Bhimbetaka, about 45 kilometres south-east of Bhopal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of seven hills and over 750 rock shelters distributed over 10 km.
At least some of these shelters were inhabited more than 100,000 years ago. The rock shelters and caves provide evidence of a “rare glimpse” into human settlement and cultural evolution from hunter-gatherers, to agriculture, and expressions of prehistoric spirituality.
Significantly the rock paintings reveal the domestication of horses by the hunting gathering communities between 10,000 and 5,000 BCE in this part of the world (central India).
The first known signs of domestication of horse by the hunter-gatherers to herders in the Balkans and the central Asian Steppes date back to 4200 BCE and horse artifacts show up in greater amounts only after 3500 BCE in this region.
“NISAR is a joint Earth-observing mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) with the goal to make global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.”
“The NISAR mission concept and the partnership between NASA and ISRO are in response to the National Academy of Science’s 2007 survey of Earth observational priorities for the next decade, known as the decadal survey. One of the top priorities identified in this survey was to gain data and insight in three Earth science domains: ecosystems, deformation of Earth’s crust and cryospheric sciences.”
“As NASA and ISRO discussed the possibility of a joint radar mission, it became clear that this goal was of great interest to the ISRO science community.”
“On Sept. 30, 2014, NASA and ISRO signed a partnership to collaborate and launch NISAR. The mission is targeted to launch in early 2023. NASA is providing the mission’s L-band synthetic aperture radar, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid-state recorder and payload data subsystem. ISRO is providing the spacecraft bus, the S-band radar, the launch vehicle and associated launch services.” (Click for reference).
The NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR) Mission will measure Earth’s changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces, and ice masses providing information about biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise, and groundwater, and will support a host of other applications. NISAR will observe Earth’s land and ice-covered surfaces globally with 12-day regularity on ascending and descending passes, sampling Earth on average every 6 days for a baseline 3-year mission. NASA is currently initiating the formulation phase for the core observatory. (Credit NASA)
Inquiries have revealed that NASA was originally reluctant to include S band SAR. In 2016, they put severe pressure to remove S-band SAR through very top hierarchy of ISRO. But somehow rest of the project team opposed this move and development of S band was continued. In past 9 months, S band SAR was integrated at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratpry (JPL). But it is rumoured that the S-SAR payload delivered to JPL by ISRO had severe electromagnetic leakage, making it unworthy of launch. It is also rumoured that with such performance, dropping of S-band SAR is the only possibility.
ISRO need to come out categorically in public with the status of test and evaluation of S band SAR in the presence of L band SAR provided by JPL-NASA. If the performance of S band SAR is below expectation, ISRO should solve nagging technical issues rather than dropping their own baby. They must ensure their commitment that S band SAR should fly in NISAR.
In between, Rakesh Bhan, the Associate Project Director of NISAR, the person officially designated to lead S-band SAR, has got linked with a Startup called Canopus Space. It has two Directors, one of them is Shanoo Raina, his wife. But curiously the mail address of the company is firstname.lastname@example.org, in the name of her husband. She is a graduate in Arts and has no locus standi in SAR technology or data. Clearly putting the name of her husband in the email address is an indirect way of indicating to the potential investors and customers who the real person behind this company. The other director is Namrata Verma, daughter in law of Rakesh and Rashmi Verma, the owners of MapmyIndia. The ostensible purpose of this company is to launch constellation of SAR satellites for earth observation.
MapmyIndia, that works with data, apparently will be in the background.
If S band SAR is dropped from the NISAR Mission, NASA will not be under obligation to give free data. Instead they will price L band SAR data. In this scenario one cannot rule out the possibility of MapmyIndia becoming their seller of data and analytic product. This will be a natural outcome as MapmyIndia is a formidable power as their forte is satellite data and data analytics products and software.
Conflict of Interest
In this scenario, association of Rakesh Bhan with MapmyIndia, though indirectly via his wife, raises some uncomfortable questions as he is in a position to play a major role when it comes to retaining or dropping the S band SAR payload. Certainly, it is a case of conflict of interest.
