Why did Barren Island volcano erupt again?

India’s only active volcano — the Barren Island volcano — in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is again spewing lava and ash, according to a team of scientists from the Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). They chanced upon it as part of an ocean expedition in January. While this may evoke apocalyptic images, scientists who have seen the fulmination say it’s fairly benign.

Abhay Mudholkar and B. Nagender Nath from the NIO, who saw the eruptions from a mile off the mountain, noted that the volcano was erupting in small episodes lasting 5-10 minutes.

Scientific expedition

During the daytime, they saw ash clouds, but after sundown, red lava fountains spewed from the crater into the atmosphere and hot lava streamed down the slopes. So far, the scientists have sampled the sediments and water in the vicinity of the volcano and recovered coal-like black pyroclastic material. They are preparing for a scientific expedition to the volcano to assess the ecological impact of the eruption.

The Barren Island, about 140 km from Port Blair, is a tourist destination and surrounded by waters ideal for scuba diving and is home to a wide variety of aquatic life. The island is open to visitors, with prior permission, and as the name suggests is uninhabited and devoid of any significant vegetation. It’s the only active volcano along a chain of volcanoes from Sumatra to Myanmar. The 354-metre-high island is the emergent summit of a volcano that rises from a depth of 2,250 m. The small, uninhabited 3-km-wide island contains a roughly 2-km wide caldera (a volcanic crater) with walls 250-350 metres high.

Not dangerous

Historically, the first record of the volcano’s eruption dates back to 1787. It was known to have erupted at least five times over the next 100 years. Then there was silence for a century. In 1991, it spewed so massively that smoke billowed out for about six months. Ever since, there have been eruptions every two-three years, the last in February 2016. All of these recorded eruptions lie on the lowest end of the so-called Volcanic Explosivity Index that ranks volcanoes from 1-8 based on the quantity of volcanic material spewed and the strength with which it does so. The latest eruption was a mere ‘2’ on the scale.

However, detailed studies have shown that the volcano first erupted 1.6 million years ago and sits on a 106-million-year-old crust. However benign this may seem, the renewed volcanic activity over the past few decades has some scientists worried about the amount of unreleased pressure stored in the continental plates that support the volcano. An eruption in 2005 was linked to the previous year’s Indonesia-Sumatra earthquake that triggered the destructive tsunami that ravaged India’s southern coast.

In 1991, the volcano’s eruption was catastrophic for several animal species. According to a report from the Geological Survey of India, a scientific team visited Barren Island on April 8-9, 1993, to assess the impact of the 1991 eruption on the distribution, habit, and abundance of fauna. Gas emissions still seemed to be oozing. The eruption reduced the number of bird species and their population. Of the 16 previously reported species, only six were observed, of which the Pied Imperial Pigeon (Ducula bicolor) was the most abundant. A night survey encountered only one rat species (Rattus rattus) and 51 species of insects from eight orders.

Source: xaam.in

Govt to Hire 980 Officers Through UPSC, Lowest in 5 Years ( Tuff competition this year )

New Delhi: The government will hire 980 officers to fill up vacancies in the prestigious IAS, IFS and IPS through civil services exam 2017, the lowest in the past five years.

A total of 1,079 and 1,164 vacancies were reported to be filled through the civil services examinations 2016 and 2015, respectively. The results of last year’s test are yet to be declared.

1,364 and 1,228 such vacancies were reported for the recruitments to be done through the 2014 and 2013 tests, respectively.

A total of 1,091 posts in various central services were advertised for civil services exam, 2012, as per the notification by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), which conducts the examination annually.

The government had sought to fill 880 posts in various services through civil services exam, 2011.

The number of vacancies to be filled on the result of civil services examination 2017 is expected to be approximately 980 which include 27 vacancies reserved for those in physically handicapped category, it said.

The vacancies for this year’s test are lowest advertised in the past five years by the government.

“The final number of vacancies may undergo change after getting firm number of vacancies from cadre controlling authorities. Reservation will be made for candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Physically Disabled categories in respect of vacancies as may be fixed by the government,” the UPSC notification said.

Thousands of aspirants appear in the civil services examination conducted annually in three stages — preliminary, main and interview — to select officers for Indian Administrative Service (IAS), Indian Foreign Service (IFS) and Indian Police Service (IPS), among others.

This time, the civil services preliminary examination 2017 has been preponed and it is scheduled to be held on June 18, instead of August.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) will be conducting the examination in June after a gap of three years.

