UPSC IAS Interview 2017-18

40th Anniversary of Man’s Landing on the Moon

by - Dilip Ghosh,Freelance Writer

Forty year ago, on July 20, in 1969, Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo 11 Mission and Edwin Aldrin Jr., Commander of its lunar module ‘ Eagle’ became the first cosmonauts to land on the moon.

As Armstrong set his foot on the celestial body he said, “ One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was indeed an astonishing feat! If one were to cover the distance of nearly 4 lakh kilometers between Moon and Earth by car it would take him 130 days to reach the lunar surface.

The Apollo Mission journey was covered in a little over three days from 16th to 20th July that year. While Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon, Michael Collins continued to orbit Earth in his command module. After spending 21 hours exploring the moon’s surface, Armstrong and Aldrin returned to Earth. Millions of people across the world watched the video broadcast of the Moon landing.

To re-live that historic moment, the governments and space organizations across the world have organized several programs. In the United Kingdom, Royal Mail is issuing a commemorative sheet of 10 stamps in an illustrated folder. Such is the public enthusiasm over man conquering Moon that the stamps sheet is now selling at a premium over its face value of £13.50.

In the United States, National Air and Space Museum has been holding an exhibition “Alan Bean: Painting Apollo, First Artist on Another World” since 16th July, the day on which the Apollo mission was launched. On display are 40 original paintings and drawings by artist- astronaut, Alan Bean who traveled to Moon in Apollo 12 Mission..

The show enables the viewers to experience a world so far away through the eyes of the only artist to walk on the lunar surface. A documentary “Alan Bean: Artist Astronaut” by Jeffrey Roth is also being screened there since yesterday The film explores why Bean left NASA to make his Apollo-inspired artwork, using footage shot inside his workshop and photos of the Apollo-era tools he used to add texture to his paintings.

Mathew Battles, a reputed author credited with several works has written a fascinating book “13 ways to Look at Apollo”. Battles book begins by talking about the constructions of the Apollo spacecraft and its relationship to other amazing vessels that took people to adventures during classical antiquity. He says, “The spacecraft, both a high- tech marvel and a low- tech tin can, was in some sense the unsung hero of the Moon Landing.

But, the astronauts became the true heroes.” Incidentally, 2009 has also been named as the International Year of Astronomy. The Moon landing was an event over which the old feel nostalgic while the young feel that they missed the bus. Yet, not everyone is so euphoric about it. In the United States itself, there are many who believe that the first Moon landing was a hoax. Bill Kaysing, a former engineer who worked on the design of Apollo rockets said, “The whole thing seemed phoney to me.”

He was particularly puzzled by the landing vehicle, which did not seem to make any engine noise. Astronaut Brian OLeary who was an adviser to the Apollo program in the 1960s also said: “I can’t be sure 100 per cent that man actually walked on the Moon.” To the hoax believers question why no star was visible in the background of the visuals of the Moon landing, NASA’s reply was that because the sun was so bright and the lunar surface so reflective, the stars would be too dim for a camera to capture.

For other such questions, NASA scientists would sigh wearily, like teachers trying to educate the dullest kid in class in the simplest physics. American media also carries the story that ever since President John F Kennedy pledged at the start of the 1960s that man would travel to Moon and be back within a decade, the US administration had been desperately trying to beat the Russians in the space race.

That summer of 1969, Moscow was only a month from launching its own manned Moon shot. But, Washington which was already burdened with the Vietnam war decided to take public attention away from its problems by this popular distraction. The hoax believers say , the astronauts in suits put down their foot in a top-secret military installation in the Nevada desert, also known as Groom Lake or Dreamland.

It was the ideal place to house an area of make-believe Moon. While the debate over the first Moon landing goes on, space science has traveled afar from the era of 1969 when only the US and USSR were the space faring nations. Today, the US and Russia are preparing to set up permanent bases on the Moon by 2020. Since the cold war has become a thing of the past, like the International Space station project in which many countries cooperated, the permanent lunar base could also be an international project. And if that happens, India with its knowledge of moon may join that project.

