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India seeks strong UN action against groups attacking peacekeepers

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United Nations: India has demanded that the UN take strong action against groups attacking peacekeepers who are being mandated to deal with emerging new threats and take on expanded roles.

“We would like to urge the United Nations, and specially the Security Council, to ensure a mandatory inclusion in all UNPKO (UN Peacekeeping Operations) mandates of legally binding provisions for prosecuting, penalizing and neutralizing any non-governmental armed groups and armed militias causing, or threatening to cause, harm to UNPKOs,” India’s delegate Rahul Kaswan told the General Assembly Committee dealing with political matters Wednesday.

“We have been stressing at various peacekeeping debates at the UN about the new demands that have been placed on the PKOs with the changing nature of conflicts,” Kaswan said as he outlined the threats faced by peacekeepers confronting terrorists and militias in new environments.

With 7,793 Indian personnel currently serving under the UN’s blue flag in dangerous environments far different from the international and civil conflicts the PKOs were designed for, India has been concerned for their safety.

In May, an Indian Colonel serving in South Sudan was injured when a compound with refugees protected by Indian peacekeepers was caught in a crossfire. Five Indian peacekeepers were killed in 2013 in two separate attacks by rebels on refugee camps they were protecting in that country.

In 2010, three Indian peacekeepers were killed in attacks by rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in 2012 three were hacked to death.

Kaswan, a Bharatiya Janata Party member of the Lok Sabha representing Churu in Rajasthan, is among parliamentarians representing India at the UN.

He raised another issue of concern to India where the UN Security Council mixes traditional PKOs with a new type of active intervention by other troops.

He referred to the added risks from the Security Council mandating so-called UN Force Intervention Brigades to carry out offensive operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, alongside the peacekeepers, of whom 4,000 are Indians.

Even as the Security Council added to the role of the PKOs, the resources and finances didn’t match the responsibilities, he said.

“There is an urgent need to offset the mismatch between the requirement of the resources and the actual allocated resources,” he added.

Kaswan said that emphasis should be placed on finding political solutions to conflicts give the resource constraints.

He brought up the payment for peacekeepers and said that the General Assembly had fixed a new rate since last year of $1,322 per person per month even though the Troop Cost Survey had recommended $1,762.55.

Kaswan crticised “the opaque manner in which the Security Council continues to mandate peace operations, without any accountability or transparency”, and reiterated India’s demand that it hold proper consultations with troops contributing countries as required under the UN Charter.

India is historically the largest troop contributor to UN operations, having sent 185,000 troops to serve in 48 of the 69 missions mandated so far, he said.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offer to increase troop contribution by ten percent and send three police units with a high proportion of women, Kaswan said it was a sign that “India is willing to walk the talk when it comes to supporting UN peace operations.”

(By Arul Louis,IANS)

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India to Launch Electronic Intelligence Satellite Soon

In January, the space agency launched a defence imaging satellite Microsat R for the DRDO

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TESS, rover, NASA, mercuryKeplar, NASA
TESS, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, is shown in this conceptual illustration obtained by Reuters on March 28, 2018. NASA sent TESS into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. VOA

India on April 1 will launch an electronic intelligence satellite Emisat for the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) along with 28 third party satellites and also demonstrate its new technologies like three different orbits with a new variant of PSLV rocket, ISRO said on Saturday.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), a new variant of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket will first put the 436 kg Emisat into a 749 km orbit.

After that, the rocket will be brought down to put into orbit the 28 satellites at an altitude of 504 km.

This will be followed by bringing the rocket down further to 485 km when the fourth stage/engine will turn into a payload platform carrying three experimental payloads: (a) Automatic Identification System (AIS) from ISRO for Maritime satellite applications capturing messages transmitted from ships (b) Automatic Packet Repeating System (APRS) from AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation), India – to assist amateur radio operators in tracking and monitoring position data and (c) Advanced Retarding Potential Analyser for Ionospheric Studies (ARIS) from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) – for the structural and compositional studies of ionosphere, the space agency said.

The whole flight sequence will take about 180 minutes from the rocket’s lift off slated at 9.30 a.m. on April 1.

The 28 international customer satellites (24 from US, 2 from Lithuania and one each from Spain and Switzerland)- will weigh about 220 kg.

OSIRIS-REx, NASA, Asteroid bennu
Satellite To Conduct Biological Experiments In Space, Plans Space Kidz India. VOA

“It is a special mission for us. We will be using a PSLV rocket with four strap-on motors. Further, for the first time we will be trying to orbit the rocket at three different altitudes,” ISRO Chairman K. Sivan had earlier told IANS.

The PSLV is a four-stage engine expendable rocket with alternating solid and liquid fuel.

In its normal configuration, the rocket will have six strap-on motors hugging the rocket’s first stage.

On January 24, the ISRO flew a PSLV with two strap-on motors while in March, it had four strap-on motors.

The Indian space agency also has two more PSLV variants, viz Core Alone (without any strap-on motors) and the larger PSLV-XL.

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The ISRO selects the kind of rocket to be used based on the weight of satellites it carries.

The ISRO will also be launching two more defence satellites sometime in July or August with its new rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).

In January, the space agency launched a defence imaging satellite Microsat R for the DRDO. (IANS)