The preliminary tests for 2016, 2015 and 2014 were held during the month of August, a senior UPSC official said.

The last date for receiving the applications for the preliminary test is March 17.

Source: xaam.in

IPS officer transforms Telangana’s social welfare hostels

As film on his protégé Malavath Purna readies for release, R.S. Praveen Kumar talks about creating institutions of excellence

Indian Police Service (IPS) officers are usually portrayed on the big screen as swashbuckling heroes beating up trigger-happy roughnecks. Poorna , however, is based on the true life story of Telangana IPS officer Dr. R.S. Praveen Kumar, and will have a different story. Multi-faceted actor Rahul Bose plays the role of the cop who inspired the youngest girl to scale Mount Everest — the film takes its name from Malavath Purna, the daughter of tribal farm labourers who studied at the Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS), the residential schools for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and underprivileged children that Dr. Kumar has transformed into talent incubators as its Secretary. “Many had apprehensions about making students go for mountaineering, but the students were willing and more so, the girls,” says the 49-year-old.

A product of the social welfare hostel himself, Dr. Kumar hung up his uniform five years ago and volunteered to take over the moribund TSWREIS, surprising his peers and superiors alike. The hostels were in a pitiable state with few takers and funds allocated for them got reverted as they were not spent. “We had to change the mindsets, infrastructure and pedagogy,” he recalls. Within two years, he had transformed the once-dingy hostels into institutes of excellence and now, poor Dalit parents flock to admit their wards here, especially girls. What Dr. Kumar did was to insist on an English-medium education. Students were motivated first through peer groups like The Hindu ’s E-Plus clubs, video lessons and counselling. Then, he unleashed the ‘10 commandments’ — “I am not inferior to anyone, I shall be the leader wherever I am, I shall do what I love and be different, I shall always think big and aim high, I shall be honest, hardworking and punctual, I shall never blame others for my failures, I shall neither beg nor cheat, I shall repay what I borrow, I shall never fear the unknown, I shall never give up.”

Success stories

Students chant this every day as if to remind themselves of the tasks ahead.

Soon, alumni from TSWREIS were securing admission to courses in engineering, then medicine, and private universities like the Aziz Premji University (AZU), universities abroad and so on, on merit. They also began climbing mountains and learning music — one all-girls band even played for the Cyberabad Commissionerate during the Republic Day this year.

Word spread and parents began showing up in such large numbers that from 4,000 vacant seats, TSWREIS received more than 1.5 lakh applications for 20,000 seats last year! There are 40,600 seats now available from Classes 5 to 12.

Born to poor Dalit parents in the Alampur village of the Gadwal district, Dr. Kumar saw discrimination at close quarters and is clear that education is the way out of the rut of poverty.

“I wanted to help people like me. I see a generation of students from under-privileged communities studying in hostels, doing well and showing the light to future generations, as Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has sanctioned whatever we sought and more,” he says.

Dr. Kumar looks forward to watching the premiere of Poorna with President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan soon, before the film is released nationwide.

Source: xaam.in

India building a supercomputer juggernaut

India will likely unveil its most powerful supercomputer. The supercomputer can earn a place among the world’s top 10 fastest supercomputers.
As per specifications, if the processors operate at full capacity of 10 petaflops (1 followed by 15 zeroes), a clock speed a million times faster than the fastest consumer laptops.
The yet to be unnamed machine will be jointly hosted by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology located in Pune and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting located in Noida.
The government has sanctioned 400 crores for the project.

Factors that determine the worth of a supercomputer:

  • Processing speed, the speed at which a processor processes information
  • Power usage
  • Arrangement of processors

What can be achieved through this program:

  • Colleges and research institutions can harness the ability of the supercomputer to address problems that range from weather modelling to how proteins fold.
  • Most of the computing power of the machine will be help in monsoon forecasting by utilizing a dynamic model
  • This will be achieved by letting a custom model calculate weather. The model will be based on weather simulations of a given month.

History of the Indian supercomputer program:

Indian supercomputer program began in the 1990’s, when India started building and hosting supercomputers. EKA build by the Tata group was the only Indian supercomputer to hold a place among the top 10 supercomputers in the world.
Though several ultra-fast machines exist at Indian academic institutions but they only feature among the top hundred to two-hundred in the world.

