EOS-01 – Earth Observation Satellite.
India sent its first space mission in almost a year with a launch of EOS-01, an Earth Observation Satellite. EOS-01, along with nine satellites from foreign countries, was launched by a PSLV rocket twelve minutes past three.
- EOS-01 is nothing but another Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) that will work together with RISAT-2B and RISAT-2BR1 launched last year. EOS-01 was initially named RISAT-2BR2, and was supposed to be the third of the three-spacecraft constellation aimed at providing all-weather round-the-clock service for high-resolution images.
- With EOS-01, ISRO is moving to a new naming system for its earth observation satellites which till now have been named thematically, according to the purpose they are meant for. For example, the Cartosat series of satellites were meant to provide data for land topography and mapping, while the Oceansat satellites were meant for observations over sea. Some INSAT-series, Resourcesat series, GISAT, Scatsat, and some more are all earth observation satellites, named differently for the specific jobs they are assigned to do, or the different instruments that they use to do their jobs.
- Land and forest mapping and monitoring, mapping of resources like water or minerals or fishes, weather and climate observations, soil assessment, geospatial contour mapping are all done through earth-observation satellites.
- Henceforth, it seems, all the earth observation satellites would be called EOS-series.
Radar imaging –
- EOS-01, like its cousins RISAT-2B and RISAT-2BR1, uses synthetic aperture radars to produce high-resolution images of the land. One big advantage that radar imaging has over optical instruments is that it is unaffected by weather, cloud or fog, or the lack of sunlight. It can produce high-quality images in all conditions and at all times.
- Depending on the wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation used by the radar, different properties on land can be captured in the image. For example, a low wavelength signal can capture tree cover or vegetation, while a higher wavelength signal can penetrate even dense tree cover to look at the contours of land beneath.
- EOS-01, and its sister RISATs, use X-band radars that operate at low wavelengths and are considered best for monitoring of urban landscape, and imaging of agricultural or forest land.
- According to ISRO, EOS-01 is intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support. The radar images are also considered to be immensely useful for military requirements.
Arunachaleswarar Temple @ Tiruvannamalai
The Arunachaleswarar Temple at Tiruvannamalai is gearing up for a simple ‘Karthigai Deepam’ festival. This year, the ‘mahadveepam’ falls on November 29. Around 15 lakh devotees turn up for the event.
- Situated at the foot of Tiruvannamalai Hills (Tamil Nadu) and spread over 25 acre, Arunachaleswarar Temple is an imposing structure with a marvellous architecture.
- It boasts four gateway towers known as gopurams, each of which is encompassed with mandapams, shrines and enclosures, decorated with finely carved sculptures and pillars.
- The eastern tower with 11 storeys, stands at a height of 66 m and is one of the largest temple towers in India. Also known as the Annamalaiyar Temple, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva and invites devotees in large numbers from all parts of the country.
- Built in the traditional Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is believed to be the eighth-largest Hindu temple in the world. The temple complex houses many halls and the most popular one is the thousand-pillared hall, which was constructed during the Vijayanagar period (1336-1646).
- The temple is one of the pancha bhoota sthalams, which are dedicated to the manifestation of five natural elements. Legend has it that the lord has apparently manifested himself as an element of fire in this temple.
- Arunachaleswarar Temple houses eight lingams known as ashtalingam, which are positioned at different locations facing different directions. These lingams are named as Indralingam, Agnilingam, Yamalingam, Niruthilingam, Varunalingam, Vayulingam, Kuberlingam and Esanyalingam. Each lingam signifies different directions of the earth and is believed to bless the devotees who undertake Girivalam, a popular religious ritual, with different benefits.
- Karthika Deepam, Karthikai Vilakkidu or Thrikarthika is a festival of lights that is observed by Hindus of Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Kerala.
- It falls in the month of Kārttikai (mid-November to mid-December) as per Tamil calendar. The full moon day of this Karthigai month is called Karthigai pournami.
- In Kerala, this festival is known as Thrikkarthika, celebrate to welcome Goddess Shakti. In the rest of India, a related festival called Kartik Purnima is celebrated in a different date.
- It is celebrated in the name of ‘Lakshabba‘ in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. The name of the festival born from the name of the god Kartikeya. In Tamil calendar the name of this month is called as Kārttikai.
Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij said that his government is considering a law against forced religious conversions and has sought information about such a law already in force in Himachal Pradesh. Last year, the Himachal Pradesh Assembly passed the ‘Freedom of Religion Bill, 2019.
What is the Himachal Pradesh anti-conversion law?
- The state had already enacted a law in 2007 which prohibited conversion from one religion to another by force or fraud. During the monsoon session of the assembly last year, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur introduced a more stringent version of the legislation.
- According to the Act, “no person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage; nor shall any person abet or conspire such conversion”. The Act does not cover a person re-converting to his “parent religion”.
- It further says that any marriage done for the sole purpose of religion conversion may be declared null and void by a court on a petition by either party.
