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Former ISRO Scientist: ‘International conspiracy’ halted India’s leap into space

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Image source: mathrubhuminews.in

Bengaluru: The indigenous cryogenic engine which was put on the pedestal last Friday for the third time by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) in a ground test proved its mettle. This huge step towards a geostationary satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) in December could prove to be the country’s first heavy-lift version in this field.

This was the third and final successful ground test of the indigenous cryogenic engine by ISRO.

The GSLV-Mark-III can carry a payload of four tons, about twice the capacity of ISRO’s existing rockets. The C-20 engine that was “hot tested” for 635 seconds at the Liquid Propulsion Complex at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu will be used to power the rocket’s upper stage.

But S Nambinarayanan, former Project director of ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems, says this milestone could have been crossed 12 years ago had his project not been derailed by an “international conspiracy” to halt India’s leap into space.

It was Nambinarayanan who introduced the liquid fuel rocket technology in India in the 1980s. The Vikas engine used today by all ISRO launch vehicles, including the one that took Chandrayaan-1 to the moon in 2008 and Mangalyaan, was the result of two decades of work by his team with assistance from France.

And, as project director of the newly-launched indigenous cryogenic engine project, he plunged headlong into developing the propulsion systems for ISRO’s GSLV and interplanetary missions. With this in mind, in 1991, he signed a contract on behalf of ISRO with the Russian space agency Glavkosmos for the technology transfer of a cryogenic propulsion system.

But things did not turn out as planned. Glavkosmos, in 1993, reneged under pressure from the United States. And Nambinarayanan was arrested on November 1994 on charges of selling India’s “rocket secrets to Pakistan through two Maldivian women ‘spies’ leading to his suspension from his job.” With Nambinarayanan out of the scene, the cryogenic engine development suffered.

“Cancellation of the contract and my arrest were part of an agenda of the US, accomplished by conniving with officials of our Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Kerala Police,” Nambinarayanan told this correspondent in an email. As an evidence of conspiracy, he refers to the dismissal of an IB officer of the rank of the joint director in 1996 for his alleged links with the CIA.

In fact, in 1996, the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), which took up the “ISRO spy case” found it to be false and fabricated by the IB and the Kerala Police- a finding endorsed by the Supreme Court in April 1998 and by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in September 1999.

The NHRC also passed strictures against the Kerala government for having “tarnished (Nambinarayanan’s) long and distinguished career in space research apart from the physical and mental torture to which he and his family were subjected.”

Nambinarayanan says he managed to obtain the supplies and documents relating to the cryogenic engine from Russia’s Glavkosmos before it cancelled the contract and arranged a private airline (Ural Aviation) to transport the cargo to India in four shipments.

“With this, I hoped ISRO could master the cryogenic technology,” he said. But his suspension from ISRO’s cryogenics systems project put an end to that.

“Had there been no conspiracy, ISRO would have achieved space power status long back, maybe as early as 2000,” Nambinarayanan told reporters. “Today, we are not only delayed by more than 12 years but have also lost several billion dollars worth of launch business.”

The rocket scientist feels sad that while the CBI concluded that the ISRO “spy case” was false and fabricated, nobody bothered to unearth the motives behind it or punish those officers of the IB and the Kerala Police who were charged with negligence and dereliction of duty by CBI.

“The government should constitute a special investigation team to find out the total truth in the ISRO spy case,” he said.

While ISRO is celebrating last week’s successful “hot test” of its new cryogenic engine, Nambinarayanan, 75, who started this work two decades ago, is now spending much of his time fighting court cases, to get Rs 1 crore (Over $145,000) in damages he had claimed from the state and central governments.

He is also seeking action against police officers who framed him and others in a false case that harmed India’s space program. (K.S. Jayaraman, IANS)

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Private Companies Now Allowed to Take Part in Planetary Exploration: Finance Minister

Government will aldo take steps to encourage private participation in the space sector

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planetary exploration
Private sector will be allowed to take part in planetary exploration from now on. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said that private companies will be allowed to take part in planetary exploration, outer space travel among other space activities, and the government will take steps to encourage private participation in the Indian space sector as per Finance News.

Speaking to the media, Sitharaman said that the government will provide level playing field for private companies in satellite launches and space-based services.

Centre will come up with a predictable policy and regulatory environment to private players.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on atomic energy research reactor
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government will provide level playing field for private companies in satellite launches and space-based services. Wikimedia Commons

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The private sector will be allowed to use ISRO facilities and other relevant assets to improve their capacities. She further announced that liberal geospatial data policy will be framed for private sector to access remote sensing data to tech-entrepreneurs.

The announcement is part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. (IANS)

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Education: The Aptitude Decides Stream or Stream Decides Aptitude?

Why is science stream considered the most superior?