Former ISRO Chairman, Prof. U R Rao says, Moon may or may not be colonized but it will surely be the stepping stone for colonizing Mars. In fact, compared to Moon, Mars has a greater prospect of being colonized because Mars has a thin atmosphere whereas Moon has none. To secure international cooperation in its lunar mission projects, the ISRO has already entered into an agreement with its Russian counterpart in November 2007.

It is planning to send a manned mission to Moon by 2030. Much before that in 2012, the ISRO will, however, be sending a lunar rover during its Chandrayaan -2 mission. By launching Chandrayaan 1 mission last year, India made known its grandiose space ambition. The Indian made orbiter is still going round the Moon, keeping a watch on it from a distance of 100 km only. The Indian national tri-colour landed by the lunar probe during that mission still beacons our astronauts to make it to the Moon as early as possible.

Naxal Problem needs a holistic approach

by - Ashok Handoo,Freelance Writer

If the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has been saying it repeatedly that Naxalism is the biggest challenge to our internal security he clearly wants to underline the dangers it has been posing to India, as also the need to deal with the challenge in a most effective way.

Naxalism, which started from Naxalbari area in West Bengal in 1967, ostensibly to champion the cause of small farmers and tribals through violence, was wiped out in 1970. It soon became out of fashion in its homeland West Bengal. But the underground operations of the outfit continued. The problem became more serious after the merger of the Peoples War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) in September, 2004 which led to the formation of the CPI (Maoist). Naxalism today holds sway in vast swathes of 10 states in the country, involving about 180 districts.

Recently the Home Minister said in the Parliament that Naxal challenge had been underestimated over the years as a result of which left wing extremism had increased its area of influence. The Home Minster said that they now pose a very grave challenge to the state. Just days before his statement 36 policemen, including an SP, had been ambushed by the Maoists in Chhatisgarh.
It was in this backdrop Mr. Chidambaram urged the Members of Parliament to join hands in facing the challenge. “All sections of the house must recognize that if we must remain a democratic, republic ruled by law, we must collectively rise and face the challenge of left wing extremism” Shri Chidambaram said.

In its status report presented to the Parliament on March 13, 2006, the then Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil said that the Naxalite movement continues to persist in terms of spatial spread and intensity of violence. He pointed out that it remains an “area of serious concern”. Naxal violence has claimed about 6000 lives during the last 20 years. The question that arises is why have the Naxals been able to extend their area of influence over the years to become a serious threat to the country’s internal security?

It is encouraging to know that the government is not treating it as a mere law and order problem. The 2006 status report itself made it clear that the Government would address the problem in a holistic manner. That includes ‘political security, development and public perception management fronts’ as well. Surely, the Naxal problem is deeply rooted in the social and economic disparities in remote and tribal areas.
Since the fruits of development have not percolated to these areas, the Naxal outfits are able to exploit the sentiments of the local people. But the outfits themselves have been preventing and in fact destroying, developmental initiatives taken by the government. They destroy roads, railway infrastructure and administrative institutions that are needed for speeding up developmental activities. Not only this, they indulge in train hold-ups, jail breaks and attacks on politicians.
That is proof enough to indicate that they do not have real interest in the development of these areas and their loyalties lie elsewhere. Perhaps, they want to usurp political power which, they think, flows through the barrel of the gun.

At the same time, a lot many measures need to be taken to make the fight against Naxalism effective. On top of this is improving governance in the affected areas by moving corrupt officials who exploit the local people. It must also be ensured that large scale projects in these areas do not lead to displacement of people, who in any case, live a life of penury.

Since law and order is a state subject, the role of State Governments in dealing with the problem can hardly be overemphasized. They too have their share of responsibility to fulfil. A good deal of coordination between the Centre and the States is, therefore, called for. This is particularly true in view of the fact that the Outfits have established inter-state networks. The state police need to be modernized to be able to tackle the Naxal attacks. The Greyhounds experiment in Andhra Pradesh is a case in sight. Actionable intelligence collection and sharing mechanisms need to be strengthened. Funds provided to the States under the Police Modernization Scheme need to be better utilized.

The states also need to go fast with raising India Reserve Battalions, particularly in Naxal affected areas, which besides addressing security concerns, provide jobs to the unemployed youth.

