Category Archives: SciTech

PM Narendra Modi launches Indian Space Association

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Indian Space Association (ISpA) Monday 11 October via video conferencing. He also interacted with representatives of the Space Industry on the occasion.

Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister noted the birth anniversary of two great sons of the country, Bharat Ratna Jayaprakash Narayan and Bharat Ratna Nanaji Deshmukh. These two great personalities have played a huge role in giving direction to post-independence India. They showed how, by taking everyone along, with everyone’s efforts,  major changes become reality for the nation. Their philosophy of life inspires us even today,  the Prime Minister said paying tribute to the two personalities.

The Prime Minister stressed that there has never been such a decisive government in India as it is today. The major reforms that are happening in India today in the Space Sector and Space Tech are an example of this. He congratulated all of those present for the formation of the Indian Space Association – (ISpA).

Space sector as a resource for the progress of the common man

The Prime Minister remarked that the Government’s approach to space reforms is based on 4 pillars. First, the freedom of innovation to the private sector. Second, the role of the government as an enabler. Third, preparing youth for the future. And fourth, to see the space sector as a resource for the progress of the common man. The Prime Minister said that the space sector is a major medium for the progress of 130 crore countrymen. He remarked that for India, the space sector means better mapping, imaging and connectivity facilities for the common people. Also, the space sector means better speed from shipment to delivery for entrepreneurs, this also means better security and income for fishermen and better forecast of the natural calamity,  he added.

The Prime Minister remarked that a self-reliant India campaign is not just a vision but also a well-thought, well-planned, integrated economic strategy. A strategy that will make India a global manufacturing powerhouse by enhancing the skills capabilities of India’s entrepreneurs and India’s youth. A strategy that will make India a global centre of innovations, based on India’s technological expertise. He added that it is a  strategy, which will play a big role in global development, enhancing the prestige of India’s human resources and talent, globally.

The Prime Minister said the government is moving ahead with a clear policy regarding public sector enterprises and is opening most of these sectors to private enterprises where the government is not required. The decision regarding Air India shows our commitment and seriousness, he said.

The Prime Minister said that, during the last 7 years, space technology has been converted into a tool of last-mile delivery and leakage-free, transparent governance. He gave examples of the use of geotagging in housing units for the poor, roads and infrastructure projects. Development projects are being monitored by satellite imaging. The space technology is being used in settlement of Fasal Bima Yojna claims, NAVIC system is helping fishermen, disaster management planning is also being carried out through this technology, the Prime Minister informed. The Prime Minister emphasized the importance of making technology accessible to everyone. Giving an example of digital technology, he said that India is among the top digital economies today because we could make the power of data accessible to the poorest of the poor.

Talking about the young entrepreneurs and startups, the Prime Minister said that the government encourages industry, young innovators and startups at every level.  He elaborated that to develop a strong startup ecosystem, a platform approach is very important. He defined the platform system as “an approach where the government creates open-access public controlled platforms and makes that available to the industry and enterprises. Entrepreneurs prepare new solutions on this basic platform”. The Prime Minister illustrated this with the example of the platform of UPI which became the basis of a strong fintech network. He said similar platforms are being encouraged in space, geospatial fields and for use of drones in various areas.

The Prime Minister expressed the hope that through the suggestions of the gathering today and active engagement of the stakeholders very soon a better Spacecom policy and Remote Sensing Policy will emerge.

The Prime Minister noted how the 20th-century tendency of trying to rule the space and the space sector, divided the countries of the world. Now in the 21st century, India will have to ensure that space plays an important role in uniting and connecting the world, he concluded.

People of India have the right to know all about India’s Space Pogramme and ISRO

Newsroom24x7 Network

The chinks had started showing in Indian Space Research Organistion (ISRO) and its functioning when the Antrix-Devas scam had hit the headlines about 10 years ago. The news clipping below says a lot…..

After Pawan Kumar Goenka has taken over as Chairperson of In-SPACe, Dr. Raghunandan G Nadadur, who is a former Additional Secy & F A Department of Space ( 28 february 2011 and 5 January 2012)
and was earlier a Director with ISRO between 6 December 2010 and 28 February 2011, has published a post on his facebook wall with the heading “A request to Sri Pawan Kumar Goenka, Chairman, IN-SPACe”. It points to “Orders in respect of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) published in the Government Gazette.

