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ISRO creates history in 2014

With IRSO succeeding in its first inter-planetary Mars Orbiter Mission making India the only country to achieve this feat in its maiden attempt, 2014 was not only momentous but a very busy year for the space sector.

The year saw two successful launches of GSLVs and five foreign satellites in the orbit. The country’s space agency also tested the atmospheric re-entry of a crew module towards realising its ambition to send humans into space.

At the start of the year, ISRO launched GSLV-D5 through use of indigenous cryogenic technology and injected GSAT-14 communication satellite into the intended orbit, announcing India’s entry into the heavy satellite launch market.

Launching a GSLV with an indigenous cryogenic engine has been a major challenge for ISRO since 2001 after multiple unsuccessful attempts. Only two of a total of seven attempts succeeded, four were a failure and another a partial success. In April, it successfully launched its IRNSS 1B, its second navigational satellite, onboard PSLV-C24 from Sriharikota.

In June, ISRO launched five foreign satellites for four countries on board PSLV-C23 rocket which placed them in orbit, an achievement described by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an ‘endorsement’ of the country’s space capabilities.

Besides its primary payload of 714 kg French Earth Observation Satellite SPOT-7, the rocket carried and placed in orbit 14 kg AISAT of Germany, NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) and NLS7.2 (CAN-X5) of Canada, each weighing 15 kg, and the 7 kg VELOX-1 of Singapore.

However, its biggest feat came in September when the Mars Orbiter Mission was successfully inserted in the red planet’s orbit. ISRO not only received accolades nationally, but also on global platform.

The space agency also launched communications satellite GSAT-16 by the European launcher Ariane 5 VA221, from the Kourou space port in French Guiana.

GSAT-16’s 48 transponders – 12 in the C band, 12 in the extended C and 24 in the Ku band – cover the entire country and the Andaman & Nicobar islands.

On December 18, taking its baby steps towards realising India’s ambition to send humans into space, the Department of Space tested the atmospheric reentry of a crew module after its heaviest launch vehicle GSLV Mk-III capable of carrying heavier payloads up to four tonnes- blasted off from Sriharikota.

Weighing over three tonnes, the 2.7-metre tall cup cake shaped crew module with a diameter of 3.1 metres, which features aluminium alloy internal structure with composite panels and ablative thermal protection systems, was made to safely drop down into the sea by specially-made parachutes.

The experiment also witnessed the largest parachute in action ever made in the country. The main parachute, which helped the crew module touch the waters at around 7 metre/second speed, was 31 metres in diameter.

Source: Press Trust of India 

In death, two give gift of life to six

Two people, in their death, gave life to six others last month as cadaver donations touched a record high this year. While private hospitals have shown remarkable improvement with cadaver donations, performance of public hospitals has been far from encouraging.

The kidneys and liver of a 40-year-old Ulhasnagar resident benefitted two patients at Fortis Hospital, Mulund and one at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra. The donor, an accident victim, was battling for his life since December 23 at Fortis Hospital, Mulund. With two donations last week, the hospital made six cadaver donations this year.

The second donation came from a 67-year-old Ghatkopar resident who died of brain haemorrhage. The donor's liver and one kidney were used for patients at Fortis while the other kidney was given to Jupiter Hospital, Thane. The recipient, a 64-year-old woman, was awaiting a kidney for 14 years.

"She has been on dialysis for more than 10 years. She lived in Chennai before coming to Mumbai," said Anirudh Kulkarni, transplant coordinator at Jupiter Hospital. She had registered for a kidney in March last year. All the patients are doing well after the transplant surgeries.

With 39 cadaver donations, this is by far the best year for organ transplant programme in the city. "This year, the trend was much better. But we need to do more. We need more public hospitals to come forward and start taking the initiative," said Dr Sujata Patwardhan of Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC).

Of all registered public hospitals in the city, only KEM Hospital at Parel has made two cadaver donations this year with no contribution from JJ, Sion and Nair hospitals. "Things can be better if intensivists are motivated to convince patients," said a transplant coordinator.

This year, the trend was much better. But we need to do more. We need more public hospitals to come forward and start taking the initiative.

Source: The Times of India

Training to meet German standards, in Karnataka

Two years ago, fresh out of a diploma course in industrial welding, 19-year-old Sunil Kumar, the son of a farmer from Bunkur village in Karnataka’s impoverished northern district of Gulbarga, dreamed of a job that would help him break away from his family’s bondage to the earth they tilled. But Kumar’s crude skills cut no ice with employers, and he seemed destined to continue on the path taken by his forefathers till he heard of an institute called the Karnataka German Technical Training Institute (KGTTI) in Gulbarga, which offers advanced welding courses.

Since he completed a three-week programme last year at the institute, started by the state government with technical support from the German government, Kumar has got job offers from German multinational IFB Automotive Ltd and the French MNC Alstom. “The course made me employable. It improved and advanced my welding skills, while the diploma programme only taught me theory,” said Kumar, who took up the Alstom India offer in Shahpur in the district.