A specially trained police force also needs to be put in place to fight the Maoists who basically are adopting guerrilla warfare techniques. There is also a difference in their targets. While other terrorist groups attack the strong foundations of the country such as democracy, secularism and the financial institutions, Maoists make India’s weak points like poverty and economic disparity as their targets. All this needs to be factored in the strategy to deal with the Maoist problem.

Keeping in view the fact that the Naxal groups have been raising mainly land and livelihood issues, it is important that land reforms are taken up on a priority basis. States have also to focus on physical infrastructure like roads, buildings, bridges, railway lines, communications and power etc. There is no room to brook any delay on this account.

Unfortunately, the several rounds of talks held with the Naxals hitherto and the announcements of amnesties and attractive rehabilitation schemes have not worked so far. Some states like Andhra Pradesh have a good rehabilitation policy and it has achieved some success, but a lot more remains to be done.

The Government indeed is committed to address the Naxal problem in right earnest. It is focusing on improving intelligence set up at the state level, providing help to the states to modernize and train their police forces and accelerate development in the affected areas. What is needed is better coordination both on security and developmental fronts to meet the challenge posed by the Naxals.
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

Foreign Direct Investment in India

by - Sameer Pushp, Freelance Writer

India is the largest democracy and is fourth largest economy (in terms of purchasing power parity) in the world. India with its consistent growth performance and abundant high-skilled manpower provides enormous opportunity for investment, both domestic and foreign. Investment in India can be made both by non-resident as well as resident Indian entities. Any non-resident investing in an Indian company is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The Government embarked upon major economic reforms since mid-1991 with a view to integrate with the world economy, and to emerge as a significant player in the globalization process. Reforms undertaken include decontrol of industries from the stringent regulatory process; simplification of investment procedures, promotion of foreign direct investment (FDI), liberalisation of exchange control, rationalization of taxes and public sector divestment. The FDI policy was liberalized progressively through review of the policy on an ongoing basis and allowing FDI in more industries under the automatic route.

A number of studies in the recent past have highlighted on growing attractiveness of India as an investment destination. According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2007, India is the second most attractive investment destination for FDI for 2007-09.

India has one of the most liberal and transparent policies on FDI among the emerging economies. FDI up to 100 percent is allowed under automatic route in all activities and sectors except few sectors like manufacturing of cigar and cigarettes of tobacco, electronic aerospace and defense equipments, etc.

FDI policy is reviewed on continuous basis and changes in sectoral polices / sectoral equity cap are notified through press notes by the Secretariat for Industrial Assistance (SIA) , Department of Industrial policy and promotion (DIIP). FDI policy is also notified by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) under Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) 1991.

FDI in sectors /activities to the extent permitted under automatic route does not require any prior approval either by the Government or Reserve Bank of India. The investor is only required to notify the Concerned Regional office of RBI within 30 days of receipt of inward remittances and file the required documents with that office within 30 days of issue of shares to foreign investors.

The Government has decided to allow FDI up to 51 percent; with prior Government approval, in retail ‘single brand products’. This is inter-alia aimed at attracting investment in production and marketing, improving the availability of such goods for the consumers, encouraging increased sourcing of goods from India, and enhancing competitiveness of Indian enterprise through access to global designs, technology and management practices.

The Government has put in place a liberal foreign technology transfer policy as well. At present, foreign technology collaboration involving payment of lump sum amount of up to US$2 million and/or royalty at the rate of 5 percent on domestic sales and 8 percent on exports are allowed under the automatic route. There are no limits on the duration of royalty payments. In addition, the current policy also allows payment of royalty up to 2% on exports and 1% on domestic sales under the automatic route for use of trademark and brand names of the foreign collaborator without technology transfer. Proposals involving royalty payments beyond the limits under the automatic route are considered for Government approval through the Project Approval Board (PAB).

The Government has set guidelines for transfer of ownership or control of Indian companies in sectors with caps from resident Indian citizens to non-resident entities.

Its salient features are:

Government/FIPB approval will be required in sectors with caps where:

• An Indian company is being established with foreign investment and is owned by a non-resident entity or

• An Indian company is being established with foreign investment and is controlled by a non-resident entity or

• The control of an existing Indian company, currently owned or controlled by resident Indian citizens and Indian companies, which are owned or controlled by resident Indian citizens, will be/is being transferred/passed on to a non-resident entity, as a consequence of transfer of shares to non-resident entities through amalgamation, merger, acquisition etc. or

• The ownership of an existing Indian company, currently owned or controlled by resident Indian citizens and Indian companies, which are owned or controlled by resident Indian citizens, will be/is being transferred/passed on to a non-resident entity as a consequence of transfer of shares to non-resident entities through amalgamation, merger, acquisition etc.

