled after many years
  • To compete with rivals in the satellite launch market,

Enlighten about it

  • ISROis gearing up for full-fledged commercial launches from September onwards. A PSLV rocket will be launched in that month solely for foreign satellites.
  • The first launch will be of a PSLV rocket in September that will solely be for commercial purpose.
  • Two UK satellites weighing 450 kg each will be the main payload.
  • UK will use these satellites for earth observation. There will not be any Indian satellite.”

ISRO’s Commercial Mission

  • The full-fledged commercial mission is scheduled after many years.
  • On April 23, 2007, ISRO had for the first time launched a rocket solely for commercial purpose.
  • Its PSLV-CA carried Italy’s astronomical satellite AGILE as the main payload.
  • ISRO achieved another milestone when it carried out the heaviest commercial mission successfully as its PSLV-XL lifted off with five UK satellites together weighing 1,439 kg.

Enlighten about Antrix

  • Antrix, Isro’s commercial arm, is widely seen as a serious contender in the global satellite market due to low prices and high success rate of the PSLV rocket, which is Isro’s reliable workhorse.
  • Of the 43 launches till now since 1993, the PSLV was unsuccessful in only three missions with a success rate of 94%.
  • The rocket had completed various difficult and versatile missions like launching satellites in different orbits in one mission to lifting off 104 satellites in one go.
  • Till now, ISRO has launched 237 foreign satellites of 28 countries.

World’s statics of commercial satellite launch

  • ISRO holds a miniscule 0.6% share in the global satellite launch market, which is estimated to be worth Rs 36,000 crore.
  • On the other hand, Elon Musk-owned US private space agency SpaceX which had 5% share in the commercial satellite launch market in 2013, continued to grow and gobbled up 45% share in 2017 due to its cheap and reusable rockets.
  • It is projected to eat up 60% share this year.
  • The US government-owned space agency NASA and Space X together capture over 65% of the market share, followed by European space agency

NITI Aayog

NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurship Platform organises Workshop on Empowering Women


  • NITI Aayog's Women Entrepreneurship Platform( WEP) and Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), Office of International Programmes (OIP) University of Delhi, jointly organised a Two-Day International conference


  • Empowering Women: Fostering Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Sustainability

Enlighten about the topics discussed

  • India to grow at 9-10 per cent for three decades consistently and reap the dividend of demographic advantage, promoting entrepreneurship among women has to be the key strategy.
  • If women don't do well then the society faces an inter-generational cycle of malnutrition and infant mortality
  • The inaugural was followed by a Plenary Session and Panel Discussions on wide ranging topics, from how women-led enterprises enable change, to how innovation can contribute to societal good and technology and sustainability are complementary.
  • The conference saw the participation of remarkable national as well as international luminaries.
  • Representatives from across the globe, including Canada, United States of America, Australia, Ethopia, Cameroon, Ghana, and Nigeria, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh and Thailand, took part in the Conference

International Relations

India to expand polar research to Arctic Renames National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research

  • Three decades after its first mission to Antarctica, the government is refocusing priorities to the other pole — the Arctic—because of opportunities and challenges posed by climate change.

National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research.(new name)

  • This month, it has renamed the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) — since 1998, charged with conducting expeditions to India’s base stations to the continent — as the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research..
  • It’s also in talks with Canada and Russia, key countries with presence in the Arctic circle, to establish new observation systems, according to a source..
  • India only has one Arctic observation station near Norway.

More expeditions

  • While annual missions to maintain India’s three bases in Antarctica will continue, the new priorities mean that there will be more expeditions and research focus on the other poles
  • Sea ice at the Arctic has been melting rapidly — the fastest in this century.
  • That means several spots, rich in hydrocarbon reserves, will be more accessible through the year via alternative shipping routes.
  • India is already an observer at the Arctic Council — a forum of countries that decides on managing the region’s resources and popular livelihood and, in 2015, set up an underground observatory, called IndARC, at the Kongsfjorden fjord, half way between Norway and the North Pole.