World’s fastest supercomputers:

China’s new system, the Sunway TaihuLight whose theoretical peak performance is 124.5 petaflops (floating point operations per second) is the world’s fastest supercomputer at present. 
It is the first supercomputer to exceed the processing speed of 100 petaflops.
This is also significant from the perspective that earlier China was relying entirely on US microprocessors for its supercomputing program, but Sunway TaihuLight uses processors that are developed by a Chinese firm, which makes China self-reliant in supercomputing technology. 

India needs to learn from this and enhance its research and development expenditure to attain self-reliance in supercomputing technology. Though the development of the above-mentioned supercomputer is a step in the right direction. 

Source: xaam.in

Last 5 Years – Change in UPSC Syllabus and Pattern

Note: This year notification from UPSC has clearly stated that there is no change in the syllabus for UPSC Examination 2017. This article is only an attempt to formulate the series of changes that UPSC Syllabus has seen over the last five years.

It’s not a secret that although its steady and stealth changes; UPSC has maintained its repo towards having a tact syllabus and pattern of the examination. We should also acknowledge that even though we have seen quite a change in UPSC syllabus and pattern, to our surprise, most of it are on the positive side.
Some background on UPSC Syllabus and Pattern
UPSC is considered as the toughest exam in the world. There are trolls that say its syllabus has everything that’s under the sun. This fact, while chuckles a lot of us, is frightening if you are planning to prepare for the examination. This alleged urban bias exam, UPSC, is conducted in three stages; Prelims, Mains and the Personality Test.
Who decides the changes in UPSC Syllabus and Pattern?
The Union Government of India appoints an expert committee usually headed by a former IAS who takes over the task and systematically evaluate the effectiveness of the existing scheme of the Civil Services examination. The committee refers to certain disciplines that assure the inclusiveness in the selection process. The committee also reviews the recommendations of previous expert committees.
Terms of reference of the committee:
  • Plan of Examination
  • System of Evaluation
  • Mechanism of designing
  • Logistical requirements for conduct
To form an opinion—the expert committee also looks for suggestions and feedbacks from the public. Since It has a direct effect on the student body, students are generally expected to give their suggestion on the following areas; Age relaxation, Numbers of attempts Permitted, Test of English Proficiency and Optional Subject; but you can also suggest an improvement attributed to any part of the UPSC.
Changes in Last 5 Years
In last 5 years, UPSC has introduced various major and minor changes in its examination pattern and syllabus;
  • UPSC replaced the optional subject in Prelims with the CSAT.
  • UPSC replaced 2 optional subjects with 1 optional subject.
  • UPSC restructured the number of General Studies Papers. UPSC divided previous 2 papers of GS into 3, and introduced a new paper; Paper 4 – ‘Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude’.
  • The total number of Marks allotted for essay increased from 200 to 250.
  • Increase in the number of questions and decrease in the word limit
  • UPSC increased the number of essays in the exam from 1 to 2. Now there are two sections with four optional choices which previously was a single section with four optional choices.
  • Total number of attempts permitted for the exam increased from 4 to 6
  • Maximum age limit increased from 30 to 32 for general candidates
  • Pre-2015, both GS and CSAT were considered for merit. From 2015, only GS remained as a merit test while CSAT was turned into a qualifying exam.

Source: xaam.in

Trade facilitation agreement in services

India submitted at WTO a proposal for a trade facilitation agreement in services which is aimed at easing the movement of skilled workers across borders.
The proposal will be taken up by an expert committee at the WTO headquarters, post which it will be taken up for discussion among all WTO members.
Minister of commerce, Nirmala Sitharaman confirmed that India has submitted a legally vetted paper on Trade facilitation agreement in services at Geneva. 
In the initial phase, till March 17 only the council for trade in services members will be part of the discussion. After that to build awareness all WTO members will be made part of discussions.
India is planning to push the proposal at the upcoming WTO ministerial meeting which will be held in Argentina in December.

What the pact aims to achieve:

  • Primarily, easing the cross-border movement of skilled workers.
  • Ensure portability of social security contributions.
  • Single window mechanism for foreign investment approvals.
  • Cross border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism.

Trade Facilitation Agreement(TFA) in goods:

  • First administrative deal to be signed in 21 years at Bali.
  • It aims to streamline, simplify and standardize custom procedures which will cut help cut trade cost.
  • It will also add 2.7 percent to world trade growth and more than half a percent to world GDP growth.
  • It will reduce logistic costs, as goods will move faster.
  • Access to export and import data on a real-time basis, as all the ports will be connected electronically.
  • Developing countries are required to build infrastructure capacity for faster clearance of cross border shipments.