The new proposals will yield following benefits: The proposal would ensure application of simple, homogenous and uniform norms for calculation of direct and indirect foreign investment across sectors excepting those where it is governed specifically under any statutes or rules there under. And, it would also ensure that approval of Government/FIPB would be required for establishment/change in ownership or control of an Indian company from resident Indian citizens to non-resident entities in sectors with sectoral caps.

India has a young demographic profile with about 50 percent of its population under 25 years, having high propensity to consume. About 20-25 million people are joining the middle class, every year with increasing disposable income. This phenomenon could be leveraged to attract investment as well as to generate employment.

A decade and a half ago the prospect of India becoming a major player in the global economy seemed a distance dream, today with the power of FDI it is a reality. During the last five years there has been a sea change not only in the world perception about India’s future, but in our own perception about us. The world has acknowledged the ‘arrival of India’. With the ushering of social and economic base, we no longer discuss the future of India: we say “the future is India”.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai : A scientist who dared to dream

by Dr Subodh Mahanti, A Senior Scientist at Vigyan Prasar

“There is no leader and there are no led. A leader, if one chooses to identity one, has to be a cultivator rather than a manufacturer. He has to provide the soil and the overall climate and the environment in which the seed can grow. One wants permissive individuals who do not have a compelling need to reassure themselves that they are leaders”- Vikram Sarabhai

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s name will remain inseparable from India’s space programme. It is well known that it was Dr. Sarabhai who put India on the international map in the field of space research. But he also made equally pioneering contributions in other fields such as textiles, pharmaceuticals, nuclear power, electronics and many others.

The most striking aspect of Dr. Sarabhai’s personality was the range and breadth of his interests and the way in which he transformed his ideas into institutions. Sarabhai was a creative scientist, a successful and forward looking industrialist, an innovator of the highest order, a great institution builder, and an educationist with a difference, a connoisseur of arts, an entrepreneur of social change, a pioneering management educator and more.

However, most importantly, he was a very warm human being with tremendous compassion for others. He was a man who could charm and win the hearts of all those who came in contact with him. He could instantly establish a personal rapport with those with whom he interacted. This was possible because he could convey a sense of respect and trustfulness to them and also a sense of his own trustworthiness.

A Dreamer
Dr. Sarabhai was a dreamer with a seemingly unmatched capacity for hard work. He was a visionary, who could not only see opportunities but created some where none existed. To him the object of life, as Pierre Curie (1859-1906), the French Physicist who was co-discoverer with his wife sMarie Curie (1867-1934) of polonium and radium, has observed, was “to make life a dream and to turn the dream into a reality”.
What is more, Dr. Sarabhai taught many others how to dream and to work towards realising the dream. The success of India’s space programme is a testimony to this. Dr. Sarabhai was a “rare combination of an innovative scientist, forward looking industrial organiser and imaginative builder of institutions for the economic, educational and social upliftment of the country”.
He had an excellent sense of economics and managerial skill. No problem was too minor to him. A large part of his time was taken up by his research activities and he continued to supervise research till his untimely death. Nineteen people did their Ph D work under his supervision. Dr.Sarabhai independently and in association with his colleagues published eighty-six research papers in national journals.

We are told that anybody, irrespective of his position in the organisation, could meet Sarabhai without any fear or feeling of inferiority and Dr. Sarabhai would always offer him/her a seat and make him/her relax and talk on equal terms. He believed in an individual’s dignity and tried hard to preserve it. He was always in search of a better and efficient way of doing things. Whatever he did, he did it creatively. He displayed extreme care and concern for the younger people. He had immense faith in their potentialities. He was always ready to provide opportunities and freedom to them.

