The Indian Express | 1 week ago | 18-11-2022 | 02:50 pm
Vikram-S, the first of a set of launch vehicles developed by Hyderabad-based company Skyroot, soared into space on Friday (November 18), marking the entry of the Indian private sector into the space launch market. Mission Prarambh is successfully accomplished, the Indian Space research Organisation (ISRO) announced after the launch.Skyroot’s rocket is named after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space programme. Friday’s launch affords an opportunity to recall the life and achievements of one of the stars of a remarkable generation of India’s pioneering space scientists.Mission Prarambh is successfully accomplished.Congratulations @SkyrootACongratulations India! @INSPACeIND pic.twitter.com/PhRF9n5Mh4— ISRO (@isro) November 18, 2022The late President APJ Abdul Kalam had famously termed Vikram Sarabhai as the “Mahatma Gandhi of Indian Science”. By the time he was found tragically dead in a hotel room in Kovalam in Kerala in 1971 at the age of 52, Sarabhai had founded 38 institutions that are now leaders in space research, physics, management and performing arts. Almost all of India’s space scientists who came after him owe a debt of knowledge, leadership and gratitude to Sarabhai.Committed to freedom of thinkingBorn to Ambalal and Sarla Devi, Ahmedabad’s leading textile-mill owners, Vikram Sarabhai showed creative promise early. He was 15 when he built a working model of a train engine with the help of two engineers, which is now housed at the Community Science Centre (CSC) in Ahmedabad. The CSC was Vikram’s way of providing other children the privileges he had, of experimental research.“He was essentially a researcher, and believed that people, especially children, should be allowed to think freely and come up with solutions on their own,” Sarabhai’s son Kartikeya, who founded the Centre for Environment Education in 1984, had told The Indian Express earlier.Vikram Sarabhai’s daughter and Indian classical dancer Mallika recalled how, as children, they were at the centre of every family decision. This freedom helped “garner convictions early in life and to take a position. You were never too young to be able to be involved in what was going on or what affected you,” Mallika said.Tagore, Raman, and BhabhaAfter studying from Gujarat University in Ahmedabad, Sarabhai went to study physics and mathematics at Cambridge University, with a reference from Rabindranath Tagore, but was forced to return when World War II broke out.He completed his post-graduation at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru under Dr CV Raman, where he also met Dr Homi Bhabha, and returned later to Cambridge for a PhD in cosmic rays.When Sarabhai and Indian classical dancer Mrinalini Swaminathan married in 1942, the Quit India movement had broken out and his eldest sister Mridula had been arrested. None of the family could attend the wedding except Vikram’s driver, Lala, Kartikeya recalled.The PRL, ISRO’s predecessor, the Indian National Committee for Space Research as well as the Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad are the cradle of India’s space programme, and continue to be a critical part of the country’s missions. Sarabhai’s research-and applications-based approach singled him out as a scientist and entrepreneur who lived ahead of his time.Space, nuclear science, broadcastingGiving flight to Sarabhai’s dream of probing the atmospheric regions for space research, was the first sounding rocket that was launched from Thumba, in Kerala, in 1967.Sarabhai convinced Parliament and the Planning Commission in 1969 on the merits of “decade profile”, as he envisioned the Indian nuclear programme. In 1966, when Sarabhai took over as Atomic Energy Commission chairman after Homi Bhabha’s death in a plane crash, he started a dialogue with NASA that formed the base for Satellite Instructional Television Experiment.Launched in 1975 from village Pij in Gujarat’s Kheda district, it would beam TV programmes to villages and was the first Indo-US space venture using technology for education. This was how the Krishi Darshan programme for farmers on Doordarshan was conceived.Sarabhai extended his research emphasis even to business, when he founded Sarabhai Chemicals in Vadodara in 1943, and subsequently the Sarabhai Research Centre and the Operations Research Group.