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Stream
Students are supposed to make a choice between 3 streams- Science, Commerce and Humanities. Pixabay

By Muskan Bhatnagar

Here we are again, it’s that time of the year when school students are promoted to the next grade. While 10th class students are promoted to 11th Standard, they’re supposed to choose a stream among the three- Science, Commerce and Humanities/Arts.

The Science stream happens to be the most popular among the three. Possibly everything can be pursued under the field of Science. With Commerce, the career options narrow down and similarly, Humanities provide the least number of career choices. No, these aren’t facts, but mere observations of people.

Science stream is considered to be the toughest of all three, whereas Humanities is seen as the easiest one. “History is just about mugging up things!”, “What is Business Studies in comparison to Physics?”, “Only the intelligent ones opt for Science and the failures end up in Humanities and Commerce “. These are a few taunts every non-science student must’ve come across at least once in their lives.

Since the beginning, Science is considered to be the most elite and Ideal stream. More than a subject, Indian families consider science as a part of their ‘family honor’. If a child doesn’t take up science after 10th then it is considered as an act of rebel and immaturity.

Science stream
Many students are pushed into science by their families against their will. Pixabay

And hence, most of the families force their kids to take up science.

The main issue lies with the thinking and the old mindset of parents and society. If a child doesn’t opt for science then the whole society especially the relatives of the family think that the child must be poor in studies or don’t want to work hard.

Unfortunately, opting for science increases the child’s social status and has a lot to do with prestige issues.

The fact that doors to all possible career options remain open with the science stream is a major factor in pushing kids into science against their will. Parents tend to overlook their child’s interests and aptitude. To them, science is a tried, tested, and full proof career option for their kids. They’re not completely aware of the options they can avail in other streams. And even if they are, who wants to take the road less traveled?

And therefore, once again, kids are forced to take up science.

“If your brother can do it, then why can’t you?”, “You have 3 different tuitions and you still can’t do it?”, “What are you going to do in Humanities? There’s no scope!” and so on. No importance is given to the fact that every child has a different aptitude and every child has his/her field of interest.

Forced stream
Every hour a student commits suicide in India. Pixabay

Imposing such decisions on kids can have major consequences. Do you know, every one hour a student commits suicide in India? And the others silently and secretly suffer from depression, anxiety, intellectual disability, etc just to live up to the expectations of their families.

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If a child is good at something or interested in a particular stream, then what is so wrong about it? Can’t we trust our kids enough that they’ll shine in the stream of their choice? Can we not show others that our kids can be successful in all the streams? Can we not support and encourage our children to excel in the field of their choice?

To guide and to enforce are two completely different things. For once, let’s guide our kids in their journey and not force them, overlooking all the taunts from society. Let’s support them in the field of their choice and watch them shine bright in the future.

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Google Researches About Remote Communication Among Workers

Google decodes why remote video calls don't excite some workers

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Google
Google has made an effort to dig into the science behind remote communication and found some interesting nuggets of information for workers. Pixabay

As millions across the globe work remotely via video calls, most of them miss in-person, face-to-face conversations in offices and there is nothing wrong in disliking remote meetings.

Google has made an effort to dig into the science behind remote communication and found some interesting nuggets of information for workers.

According to Zachary Yorke, UX Researcher at Google, humans are hardwired for the fast-paced exchange of in-person conversation.

Humans have spent about 70,000 years learning to communicate face-to-face, but video conferencing is only about 100 years old. When the sound from someone’s mouth doesn’t reach your ears until a half second later, you notice,” said Yorke. That’s because we’re ingrained to avoid talking at the same time while minimizing silence between turns.

Google
According to Zachary Yorke, UX Researcher at Google, humans are hardwired for the fast-paced exchange of in-person conversation. Pixabay

A delay of five-tenths of a second (500 millisecond) — whether from laggy audio or fumbling for the unmute button — is more than double what we’re used to in-person. These delays mess with the fundamental turn-taking mechanics of our conversations. At the office, meetings usually start with some impromptu, informal small talk. We share personal tidbits that build rapport and empathy.

“Making time for personal connections in remote meetings not only feels good, it helps you work better together. Science shows that teams who periodically share personal information perform better than teams who don’t. And when leaders model this, it can boost team performance even more,” suggested the Google executive.

Research shows that on video calls where social cues are harder to see, we take 25 per cent fewer speaking turns. But video calls have something email doesn’t: eye contact. “We feel more comfortable talking when our listeners’ eyes are visible because we can read their emotions and attitudes. This is especially important when we need more certainty—like when we meet a new team member or listen to a complex idea,” Yorke noted.

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When things go wrong, remote teams are more likely to blame individuals rather than examining the situation, which hurts cohesion and performance. “Have an open conversation with your remote teammates about your preferred working styles and how you might complement each other,” said Google.

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Conversations on calls are less dynamic, and the proverbial “talking stick” gets passed less often.

“Identify calls where conversational dynamics could be better. Encourage more balanced conversation, help some get their voice heard and remind others to pass the talking stick,” said Yorke. (IANS)