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Insights Daily Current Events, 14 July 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 14 July 2015



Stage set for Godavari Maha Pushkaram

‘Maha Godavari Pushkaram’, the once in 144-year event dedicated to worshipping rivers, will commence in the two Telugu States of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh from 14th July. The two governments have made elaborate arrangements both in terms of pilgrim convenience as well as security to ensure peaceful conduct of the 12-day event.

About the event: Quick glance:

  • The pushkaram, which is observed once in 12 years, this time however is considered very auspicious from the astronomical point of view as it is Maha Pushkaralu which comes once in 144 years. This is very significant from the astronomical point of view- it is the conjunction of ‘Brihaspati’ (Jupiter) entering into ‘Simha rasi’ (zodiac sign of Leo).
  • Similar to the ‘Kumbh melas’, celebrated alongside holy rivers across the country, ‘Pushkaram’ in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana is held every 12 years and taking dip in river Godavari is the main feature of the festival.
  • Across the two Telugu States, all along the course of the Godavari, lakhs of people assemble on the river banks to take a holy dip in the sacred waters to mark the onset of the Pushkaram.

Significance of Godavari Pushkaram: According to Hindu mythology, every 12 years the god Pushkar enters one of the 12 holy rivers of India. One who bathes in the river during this time will be cleansed of their sins. The festival of Pushkaram is held during the months when Jupiter transits through the 12 Zodiac signs, each sign corresponding to a particular river. Godavari is one of the 12 rivers, and is associated with the Leo zodiac sign.

Sources: The Hindu, BS, Wiki, ET.

SAARC satellite launch likely in December 2016

The SAARC satellite mooted by India to provide communication and meteorological services to SAARC member-countries is likely to be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in December 2016. This was stated by the ISRO chiarman recently.

About SAARC satellite:

  • It is a proposed communication-cum-meteorology satellite by Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) for the SAARC region.
  • This idea of a satellite serving the needs of SAARC member nations was mooted by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. This was announced by him during his visit to Nepal in August, 2014.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Satellite-based navigation system launched

The GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system, which will offer seamless navigation to the aviation industry, was recently launched by the Civil Aviation Minister.

About GAGAN:

  • GAGAN was develped by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at a cost of Rs. 774 crore, over 15 years.
  • GAGAN will provide augmentation service for the GPS over the country, the Bay of Bengal, South East Asia and Middle East and up to Africa.
  • Some of its benefits are improved efficiency, direct routes, increased fuel savings, approach with vertical guidance at runways, significant cost savings because of the withdrawal of ground aids and reduced workload of flight crew and air traffic controllers.
  • Gagan works by augmenting and relaying data from GPS satellites with the help of two augmentation satellites and 15 earth-based reference stations.
  • The system utilises the satellite-based wide area augmentation system (SBAS) technology which has been developed by Raytheon.


  • India is the fourth country to offer space-based satellite navigation services to the aviation sector.
  • The system bridges the gap in the coverage areas of the European Union’s European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Japan’s Multi-functional Satellite Augmentation System (MSAS).
  • The system would be available for the member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • It is intended to serve as a low-cost substitute for instrument landing system (ILS) and provide very accurate route guidance for the aircraft to save time and fuel.
  • The guided approach landing with the help of GAGAN would immediately benefit nearly 50 airports in India.


The aircraft now being used by Indian operators are not compatible with GAGAN. Only those aircraft that are fitted with SBAS will be able to use the new technology. Cost of refurbishing aircraft with new equipment and downtime for electronic restructuring are expenses that the financially-stressed Indian airline industry does not seem comfortable having to bear.

Sources: The Hindu, NDTV, IE.

India and Georgia Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Electoral Cooperation

India and Georgia recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of election management and administration.

The major aims of MoU are:

  • Promotion of exchanges of knowledge and experience in electoral processes.
  • Exchange of information, materials, expertise and training of personnel.
  • Production and distribution of materials pertaining to electoral systems, voting technology, voters’ education and awareness,
  • Participation of women and minorities in electoral process.

The MoU would serve as an important mechanism for strengthening and deepening mutual collaboration between ECI and the Central Election Commission of Georgia, in electoral management and administration.

Election Commission of India has so far signed twenty MOUs with Election Management Bodies and international organizations across the world. Some of the MoUs signed recently are with the Kyrgyz Republic, Yemen, Mauritius, Egypt, Venezuela and Republic of Korea.

Sources: PIB.

Liability law still clouds nuclear deal

Senior Indian and U.S. officials recently sent out a strong signal of their commitment to moving the bilateral civil nuclear deal forward despite obstacles. The officials met recently at a day-long conference on the tenth anniversary of the stalled agreement.

  • However, those representing U.S. corporations worried that the Indian government’s assurances on the controversial Sections 17(b) and 46 of the law could not supersede the statute itself, and this still left the companies at risk in the event of an accident.


The Indian government had recently clarified the nature of the understanding reached with the US government on the civil nuclear cooperation deal. It clarified that U.S. suppliers of nuclear reactors and parts will not be directly liable in case of a nuclear accident, nor can they be sued by Indian nuclear operators unless the contract they sign clearly states it.

The main bone of contention in the Nuclear Liability Act, 2010 had been section 17 and section 46. Section 17 (b) says the operator (NPCIL) has the right to recourse against suppliers in case of a nuclear accident. Section 46 of the Act covers the remedies available against the operator.

Nuclear Liability Act 2010:

It is a highly debated and controversial Act.

Aim: The Act aims to provide a civil liability for nuclear damage and prompt compensation to the victims of a nuclear incident through a nofault liability to the operator, appointment of Claims Commissioner, establishment of Nuclear Damage Claims Commission and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

Importance of the Act:

  • After this Act was passed, India became a member of the international convention on liability in the civil nuclear arena.
  • The Act made amendments in the Atomic Energy Act 1962 allowing private investment in the Indian nuclear power program.

Important provisions:

  • The Act fixes liability for nuclear damage and specifies procedures for compensating victims.
  • The Act specifies who can claim compensation and the authorities who will assess and award compensation for nuclear damage.
  • Motive of the Act was to legally and financially bind the operator and the government to provide relief to the affected population in the case of a nuclear accident.

Sources: The Hindu, PIB.

Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft ready for Pluto fly-by

Nasa’s spacecraft New Horizons (NH) is all set to become the first space probe to reach Pluto.

  • The 14 July fly-by will take place on the 50th anniversary of Mariner 4’s visit to Mars, which was America’s first successful planetary fly-by.

About New Horizons Mission:

  • New Horizons was launched on 19 January 2006, and has been travelling through space for the past nine years.
  • Just over a year after launch, it passed Jupiter and used the giant world’s gravity to boost its velocity, as well as making scientific observations. This boost shortened the time to reach Pluto by years.
  • At closest approach, New Horizons will be less than 12,500km above the dwarf planet’s icy surface, but 4.5bn kilometres from Earth.
  • The radio connection is so weak at that distance that the data recorded by its instruments will take more than a year to trickle back. However, Nasa expects the first close-up pictures on 15 July.
  • The mission will complete what NASA calls the reconnaissance of the classical solar system, and it makes the U.S. the first nation to send a space probe to every planet from Mercury to Pluto. The probe has traveled more than 3 billion miles to reach Pluto.
  • New Horizon’s core science mission is to map the surfaces of Pluto and Charon, to study Pluto’s atmosphere and to take temperature readings.
  • The spacecraft was launched in 2006, before the big debate started over Pluto’s status as a planet. In August of that same year, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.


Sources: The Hindu, NASA.

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