In a first, some 12 newspapers on both sides of Kashmir have decided to exchange news and views through the Internet.
They will sign a memorandum of understanding to share content “to build a permanent linkage and to understand each other’s problems”. Initially, only apolitical content will be shared.
The arrangement was reached at a meeting of 29 journalists and newspaper owners in Islamabad recently. “We will have a news pool first for joint use of content. A memorandum of understanding will be signed later to have regular coverage,” Shujaat Bukhari, Editor of the Srinagar-based Rising Kashmir , said.
An intra-Kashmir journalist workshop, a joint effort of the Kashmir Initiative Group, the Kashmir Institute of International Relations and the Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms, was held in Pakistan in the last week of August.
“It is unique as journalists on both sides [of Jammu and Kashmir] are able to interact at this level for the first time in 70 years. This provides an opportunity to get direct information,” Ejaz Abbasi, president of the PoK-based Kashmir Journalist Forum, said.
The PoK government has decided to support the initiative. “We welcome any measure aimed at connecting the divided parts of Jammu and Kashmir,” said PoK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majid, a leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
Only apolitical reports will be exchanged for now
3.Very little funding from abroad: NGOs
Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cancelled the registration of Greenpeace under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), leading to a debate on funding of non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
For many NGOs in the city, the FCRA, combined with drying up of local funding, has meant that many projects have to be cancelled.
While they say that registration for the FCRA was easy a few years ago, it has now become a lot more stringent. “Often, the larger NGOs do not face a problem when it comes to funding, but smaller ones have an issue,” says V. Nagarani from HOPE Public Charitable Trust. The organisation received their FCRA certification five years ago, but not much funding has come in from foreign sources, she adds.
There are several NGOs that exist only on paper. “These have given others too a bad name and so the funding has dried up for many sectors,” she points out, adding that only around 10 per cent of their funding comes through government schemes. They rely on the goodwill of people and philanthropists for the rest.
Other NGOs that registered for FCRA over a decade ago too say very little foreign funding comes in now. According to V. Vedanayagam, who runs Greater Love Children Home in Ayanavaram, registered for the FCRA in 2003. “In the past two years, although I have not got much money from foreign funding, I have had to submit annual returns on the account. Initially, there was a lot more funding coming in to the State, but now this seems to have dried up,” he says.
Virgil D’ Sami, executive director of Arunodhaya, too agrees. “In general, since the social indicators in Tamil Nadu are high, international agencies tend to concentrate on other States such as Bihar,” she says. Her organisation registered for FCRA in 2000, and needs to renew it now.
“Recently, a number of organisations, including People’s Watch, had their FCRA registration suspended for halting development activities. Some organisations did not update their addresses while others had not filed tax returns,” she said, adding that most of her funding came from the government, and some from organisations such as Childline.
“We have a few regular funders from abroad, including Action Aid, but these projects are ending soon, and we will have to find new agencies for our projects,” she said. According to Sudha Ramalingam, who runs an old-age home at Perungulathur through Manonmani Trust, funding, especially for organisations dealing with the elderly, is a problem.
“Although we have registered for FCRA recently, we have received less than $2,000 and even that is only from people we know,” she says. Currently their home has around 15 people, but they are looking to expand.
“All our funding has come from friends and people who know us, and it has been difficult to raise funds for even small projects,” she says. Her organisation even tried crowdfunding, but it was not very successful. “Eventually, I asked people I know to fund our campaign through a crowdfunding site, which I could have done even otherwise,” she said.
According to a senior chartered accountant, however, many NGOs did not file their returns on time. “Tamil Nadu has the second highest number of NGOs that have not filed their returns, next only to Andhra Pradesh,” he said.
4.Govt. makes one more bid to get GST Bill through
After announcing the One Rank, One Pension (OROP) scheme, the Narendra Modi government is making another bid to reconvene the monsoon session of Parliament later this month to get the Goods and Services Bill through. With the Congress and the Left Parties still opposing the Modi government-sponsored version of the Bill, senior Cabinet Ministers have renewed their appeal to the Opposition to cooperate with them to approve the legislation in Parliament.
Meanwhile, Congress sources told The Hindu that the Congress Working Committee meeting here on September 8 to deliberate on the changes proposed to the party’s constitution will also discuss “the current political situation,” as general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said recently.
5.ISRO to help put railway safety back on track
The Indian Railways will join hands with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to get online satellite imagery for improving safety and enhancing efficiency.
“We will undertake a massive exercise of GIS [Geographical Information System] mapping of the entire rail route and assets including buildings, land, workshops and other facilities in the network using geospatial technology,” said a senior Railway Ministry official involved with the GIS mapping project.
The technology involves GPS (Global Positioning System), GIS, and remote sensing.
The official said geospatial services would be available from satellite-assisted navigational support through the GPS-aided geo-augmented navigation (GAGAN) system of ISRO.
“We will sign an MoU with ISRO shortly,” the official said.
The MoU will facilitate getting images and communications through the satellite system. While the images will help map the area, communications will enable the introduction of Wi-Fi service in trains in a larger way. The technology will come in handy during accidents to ascertain the exact location of trains and the topography.
Geo-fencing is a virtual barrier which uses GPS or radio frequency identification to define geographical boundaries.
6.GSAT-6 positioned in orbit
Communication satellite GSAT-6 has been successfully positioned in its orbital slot, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Sunday.
“GSAT-6 has been successfully positioned in its orbital slot of 83 Deg E and collocated with INSAT 4A, GSAT 12, GSAT 10 and IRNSS1C today (Sunday) morning, after carrying out four drift arresting manoeuvres,” the ISRO said.
The ISRO successfully launched GSAT-6, having an indigenous cryogenic engine onboard GSLV-D6 rocket, from Sriharikota on August 27. — PTI
7.Floating test range for missile defence system[VIP]
India is building a unique floating testing range — a huge ship — to overcome the limitations imposed by the land mass for carrying out missile tests of varying ranges for the two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system to protect important cities.
The system seeks to engage and destroy incoming enemy missiles at different altitudes in the endo- and exo-atmospheres.
The first phase of the programme envisages development of interceptors to annihilate incoming missiles with a range of 2,000 km, while the second phase aims to build such weapons to destroy missiles with a longer range.
The system will waylay a ballistic missile and destroy it in mid-air.
India has so far conducted 10 interceptor missile tests, eight of them successful. Most of the trials were conducted in the endo-atmosphere, and a few in the exo-atmosphere. The first phase of the system is expected to be deployed after some more interceptor trials in deployable configuration. Official sources told The Hindu here that currently the missile testing range on Wheeler Island posed certain limitations as people needed to be evacuated from the villages every time a trial took place. More important, the range of the missile had to be confined to less than 300 km. Also, different trajectories could not be tested.
To overcome these problems, scientists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) designed the floating testing range — a huge ship with a designated displacement equivalent to 10,000 tonnes.
The state-of-the-art range would have many facilities such as a launch-pad, a launch control centre and a mission control centre.
The construction of the range, which has just started, might take at least three to four years for the ship to be ready to conduct the first trial, sources said.
“It will pave the way for conducting trials for different trajectories, varying altitudes and also for higher ranges. We can go up to 1,000-1,500 km without any problem. Currently, we have to conduct simulation tests for longer ranges. Once, this FTR is ready we will be able to carry out live tests,” the sources said.