TFA in services as part of new issues:

The Trade facilitation agreement in services could be seen as a new issue and India would be under pressure to allow discussion on other new issues, which are not part of the ongoing Doha round negotiations.
India has earlier opposed attempts made by certain developed nations for inclusion of new issues in WTO, though it agreed for an informal and non-binding discussion. India’s stand is that the proposed Trade Facilitation agreement(TFA) in services is about facilitation, that is making market access effective and commercially meaningful and not about new market access.
This essentially means that like the agreement in goods trade, the proposed agreement is also expected to cover discrepancies in trade in services, as well as procedural and administrative issues and principles that apply to all.

It will not deal with market access issues because that will involve domestic regulations which the proposed agreement does not seek to address.

Source: xaam.in

Should triple talaq be outlawed?

Zakia Soman, co-founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, an autonomous organisation, and a co-petitioner in the triple talaq case before the Supreme Court, writes:
It is the constitutional obligation of the government to enable Muslim women to obtain a level playing field

There are four or five judgments where the triple talaq provision has been struck down as invalid. But it has not led to this un-Koranic practice being rooted out from our society. Triple talaq continues to be the most common method of divorce. We had done a sample study of 4,710 women and found that out of 525 women who were divorced, 349 were victims of triple talaq. While the courts have settled the matter, we have to look at the unjustness of the entire process. How can we accept that a man can simply utter the word talaq thrice or communicate it through phone with no witness deemed necessary and where the burden is on the wife to legally contest it? There is no law binding the man, he can just act on his whim. This is absolutely unfair and must be stopped.

Seeking a level playing field

Let me cite a case from Madhya Pradesh where a woman who did not wake up when her husband returned late from work received talaq thrice when she was asleep! She was informed about her husband’s decision by her mother-in-law. It is a convoluted argument to say that triple talaq is not an issue only because a few judgments have declared it invalid. Why should a man have unilateral powers to divorce, and the woman just comply? What is wrong in seeking a level playing field between husband and wife? Such arguments only further the patriarchal order.

As far as the Koran is concerned, triple talaq is just not valid. There are verses calling for reconciliation and mediation over a period of 90 days involving both sides. The objective is that the woman should not be rendered a destitute. Also, when the final pronouncement of talaq is made, the women should not be menstruating. This is an evolved system of jurisprudence calling for just and fair divorce.

All we are seeking is that the Supreme Court should lay down the procedure for talaq based on the talaq-e-ehsan method. There is a debate about personal laws being violative of fundamental rights. But the personal law being practised by the Muslim community in India is not based on Koranic injunctions. Rather triple talaq is a violation of the tenets of justice and fairness.

Gender justice is a central tenet of the Koran and gender inequality and triple talaq are in violation of the Koranic principles. In fact, in the Koran, the very conception of humankind is based on an equal footing between man and woman. But patriarchal misinterpretations and distortions rule our lives. Any talk of reform in personal law is brushed aside as interference in religious matters.

On a Uniform Civil Code

As far as our position on the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is concerned, we are clear that a secular law alternative must be available to every citizen. This alternative exists in the form of the Special Marriages Act. But abolition of triple talaq and UCC are two separate issues. The UCC question applies to the entire Indian population, not just Muslims. Muslim personal law needs drastic reform just like the Hindu code or the Christian laws. There has been a legal discrimination of Muslim women in our country. Muslim women are still subject to the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 which is silent on triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy. We need to be brought on a par with Hindu sisters and Christian sisters who have a legal recourse. The Hindu women have the Hindu Succession Act and the Hindu Marriage Act. We are a patriarchal society and it is not as though Hindu and Christian women have attained equality. But they do not face legal discrimination the way Muslim women do.

It is the constitutional obligation of the government to enable Muslim women to obtain justice. It is not about the BJP or the government but about gender justice for Muslim women.

Kamal Faruqui, former chairperson of the Delhi Minorities Commission and founder-member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, writes:
Triple talaq is a Koranic injunction. But it depends on the terms drawn up in the marriage contract

The pronouncement of triple talaq is acceptable to all four schools of thought in Islam and though not desirable, it is very much a Koranic injunction. Those who criticise it do not understand the Koran. Having said that, I should also state that eventually it comes down to the nikahnama, which is a contractual obligation between the two parties. If the terms of the contract do not have provisions against triple talaq and have not been contested before being accepted, the pronouncement of talaq at one go or over the prescribed period of three months is allowed in the Koran. Don’t forget that Islam is the first religion in the world to institutionalise marriage. Nikah imposes conditions, prescribes equality of women, maintenance of children and so on.