Delving deep into history unearths changing boundaries of nations, unheard of countries, empires and their conquerors. Boundaries of nations possess a fluidity of their own, often changing contours and dimensions for many reasons ranging from wars, natural disasters and international agreements. When any present- day nation, enthused by aggressive expansionist designs, cites ancient maps and trade routes, to justify brazen aggrandizement, then it becomes a grave threat to peace and harmony, everywhere. If instead of educating, History starts inspiring, then, Geography starts sketching and redrawing, causing irreparable havoc and damage.
Global memories are fresh of history inspired leaders like Hitler, Hirohito, Stalin, Mussolini, and many others who aspired to conquer continents but ended up inflicting misery and hardship on humanity.
The present Chinese dictator-premier Xi Jinping is another of those history inspired tyrants in the making. Having grandiose visions to “make China great again” and calling for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”, he has grand dreams of conquering many countries that lie beyond the borders of China. His designs on India, for the present, envisions annexing the stretch from Ladakh to Sikkim. Singapore’s modern day architect Lee Kuan Yew had with great perspicacity warned “Watch this man.” History has pumped in him an avariciousness that gives him an unbounded greed and robust determination to annex neighbouring countries and territories.
The continuing standoff on the Himalayas between Chinese and Indian armed forces is adequate proof of his intransigence and commitment to create a conflagration, to claim opaque borders and vast swathes of land, which he perceives, belonged in the remote past, to his ancestors. But we need to show him that there are many other chapters from the pages of History, that speak about the “century of humiliation” that his nation underwent, at the hands of Indian and British forces. Xi Jinping needs to inhale the chemistry of Indian Opium, pungent, having a distinctive ammonia like odour. Xi’s ancestors had smoked, drunk and inhaled Indian Opium, thereafter reeled and swooned into despair and agony. His amassed troops on the Himalayas maybe ignorant of the travails that Indian soldiers, traders, farmers, merchants and loaders had inflicted on the Chinese empire. Indians and their ‘plant of joy’ (opium) had humbled and crumbled the Qing Dynasty.
Time to open the scarred pages of history and read the events that unfurled from 1839 to 1949.
Biased writers of History, often make a claim that there was no nation known as India then but we all know there was this land called Bharat. ‘Bharatvarsha’ is the term used in the Holy Vedas, Puranas, Ramayana and Mahabharata to refer to the Indian subcontinent. The traders, merchants and soldiers who lived in this geographical space had in the recent past inflicted a crushing defeat on the Chinese empire, which rattles the Chinese to this day.
It was the East India Company which realised the potential of Opium to create an illicit market in China and enslave entire China. What resulted was the most unimaginable subjugation of an entire population in human history. A ‘foreign weed’ as the Chinese would call Opium with derision, spelt the doomsday for the Chinese empire. This was made possible by ordinary Indian traders who rose to become extraordinary businessmen. We hardly read about them in our distorted history books, our children are never taught about them, general knowledge books never refer to them, in civil service examinations, guides and study materials there is no reference whatsoever to them, Business schools have not heard of them, politicians are ignorant about them, economists never get to study about them. There are no memorials for them, India’s great success icons remain total strangers to Indians. India has to resurrect its great heroes and bring them to the limelight, their heroism, valour, and success need to be celebrated and glorified.
The biggest Indian Opium trader of those times was Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy, a Parsi entrepreneur. His Opium trade with China resulted in a long trading partnership with the Canton based company Jardine Matheson & Co. Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy & Company, founded 200 years ago in September 1818, pioneered the Opium trade. He took as partners the Gujarati Jain Motichund Amichund, the Konkani Muslim Mohammed Ali Rogay and, later, the Goan Catholic Roger de Faria. A tribute to their connection exists even today in a portrait of Jeejeebhoy which hangs in Jardine Matheson & Co’s Hong Kong office. Jeejeebhoy’s services were first recognised by the British Empire in 1842 by the bestowal of a knighthood and in 1857 by the award of a Baronetcy. These were the very first distinctions of their kind conferred by Queen Victoria upon a subject living in India. The British wrecked China’s economy with the help of intrepid Indian merchants. The supreme naval power of Britain actively collaborated in the most massive Opium contraband smuggling rackets in history, and waged war against China on behalf of a group of Indian drug lords. Such things are beyond imagination now.