Obviously Nadadur is addressing those in the knowledgeable circles and those who matter. Still, to drive home his point, while advising the IN-SPACe Chairperson how he should carry out his responsibilities, the ex-civil servant has chosen to be repetitive while rolling out point-wise the work of IN-SPACe as outlined in the website of ISRO, as follows:

1) IN-SPACe is to be established as a single window nodal agency, with its own cadre, which will permit and oversee the following activities of Non Government Private Entities (NGPEs).
2) Space activities including building of launch vehicles and satellites and providing space based services as per the definition of space activities.
3) Sharing of space infrastructure and premises under the control of ISRO with due consideration to on-going activities.
4) Establishment of temporary facilities within premises under ISRO control based on safety norms and feasibility assessment
5) Establishment of new space infrastructure and facilities, by NGPEs, in pursuance of space activities based on safety norms and other statutory guidelines and necessary clearances.
6) Initiation of launch campaign and launch, based on readiness of launch vehicle and spacecraft systems, ground and user segment.
7) Building, operation and control of spacecraft for registration as Indian Satellite by NGPEs and all the associated infrastructure for the same.
8) Usage of spacecraft data and rolling out of space based services and all the associated infrastructure for the same.
9) IN-SPACe will draw up an integrated launch manifest considering the requirements for ISRO, NSIL and NGPEs based on priorities and readiness level.
10) IN-SPACe will work out a suitable mechanism for promotion & hand holding, sharing of technology and expertise to encourage participation of NGPEs in space activities.
11) In order to carry out the space activities, capital-intensive, high technology facilities will be required by NGPEs. These facilities, spread across various ISRO Centres, shall be permitted for use by NGPEs.
12) IN-SPACe will work out a suitable mechanism to offer sharing of technology, expertise and facilities on free of cost wherever feasible or at reasonable cost basis to promote NGPEs.
13) IN-SPACe will act as an autonomous body, under DOS, as a single window nodal agency for enabling and regulating space activities and usage of ISRO facilities by NGPEs.
14) IN-SPACe will also permit establishment of facilities, within ISRO premises, based on safety norms and feasibility assessment.
15) The marketing, sharing and dissemination of remote sensing data shall be governed by Remote sensing policy. Each application requiring examination as per new policy will be examined and permitted by IN-SPACE factoring legal and security aspects.
16) The decision of IN-SPACe shall be final and binding on all stakeholders including ISRO. NGPEs will not be required to seek separate permission from ISRO.
17) A multi-disciplinary review and assessment mechanism comprising of four Directorates for Technical, Legal, Safety & Security, Monitoring & Promotion and will assist IN-SPACe in carrying out its functions.

Underscoring these points, Nadadur goes on to inform his audience that as a former civil service officer, has been conditioned to understand that Government takes decisions “in its infinite wisdom”.

Fruther, he says: “I am sure that a great deal of thought has gone into the decision to set up IN-SPACe. Hence, I will not venture to question the decision of Government in setting up IN-SPACe.”

“A study of the roles of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Antrix Corporation Limited (ACL) and the New Space India Limited (NSIL) shows that all the work that has been entrusted to IN-SPACe is now being performed by these three bodies.”

“I am sure that there are going to be situations in which IN-SPACe comes into conflict with ISRO or Antrix Corporation or NSIL. I wonder which authority will be the referee in such a case. Will it be Secretary, Department of Space (DOS) or Chairman, Space Commission or the PM himself? As of now, Chairman, ISRO is also Secretary DOS and Chairman, Space Commission. So, will all conflict situations be referred to the PM or will an independent person be appointed as Chairman, Space Commission too?”

“As a person who has spent many years serving in ISRO, I am familiar with the personnel who are still serving in that great organization. I have also been reading about the stellar accomplishments of Chairman, IN-SPACe. I must confess that I am quite apprehensive about the ability of the personnel in ISRO to face up to the challenges that may be posed by IN-SPACe and the team that will be assembled by its redoubtable Chairman.”

