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Obituary: UR Rao – pioneering satellite technologist and proponent of ‘ISRO Culture’



UR Rao

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]~By Dinesh C Sharma

The Indian Space Research Organistaion (ISRO) is today counted among the best space agencies globally. Much of the credit for this goes to UR Rao who helped the agency master technology for making complex communication, weather and remote sensing satellites with limited resources and difficult circumstances such as technology denial.

Having started his career as a doctoral student of Vikram Sarabhai in 1954 at Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in Ahmedabad, Udupi Ramachandra Rao spent his scientific career spanning almost half a century for developing and nurturing the Indian space programme. After a brief stint in America as a postdoc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Rao returned to India at the behest of Sarabhai.

Throughout the 1960s, Sarabhai was feverishly trying to put together a plan for developing space technology applications in India after having successfully set up the sounding rocket facility at Thumba in Kerala. He asked Rao, who had worked on spacecraft systems while being at NASA, to prepare a blueprint for development of space technology in India. Then he asked Rao to implement the plan. The rest of Rao’s life was spent in doing so, beginning with the fabrication of India’s first satellite – Aryabhata – launched in April 1975.

Aryabhata, weighing 358 kg, was built from scratch by a young team of engineers and scientists put together by Rao at a newly created facility in the Peenya industrial estate in Bangalore. The facility later became the ISRO Satellite Centre with Rao as its founding director. The Soviets launched Aryabhata from the Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome, without charging any fee, purely as a friendly gesture. This was followed by launch of Bhaskara 1 and 2, and Rohini series of satellites.

If Aryabhata got a free launch from the Soviet Union, the first experimental communication satellite – Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment (APPLE) – was launched for free on a development flight of Ariane vehicle of European Space Agency (ESA) from Kourou in 1981.

The American media ridiculed India’s foray into space when it was ridden with other problems as poverty. News weekly, Newsweek, carried a picture of APPLE being transported from the hanger to test center in a bullock cart with a caption ‘Collision of Centuries’. Many years later, Rao explained in an interview why the satellite was carried on a bullock cart: “We had to ship the satellite for EMC (Electromagnetic Interference/Capability) testing, and trucks made of metals were throwing off reflections that were affecting the satellite’s antenna. Then somebody hit on the idea of a bullock cart, which is made of wood. It worked perfectly.” 

With the experience gained from building experimental satellites in the 1970s, Rao came up with an ambitious idea of building larger communication, remote sensing and multi-purpose satellites with practical applications. Thus were born the legendary series of Indian satellites in the 1980s – the INSAT (Indian National Satellite) and IRS (India Remote Sensing Satellite) – which provided communication, broadcasting, weather and earth observation services to a variety of Indian users. Thus within two decades, Rao could demonstrate the applicability of space technology for national development, as envisioned by his mentor Sarabhai. This is despite the problems Rao was facing in the 1980s with successive failures of Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV).

In all, over 20 satellites were designed and launched under his guidance. Besides laying the foundation for self-reliance in satellite building, Rao is credited with building a new way of executing complex technology project – which many call the ‘ISRO Culture’. All space projects are complex, challenging, multi-disciplinary, time-critical, and – in the case of India – have to be executed with limited budget. Rao mastered this art. Leveraging his experience of working with NASA, Rao introduced a matrix management structure for managing projects by ensuring optimal use of available resources. The ISRO culture encompasses decentralized decision making for technology development, systems engineering, quality assurance, peer review and thorough failure assessment. Actually this is what differentiates ISRO from other scientific agencies in India.   

Rao came from a humble background. He was born in Udupi in Karnataka. “I saw a train for the first time when I had to go to Bellary for Intermediate. I had never seen a train because no trains used to come to Udupi. They used to come to Mangalore, which is about 58 km from Udupi. Udupi was a taluka at that time, but there were four rivers, at each river you had to take a boat to cross and then take another one. It was a big effort going to Bangalore from Udupi,” Rao had recalled in an interview a few years ago.

He first thought of space technology while doing M. Sc. at Banaras Hindu University. “I said I wanted to be a space scientist. I was not sure my own professor would have welcomed it because at that time space was not a hot subject, but I had a dream. The main thing is we must dream and then you have to just dedicate yourself for that.” (India Science Wire)[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

India News

Video of boys donning sarees, skirts, towels on College’s ‘mismatched days’ in Maharashtra goes viral, users laud their confidence | WATCH

Some students can be seen wearing skirts, towels, sundresses, dhoti, and frocks as they walk with confidence and pose for the camera. The video also shows the guard making a video of the whole scenario as he cracks a smile.



A video has come to light from Maharashtra’s Ulhasnagar Smt. CHM College where the boys won the hearts and praise of many for confidently walking into the college premises while wearing women’s clothes on mismatched day. The video was shared by one of the students and went viral after it surfaced.

In the video, male students can be seen entering the college premises while wearing a variety of clothing which are of the opposite gender. The students can be seen entering the college hand in hand with their peers.

Some students can be seen wearing skirts, towels, sundresses, dhoti, and frocks as they walk with confidence and pose for the camera. The video also shows the guard making a video of the whole scenario as he cracks a smile. Toward the end of the video, two students can also be seen posing for the camera as they make hearts by joining their hands.

Watch video here:

Of late, fashion trends have allowed many to explore and push the limits of their fashion. Many also dismiss the binary and wear clothes of whatever gender.

Users reaction

After the video of the incident went viral, many users came forward to add their take on the incident as one user wrote that they love how open-minded the country is becoming. One user wrote how confident the male students look in a skirt.