Chhotubhai Vasava is contesting from Jhagadia (File)Jhagadia: The residence of seven-time MLA and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) founder Chhotubhai Vasava in Vasna village of Gujarat's Bharuch district is unusually calm with very little activity, quite odd for someone contesting Assembly polls that are less than a week away.This time, Chhotubhai Vasava is contesting as an independent from his traditional Jhagadia seat in the district, from where he has won seven times in a row.The candidates of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), however, are slugging it out, hitting the ground, meeting voters, and seeking to wrest the seat held tightly by the septuagenarian leader for the last 32 years."I don't need to go out now. I don't have to buy votes. My workers are campaigning for me, visiting villages. I know people in every village and their issues," the 78-year-old leader told PTI.In the past three decades, Congress as well as the BJP have ended up as runners-up in the battle against Vasava. The Congress won this seat, reserved for the tribal community, in 1985 - nearly four decades.Be it any party's wave, Vasava held on to his bastion firmly, contesting either as an independent or a candidate of Janata Dal, Janta Dal (United) or BTP.But this time things are different, say his rivals.They look determined to snatch the seat from the ageing patriarch who holds sway in the tribal belt of Gujarat and Rajasthan.Two chief ministers - Bhagwant Mann (Punjab) and Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), belonging to the AAP and BJP, respectively - have already campaigned for their candidates, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi also canvassing for the ruling party in this constituency speaks of the importance attached to the seat.But in the run-up to the next month's polls, there was a twist in the tale. Vasava's son and BTP president Mahesh Vasava entered the fray from Jhagadia as the party's official candidate. Soon later, his father jumped into the poll arena as an independent, revealing the fissures in the family.Finally, Mahesh, the sitting MLA from the Dediapada constituency, withdrew from the contest to avoid making it a father versus son fight. So now, the seat does not have any official candidate from the BTP.This time, the BTP initially tied up with the AAP only to walk out of the alliance."I was never willing to ally with the AAP," Chhotubhai Vasava said.The BJP has fielded Ritesh Vasava (46), a former associate of Chhotubhai.The saffron party is also going all out to win this seat. UP CM Adityanath was among the star campaigners for the party that canvassed for him."PM Narendra Modi will address a rally in Netrang tehsil (which is part of the Jhagadia seat) on November 27," Ritesh said.He said education, health and roads will be at the top of his agenda if he is elected."I have worked with him (Chhotubhai) for 20 years, so I know how he works. The BJP has won the panchayat samitis in Jhagadia, Valia and Netrang (all three tehsils in the constituency), and it will also win this seat this time," he said.The Congress has fielded Fatehsinhbhai Vasava, while the AAP's Bharuch district president Urmila Bhagat is in the fray.Bhagat is seeking votes on the assurances of 300 units of free electricity, Rs 3,000 unemployment allowance and Rs 1,000 allowance to women above the age of 18 years. Plus, the development in the areas of health and education, Bhagat added.But Chhotubhai Vasava looks unperturbed."My support (among the tribals) has not receded," he said.Jhagadia goes to polling on December 1, in the first phase of the two-phased Assembly elections. With 2,58,955 voters, the economic activity of this area is largely around the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC).As one enters Vasna village, the roads are smooth. There are posters of BTP candidate Mahesh Vasava (who withdrew from the race later) in some houses.Barely 100 meters from his residence lives Suresh Vasava, a 27-year-old agricultural labourer and father of three (one son and two daughters). Suresh said there is no water in his locality despite a tap that was recently provided.Suresh said he makes Rs 200 a day by working in the fields of others. He received money to build toilets under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but it is too small and water is an issue, so he goes out to relieve himself.Near him is 21-year-old Vishal Vasava, who will cast his vote for the first time in an assembly poll. Vishal could not clear his matriculation and works as an electrician in a company in the nearby GIDC and earns Rs 5,000. His main issue is there is no mobile network in his area which becomes a problem in an emergency.They did not specify their voting preference.In Selod village, two friends - Bhavesh Vasava (a daily wage labourer) and Malik Salman (who runs a small eatery in the GIDC), both 28 - do not complain of any major lack of amenities.Bhavesh said he will vote for Chhotubhai, as always.Salman did not specify his voting preference but said the contest is tough as Chhotubhai has been an MLA for the last seven terms and there is a lot of anti-incumbency.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comBack in the main town of Jhagadia, a man, a BJP supporter, who runs an eatery said the saffron party candidate will trounce Chhotubhai, citing anti-incumbency. Featured Video Of The Day"Both Are Assets": Rahul Gandhi Amid Ashok Gehlot vs Sachin Pilot
— Mansi SinghAbout 66 per cent of schools in India lack access to the internet, with states such as Bihar and Mizoram having 92 and 90 per cent schools, respectively, in this category as per a Unified District Information System for Education plus (UDISE+) report for 2021–22.The report, which is an Education ministry initiative to collate data about school education, shows that 80 to 85 per cent of schools lack internet access in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Odisha, Telangana, and Tripura.Delhi and Lakshwadeep each have 100 percent schools with working computer facilities and 97.4 per cent schools with access to the internet. Delhi is also the only Union Territory (UT) to have 100 per cent of its schools with an internet connection. Other UT’s such as Chandigarh (98.7 per cent) and Puducherry (98.4 per cent) also perform well in this category.At 94.6 per cent and 92 per cent, Kerala and Gujarat are the top-performing states in this respect. Gujarat is also the only state in the country where more government schools have internet access than private. (94.2 per cent and 89. 6 per cent, respectively).However, the gap between government and private schools persists. While 59.6 per cent of the private and unaided schools and 53.1 percent of government-aided schools surveyed had internet access, only 24.2 per cent of government schools did so.The report adds that less than 50 per cent of the schools surveyed had functional computers, with accessible functional mobile phones for teaching purposes just at 20 per cent.The availability of smart classrooms is also low. Out of the 1.4 million schools in the country, only 2,22,155 have functional smart classrooms with digital or smart boards used for teaching. Out of its 3911 schools, Mizoram has only 25 schools with smart classrooms. Tamil Nadu has zero schools in this category. In what is indicative of a large gap between different regions in the country, West Bengal has 99.99 per cent schools with smart classrooms. Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, and Kerala also have more than 90% in this respect.However, the report shows an overall uptick in comparison to previous years. Although the total number of schools in India have decreased in the last four years, from 15,51,000 in 2018-’19 to 1,48,9,115 in 2021–’22, the number of schools with internet facilities have increased from 2,90,447 (18.3%) in 2018–’19.to 5,04,989 (33.9%) in 2021–’22.
