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11 February, 2020

22 Min Read

Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) International Relations
Draft National Policy on Rare Diseases, 2020
Salwa Judum
Supreme Court upholds validity of amendments in SC/ST Act
Indigenous Muslims of Assam
GS-III Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS)
Solar Orbiter Mission
Indian pilots begin astronaut training in Russia
GS-II : International Relations
Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS)

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the India-US weapon deal; about IADWS

 

News: The U.S. Department of State has approved the potential sale of a $1.867 billion Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India.

 

About the weapon system

  • The Integrated Air Defence Weapon System, also known as the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS), provides integrated air missile defence and is currently deployed around Washington, DC.

 

  • The IADWS system includes radar, launchers, targeting, and guidance systems, advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) and Stinger missiles, and related equipment and support.

 

About the deal

  • The potential sale, which is being processed via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route, is now before the U.S. Congress for consideration, with a 30-day window for Congress raise any objections to the sale.

 

  • The Indian government had asked to buy an IADWS comprised of five AN/MPQ-64Fl Sentinel radar systems; 118 AMRAAM AIM-120C-7/C-8 missiles; three AMRAAM Guidance Sections; four AMRAAM Control Sections and 134 Stinger FIM-92L missiles.

 

  • Also included are 32 M4A1 rifles; 40,320 M855 5.56mm cartridges; Fire Distribution Centres (FDC); Handheld Remote Terminals; Electrical Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) Sensor Systems; AMRAAM Non-Developmental Item-Airborne Instrumentation Units (NDI-AIU); Multi-spectral Targeting System-Model A (MTS-A); Canister Launchers (CN); High Mobility Launchers (HML); Dual Mount Stinger (DMS) Air Defence Systems; Vehicle Mounted Stinger Rapid Ranger Air Defence Systems, the statement said.

 

  • Communications equipment, testing and training equipment and documentation and technical and logistics support are also part of the package.

 

 

Significance

  • India intends to use these defense articles and services to modernize its armed forces, and to expand its existing air defense architecture to counter threats posed by air attack.

 

  • This will contribute to India's military goal to update its capability while further enhancing greater interoperability between India, the US, and other allies.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
Draft National Policy on Rare Diseases, 2020

Syllabus subtopic: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the draft policy and its features; its criticisms

 

News: After being directed by the Madras High Court, on January 6, to consider the issue of providing medical care to those suffering from the rare Lysosomal Storage Disorders (LSD) as a “national emergency”, the Centre  informed the court of having notified a draft national policy on rare diseases.

 

About the draft policy

  • It proposes to set up a registry under the Indian Council of Medical research (ICMR) to create a database.

 

  • To provide financial assistance of up to Rs 15 lakh to Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries for rare diseases that require a one-time treatment in tertiary hospitals only.

 

  • It also suggests voluntary crowdfunding as an alternate means of financial support and notifying government hospitals to facilitate treatment.

 

  • Alternatively, the draft proposes to set up a digital platform for voluntary crowdfunding.

 

  • The draft policy also categorises rare diseases under three categories based on clinical experiences and treatment availability. The policy also states that in the absence of data to clearly define rare diseases, such diseases in India will construe the three categories as identified in the policy.

 

 

Criticism of the policy

Public health groups have criticised the policy on following grounds:

  1. It appears the entire policy is drafted to justify that government cannot provide treatment due to high cost as it is resource constrained.
  2. The policy has adopted a very narrow scope limited to only 3 categories, while ignoring those where treatment is yet to be developed and R&D is required.

 

Rare diseases

  • According to the government, so far only about 450 diseases have been recorded in India from tertiary care hospitals that are globally considered as rare diseases.

 

  • The most commonly reported diseases include Haemophilia, Thalassemia, Sickle-cell Anaemia and Primary Immuno Deficiency in children, auto-immune diseases, Lysosomal storage disorders such as Pompe disease, Hirschsprung disease, Gaucher’s disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Hemangiomas and certain forms of muscular dystrophies.

 

  • There are 7,000 - 8,000 rare diseases, but less than 5% have therapies available. About 95% rare diseases have no approved treatment and less than 1 in 10 patients receive disease specific treatment. Where drugs are available, they are expensive.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
Salwa Judum

Syllabus subtopic:

  • Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
  • Linkages between Development and Spread of Extremism.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the case; salwa judum; about NHRC: composition and powers

 

News: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has accused state officials of the Chhattisgarh government of ‘abetting’ the crimes allegedly committed by Special Police Officers as part of Salwa Judum’s anti-Maoist activities in the state.