Conditions for triple talaq

But please don’t assume that the Koran does not condone talaq. It has been described as one of the worst options to be exercised only under extenuating circumstances. It allows for an exit when the marriage breaks down but only under certain conditions. The talaq-e-ehsan, one form of divorce, is over a period of three months and it is only after the completion of the third month that you are no longer man and wife. The talaq-e-bidat or triple talaq at one go allows the man to exhaust all the options at once. Again, if the nikahnama has proscribed it, then the man cannot take recourse to this divorce. Divorce is one of the worst things in the institution of marriage and allowed only in extreme situations. Even when a person goes to buy a pen, he is bound by contractual agreement. In the case of a nikah/marriage, the contract is between two parties in the presence of at least two witnesses. We are governed by the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, and if the Supreme Court says this must be revisited, we will oppose it.

Many misconceptions

I also wish to clear the misconception on the number of triple talaqs practised among Muslims. We moved RTIs to find out the divorce rates among the religions in India and I can share with certitude that it is the least prevalent among Muslims. It is rare among Muslims. And those who practise it are usually the uneducated and the poor who do not know their Koran or those who are misled by others. It is also incorrect to say that triple talaq has been banned in 22 countries; it has been regulated in most of said countries. You could have concerns about why is it that a man can take recourse to uttering talaq and not the woman. Under Islam, the man shares the greater responsibility in marriage as far as maintenance of his wife and children are concerned. He has many duties to fulfil and many responsibilities too. That is why he has been given the responsibility of ending the marriage only when it breaks down. Women too have the option of khula. She will have to approach the qazi if her husband is absconding, of bad character and so on.

We will plead before the apex court to have a separate department with people who are well-versed in the Sharia laws if at all the court wishes to mediate on the matter. So far, the courts have been very careful in interpreting personal laws — which are part of the fundamental right to religion for every citizen of the country.

Syeda Hameed, Women’s rights activist, educationist, a former member of the Planning Commission, and the first woman Qazi from Lucknow, writes:
Why rake up matters that have already been settled by the SC and create discord between communities?

Back in 2002, the Supreme Court had given its ruling on triple talaq in the Shamim Ara v. State of U.P. case — when Justice R.C. Lahoti and Justice P. Venkatarama Reddi said a mere pronouncement of talaq in response to a woman’s plea for maintenance cannot be treated as pronouncement of talaq. In order to be valid, talaq has to be pronounced according to the Koranic injunction. Triple talaq, in fact, was banned in 2002 by the apex court and I don’t recall the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and other affiliates protesting against the judgment. There was a similar judgement from the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court in the Dagdu Pathan v. Rahimbi case (2002) which struck down triple talaq. So I am perplexed why Shayara Bano, who recently filed a public interest litigation before the Supreme Court, was not advised by her lawyers that the issue had been addressed and settled in the past.

Cues in the Koran

An unnecessary controversy has been created now when all the contesting parties that are shouting had earlier kept quiet. The whole triple talaq issue is repugnant to Islam and those who say it legitimises Islam are doing a great disservice to Islam.

The whole point of talaq is to find a dignified way of getting out of a marriage that has irrevocably broken down. But it is not that simple. It is actually very difficult to get out of marriage. The Koran states the conditions which have to be observed. Triple talaq must be pronounced over three months. One per month. During the months, mediation is essential with both parties being represented during the negotiation. This is a Koranic injunction and it is only after following these conditions that talaq is granted and once granted is irrevocable. You cannot say that you uttered the word in a drunken stupor; neither can you pronounce it over the phone or send it on email or fax it or send a text message. But I feel that the community has to look within and take the lead in reforming such reprehensible practices, or else the state will interfere with personal laws. And it has already been settled that personal law is in sync with the constitutional rights guaranteed to all citizens.

Egalitarian treatment

On the issue of polygamy, which is again being contested in court, it is conditional on so many things as spelt out in the Koran, which makes it abundantly clear that it is against human nature to give egalitarian treatment to everyone. So, the concept of four wives is simply not possible if you follow the letter and spirit of Koran. It specifies that in case there is more than one marriage, it is essential that identical treatment is given to each wife. But since this is not possible given human nature, it is best to have only one wife. The Prophet married Hazrat Khadija. She was 15 years older than him, she was a widow, and he worked for her. It was she who proposed marriage. This is the Prophet’s Sunnah (practice). What example does it provide for the believers?