Another great name in the Opium trade is that of David Sassoon. He established the house of David Sassoon & Co., with branches at Calcutta, Shanghai, Canton, and Hong Kong; and his business, which included a monopoly of the opium-trade, extended as far as Yokohama, Nagasaki, and other cities in Japan.
The Jewish Encyclopaedia of 1905, states that Sassoon expanded his opium trade into China and Japan. He placed his eight sons in charge of the various major opium exchanges in China. Sassoon’s sons astutely expanded the Opium trade into Canton, China. It is estimated that during 1830 – 1831 Sassoon traded nearly 18,956 chests of opium earning millions of dollars. Part of the profits went to Queen Victoria and the British government. In the year 1836 the trade increased to over 30,000 chests and drug addiction in coastal cities of China became endemic and uncontrollable.
In 1839, the Manchu Emperor ordered that the Opium trade be halted. He ordered the Commissioner of Canton, Lin Tse-hsu, to lead a campaign against opium. Lin seized 2,000 chests of Sassoon’s Opium and threw it into the river. An outraged David Sassoon demanded that Great Britain retaliate militarily. Thus, the Opium Wars began with the British Army fighting as mercenaries of the Sassoon’s!
The First Opium War was fought from March 18, 1839 to August 29, 1842 and British historians glorified it as the First Anglo-Chinese War, though in reality it should have been called as First British-India Allied Forces versus China Opium War. There is no recognition for India and the contributions of Indian soldiers and traders. As a result of the war, Britain won trading rights, access to five treaty ports, and Hong Kong. The Chinese Army, high on opium addiction, was routed by the British Army, which comprised of several Indian Military regiments. British Commander, Major General Sir Hugh Gough led the battalions comprising of:
•1st company Madras Rifles, •2nd Madras Native Infantry, •6th Madras Native Infantry, •14th Madras Native Infantry, •The Bengal Army
The unit of the Madras Foot Artillery was awarded the honour title “Dragon”, as the Unit captured a Chinese Dragon Cannon.
The war culminated in 1842 with the signing of “The Treaty of Nanking”. This included special clauses inserted to guarantee the Sassoons the right to trade Opium in China absolutely unhindered. Britain launched the Opium Wars to give the Sassoons exclusive rights to drug an entire nation! David Sassoo and his sons came to be known as “The Rothschilds of The Far East” for their complete monopoly over the opium trade.
This great entrepreneur deserves a meritorious recognition for his dynamic handling and arm-twisting of both, China and Britain. No other entrepreneur of yesteryears or of modern times can emulate his feat, yet he remains unrecognised in India. No Business School, Management Institution, Civil Services Academy, eulogises or teaches his business acumen and strategy.
The Second British-India Allied Forces versus China Opium War enabled Britain to secure Southern Kowloon and other Western powers got extraterritorial rights and trade privileges.
China’s fabled Summer Palace Yuanmingyuan was completely destroyed by Indian forces. Four brigades of Indian Infantry:
•Sikh Regiment •Madras Regiment •Bombay Native Infantry •The Ludhiana Rifles took part in the sacking of the Summer Palace, Yuanmingyuan, – the imperial summer palace of the Qing Dynasty.
David Sassoon died in his country house in Pune in 1864. His business interests were inherited by his son Sir Albert Sassoon. Some of the prominent institutions built by David Sassoon and his family are: •David Sassoon Library & reading room, Fort Mumbai •Magen David Synagogue, Byculla, Mumbai •Jacob Sassoon High School, Byculla, Mumbai •E.E.E. Sassoon High School, Byculla, Mumbai •David Sassoon Hospital, JJ Hospital Premises, Byculla, Mumbai •Masina Hospital, Byculla, Mumbai •Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue, Colaba, Mumbai •Sassoon Dock, Colaba, Mumbai •Elphinstone Technological School, Parel, Mumbai • Contributed generously for constructing the Gateway of India •The Bank of India, Fort (head office), Mumbai •The David Sassoon Reformary and Deaf School, Matunga, Mumbai •Sassoon Hospital, Pune •Lady Rachel Sassoon Dispensary, Pune •David Sassoon Vriddha Ashram, Pune
David Sassoon had made two great empires – British and Chinese to completely dance to his tunes. How many drug lords of today can claim such astounding power and influence?