Early Years
Dr. Vikram Sarabhai was born on August 12, 1919 into a wealthy family at Ahmedabad. During his childhood at his ancestral home, The Retreat at Ahmedabad, used to be visited by important people from all walks of life. This played an important role in the growth of Sarabhai’s personality. His parents were Shri. Ambalal Sarabhai and Smt. Saraladevi Sarabhai.
Vikram Sarabhai had his early education in the family school started by his mother Saraladevi on the line propounded by Madam Maria Montessori. After completing his Intermediate Science examination from Gujarat College, he went to Cambridge (UK) in 1937 where he obtained his Tripos in Natural Sciences in 1940.
At the outbreak of the Second World War he returned to India and joined the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore where he took up research in cosmic rays under the supervision of C.V. Raman. He published his first research paper entitled “Time Distribution of Cosmic Rays” in the Proceedings of Indian Academy of Sciences. Sarabhai’s work on cosmic rays during the period 1940-45 included the study of the time variations of cosmic rays with Geiger-Muller counters at Bangalore and at the high level station in the Kashmir Himalayas.
After the war he returned to Cambridge to work for his PhD in cosmic ray physics. In 1947, he was awarded PhD by the Cambridge University for his thesis `Cosmic Ray investigation in Tropical Latitudes’. He also carried out an accurate measurement of the cross-section for the photo fission of U-238 by 6.2 MeV y-rays which formed a part of his PhD thesis. After getting his PhD, he returned to India and continued his research in cosmic ray physics. In India he studied interplanetary space, solar-terrestrial relationships and geomagnetism.

A Great Institution Builder
Dr. Sarabhai was a great institution builder. He helped to establish a large number of institutions in diverse fields. Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association (ATIRA) was the first institution that Sarabhai helped to build. This assignment he undertook just after returning from Cambridge after obtaining a PhD in Cosmic ray physics. He had no formal training in textile technology.
Formation of ATIRA was an important step towards modernising textile industry in India. At the time of establishing ATIRA there were no quality control techniques in majority of the textile mills. At ATIRA, Dr. Sarabhai created conditions for the interaction of different groups and different disciplines. While hiring personnel at ATIRA he ignored the requirement of experience.

Some of the most well-known institutions established by Dr.Sarabhai are: Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad; Indian Institute of Management(IIM), Ahmedabad;. Community Science Centre, Ahmedabad; Darpan Academy for Performing Arts, Ahmedabad; Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram; Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad; Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), Kalpakkam; Varaiable Energy Cyclotron Project, Calcutta; Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad and Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Jaduguda, Bihar.

Science with Culture
After the death of Dr. Homi J Bhabha in January 1966, Dr. Sarabhai was asked to assume the responsibilities of the office of the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission. Sarabhai had realised the enormous potentialities inherent in space science and technology for a wide range of social and economic development activities - communication, meterology/weather forecasting, and exploration for natural resources, to name only a few.
The Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, established by Sarabhai pioneered research in space sciences and subsequently in space technology. Sarabhai also spearheaded the country’s rocket technology. He played a pioneering role in the development of satellite TV broadcasting in India. Dr. Sarabhai was also a pioneer of the pharmaceutical industry in India.
He was among the very few in the pharmaceutical industry who recognised that the highest standards of quality should be established and maintained at any cost. It was Sarabhai who first implemented Electronic Data Processing and Operations Research Techniques in the pharmaceutical industry.
He played an important role in making India’s pharmaceutical industry self-reliant and self-manufacture of many drugs and equipment in the country. Dr. Sarabhai was a man of deep cultural interests. He was interested in music, photography, archaeology, fine arts and so on. With his wife Mrinalini, he established Darpana, an institution devoted to the performing arts. His daughter, Mallika Sarabhai, grew up to be a leading exponent of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi. He believed that a scientist should never shut himself up in an ivory tower or overlook the problems faced by the society in mere academic pursuit of pure science. Sarabhai was deeply concerned with the state of science education in the country.
To improve the same he had established the Community Science Centre. Dr. Sarabhai died on December 30, 1971 at Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. In a befitting honour to this great Scientist, Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) and associated space establishments at Thiruvananthapuram were renamed as the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre which has grown into a major space research centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). In 1974, International Astronomical Union at Sydney decided that a Moon Crater BESSEL in the Sea of Serenity will be known as the Sarabhai Crater. (PIB Features, On the Birth Anniversary of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai which falls on August 12)
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