India plans to launch first space shuttle in 2010 – space official

India plans to launch first space shuttle in 2010 – space official

India plans to launch first space shuttle in 2010 – space official

13/08/2007 15:51 BANGALORE, August 13 (RIA Novosti) – India is planning to launch a reusable spacecraft for the first time in 2010 and to send a mission to Mars as early as 2012, a senior space official said Monday.

India has been successfully developing its space program in recent years, regularly launching satellites using its own booster rockets.

“Our target [for the first launch] is before 2010,” the Press Trust of India news agency quoted Chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Madhavan Nair as saying.

Indian scientists have already designed a prototype of the space shuttle to measure parameters of the vehicle and determine future work on the project, the official said.

“The launch vehicle will use a rocket to boost it up to Mach 5 or so,” Nair said, adding that air-breathing modules could be integrated into the reusable delivery vehicle.

The news agency said the ISRO is also focusing its attention on an unmanned mission to Mars to study chemical attributes of the Martian atmosphere, and the planet’s sub-soil and terrain. The mission could take place as early as in 2012.

India earlier announced plans to launch 15 telecommunications satellites and 8-10 earth remote sensing satellites by March 2012, when the 11th five-year plan has been completed.

Delhi based Economics student who works for sanitation needs of urban poor

Delhi based Economics student who works for sanitation needs of urban poor

This Delhi student doesn’t mind battling alone

Azera RahmanSun, Aug 31 12:53 PM

New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) Dressed like any other college going girl in a bright printed salwar, a pair of flip flops and carrying a jhola (bag), Shahana Sheikh, who became somewhat of a celebrity after her report on public toilets in Delhi was taken seriously by the Delhi High Court, doesn’t have many friends and acquaintances who share her beliefs.

‘I don’t know anyone among my peers who wants to do similar work. There are some who have done internships with NGOs but that’s more because voluntary work is a value addition on their resume. I have had many arguments with them, but at the end of it I realised that everyone’s answerable to themselves and left it at that,’ the 20-year-old final year student of Lady Shri Ram college told IANS over a conversation at the college cafe.

‘I am not saying that the youth is not committed towards social work, there are many who are doing brilliant work. Anyway, I am really not bothered about who is doing what. As long as I am doing my bit, it’s okay,’ she added in her quiet, matter-of-fact manner.

As long as she is doing her bit, she will leave many people happy. Sheikh’s report on the condition, or rather the lack of public toilets in slums and resettlement colonies of Delhi, had clearly impressed the high court which then asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to take note of and submit a detailed report within the next four weeks.

‘When I decided to take up this subject during my internship with the Centre for Civil Society, I didn’t imagine it would become so detailed. I planned on visiting two slums and ended up visiting three slums and three resettlement colonies and the condition of the toilets were the same – pathetic,’ she said.

Sharing some of her experiences, the bespectacled Economic honours student said that in one slum she found animals being bred in an unused toilet, in one the ratio of toilets to the number of women was 1:500, and in another there simply were no toilets at all.

‘I was aghast as women slowly opened up and told me of cases when someone they knew was run over by a train while relieving herself on the railway track, sexual harassment cases are common since the women go to relieve themselves only in the wee hours of the day or in the dead of the night.

‘In Sanjay colony, one of the resettlement colonies, people filed a Right to Information (RTI) application and it got answered saying that doors of 90 toilets are broken, scores of others not in a state to be used. In a place where the chief minister is a lady, so is the mayor, it’s shameful that they don’t understand such basic needs of a woman, who can’t even relieve themselves anywhere like a man,’ Sheikh said.

In her words, Sheikh is not happy with all the accolades that have been showered on her after the report.

‘Frankly I feel awkward at all the media attention. And why should I be happy? I will be happy only when the MCD does something good for these people and that too not just on paper. Let them win the case, I will be happy if at the end, those women in the slums get some benefit out of it all,’ she said.

This is however not the end of the battle. The journey has just begun as Sheikh is very sure that issues like water and the Public Distribution System are some that she would want to work on.

‘I don’t mean to be critical but all those people who go to the rural areas to do social work obviously must not be aware of the conditions in their own city. For the people in those slums, this cafe that we sit in is the ‘other’ Delhi, we need to bridge the gap between the two,’ Sheikh said, clearly signalling that she will soldier on.