German technical know-how is equipping hundreds of youths in Karnataka, including in the impoverished, rural, northern parts, to aspire for something that was impossible until recently — technical jobs in companies like IFB, Volvo, Volkswagen, Festo, Sumi Motherson, Dell, Wipro and Flipkart.

As many as 4,500 people have been trained in the past three years at technical training institutes in Bangalore and Gulbarga as part of a pilot project involving the setting up of Karnataka German Multi Skill Development Centres (KGMSDC) all over the state.

“The formal education and training system is unable to keep pace with the demand for skilled people trained in the latest technology. The initiative is looking at improving skills and training to provide employment opportunities to 10 lakh people over five years,” said M Kotaiah, director of the KGTTI at Gulbarga, where 2,822 people have been trained since November 2011.

Apart from training 35 teachers and linking up with industry for placement of students from the institute, the German partner in the project, GIZ-IS, has identified the courses to be provided, technical curriculum and training equipment.

According to T Somanath, a GIZ-IS official and team leader at KGMSDC, the technical training institutes at Bangalore and Gulbarga have seen a 72 per cent placement record.

“The existing training centres alone cannot help. There is a need for more centres,’’ said Somanath. The institutes train a cross section of people — from school dropouts to engineering graduates to those already employed. 

Source: The Indian Express

Consumer fora stood strong to guard citizens' rights in 2014

Services sector in 2014 continued to be under the watchful eyes of various consumer fora which stood by the motto "consumer is the king" and dealt firmly with both government and private entities to protect citizens from unfair trade practices.

Benefit of several campaigns like "Jago Grahak Jago" seems to be catching up with the consumers who during the year dared to drag health care giants, banking and insurance major, airlines, Railways, telecom heavy weights and top realtors to various consumer courts for redressal of their grievances.

Leading the way, National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), the apex consumer body, in August dealt sternly with a pharmaceutical giant for over charging and making exorbitant profit on sale of its non-cancerous drug.

Holding that the company was indulging in principles which were against ethics and morality, it said the MRP fixed by Ministry of Health or Ministry of Commence was on a higher side and directed the Centre to take steps to re-fix the MRP of the drug so that the consumers should not suffer.

A major chain of diagnostic centres also had to cough up Rs four lakh as damages for wrongly diagnosing a doctor as HIV positive. The lab conducted a DNA test instead of one for HIV virus.

A forum noted that there were rise in number of complaints against the lab and said facts reveal a "shocking state of affairs" as it was "fleecing consumers by false advertisements and using inefficient medical personnel and staff".

Several doctors of private and government hospitals including Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, GTB Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre were heavily fined for negligence in treatment.

Real-estate firms were rapped by consumer fora which in several cases held that these firms were taking money on false temptation and misrepresentation and also failing to provide property and making profits at the expense of others.

In the aviation sector, Indian as well as foreign airlines, had to pay for deficiency in providing services to fliers and causing discomfort and inconvenience.

While Railways faced the ire of the fora for providing imperfect services in cases related to theft or damage of consumers' goods, seat confirmation and hanging reservation status, insurance firms also faced a tough time for adopting unfair trade practices.

The fora observed that the ticket fare paid to railways make it accountable for safe and complete journey of passengers from point of boarding to point of embankments.

Regarding banks, the fora held that they are supposed to mould themselves in consumer friendly mode, rather than acting as office without any sensitivity.

The fora's displeasure was visible in teleservices cases where in one such judgement a district consumer forum pulled up a private service provider for activating additional services without the consent of the user.

It had held that practice of charging money for caller tunes without user's request has become rampant and is a general grievance with teleservices.

Automobile majors too faced consumer fora's ire and were asked to pay money to consumers whom they had sold defective cars.

Source:  The Economic Times

Sachin Tendulkar wants to light up villages in 2nd innings

Looking for "satisfaction" after retirement, Indian cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar says he plans to light up lives in villages where electricity remains a distant dream even to this day. The former batsman, who is a Rajya Sabha MP as well, said he is aiming to ensure that villages get access to electricity.


"My second innings is more about satisfaction. Many villages don't have electricity and life there comes to a standstill after sunset. This is one thing I want to change," Tendulkar told Star Sports.

"It is going to require a lot of support and I hope I get it from everyone," said the celebrated player, who recently adopted the Puttamraju Kandrika village in Andhra Pradesh as part of a government initiative.

The International Cricket Council has announced Tendulkar as the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 ambassador. It will be the second successive time that the India maestro will be the Ambassador of ICC's pinnacle tournament, after he fulfilled the role in the previous event, which was co-hosted by Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka in 2011.

In his role as a World Cup 2015 ambassador, Tendulkar will promote and support a variety of ICC initiatives to enhance the profile of the tournament, which is the third biggest sporting event in the world and will take place in Australia and New Zealand from February 14 to March 29.

Tendulkar retired from international cricket last year after representing his country in 200 Tests, 463 One-Day Internationals and one Twenty20 International. In a career spanning 24 years, the 41-year-old scored a total of 34,357 international runs and 100 centuries.

Source:  PTI,

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