 

Background

According to the complaint, filed by human rights organisation People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), seven people were killed and 95 houses were torched by SPOs in the three villages, leading to other villagers abandoning their homes and fleeing. When they returned in 2013, the villagers filed a complaint with the Sukma collector in July 2013. The NHRC requested them to provide information.

 

What is Salwa Judum?

  • Salwa Judum (meaning "Peace March" or "Purification Hunt" in Gondi language) was a militia that was mobilised and deployed as part of anti-insurgency operations in Chhattisgarh, India, aimed at countering Naxalite violence in the region.

 

  • It started in 2005 as a state sponsored vigilante movement against the Naxalites, a far-left movement with Maoist ideology in some states in rural India that is designated by India as a terrorist organisation on account of their violent activities. The movement later received bi-partisan support from both the ruling and opposition parties.

 

 

  • In 2008, Chhattisgarh along with neighbouring Jharkhand accounted for over 65% of the total Naxal violence in the country. Chhattisgarh state had trained a number of 'Special Police Officers' or SPOs (also commonly referred to as Koya commandos), from amongst the tribals who were part of Salwa Judum

 

  • The militia, consisting of local tribal youth, received support and training from the Chhattisgarh state government. It has been outlawed and banned by a Supreme Court court order, but continues to exist in the form of Armed Auxiliary Forces, District Reserve Group and other vigilante groups.

 

  • On 5 July 2011, the Supreme Court of India declared the militia to be illegal and unconstitutional, and ordered its disbanding. The Court directed the Chhattisgarh government to recover all the firearms, ammunition and accessories. The use of Salwa Judum by the government for anti-Naxal operations was criticised for its violations of human rights and poorly trained youth for counter-insurgency roles. It also ordered the government to investigate all instances of alleged criminal activities of Salwa Judum.

 

  • On 25 May 2013, its founder Mahendra Karma, who had become a senior Congress party leader was killed in a Naxalite attack along with other party members in Darbha Valley of Chhattisgarh, 400 km south of Raipur and 50 km from Jagdalpur.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-II :
Supreme Court upholds validity of amendments in SC/ST Act

Syllabus subtopic: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the court’s ruling; about SC/ST act and amendments to it; arguements against the amendments

 

News: The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of amendments made in 2018 to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

 

Background

The amendments were brought to nullify the effect of the top court’s March 20, 2018 judgment in the Subhash Kashinath Mahajan vs State of Maharashtra & Another case. In it, the SC took serious note of “instances of abuse” of the 1986 law by “vested interests” for political or personal reasons, and laid down stringent safeguards, including provision for anticipatory bail and a “preliminary inquiry” before registering a case under the SC/ST Act.

 

What were those amendments?

  • It said that a police officer investigating a case under the law will not require prior sanction for arresting an accused.

 

  • It also said the provision of anticipatory bail will not apply to cases under the Act.

 

Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

  • The SC/ST Act was enacted to prevent atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

 

  • It was enacted when the provisions of the existing laws (such as the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 and Indian Penal Code) were found to be inadequate to check these crimes (defined as 'atrocities' in the Act). Recognising the continuing gross indignities and offences against Scheduled Castes and Tribes, the Parliament passed the Act.

 

Objectives of the Act

  1. to deliver justice to these communities through proactive efforts to enable them to live in society with dignity and self-esteem and without fear or violence or suppression from the dominant castes.
  2. The practice of untouchability, in its overt and covert form was made a cognizable and non compoundable offence, and strict punishment is provided for any such offence.

 

  • Section 23(1) of the Act authorises the Central Government to frame rules for carrying out the purpose of the Act. Drawing power from this section, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules of 1995 were framed. The rules for the Act were notified on 31 March 1995.

 

  • The purpose of the Act was to help the social inclusion of Dalits into Indian society, but the Act has failed to live up to its expectations admitted by the Union Minister for Home Affairs in parliament on 30 August 2010.

 

  • A number of cases of misuse of this Act has been reported from different parts of the country as mentioned in the Supreme Court verdict of 20 March 2018. In this verdict, the Supreme Court of India banned immediate arrest of a person accused of insulting or injuring a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe member to protect innocents from arbitrary arrest.

 

SC/ST amendment Act, 2018

  • In August, 2018, the parliament of India passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018, to bypass the ruling of the Supreme Court of India laying down procedures for arrests under the Act.

 

  • The bill inserts section 18A (1) (a) in the 1989 Act, that says a “preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of an FIR against any person.

 

  • The Bill also inserts Section 18A (1) (b), which says “the investigating officer shall not require approval for the arrest, if necessary, of any person against whom an accusation of having committed an offence under this Act has been made and no procedure, other than that provided under this Act or the Code, shall apply.”