Islam is going through a turbulent phase world over and this issue can be used as an excuse to create discord between communities giving rise to a communal situation. I also fear that the hardliners will raise the spectre of ‘Islam in danger’ through this issue. I am afraid this is not the right time to debate on matters that have been settled by the courts.

Source: xaam.in

Why Earth’s inner core doesn’t melt?

An energy distribution cycle keeps the core solid despite it being hotter than the surface of the Sun

Scientists have discovered why the crystallised iron core of the Earth remains solid, despite being hotter than the surface of the Sun.
Researchers at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden found that on the edge of the inner core, pieces of crystals’ structure continuously melt and diffuse only to be reinserted due to high pressure like “shuffling deck of cards.”
This energy distribution cycle keeps the crystal stable and the core solid.
Spinning within Earth’s molten core is a crystal ball — actually a mass formation of almost pure crystallised iron — nearly the size of the moon.
Understanding this strange, unobservable feature of our planet depends on knowing the atomic structure of these crystals — something scientists have been trying to do for years.
As with all metals, the atomic-scale crystal structures of iron change depending on the temperature and pressure the metal is exposed to.
Atoms are packed into variations of cubic, as well as hexagonal formations. At room temperatures and normal atmospheric pressure, iron is in what is known as a body-centred cubic (BCC) phase, which is a crystal architecture with eight corner points and a centre point.
However at extremely high pressure, the crystalline structures transform into 12-point hexagonal forms, or a close packed (HCP) phase.
At Earth’s core, where pressure is 3.5 million times higher than surface pressure — and temperatures are some 6,000 degrees higher — scientists have proposed that the atomic architecture of iron must be hexagonal.
Anatoly Belonoshko from KTH said data showed that pure iron likely accounts for 96% of the inner core’s composition, along with nickel and possibly light elements.

Temperature impact

At low temperature, BCC is unstable and crystalline planes slide out of the ideal BCC structure. But at high temperatures, the stabilisation of these structures begins much like a card game — with the shuffling of a “deck.”
Mr. Belonoshko said in the extreme heat of the core, atoms no longer belonged to planes because of the high amplitude of atomic motion.
“The sliding of these planes is a bit like shuffling a deck of cards. Even though the cards are put in different positions, the deck is still a deck. Likewise, the BCC iron retains its cubic structure,” he said.
Such a shuffling leads to an enormous increase in the distribution of molecules and energy — which leads to increasing entropy, or the distribution of energy states.
That, in turn, makes the BCC stable, he said.

Source: xaam.in

What is the difference between GSLV and PSLV? (GS 3,Prelims 2017 )

Both PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) are the satellite-launch vehicles (rockets) developed by ISRO. PSLV is designed mainly to deliver the “earth-observation” or “remote-sensing” satellites with lift-off mass of up to about 1750 Kg to Sun-Synchronous circular polar orbits of 600-900 Km altitude.
The remote sensing satellites orbit the earth from pole-to-pole (at about 98 deg orbital-plane inclination). An orbit is called sun-synchronous when the angle between the line joining the centre of the Earth and the satellite and the Sun is constant throughout the orbit.
Due to their sun-synchronism nature, these orbits are also referred to as “Low Earth Orbit (LEO)” which enables the on-board camera to take images of the earth under the same sun-illumination conditions during each of the repeated visits, the satellite makes over the same area on ground thus making the satellite useful for earth resources monitoring.
Apart from launching the remote sensing satellites to Sun-synchronous polar orbits, the PSLV is also used to launch the satellites of lower lift-off mass of up to about 1400 Kg to the elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
PSLV is a four-staged launch vehicle with first and third stage using solid rocket motors and second and fourth stages using liquid rocket engines. It also uses strap-on motors to augment the thrust provided by the first stage, and depending on the number of these strap-on boosters, the PSLV is classified into its various versions like core-alone version (PSLV-CA), PSLV-G or PSLV-XL variants.
The GSLV is designed mainly to deliver the communication-satellites to the highly elliptical (typically 250 x 36000 Km) Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The satellite in GTO is further raised to its final destination, viz., Geo-synchronous Earth orbit (GEO) of about 36000 Km altitude (and zero deg inclination on equatorial plane) by firing its in-built on-board engines.
Due to their geo-synchronous nature, the satellites in these orbits appear to remain permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, as viewed from a particular location on Earth, thus avoiding the need of a tracking ground antenna and hence are useful for the communication applications.
Two versions of the GSLV are being developed by ISRO. The first version, GSLV Mk-II, has the capability to launch satellites of lift-off mass of up to 2,500 kg to the GTO and satellites of up to 5,000 kg lift-off mass to the LEO. GSLV MK-II is a three-staged vehicle with first stage using solid rocket motor, second stage using Liquid fuel and the third stage, called Cryogenic Upper Stage, using cryogenic engine.
S.P.S. JAIN, former Member Engineering, Indian Railways, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh
P.K. JAIN, Deputy Director, Satellite Communication, ISRO, Bengaluru