Enlighten about India’s Antarctic Program

  • The Indian Antarctic Program is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional program under the control of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
  • It was initiated in 1981 with the first Indian expedition to Antarctica.
  • The program gained global acceptance with India's signing of the Antarctic Treaty and subsequent construction of the Dakshin Gangotri Antarctic research base in 1983,superseded by the Maitri base from 1990.
  • The newest base commissioned in 2015 is Bharati, constructed out of 134 shipping containers.
  • Under the program, atmospheric, biological, earth, chemical, and medical sciences are studied by India, which has carried out 30 scientific

Enlighten about Arctic Council

  • The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum which addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and people living in the Arctic region.
  • The first step towards the formation of the Council occurred in 1991 when eight Arctic countries signed the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS).
  • The Ottawa Declaration of 1996 formally established the Arctic Council as a high level intergovernmental forum to provide a means for promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states, with the involvement of the Arctic Indigenous communities and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
  • The Ottawa Declaration named eight members of the Arctic Council: Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, the United States, Sweden and Finland.

Parliament developments

Fugitive offenders Bill passed


  • The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, which will now replace the ordinance by the same name promulgated by the President in April.

Enlighten about the bill

  • The Bill empowers special courts to direct the Central government to confiscate all the assets belonging to a fugitive economic offender, including those assets that are proceeds of the crime and that do not belong to the offender.
  • The legislation gains importance against the backdrop of high-profile cases where individuals such as Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi escaped the country.

Opposition Concerns

  • The 100-crore limit above which the law becomes applicable was untenable, and that the provision in the Bill disqualifying a fugitive economic offender from availing the Indian judicial system for civil cases was unconstitutional.

Enlighten about the salient features of the bill

  • The bill empowers authorities to attach and confiscate properties and assets of economic offenders like loan defaulters who flee the country.
  • The existing civil and criminal provisions are not entirely adequate to deal with the severity of the problem.
  • The absence of offenders during investigations poses problems for the probing agencies apart from undermining the law of the country

The benefit

  • The bill is expected to re-establish the rule of law as the accused will be forced to return to India and face trial for his offences.
  • This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.

The impact of the bill

  • It is expected that the creation of a special forum for a speedy confiscation of the proceeds of crime, in India or abroad, would force the fugitive to return to India to submit to the jurisdiction of courts in India to face the law in respect of scheduled offences.

Strategy for implementation and targets

  • The bill makes provisions for a court (‘Special Court’ under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002) to declare a person as a ‘Fugitive Economic Offender.’

Who is a Fugitive Offender person

  • A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
  • A scheduled offence refers to a list of economic offences contained in the Schedule to this Ordinance.
  • Further, in order to ensure that courts are not over-burdened with such cases, only those cases where the total value involved in such offences is 100 crore rupees or more, is within the purview of this ordinance.

Other provisions under the ordinance

(i) making an application before the special court for a declaration that an individual is a fugitive economic offender;
(ii) attachment of the property of a fugitive economic offender and proceeds of crime;
(iii) issue of a notice by the special court to the individual alleged to be a fugitive economic offender;
(iv) confiscation of the property of an individual declared as a fugitive economic offender or even the proceeds of crime;
(v) disentitlement of the fugitive economic offender from defending any civil claim; and
(vi) appointment of an administrator to manage and dispose of the confiscated property under the act.

  • If at any point of time in the course of the proceeding prior to the declaration, however, the alleged Fugitive Economic Offender returns to India and submits to the appropriate jurisdictional court, proceedings under the proposed Act would cease by law.
  • All necessary constitutional safeguards in terms of providing hearing to the person through counsel, allowing him time to file a reply, serving notice of summons to him, whether in India or abroad and appeal to the high court have been provided for.

International Organisations

BRICS news portal soon


  • A decision to establish a BRICS Media Academy and a BRICS news portal were among those taken at the 2018 BRICS Media Forum at in South Africa
  • The Forum, a high-level dialogue among media organisations from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was held over two days under the theme — ‘Fostering an Inclusive, Just World Order’.

Enlighten about the Forum

  • Initiated by Xinhua News Agency, the BRICS Media Forum is supported by Brazil’s CMA Group, The Hindu Group, Sputnik News Agency and Radio and South Africa’s Independent Media.
  • The Forum was attended by 38 mainstream media organisations from BRICS nations, including five from India.
  • The Forum, which opened on former South African President Nelson Mandela’s 100th birth anniversary on July 18, unanimously agreed to adopt the Cape Town Declaration 2018.
  • It pledged to strive to create a media landscape that upholds the integrity of news that is created and shared through the BRICS nations.
  • It also committed itself to limit the spread and effect of fake news and increase people-to-people exchanges between journalists and others employed in the media.
  • The 2018 BRICS Forum was co-hosted by Iqbal Surve, Chairman of the Independent Media Group, and Cai Mingzhao, President of Xinhua News agency.

Sources – The Hindu , PIB , Indian Express, TOI