 

Arguements against the 2018 amendments to the Act

  • The act violates “basic principles of liberty and accountability” after the amendments. According to a plea filed in the Supreme Court, “the Supreme Court cannot remain a mute spectator to the abuse of law as we are living in a civilised society and there were many growing instances of misuse of this act.

 

  • The new law could be used to harass citizens by arresting them on the basis of mere allegations.

 

  • The amendment excludes Section 438 of CrPC, violates constitutional mandate under Articles 14 and 21.

 

  •  The amendments rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-II :
Indigenous Muslims of Assam

Syllabus subtopic: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the move and its significance; arguements for and against the move; about indigenous Assamese muslims and their concerns

 

News: Assam is planning to implement a census to identify Assam’s ‘khilonjiya’, or indigenous Muslim population in 2020.

 

Background

  • The Assam Budget 2019-2020 (announced in February 2019) listed the creation of a ‘Development Corporation for Indigenous Muslims’ aimed at the ‘holistic development’ of the community as well as a “socio-economic census” to help assess their “socio-economic condition”.

 

  • On February 6, 2020, a memo was issued by the Welfare of Minorities and Development Department calling for a meeting regarding a socio-economic census of indigenous Muslims of Assam — Goria, Moria, Ujani, Deshi, Jola, Mainal, Syed etc.

 

  • However, the state govt. said the planned census is not a socio-economic one but simply to count the population of the indigenous Muslims of Assam.

 

 

About the Assamese Muslim community

  • Under the umbrella of the indigenous Assamese Muslim community fall three main groups: the Goriyas, the Moriyas (from Upper Assam) and the Deshis (from Lower Assam).

 

  • While the Deshis are 13th century converts from indigenous communities such as Koch Rajbongshi and Mech, the Goriyas and Moriyas trace their lineage to converts as well as soldiers, karigars etc who came to the region during the Ahom rule. Smaller groups such as Julha Muslims also fall under this category.

 

  • These groups consider themselves distinct from the Bengali-speaking Muslims who migrated from East Bengal or Bangladesh.

 

 

Arguements in favour of conducting a census

  • Many indigenous Muslims have been wrongfully tagged D-voter or Doubtful-voter in Assam. They face a major identity crisis since they are confused with Bangladeshis.

 

  • According to Census 2011, Muslims constitute 34.22 per cent of the 3.12 crore population of Assam. Around 12 per cent of that is indigenous Muslim. Because of migration from Bangladesh, this group has lost its identity and are lagging behind in terms of social and political development.

 

  • There are government schemes for indigenous communities in Assam like the Bodos, Koch Rajbongshis, Sooteas, Ahoms. Just like those are indigenous groups, so are Goriyas and Moriyas. Since Muslims world over have similar-sounding names, it is important to identify indigenous Assamese Muslims through a census, so that they can benefit from the various developmental schemes in Assam.

 

  • This includes Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which grants “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards” to the “Assamese people”. The report on its implementation is set to be submitted by the Centre-appointed high-powered committee soon. The census will help the indigenous Assamese Muslims benefit not just from Clause 6 but other schemes too.

 

  • The census will “most probably” be carried out by the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development, and will cover the entire state. The community has no benefits, no MLAs, no political representation. The rationale behind this is to help in the development of their identity, their culture, their literature.

 

Arguements against conducting a census

  • Some fear such a census will “further marginalise” the descendants of Bengali-speaking migrants in Assam. The survey identifies one section of Muslims so that they can get certain benefits but ignores another section completely. The polarisation and divisions will automatically increase as a result of this.

 

  • Also, how does one define an indigenous Assamese Muslim? Certain East Bengali-origin migrants have been living in Assam since the 1800s. Are they any less indigenous Assamese than other groups? If the government wants to really improve conditions of Muslims, why not do a survey/census of all economically deprived Muslims?

Source: Indian Express

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GS-III :
Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS)

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the move and its benefits; about CMS; about GIB; efforts made by India for conservation of migratory species

 

News: The 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is scheduled from February 17 to 22 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

 

About the COP meet

  • Representatives from across the world, and conservationists and international NGOs working in wildlife conservation, are expected to attend the COP, which will also see PM Modi address the gathering via video conference. India has been designated the President of the COP for the next three years.

 

  • India will be moving to include the Asian Elephant and the Great Indian Bustard in the list of species that merit heightened conservation measures.

 

  • The list will be debated at the 13th COP of the CMS, an environment treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). There are 130 parties to the convention and India has been a member since 1983.