Source: xaam.in

An Open Letter to Friends who did not Clear the Mains – by Poonam Dahiya IRS

The declaration of Mains result becomes a cause of celebration for some and ironically it is also the reason behind tears, hurt and pain for all those who are not so lucky this time.
It painful, even if you are not writing the exam, because our friends and near and dear ones are.
poona dahiya coping with mains failure
I am writing this to you all only.I may not be able to fully know what you all are feeling at this moment of time but I can somehow relate to you, your failure – which is only temporary unless you accept it that way , your sadness n your doubts about not only your abilities but also yourself.
Because I have travelled the same path. Not once, but umpteen times.
At this point of time, you – like everyone else – and like myself a year back –  must be thinking as if the whole world has come down. This is normal.
You are full of doubts about yourself, your abilities, your past successes and achievements.
I have one thing to tell you – Do not you fall in this trap of Negativity and Self Mortification.
It’s easier said than done. Its difficult too. Which is why most people will give in. To the negativity. And will succumb.
Because that’s easy to do.
The tougher thing to do is to fight it out. And win.
This one exam is no parameter to devalue yourself and your inherent abilities.
All you need to do is re-discover yourself in this hour of darkness. Discover your strength and try to maintain a positive attitude.
No one, No bad results should be able to weaken your resolve.
If you feel Civil Services is your ultimate aim then  – don’t get bogged down from your failures.
Make your resolve stronger. Remember when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
If you still have attempts,  try to do an honest introspection, try to analyze  where, what went wrong – learn from your mistakes – and try to rectify them.
And if you did not make it – remember – Life is much more than all these success and failures. All you need to do is to look at bigger picture of life.
Because at this juncture, you have no idea what life has in store for you.
Stay positive n hopeful about life. And this has as much truth in it as it is preachy.
You must be wondering that how easy is for me to preach all this but as I look back my own journey, I can relate totally both to your pain, doubts and equally to what I am saying right now.
Because unlike you, I have the benefit of hindsight. What is called looking through the rear view mirror of life.
My story is as average as anyone else’s. Made up of some successes, some failures. A lot of pain at times and little joys.
But altogether a learning which I cherish now more than anything.And thats what I want to convey to you.
I was always a good student coming either Ist or IInd in the classes till X th.
And as the fascination of our people with Science, I too took Science after X th(though till now I wonder why the hell so much craze for Science)
But I had no particular interest in science or having that scientific pursuit or bent of mind. I did clear my XII th with good percentage, but there was total lack of clarity about the basics.
All I could do was rote memorization which fetched me marks and thus despite best efforts I could not qualify the top most examinations of both Medical n non-medical though I did get into normal Engineering college.
And as I am writing this article right now I can clearly see in hindsight the girl who could not qualify any major competitive Engineering or Medical exam and her state of mind that very day when almost all hopeful results had come and she could not succeed in any crucial one.
She was upset, sad, doubtful about her, her abilities and was just thinking that her whole life is ruined. There’s nothing left in it.
Not clearing any MBBS or IIT JEE would mean she would never be happy
She is just no match for the competitive world. She is a waste and what not.
But as I look back now I somehow feel it was good that I never qualified these entrance exams since I could not have done justice to my jobs had I been a Engineer or Doctor.
I would never have been a good Engineer or Doctor as my heart was not in it, only my mind was and that is just not enough.
So somehow those failures were a kind of divine intervention or blessing in disguise to let me know that may be I am meant for better things if not these.
Anyways after having my first bitter taste in failure, I somehow did my graduation, wrote some other exams, cleared almost many of them including State Civil Services n then as like many of you, decided to compete for one of the most challenging exam of our time…yes UPSC…
I still remember my first attempt…when I was only trying to somehow clear Prelims and I focused all my energy over it n it did cost me my mains score.
