• Chandrayaan I launch successful
    • What a thrill it gives! Had stayed glued to the TV for about 45 minutes from 5.45 AM to 6.30 AM today watching this launch. It was a perfect launch. Sri. Madhavan Nairand his team of scientists deserve to be appreciated for their efforts. They have done us all proud.
    • Chandrayaan-1 is the first Indian Mission to the Moon devoted to high-resolution remote sensing of the lunar surface features in visible, near infrared, X-ray and low energy gamma ray regions.
      The mission is expected to unravel the mysteries about the origin and evolution of solar system in general and that of the moon in particular.
    • Launched into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) by its PSLV-C11 launch vehicle, the satellite's onboard liquid apogee motor (LAM) will be fired to take it to the lunar orbit - 387,000 km from earth - around November 8.
      Once the 1,380-kg Chandrayaan gets near the moon its speed will be reduced to enable the gravity of the moon to capture it into an elliptical orbit.
      At the earliest possible opportunity Chandrayaan will drop its Moon Impact Probe (MIP) which will land on the moon's soil carrying India's flag, among many scientific instruments. After that, the spacecraft will also activate its cameras and other instruments on board.
      Chandrayaan will orbit the moon for two years. It carries 11 experimental payloads, five Indian and six from the European Space Agency (3), the US (2) and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (1).
      The project is expected to prepare a three-dimensional atlas of the moon and prospect its surface for natural resources, including uranium, a coveted fuel for nuclear power plants, according to the Indian Space Research Organization.
    • With this India has become the 6th country that has launched a Moon probe. The others are: the US, former Soviet Union, European Space Agency, China and Japan.
    • The Chandrayaan-1 mission has a budget of $86 million, almost half the cost of China’s Chang’e 1 mission ($187 million) and just about a fifth of Japan’s Kayuga ($480 million), both in 2007. India is also planning to launch a manned space mission in 2014, and follow it up with a manned lunar mission in 2020, four years before China.
    • The cost of launching a kilo of payload into space is reported to be $30,000 globally. But India's PSLV is stated to have brought it down to about $8,000 to $10,000 range.
    • This is a very good graphic about the launch.
  • Interest rates may be reduced by our banks
    • Many commercial banks are reported to be planning to cut home loan rates by about 50 basis points after RBI cut the repo rate.
    • So how much could your EMI be on your home loan? Look at this graphic.
  • MNS Chief Raj Thackeray arrested; but has the government played into his hands?
    • That Raj Thackeray is a very seasoned politician who can set the political agenda for at least one state in India is by now very clear. By throwing a gauntlet at the government that too when the Parliament is in session, he has not only forced the government to arrest him but has also stolen the political agenda. The arrest itself cannot by any stretch be extended beyond a couple of days at best; because the legal process will take care of bringing him out of the jail. But he forced even his patriarch, the bigger Thackeray to come out in support of him in the Parliament.
    • Ah, what an articulation from today's ET editorial in this regard! Sample this:
      • Raj Thackeray’s evanescent success — if it can be called that — in politicising his agenda through the grammar of violence, and perversely striking an emotional chord with the local electorate, is a direct fallout of the Congress bankruptcy in understanding regional sentiments.
      • Unemployment is a(n) opportunistic politician’s consummate bedfellow and Thackeray has only stepped into the cracks ignored by both the Congress and Shiv Sena.
  • How could the current financial turmoil help India in its nuclear ambitions?
    • The ongoing financial crisis ensures that there will be a softening of the international civilian nuclear market as countries ditch plans to set up new nuclear plants. The current situation would force many advanced countries to scale down plans to expand the civilian nuclear sector creating favourable conditions for India to source fuel and uranium from the international market.
  • What distinguishes US from the rest?
    • Read this report and you will see why. In brief, what it says is that the US has not only made TCS open a 200 acre facility there, but has also started wooing Infosys and other big companies from other sectors to set up shop there. Their governing structures have the ability or the vision to come down from the perch or take a u-turn in times of need. It is this characteristic which will make it weather many a storm including the current financial crisis.
  • US announces one more bailout
    • THE Federal Reserve will provide up to $540 billion in loans to help relieve pressure on money-market mutual funds (Mutual funds that invest solely in money market instruments - short-term debt instruments, such as Treasury bills, commercial paper, bankers' acceptances, repos and federal funds) beset by redemptions. The initiative is the third government effort to aid money-market funds, which in stable times are a key source of financing for banks and companies. The new program is called the Money Market Investor Funding Facility, and officials said it’s intended as a backstop for money-market mutual funds to use as needed to meet redemptions.
  • Our realty sector needs to learn lessons about the bottom of the pyramid
    • With a slowdown staring in their face, demand evaporating for their high end houses, and left holding lot of inventory in their hands, the realtors are a worried lot these days. Look at two facts which today's ET gives: The top 20% of urban households had an average annual per capita income of only Rs 48,517. And taxpayers with more than Rs 10 lakh annual earnings number only about 1.5 lakh. In such a scenario it is the masses (that is those who are in need of ~1000 sft living spaces) that the sector should be looking at for making a profit by meeting their demand. They will now learn it the hard way. Time for them to recap the teachings of Md. Yunus and CK Prahlad.
  • I am sure you would have read about Noam Chomski at one time or the other. Didn't do it? Then it is time you did so. Do so here. I know some of you refuse to do it. For those of you, here is one concept that the genius has propounded that is worth our attention.
    • One of the things that he is very well known is for his propaganda model. The propaganda model is a theory advanced by him along with Edward S. Herman that alleges systemic biases in the mass media and seeks to explain them in terms of structural economic causes. First presented in their 1988 book "Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media", the model views the private media as businesses selling a product — readers and audiences (rather than news) — to other businesses (advertisers).
    • In today's ET we have an excellent article written by Ram Puniyani explaining about Naom Chomski's theory. An excerpt:
      • He theorised as to how the US administration creates consent of the broad layers of population for its acts of aggression. The perceptions which were drilled into popular psyche related to the dangers of communism, while attacking the emergent nation state of Vietnam in yesteryears or weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq in recent times. By the time such propaganda starts getting questioned, the mainstream US propaganda becomes part of popular consciousness and too large to be countered by the sceptics and its opponents. Manufacturing consent is achieved through various mechanisms, the major of that being the media. And by the time the state version starts getting challenged the ‘goal’ of the state is achieved. So even if the critics prove that there were no WMDs, the goal of controlling the oil wells is over. Even if some sections question the veracity of the version of 9/11, Afghanistan is in its pocket.
    • Looks so correct know?