EU population aging

EU population aging

About a third of people in the European Union will likely be aged 65 or older by 2060, a Eurostat survey indicates. The EU Observer reported Thursday that Poland will have the largest percentage of elderly people. Researchers expect that in the next 50 years Poland will have at least 36 percent of its population over age 65. By 2060, the average percent of seniors will climb from 17 percent currently to 30 percent, the survey published Tuesday shows.

‘Maoists didn’t kill VHP leader’

‘Maoists didn’t kill VHP leader’

Inmates of Chakapada ashram have dismissed claims that Maoists had a hand in the killing of VHP leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. “I have been working in Kandhmal for the past 28 years. I know what’s going on in this district,” said Laxminarayan Nanda, a teacher at the ashram-run school. “Christian missionaries conspired and executed the murder of Swamiji. Swamiji was opposing religious conversion by Christians. Swamiji was not against any religion, but was against proselytisation and cow slaughter,” he said.

Breakthrough in Jammu: Samiti suspends stir

Breakthrough in Jammu: Samiti suspends stir

There has been a breakthrough in the Amarnath land row crisis in Jammu. The Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti has suspended its agitation. The government has allowed the shrine board exclusive use of the Amarnath land for three months during the yatra. The government will review demands to withdraw cases against protestors. The Amarnath shrine board will be reconstituted. Financial losses suffered by transporters and traders will taken by the state govt.

UN body’s comment on Kashmir irresponsible, uncalled for: India

UN body’s comment on Kashmir irresponsible, uncalled for: India

India has expressed regret over the iresponsible remarks by a UN body about alleged human rights abuse in Jammu and Kashmir and underlined that New Delhi did not need any advice to protect the rights of its citizens.
Geneva-based OHCHR had expressed concerns over “recent violent protests in Indian-administered Kashmir that have reportedly led to civilian casualties as well as restrictions to the right to freedom of assembly and expression.” The OHCHR also called on the Indian authorities, in particular security forces, to respect the right to freedom of assembly and expression, and comply with international human rights principles in controlling the demonstrators.

Industrialist KK Birla dies at 90

Industrialist KK Birla dies at 90

Noted industrialist and the chairman of the Hindustan Times Dr KK Birla died at his Birla Park residence in Kolkata on Saturday morning after a brief illness. He was 90 years old. Dr Birla, a former Rajya Sabha member and the chairman of several companies, was ailing for the last two weeks and the end came at 7.30 am. Dr Birla is survived by three daughters – Nandini Nopany, Jyoti Poddar and Shobhana Bhartia, who is vice chairperson and editorial adviser of Hindustan Times. His wife Manorama Devi Birla had died about a month ago.

Millions Are Displaced by Floods in India

Millions Are Displaced by Floods in India

Millions of farmers and their families may be displaced for months after severe floods in northern India wiped out crops and homes, leaving hundreds of villages under several feet of water. The Kosi River in Bihar, one of India’s most populous states, jumped its banks this week after a dam burst in bordering Nepal, causing the worst floods in the area in 50 years. More than 21 million people and over 394 square miles have been affected by the flooding, the Bihar government said on Friday. About a quarter of a million people have been evacuated. The breach in the dam that caused the flooding is eight miles inside Nepal. The Nepalese government said that work to fix the break was under way, and that its officials were cooperating with the Indian government. The river has flooded its banks in Nepal as well, displacing tens of thousands of people. About a quarter of a million homes in India have already been destroyed by the floods. ActionAid, an anti-poverty agency based in South Africa, estimates that 2,000 people have died and that thousands more are missing.

Orissa violence – bare facts

Orissa violence – bare facts

Maoist guerrillas and/or Christian missionaries are allegedly behind the killings. Maoists reportedly claimed responsibility for the killings. [Ref]. Christian organizations are suspected as they target Swami Saraswati for anti Christian violence in the past. The outbreak of violence, it said, follows widespread attacks on Christian targets beginning in December 2007. Swami Saraswati, it said, was “widely implicated” in the incitement of those attacks and in “stirring anti-Christian hatred in Orissa state, but he was never prosecuted by the State authorities. [Ref]