I cleared both prelims and mains but somehow attain only just above cut off marks for mains and thus despite good marks in Interview I could land up only in Railways.
This success or failure (depends on how you see it ) made me more yearned for UPSC and gave me a confidence that I can clear it and I wrote it with full dedication, hardwork but as luck would have it, I again got Railways and I was totally disheartened.
I pushed all my limits for my Second attempt but ultimately I could not move an inch forward….The day of result I just felt numb…no feeling…nothing….For the last two years I had kept everything on hold for UPSC but still I was so much far from my dream of being IAS.
My whole world was upside down. but still I was having hope that in my last attempt(why last? Since I belong to General category and had started very late @ the age of 28 for UPSC) I wud surely achieve my goal…but I failed in my Prelims only and I was just blank…totally blank…3 years of my life all went in vain….waste…..I still feel d blankness of that day..that moment when i was clueless as what to do now….I still have no words for my feelings of that day.
Initially it was numbness but gradually as d days progressed it changed into pain, hurt, disbelief, sadness, hopelessness n what not.
I actually went into depression. I totally shunned myself out of the UPSC world.
I hated Hindu
I stopped looking at newspaper, specially hated that Hindu. I stopped interacting with everybody around as I felt any ring on my phone was about discussion about the result….I felt worthless at that point of time as I could not enter the elite club of IAS,IPS,IRS.
I felt my whole life is just wasted…..I mourned my loss for another two years …yes for around 700 precious days of my life….as I look back now,
I feel how stupid I was, that I made this exam such an determiner for me n my life…Yes..it hurts when you try and don’t succeed but that hurt should not linger on for more than a day or two..at most a week…
Now, I realise that no failure or success should outshine the life itself…Life..such a precious gift we have…n yet we just never realise its worth…We never realise that may be we are meant for other better things coz der is definitely no dearth of goodness or other beautiful ventures….It took me almost five years to realise that no damn exam is even comparable to this beauty of life…Success is beautiful but so is failure too…
One need to understand that doing the best efforts is in our hands..rest all we cannot be sure n should not even try to be sure…For 3 years I kept everything on hold for UPSC but got nowhere near my dreams… what..where went wrong?
I have stopped analysing coz i have realised that its definitely not worth the trouble…
You may wonder that ‘may be grapes are sour’ that’s why I am saying this now or due to my failure to achieve my dream, I m putting forward this philosophy but let me share with you the last chapter of my journey n then you may pass on the judgment.
I got an additional attempt in CSE 2015 and despite all odds I cleared it n got a service much of my choice….but dis time one thing was surely different.
I had the insight that this is JUST AN EXAM n nothing MORE….I’ll tried to give my best n left the rest on Almighty…No worries n No Anxiety….Had I not been selected dis year too.. I was pretty sure of only this thing that d result is not in my hands… my efforts are… n I won’t compromise on that….rest whatever be the result…it is just a small part of my bigger journey called Life…..n I’ll enjoy every bit of it……no matter if I fail or succeed…n same I urge you guys to do….
It’s ok to fail… It’s ok to be in pain as they are equally d part of us as success and joy are…You don’t have to be an IAS/IPS/IRS  to prove your mettle and worth or for that matter to do anything good…
You need to only have your basics right – that is-   be a good human being and try to do good whatever way you can…tats all matter….
I know a lot of talented rather super intelligent people who could not make to the services and also I know certain people who are in services just by luck….so ….don’t underestimate yourself against others… anybody who has given this attempt knows that UPSC is more of an unpredictable Exam …there’s so much subjectivity involved in it at different stages. It’s good if u crack it but it is not that bad wen u r not able to…. try to look at the other avenues too.
Nobody knows where one can find happiness n satisfaction….Hope you find yours….
दिल ना-उम्मीद तो नहीं
नाकाम ही तो है
लम्बी है ग़म की शाम
मगर शाम तो है |
–  Poonam Dahiya
Poonam Dalal Dahiya is the author of bestselling UPSC Book on Ancient and Medieval India by Tata McGraw Hill for UPSC Examination. She has served as Additional Supritendent of Police, Haryana before she joined he Indian Revenue Service as Assistant Commissioner

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Source: xaam.in