One user wrote and highlighted how happy the security guard looked watching this new phenomenon which they don’t witness in their usual days.

One user wrote and lamented why their college doesn’t practice similar days such as mismatched days, implying that the male students look like they are having fun.

One user wrote and praised the students who came towards the end of the video and made a heart, implying how wonderful and confident they looked wearing whatever they wished to wear.

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India News

Videos show Amritpal Singh’s private militia Anandpur Khalsa Force in weapons training, target practice | WATCH



As the hunt for fugitive Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh continued for the seventh day today, videos of the ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief private militia christened ‘Anandpur Khalsa Force’ or AKF, have emerged on social media platforms.

Visuals doing the rounds on social media show the members of notorious Khalistan sympathizers private army donning body armor emblazoned with the AKF logo, undergoing weapons training in a forested area, which is reportedly a make-shift shooting range constructed in Amritpal Singh’s native village of Jallupur Khera.

Watch the videos here:

According to the Punjab Police, Amritpal’s former gunman, Tejinder Singh Gill alias Gorkha Baba, revealed during questioning that the ‘Waris Punjab De’ supremo ran a highly organized network to train recruits in his protection force, with extensive weapons training and target practice.

Tejinder told the police that Amritpal Singh had formed a private militia called the Anandpur Khalsa Force or AKF who underwent extensive arms training at a makeshift shooting range in the Jallupur Khera village.

Singh’s former bodyguard told the cops that AKF recruits underwent rigorous arms training and target practice and were accorded ranked as per their seniority.

Meanwhile, reports today claimed that the fugitive Khalistani may be headed for Delhi, a day after his last known location was traced to Haryana.

An NDTV report quoting sources said the security has been heightened across the national capital as its suspected that the notorious ‘Waris Punjab De’ chief may be headed to Delhi after last being spotted in Shahabad in Haryana’s Kurukshetra.

On Sunday, Amritpal Singh and his associate Papalpreet Singh, had stayed at Shahabad home of a woman identified as Baljeet Kaur, who was arrested yesterday, Punjab Police said.

A video with a time stamp of Monday, doing the rounds on the internet yesterday showed the fugitive Sikh preacher dressed in a white shirt and blue jeans, trying to hide his face with an umbrella as he was departing from the Baljeet Kaur’s house in Shahabad.

On Thursday, the Punjab Police arrested Amritpal Singh’s former gunman and notorious associate, Tejinder Singh aka Gorkha Baba.

A report quoted DSP Payal Harsimrat Singh of the Punjab Police as saying that Tejinder Singh, a resident of Punjab’s Mangewal village, was nabbed by the Khanna police.

A nation-wide crackdown was launched to nab Amritpal Singh after the dreaded Khalistani leader and his supporters armed with swords and guns, stormed a police station in Ajnala on the outskirts of Amritsar city last month and clashed with police for the release of one of his aides Lovepreet Singh.

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Salman Khan death threat email linked to UK number, cops say



The email ID through which a death threat was sent to Bollywood actor Salman Khan is linked to a UK-based mobile number, the Mumbai Police has said.

According to reports quoting sources in the Mumbai Police, the email ID from which the threat was made revealed that it was linked to a mobile number in the UK and efforts are underway to trace the person under whose name the number was registered.

Mumbai Police probing the threat e-mail case received by actor Salman Khan have found a British link.

Last week, gangsters Lawrence Bishnoi, Goldie Brar and Rohit Garg were booked under sections 506(2),120(b) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in a case registered at the Bandra Police Station for allegedly sending threatening emails superstar Salman Khan’s office.

Salman Khan is currently under a Y+ category security cover provided by the Mumbai Police; a step taken by the Maharashtra government after the superstar had received a similar death threat from Lawrence Bishnoi gang earlier.

A death threat letter was sent to Salman and his father Salim Khan last year, which was discovered by the Khans’ security team near the Bandra Bandstand promenade outside the actor’s Mumbai home where Salim goes for his routine morning run.

In October last year, the Delhi Police revealed that in the purported plan to assassinate Salman Khan, the member of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang tried to befriend the staff of the actor’s farmhouse in Mumbai in a bid to ascertain the details about the timings of his entry and exit.

Earlier this week, security was tightened outside Salman Khan’s Galaxy Apartments after he received a death threat via an email from the Lawrence Bishnoi gang.

The email, reportedly sent by Rohit Garg, mentioned that Lawrence Bishnoi wants to meet Salman Khan in person. Bishnoi wants Salman Khan to apologize in public for killing blackbuck in 1998.

The e-mail stated Salman Khan must have seen the interview given recently to a news channel by Lawrence Bishnoi, and if not, he should see it. It further said if Khan wants to close the matter, he should talk face-to-face with Goldy bhai (Goldy Brar), adding there is still time but “agli bar, jhatka dekhne ko milega (next time you’ll have to face the music).”

Lawrence Bishnoi warned the actor that he would crush his ego sooner or later if he doesn’t apologize.

Lawrence Bishnoi is currently behind bars after was he arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on November 23 last year for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to recruit youth for carrying out terror attacks in Delhi and other parts of the country.

The notorious gangster is also suspected to be behind last year’s brutal gangster-style murder of popular Punjabi singer-rapper Sidhu Moosewala. Bishnoi is the prime suspect in Moosewala’s killing.

In a recent controversy, a Punjab-based news channel allegedly aired a live interview of Bishnoi from inside the Bathinda jail, however, the Punjab Prisons administration denied reports that the program was shot inside any prison in the AAP-ruled state.

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