 

  • It is expected that the COP will clear the inclusion of the Great Indian Bustard and the Asian Elephant as it has been vetted by technical experts and reflects the consensus of several countries. The elephant faces risks particularly in neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal.

 

 

How will this move benefit?

Having the elephant and the Great Indian Bustard in the list — more formally known as Appendix 1 — would coax countries neighbouring India, where wild animals such as tigers and elephant foray into, to direct more resources and attention to protecting them. There are now 173 species in the Appendix 1.

 

 

Migratory species in India and efforts at conservation

  • India is home to several migratory species of wildlife, including the snow leopard, Amur falcons, bar- headed geese, black-necked cranes, marine turtles, dugongs and hump-backed whales.

 

  • The Indian sub-continent is also part of the major bird flyway network, i.e, the Central Asian Flyway (CAF) that covers areas between the Arctic and Indian Oceans, and covers at least 279 populations of 182 migratory water bird species, including 29 globally threatened species. India has also launched the National Action Plan for conservation of migratory species under the Central Asian Flyway.

 

  • The Union Environment Ministry reports India as having 29,964 elephants according to the Project Elephant Census in 2017. It merits the highest level of protection, or Schedule 1, under the Wildlife Protection Act.

 

  • The government of India has been taking necessary actions to protect and conserve migratory marine species. Seven species that include Dugong, Whale Shark, Marine Turtle (two species), have been identified for preparation of Conservation and Recovery Action Plan.

 

 

About the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

  • Migratory species are those animals that move from one habitat to another during different times of the year, due to various factors such as food, sunlight, temperature, climate, etc. The movement between habitats, can sometimes exceed thousands of miles/kilometres for some migratory birds and mammals. A migratory route can involve nesting and also requires the availability of habitats before and after each migration.

 

  • In order to protect the migratory species throughout their range countries, a Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), has been in force, under the aegis of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

 

  • Also referred to as the Bonn Convention, it provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats and brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.

 

  • The convention complements and co-operates with a number of other international organizations, NGOs and partners in the media as well as in the corporate sector.

 

  • Under this convention, migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I and Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them.

 

  • Migratory species that need or would significantly benefit from international co-operation are listed in Appendix II of the Convention.

 

 

About Great Indian Bustard (GIB)

  • A large bird of the bustard family (Otididae), one of the heaviest flying birds in the world. It inhabits dry grasslands and scrublands on the Indian subcontinent; its largest populations are found in the Indian state of Rajasthan.

 

  • Conservation status: listed as critically endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

 

  • Threats: Habitat loss and degradation appear to be the primary causes of decline. Ecologists have estimated that approximately 90 percent of the species’s natural geographic range, which once spanned the majority of northwestern and west-central India, has been lost, fragmented by road-building and mining activities and transformed by irrigation and mechanized farming. Many croplands that once produced sorghum and millet seeds, on which the great Indian bustard thrived, have become fields of sugarcane and cotton or grape orchards. Hunting and poaching have also contributed to the decrease in population. These activities, combined with the species’s low fecundity and the pressure of natural predators, have left the great Indian bustard in a precarious position.

 

  • In 2012 the Indian government launched Project Bustard, a national conservation program to protect the great Indian bustard, along with the Bengal florican (Houbaropsis bengalensis), the lesser florican (Sypheotides indicus), and their habitats from further declines. The program was modelled after Project Tiger, a massive national effort initiated in the early 1970s to protect the tigers of India and their habitat.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III :
Solar Orbiter Mission

Syllabus subtopic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the mission and its significance; about Ulysses and Parker missions; about Heliosphere

 

News: The Solar Orbiter spacecraft was launched from Cape Canaveral (USA) on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 411 rocket and is on a 10-year voyage.

 

Background

This follows the Ulysses spacecraft, another collaboration between ESA and NASA that launched in 1990 and also flew over the sun's poles. Ulysses completed three passes of the sun before its mission ended in 2009, but its view was limited to what it could see from the sun's equator.

 

About the Space orbiter mission

  • The mission, which is a joint collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency set off on a blazing hot journey to the sun to take the first close-up look at the star's polar regions, a mission expected to yield insight into how solar radiant energy affects Earth

 

  • Solar Orbiter is equipped with ten instruments that can capture observations of the sun's corona (which is its atmosphere), the poles and the solar disk. It can also use its variety of instruments to measure the sun's magnetic fields and solar wind, or the energized stream of particles emitted by the sun that reach across our solar system.

 

  • It will take Solar Orbiter about two years to reach its highly elliptical orbit around the sun. Gravity assists from Earth and Venus will help swing the spacecraft out of the ecliptic plane, or the space that aligns with the sun's equator, so it can study the sun's poles from above and below.

