News Wrap


The Chandrayaan-II launch in moon exploration, was postponed less than an hour before the scheduled Lift-off. The agenda for Chandrayaan includes a soft landing on the moon's South Pole, followed by exploration by a robotic rover, which will conduct various experiments. If the launch had taken place on 14 July 2019, the landing would have occurred on 06-07 Sep 2019. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has not announced a new launch date. This is the seventh time this mission has been postponed, putting it six years behind the original schedule. Technical problems relate to development of key technologies, such as the cryogenic engines of the GSLV series, which can be traced to lack of resources. ISRO will receive Rs.11,538 crores in 2019-20. The Chandrayaan II mission will cost a little less than Rs.1000 crores, which is roughly one-seventh of the cost of the failed Israeli Beresheet mission, with comparable objectives. The newly created New Space India Limited (NSIL), a PSU to commercially exploit research and development, market satellite launches, and manufacture of small satellite Launch vehicles, will identify sectors where ISRO can contribute profitably. Manned missions will involve keeping humans healthy in airless, high-radiation environments, with variable gravity. The pay-offs could also help to improve health-care, food and water preservation, and recycling technologies. Again, India's mission to the Moon, is now re-scheduled to lift off on 22 July 2019.

National Register Of Citizens Sinece 2015
Of the 32.9 million people of Assam, who have applied to be listed as "genuine" Indian citizens in the NRC, roughly 29 million have been accepted. At least 2 million people are stateless. The majority left out of the NRC so far are abjectly poor. Many are unlettered. They cannot understand the legal complications of the process, nor do they have the money to hire legal help. Thousands stand in danger of being declared "foreigners" even though they could be genuine Indian citizens. People affected by the process of verifications of citizenship fall into three different categories. Those labelled as "D-voters", or doubtful voters, were categorized as such, when the electoral rolls were revised in 1997, and thereafter. Their names are excluded from the NRC, unless they can establish their credentials before a Foreigner's Tribunal. In the second category are people who have been picked up by the police on suspicion of being illegal immigrants. The border police generally arrest poor workers in cities, and finger prints them. The third category are those who have registered with the NRC, but have been excluded because there was a discrepancy in the documents they submitted. Of the 983 people in six detention centres, 823 had been declared foreigners. Thousands of married women, whose parental homes are in North Bengal, have been left out of the NRC. It is estimated that more than half of those excluded from the NRC are such women. Poor people travel long distances to appear before the Foreigner's Tribunals. Their cases stretch out over months.

Devastation And Survival In Afghanistan
Despite the ravages in Afghanistan caused by the British Army of the Indus since 1839, by 1900 the Amir of Afghanistan retained enough authority to treat the British Agent at Kabul, with humiliating condescension. The Russians spent 1980 to 1989 in Afghanistan, without any territorial or diplomatic gains. From 2001, USA under the banner of Operation Enduring Freedom, commandeered contingents from over 20 coerced allies, viz NATO, EU countries, New Zealand, and even Montenegro and Lithuania. After 13 years of inconclusive fighting, in 2014, the US decided to change its banner to read Operation Freedom's Sentinel. For over almost 18 years (2001 to 2019), the casualties of the US -led coalition forces are about 3500. In contrast, more than 3,000,000 Afghans have died. Even as the United States spends billions of dollars to support the Afghan National Security Forces, along with Pakistan, Iran and Russia, China is gaining growing influence in Afghanistan.

China has hosted talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, and has substantial interests in Afghanistan's mineral wealth. It aims to reduce the country's violence, and chronic instability flowing across the two countries' narrow border, in the remote Wakhan corridor region. China has secured rights to Afghanistan's Mes Aynak copper deposit, believed to contain about 450 million tons of the metal worth tens of billions of dollars. Beijing is helping Afghanistan set up a mountain Brigade to bolster Afgha-nistan's counter terrorism operations. But no Chinese troops would be stationed in Afghanistan. China has also provided equipment and training to Afghanistan's government.

Papua New Gusnea Tribal Massacres
Tribal clashes are a frequent occurrence in Papua New Guinea's highlands, where old rivalries prompted by rape or theft, or disputes over tribal boundary resources, often prompt violence. After a three-day spasm of tribal violence, since 09 July 2019, at least 24 people, including two pregnant women, and their unborn children, were killed in the lawless highlands of Hela province, a rugged region in the west of the country. Rival tribes apparently clashed over control of local gold deposits, in the mineral rich soil. An influx of automatic weapons amongst highland clans, has made clashes more deadly and escalated the cycle of violence. The Munima and Karida villages attacks stems from three related warlords, who have been fighting against the Tagali tribe, over local gold deposits. A day before the attack, there was an ambush and murder of six people. In nearby Enga province, a similar surge in violence prompted the establishment of a makeshift military garrison.

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Vol. 52, No. 5, Aug 4 - 10, 2019