What happens if anyone wants to convert to any other religion?
- As per the Act, anyone who wishes to convert to any other religion will give a declaration to the district authorities at least one month in advance, specifying that one is doing so as per his/her “own volition or free consent”.
- In fact, even the religious priest who performs the conversion ceremony has to inform the authorities at least one month in advance. The district magistrate will then conduct an inquiry regarding the “intention, purpose and cause of proposed conversion”. The conversion will be rendered illegal if the authorities are not informed in advance.
- The Act says that the burden of proof as to whether a religious conversion was not effected through force or fraud lies on the person so converted, or the person who has facilitated the conversion.
- All offences under the Act are cognizable and non-bailable. The violator can be punished with a prison term ranging from one to five years, along with a fine. In case the victim is a minor, woman or member of a Scheduled Caste or Tribe, the imprisonment may extend upto seven years. Failure to declare the conversion in advance can also result in an imprisonment of upto two years.
Chief Information Commissioner – Oath administered
Information Commissioner Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha has been administered the oath as the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) recently by the President of India.
- Under the provision of Section-12 of RTI Act 2005 the Central Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, constitute a body to be known as the Central Information Commission.
- Composition: The Central Information Commission shall consist of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and such number of Central Information Commissioners not exceeding 10 as may be deemed necessary.
- Appointment – Section 12(3) of the RTI Act 2005 provides as follows – The Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of – The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee; The Leader of Oppositionin the Lok Sabha; and a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
- Eligibility – Section 12(5) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance. Section 12(6) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
- Term duration and service conditions – Section 13 of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment. Section 13(5)(a) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner.
Chabahar-Zahedan railway Project
India is not a part of the Chabahar-Zahedan railway at present, but as Iran begins the second phase of the 628 km project, Tehran hopes New Delhi will help it procure equipment to run the rail line from the Chabahar port to the Afghan border.
- Iran’s Port and Maritime Organisation (PMO) recently conveyed to India a request for cranes, tracks, switches and signalling equipment, as well as locomotives that it has had difficulty in procuring them directly due to the U.S.-imposed sanctions. Iran has also asked to activate a $150 million credit line that had been offered by India during Iranian President Rouhani’s visit to Delhi in 2018 to pay for the purchases.
- However, the 2016 MoU signed with the Indian Railway Construction company (IRCON) was no longer relevant as there had been no progress in talks, and Iranian construction companies have now taken over the project.
- Sixty per cent of the tracklaying and about half of the entire project, including infrastructure and superstructure are now complete, and officials say they are on track to complete the whole line by June 2021, which will connect the Chabahar port to the Afghan border, but through the existing rail system, to Turkmenistan and Central Asia as well.
- According to the MoUs signed in 2016, India would be granted a 10-year lease to develop and operate two terminals and five berths, access to the Chabahar free trade zone, and the opportunity to build the 628 km rail line from Chabahar to Zahedan, just across the border from Afghanistan.
- The government acted quickly to develop Chabahar port facilities, sent exports to Afghanistan in 2018, and has moved over half-a-million tonnes of cargo, including grains and food supplies, for Afghanistan again, through the port.
- However, the rail line never took off for a number of reasons despite a commitment from state-owned IRCON, to undertake its construction at an estimated $1.6 billion. While contract changes by the Iranian side and delayed responses from the Indian side were part of the problem, the main hurdle has been the fear of American penalties.
- Even though India was able to negotiate a sanctions waiver for the Chabahar port and rail line from the U.S., few international construction and equipment partners were willing to sign on to the project; New Delhi has also dragged its feet on the matter.
- After appeals to India, including one issued by its Foreign Minister Javad Zarif when he visited Delhi in January 2020, Iran decided to go on its own, by beginning to lay tracks for the line connecting Chabahar to Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.
- The idea of India-Iran cooperation on Chabahar port development was first mooted in 2003 during the visit of then Iranian President Mohammad Khatami to New Delhi. Progress was however delayed because of nuclear related sanctions on Iran.
- An MoU was signed between India and Iran in May 2015. As per the MoU, India is to equip and operate two berths in Chabahar Port Phase-I with capital investment of USD 85.21 million and annual revenue expenditure of USD 22.95 million on a ten year lease.
- Ownership of equipment will be transferred to Iranian side on completion of 10 year period or for an extended period, based on mutual agreement.
- The Iranian side had requested for provision of a credit of USD 150 million in accordance with the MoU.
- As per the MoU, operation of two berths will commence within a period of maximum 18 months after the signing of the Contract.
- The two berths will be operated by the India Ports Global Private Limited, a Company promoted by the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust – two major ports working under the Ministry of Shipping.
- Indian ships will get direct access to the Iranian coast; a rail line to the Afghan border town of Zaranj will allow us a route around Pakistan.
- Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to GARLAND HIGHWAY, setting up access to 4 major cities in Afghanistan – HERAT, KANDAHAR, KABUL and MAZAR-E-SHARIF.