 

  • Solar Orbiter also has a seven-year mission and will come within 26 million miles of the sun. It will be able to brave the heat of the sun because it has a custom titanium heat shield coated in calcium phosphate so that it can endure temperatures up to 970 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

 

What’s so special about the mission?

  • This is the first mission that will provide images of the sun's north and south poles using a suite of six instruments on board that will capture the spacecraft's view.

 

  • Up until Solar Orbiter, all solar imaging instruments have been within the ecliptic plane or very close to it. Now, we'll be able to look down on the sun from above.

 

Significance of the mission

  • Understanding the sun's magnetic field and solar wind are key because they contribute to space weather, which impacts Earth by interfering with networked systems like GPS, communications and even astronauts on the International Space Station. The sun's magnetic field is so massive that it stretches beyond Pluto, providing a pathway for solar wind to travel directly across the solar system.

 

  • Observations of the poles could explain why the sun's magnetic field changes, alternating over an 11-year period. When the magnetic field is active, it produces dark sunspots on the sun's surface, and then there are calmer periods with less activity.

 

  • Solar Orbiter's observations of the poles could also lead to better predictions of space weather because it can provide a better view of the magnetic field.

 

  • The poles are particularly important for the scientists to be able to model more accurately. For forecasting space weather events, scientists need a pretty accurate model of the global magnetic field of the sun.

 

Cooperation with Parker Mission

  • The Space Orbiter mission will work in tandem with NASA's Parker Solar Probe, which is currently orbiting the sun on a seven-year mission and just completed its fourth close approach of the star. It launched in August 2018 and will eventually come within four million miles of the sun -- the closest a spacecraft has ever flown by our star.

 

  • The Parker probe is tracing the flow of energy that heats and accelerates the sun's corona and solar wind; determining the structure and dynamics of the plasma and magnetic fields at the sources of the solar wind; and exploring mechanisms that accelerate and transport energetic particles.

 

  • Together, the missions can help unlock the mysteries of the sun and provide more data to researchers than either could accomplish on its own. Parker can sample particles coming off the sun up close, while Solar Orbiter will fly farther back to capture more encompassing observations and provide broader context.

 

  • At times, the spacecraft will both align to take measurements of the solar wind or magnetic field.

 

About Heliosphere

  • Solar Orbiter Mission addresses a central question of heliophysics: How does the Sun create and control the constantly changing space environment throughout the solar system?

 

  • The Sun creates what’s known as the heliosphere — a giant bubble of charged particles and magnetic fields blown outward by the Sun that stretches more than twice the distance to Pluto at its nearest edge, enveloping every planet in our solar system and shaping the space around us.

 

  • To understand it, Solar Orbiter will travel as close as 26 million miles from the Sun, inside the orbit of Mercury. There, it will measure the magnetic fields, waves, energetic particles and plasma escaping the Sun while they are in their pristine state, before being modified and mixed in their long journey from the Sun.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III :
Indian pilots begin astronaut training in Russia

Syllabus subtopic:

  • Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, Robotics, Nano-technology, Bio-technology and issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the highlights of the training programme; about Gaganyaan mission and its significance

 

News: The four Indian pilots chosen as candidate-astronauts began their 12-month training at the Gagarin Research and Test Cosmonaut Training Centre (GCTC) in Moscow, Russian space business company Glavkosmos has announced.

 

Background

In June 2019, the Human Space Flight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation and the Russian government-owned Glavkosmos signed a contract for the training, which includes Russian support in the selection of candidates, their medical examination, and space training.

 

About the training programme

  • The 12-month training programme includes comprehensive and biomedical training of the Indian candidates, combined with regular physical practices. They will study in detail the systems of the Soyuz manned spaceship, as well as be trained in short-term weightlessness mode aboard the Il-76MDK aircraft.

 

  • The Il-76MDK is an Ilyushin-78 military transport plane specially re-designed for parabolic flights of trainee astronauts and space tourists. The candidates will also be trained to take appropriate actions during emergencies — for example should the spacecraft make an abnormal landing in (unplanned) climate and geographic zones.

 

  • Much of the training will take place at the GCTC facilities. The full programme includes basic or generic astronaut training followed by activities specific to the first Indian human space mission, Gaganyaan.

 

  • The four candidates are fighter pilots from the Indian Air Force and were chosen from among hundreds of applicants over the last few months. At the end of all training modules in India and Russia, one or two of the four will be finally named to circle the earth in the first crewed Gaganyaan, which is planned around 2022.

Source: The Hindu

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