“I believe that ISRO is an organization that has served and is continuing to serve Bharatmata in a very dedicated manner. The activities of ISRO are not just commercial. There are activities that relate to the spheres of development and welfare, societal needs, national security and defence.
I am sure that many activities of ISRO will not be of interest to the partners of IN-SPACe. Indeed, those partners are not in the game for philanthropy. Such being the case, it is important that the level of morale and motivation of all the personnel in ISRO is always maintained at a very high level.”

“I know that we cannot ask Chairman, IN-SPACe to give anything less than his very best to the new organization that he now heads. He has entered upon his new assignment with the same energy and enthusiasm that he has displayed during his several decades of service. Indeed, I am also sure that there are great expectations from him from several authorities, including the PM himself.”

“I would only like to request Sri Pawan Kumar Goenka, Chairman, IN-SPACe to take every step in a measured manner and also only after thinking about its likely impact on ISRO and its personnel. It is in the interest of Bharatmata that ISRO and IN-SPACe work in tandem to bring greater glory to our dear country.”

Tapan Misra with NASA Administrator, acclaimed astronaut and former Space Shuttle Commander, Charles Bolden, who visited SAC in 2013 to specifically visit the lab where RISAT could be built at so much economical cost under leadership of Tapan Misra

In a no-holds barred response to this, distinguished scientist, former Advisor ISRO and Director Space Application Centre (SAC) Tapan Misra has commented on the former civil servant’s facebook post.

Misra’s post says a lot and we are publishing it in varbatim – “

Tapan Misra says:

“I see all the lamentations. Like Gandhari’s crying after Mahabharata war was over. Had Vidur and Bhishma exhibited their spines during disrobing of Draupadi, Gandhari need not have to see the day. I saw the ugly face of ISRO. Centre Director was poisoned in august presence of full ISRO council, all evidences were wiped out literally by water and fake enquiry was conducted. Then none of the seniors, some of whom are now lamenting, did any semblance of protest. Then there was litany of failures – RISAT-1 destruction, PSLV heat shield not opening, GSAT 6A Failure, ugly attempt to scuttle GSAT 11 launch, or recent GISAT launch failure. On top of it , Chandrayan 2 lander fiasco and brazen attempt to cover it up (sic) and many other criminal activities, which I do not want to recount. In space business, we should learn from mistakes. But repeated failures? How can you learn, when the failure analysis reports will even make donkeys laugh? ISRO was on a steady downhill. From Kiran Sir’s time and continuing. Government cannot just watch. They have to take corrective action. What will you do when malaise is no longer a disease but cancer? It can no longer be covered up by friendly press report. No point in crying. At the end of the day, we were being pampered by taxpayers, because they trusted us. We no longer could live upto the trust, reposed on us by the nation. Nation is above ISRO.


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Until death do us part

Tapan Misra

Good that some section of bureaucracy decided to demonstrate that some people with spines, are still there. Specially true for government officers, many of whom are notorious to prostrate at the drop of a hat, when asked to bend and they can bend in every direction – as if their spine is made of rubber.

Government scientists, specially those who are mathematically best described as “curl operators”, are notorious to take their affinity for cushy Government positions as seriously as enshrined in marriage vows. From their decades long experiences in Government set up, they managed to climb high in scientific ladder, not by any earth shaking contribution but by their intimate knowledge of all the nuances of climbing a greasy ladder. They learnt the rope trick by observing keenly how many hapless, honest and contributing scientists, slipped out of the ladder mid way through for no fault of their own.

Much before their retirement, they start lobbying for their post retirement cushions. They know whom to manage and when. Immediately after retirement, they nicely perch themselves as Chairs or members of many God-Knows-What councils, boards. You will see such characters advising you on education system though never in their lives they have ever taught even in primary school. The one who never even saw any patent paper, let alone obtaining it, starts advising young men and women about the tricks of innovation.

Using their positions, they navigate through secret labyrinth to occupy most important and powerful departmental promotion committees, scientific award committees. Like as Mao Zedong professed that power flows from the barrel of the gun, these scientists exercise brutal power with their ability to make and break careers. Then join their hands with members of their likes, to promote and reward worthless and obsequious scientists to higher positions of scientific set up. They form a cosy, self serving relationship with senior scientists in positions of power, to perpetuate their stranglehold on the system.

