Though Thursday’s launch was the ninth time the ISRO was using the GSLV rocket, this was the third time the rocket was being launched with the indigenous cryogenic upper stage.
1.India-Seychelles pact to curb black money
Agreements to be signed on agricultural research, space cooperation.
India inked a taxation agreement with the Seychelles on Wednesday for allowing exchange of information to curb tax evasion and avoidance and is looking at strengthening maritime security ties and cooperation on blue economy with the island nation.
After holding talks with the visiting Seychelles President James Alix Michel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the archipelago as a key strategic partner of India, and said agreements in sectors such as agricultural research and space were being signed to deepen engagement.
As the Seychelles is considered one of the preferred offshore havens for routing of funds, the Union Cabinet recently approved the signing and ratification of the taxation pact with the island nation to unearth black money.
On maritime security, Mr. Modi said the two countries had excellent security cooperation in the Indian Ocean region, and India was a partner in providing aircraft, naval vessels and coastal radar systems for strengthening surveillance capacities. “Our cooperation in hydrography surveys is extensive and growing,” the Prime Minister said adding that India would gift one more interceptor Coast Guard boat to the Seychelles.
An air services agreement signed here is expected to enable more and easier connections between the two countries, while cooperation in space, including in the areas of managing land and marine resources, fisheries advisory, weather forecasting and disaster management, is being explored.
In March, the Prime Minister announced India would gift a second Dornier aircraft to the Seychelles. An agreement for the same was signed on Wednesday.
The bilateral agreement for cooperation on blue economy, the Prime Minister said, was a huge step forward in promoting sustainable ocean economy in the region. India, which recently reached out to Pacific Island nations to collaborate with them for combating the challenge of climate change, ahead of the U.N. Climate Summit in Paris later this year, is looking at partnering with the Seychelles on the issue.
2.GSAT-6 will be a game changer
Thursday’s GSLV flight from Sriharikota will have the country’s space community closely watching how the much-needed launch vehicle fares with the home-built cryogenic third stage.
The 2,117-kg GSAT-6 is a predominantly S-band communication satellite that enables multimedia applications. It will be used purely for ‘strategic’ purposes by the Armed Forces and for societal uses during a disaster or an emergency, according to A.S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
He said GSAT-6 would not create any new transponder capacity for normal civil and commercial users. (In February 2011, the govt. converted its end use from the original `commercial and infotainment’ to solely Defence purposes.)
The fourth-generation national satellite is also designated as INSAT-4E. For people who have worked on the spacecraft for at least three years, its exciting aspect is the large antenna measuring six metres in diameter and what it can do: data and voice connectivity; changing bit rates and frequency hopping.
Prior to the launch, Mr. Kiran Kumar told The Hindu that this would be the largest antenna to be deployed on an Indian satellite; the norm has been for antennas 2.2 to 2.4 metres wide. It would function the same way as other INSAT/GSATs; but in hardware terms, it would be a game changer.
It will be used purely for ‘strategic’ purposes by the Armed Forces
Chabahar will provide an alternative route and reduce transportation costs.
The decks have been cleared for India to lease and develop the strategically important Iranian port of Chabahar. This will provide an alternative route for India to trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. The obstructions that the India-Iran agreement on the port had run into, after it was announced in May, got sorted last week during Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s visit, said Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari.
“The Prime Minister has spoken to the Iran government…. and 8 to 10 days ago the Iranian Foreign Minister came and met me… we have solved the problem,” Mr. Gadkari said without divulging details. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, Chabahar port will be used to ship crude oil and urea, greatly reducing transportation costs for importing these two commodities. The port is to be developed via a special purpose vehicle, which will be owned by the two sides with an investment of around $85 million. A multi-purpose cargo and container terminal is to be developed at the port.
India’s presence in Chabahar will offset the Chinese presence in the Pakistani port of Gwadar. It also takes advantage of the centuries-old connection with Iran, especially at a time when Iran’s economic sanctions are expected to be lifted, thanks to the nuclear deal it signed with the West. Weeks ahead of signing the MoU, the Iranian government had leased the port for upgradation to a private company, Aria Badaner. This put a question mark on the Indo-Iranian deal and caused alarm in Indian quarters as the agreement with Aria Badaner had taken place in March, while the MoU was signed in May between Mr. Gadkari and Iran’s Minister for Transport and Urban Development Dr. Abbas Ahmad Akhoundi.