Would it not be appropriate to name a missile and a military base after David Sassoon? Pakistan is naming their nuclear missiles as Babur, Ghaznavi, and other names of Islamic invaders, to psychologically intimidate India.
We need to take a leaf out of their book. If we name a missile as ‘Sassoon’ the enemy across the Himalayas would experience excruciating shame, explaining to their present and posterity how one Opium trader humiliated and crushed the mighty Chinese empire. It would be a constant reminder to China, about their bête noire, who once brought them to utter ruination. Incidentally, the Opium Wars are also known as the ‘Sassoon Opium Wars’! Can any of the present-day dons anywhere else in the world claim such a privilege?
One of the most prominent British traders, engaged in Opium trafficking was a company named Jardine, Matheson & Co, which owned two ships, named, ‘Mangalore’ and ‘Carnatic’. Yes, the ship sported the name of the picturesque seaport town of Karnataka State, ‘Mangalore’. No other city in India enjoyed this distinction. But, most unfortunately not a single warship or submarine of the Indian Navy is sporting this name. On July 7th 1839, these two ships landed in Kowloon loaded with Opium. The Boatswain of the ship ‘Mangalore’ was one Thomas Tidder. A group of sailors consumed a local rice liquor known as samshu, and thereafter in a drunken brawl killed a local named Lin Weixi in the village ofTsim Sha Tsui. This event culminated in TheBattle of Kowloon (which was fought between British and Chinese ships off Kowloon, on 4th September 1839, and has been called “the first shot of the First Opium War”).
Indian Naval ships are participating in maritime exercises along with other nations in the South China Seas. If one Indian warship or submarine sports the name ‘Mangalore’, the Chinese would be rattled by bitter memories of the Opium Wars.
Another great name in the Opium trade is that of Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (R.D. Tata, 1856–1926) the Indian businessman who played a pivotal role in the growth of the Tata Group. Under the name Tata & Co, Ratanji was trading in Opium in China. Ratanji also played an important role in the completion of the Tata Steel Project in Jamshedpur. These great stalwarts shook the mighty Chinese empire using a simple plant! Should India not resurrect these great icons to inspire our youth and demoralise the Chinese? Let the youth learn that wars are not just won by armies alone, sometimes traders, farmers, and merchants can create amazing war stories. Opium Wars are not just success stories for Indian and British armies, but also for the humble Indian farmers, traders and merchants. It is indeed the ‘plant of joy’ for all Indians.
While on the topic of Opium Wars, the invasion of Lhasa, capital of Tibet, by Indian forces under the leadership of Colonel Francis Younghusband cannot be overlooked.
The British expedition to Tibet, also known as the ‘Younghusband Expedition’, began in December 1903 and lasted until September 1904. Tibet, then ruled by the Dalai Lama under the Ganden Phodrang government was a Himalayan state under the suzerainty of the Chinese Qing dynasty.
Younghusband’s force included the 8th Gurkhas, 40th Pathans, 23rd and 32nd Sikh Pioneers, 19th Punjab Infantry, Royal Fusiliers, as well as mountain artillery, and engineers. The force also included Brigadier- General James Macdonald, and Lt-Col Herbert Brander. The Convention of Lhasa was concluded by Younghusband, the Regent, Ganden Tri Rinpoche, and the Tsongdu (Tibetan National Assembly), on 7 September 1904 at the Potala Palace. After Younghusband and his Indian troops left Lhasa, Chinese influence soared, planting theseeds of the 1950 invasion. Reviving memories of Younghusband by naming some upcoming new Himalayan highway, airfield, or military encampment, can build psychological pressure on the Chinese.
Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow at Asian Studies Center, in his scholarly essay “Winning Without Fighting: The Chinese Psychological Warfare Challenge” says “At the moment, the PLA is not only planning foroperations on the physical battlefield; it is also preparing to conduct “political warfare,” including what is termed the “three warfares”: public opinion warfare, legal warfare, and psychological warfare.
Psychological warfare is in some ways the most far-reaching of the “three warfares.” It involves the application of specialized information and media in accordance with a strategic goal and in support of political and military objectives. Such efforts are aimed at a variety of potential audiences and usually involve operational missions against an opponent’s psychology and cognitive capacities”.
India should also embark on a sustained psychological warfare by naming the many infrastructural projects coming up on the border areas after our great heroes of the Opium Wars, and the Tibet invasion.
India needs to resurrect its heroes of history, whose exploits have been kept under wraps and foreign invaders glorified in order to psychologically enslave millions of Indians.
The author Dr G Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd) Ph. D (Narcotics), is
Former Director General National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, and Multi-Disciplinary School of Economic Intelligence India
Fellow, James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, USA.
Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA
Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.
AOTS Scholar, Japan
Dr G Shreekumar Menon can be contacted at email@example.com
Distinguished Space scientist and former Director Space Application Centre Tapan Misra has taken stock of the global scenario during the period when every country was facing the COVID pandemic and has highlighted the fact thatthe performance of Indian Space Research organisation (ISRO) or India nose dived in 2020 and 2021 though India had comparatively enviable record when it came to managing the Covid situation.
In a post on facebook, Misra has asked: How did Covid-19 pandemic affect global Space Programme? He has responded to this question objectively and with a no-nonsense approach.
Commenting on the situation that has kept the entire world hostage for pretty long, Misra says, “the spectre of sudden emergence of Covid-19 in Wuhan province of China in December 2019 was being discussed as a possibility of rising as global pandemic, in hushed tones, in global health and political circles. But by March 2020, all over the world the emergence of the Pandemic of a century was felt, sending chilling reminders to humanity that we should not play God. From March 2020 to October 2021, global economics nose dived, killing millions, affecting billions, spreading shock waves of hunger and unemployment all across the globe states: “I thought it may be worthwhile to compare global launches in Covid cursed years of 2020 and 2021 with unaffected year of 2019.”
Misra focuses attention at countrywide trends in launches (Fig.2) to point out that China and USA are neck to neck, with China having slender advantage. Russia as usual is just a notch behind the two space super powers.
Fig.-1 shows month wise global launches in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The global space Industry not only appeared to be unaffected by the devastating pandemic, but in fact showed upward trend. No trend is visible over annual patterns over three years. In fact data from all three years show the typical upward trend as the year end is reached, showing the typical tendency of space agencies to shift to top gears to meet the annual target and this is in sharp contrast to what India has to flaunt in terms of India’s performance in the same sector.
Misra points out, Indian economy had started bouncing back from 3rd quarter of 2021 and the bounce has picked up consistency in second half of 2021.
Then what ails ISRO?
Based on his long experience in ISRO, the distinguished scientist has pointed out that the effect of management performance is observed in actual output of space Industry with approximately one and half years to two years of delay. There were gross unethical misconduct in ISRO in 2017 and 2018 time frame to settle and consolidate management transition in favour of a certain groupings, rather than merit and competence, he has stated adding the the resultant shenanigans have not only sent wrong vibes to the rank and file, but also ate away trust quotient between top management and general employees.
In Fig.-3, ISRO’s launch performance over last 4 decades can be observed.
According to Misra, ISRO started gaining momentum in the last decade. But off late, the momentum started nose diving. The momentum was taken for granted and somehow the arrogance has crept in that ISRO will perform regardless of the quality of leadership. Why not pitch for a leadership which can be milked by an influential section of retired scientists, who at the first place influence the selection process disproportionately in the first place? Then foreign players join the greedy bandwagon to hammer the last nail on the coffin. The result is a daydream turned into nightmare. The numbers speak of the harsh reality of what not to do with the organisation. A lesson learnt in devastation of a fine organisation, built by the efforts of thousands of employees, whose voice are seldom heard.