Jim Corbett studied tigers very closely. He observed that toothless tigers quickly turn into man eaters as they find two legged, intelligent animals as easy prey. Similarly these toothless scientists survive by devouring many bright careers, coming in their path. Some of these pious souls mange to get decorated with acclaimed national and international civil and decorative awards for their sole contribution of maiming Indian science. Same traditions are being perpetuated through generations of Indian scientists.

Tapan Misra is a globally acclaimed distinguished scientist. He has headed the Space Application Centre and also served as Advisor in Department of Space. His contribution to India’s Space Programme is immense.

23andMe shares start trading on Nasdaq

Newsroom24x7 Network

New York City: 23andMe, Inc., a leading consumer genetics and research company, and VG Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: VGAC), a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by Virgin Group, on Wednesday 16 June, announced the completion of their previously announced business combination. The transaction, which was approved on June 10, 2021 by VG Acquisition Corp.’s shareholders, uniquely positions 23andMe to revolutionize personalized healthcare and therapeutic development through human genetics. The combined company is called 23andMe Holding Co. that began trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market (“Nasdaq”) today, June 17, 2021 under the new ticker symbol “ME”.

The public debut comes after 23andMe and the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) VG Acquisition Corp. announced a merger earlier this year. The deal valued 23andMe’s outstanding shares of capital stock at $3.5 billion.

23andMe raised approximately $592 million in gross proceeds to fuel growth and expansion in the company’s consumer health and therapeutics businesses. Capital from the transaction will also be used to invest in the Company’s unique genetic and phenotypic database to help accelerate personalized healthcare at scale. CEO Anne Wojcicki and 23andMe’s management team will continue to lead the combined company.

“23andMe was founded to revolutionize healthcare by empowering people with direct access to their DNA,” said Anne Wojcicki, CEO and Co-Founder of 23andMe. “Over 11 million people have joined 23andMe and are part of the community that is using genetics to transform how we diagnose, treat and prevent human disease. As we enter the next phase as a public company, we have the opportunity to expand our impact by bringing personalized healthcare directly to everyone.”

“As one of the earliest investors in 23andMe, I’ve long believed in its vision to transform the future of healthcare,” said Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder. “I’ve seen first-hand the transformative impact 23andMe has in paving the way for many more people to be proactive about their health and wellbeing. There are huge growth opportunities ahead, and with Anne and the rest of the incredible management team at the helm, I’m confident they will continue to innovate and disrupt the industry, creating a lasting impact on many people’s lives. We look forward to continuing our partnership as 23andMe begins life as a public company.”

As part of the business combination, Evan Lovell, Chief Investment Officer of Virgin Group and Chief Financial Officer of VG Acquisition Corp., and Peter Taylor, President of ECMC Foundation, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to educational attainment for low-income students and former Chief Financial Officer for the University of California system, will join the 23andMe Board of Directors (the “Board”). Lovell and Taylor will join existing directors Roelof Botha, Patrick Chung, Richard Scheller, Neal Mohan and Anne Wojcicki on the Board.

Citi served as lead financial advisor, capital markets advisor, and placement agent to 23andMe. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP served as legal counsel to 23andMe.

Credit Suisse acted as lead financial advisor, capital markets advisor and placement agent to VG Acquisition Corp. LionTree Advisors acted as financial advisor and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP served as legal counsel to VG Acquisition Corp.

About 23andMe
23andMe, Inc., headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, is a leading consumer genetics and research company. Founded in 2006, 23andMe’s mission is to help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome. 23andMe has pioneered direct access to genetic information as the only company with multiple Food and Drug Administration authorizations for genetic health risk reports. 23andMe has created the world’s largest crowdsourced platform for genetic research, with 80% of its customers electing to participate. The 23andMe research platform has generated more than 180 publications on the genetic underpinnings of a wide range of diseases, conditions, and traits. The platform also powers the 23andMe therapeutics group, currently pursuing drug discovery programs rooted in human genetics across a spectrum of disease areas, including oncology, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases, in addition to other therapeutic areas.