The BJP converted Ahmedabad — the city of Begum and Badshah — to Karnavati, while successive Congress governments made Gujarat unsafe through communal riots and smuggling of arms for terrorist activities through porous borders, said Union Minister Amit Shah at Naranpura in Ahmedabad Monday.“BJP sealed the borders, sent smugglers to jail and forced them to leave Gujarat; thus, saving the entire western India from terrorism. Congress governments made Gujarat unsafe through communal riots and smuggling for arms for terrorist activities through porous borders,” Shah said. He also alleged that the Congress tried to delay the Sardar Sarovar project since the dam was named after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.While speaking about how the BJP has enforced law and order in the state, he referred to how Jagannath Rath Yatra had to be stopped due to communal riots in Ahmedabad. He also said not a single police station in Gujarat had to impose a single day of curfew in the past 20 years.Talking about the Sabarmati Riverfront, Shah said the Congress had agitated saying that the land acquired on the banks of Sabarmati will be given away to industrialists. “Today, the riverfront has become the centre of activity in the city,” he reminded.Shah also highlighted the party’s efforts to ensure that Ahmedabad could host the Olympic Games in 2036.Earlier in the day, as he addressed an election campaign for BJP candidate Ketan Inamdar at Savli Assembly seat in Vadodara, Shah blamed the Congress for delaying the Sardar Sarovar project since the dam was named after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.“(Pandit Jawaharlal) Nehru had laid the foundation stone of the dam in 1961, even before I was born, but it was Morarji Desai’s ‘mistake’ that he named it after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The moment the dam became Sardar Sarovar, the Congress stepped back and did not want to complete the project… They couldn’t make do with the name,” alleged Shah.Referring to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as “mauni Baba”, Shah also blamed the Congress’s “vote bank politics” for the continuous attacks on Indian soldiers by Pakistan.Shah attributed the completion of the project to Modi’s grit during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat due to which the Central Government was forced to clear the construction of the dam.“The Congress leaders ask what benefit Savli has if the Narmada water reaches Saurashtra and Kutch… Will it not benefit Savli when those areas prosper because of Narmada water and bring along overall growth? But how does one explain this to the Congress because the distance between Congress and wisdom is 300 miles,” he charged.Yet again reminding the “lesson taught” to rioters during the 2002 riots of Gujarat, Shah said, “They (Congress) orchestrated the Hindu-Muslim riots and ensured that there was a curfew for 250 of the 365 days… Bombs used to be found from homes of their cabinet ministers and 200 people would get stabbed daily in Ahmedabad jail. In 2001, when Narendrabhai became the chief minister, no man had the courage to cast an evil eye on the rath yatra of Lord Jagannath… The Congress had backed rioters always and so in 2002, they (miscreants) made another attempt to create a riot. But they were taught such a lesson that they never lifted their heads again.”Due to “vote bank politics”, Shah alleged, for 10 years until 2014, the UPA government did nothing when “the Pakistanis would come and cut the heads of our soldiers”. “In 2014, Narendra Modi became the PM but Pakistan did not realise what difference it would make if the BJP was in power… When Pakistan attacked Pulwama and killed our soldiers, within 10 days, Narendrabhai gave orders to the Army and Airforce to teach them a lesson… He has sent across a message that no one should play around with the borders and soldiers of India or they will have to pay a price.”
With one day to go before campaigning for the first phase of the Gujarat election ends, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge were among a plethora of political heavyweights to address rallies in the state on Monday.Modi, who held four rallies in the Saurashtra region, said Gujarat had suffered under the Congress’s “divide and rule” policy until the people of the state united against “divisive forces” more than 20 years ago.“Our mantra is peace, unity and harmony. The root cause of Gujarat’s progress is the unity here. On the other hand, Congress’s core ideology is to divide and rule — making people fight among themselves so that its interests are protected. This was Congress’s trick,” Modi said at a rally for the BJP at Palitana in Bhavnagar district. He said that the Congress made Marathas and Gujaratis fight each other before Gujarat became a separate state, and added that after the state was formed, the party caused rifts among various regions, communities and sects.Seeing through the Congress’s “trick”, he said, the people of Gujarat went on to adopt a path of unity and choose the BJP to govern the state. “Thanks to walking the path of unity, Gujarat has been progressing constantly for the past 20 years unlike in the times when bombs used to explode in markets and temples, and when an atmosphere of insecurity prevailed,” the Prime Minister said. The BJP formed a government in Gujarat for the first time in 1995, and Narendra Modi became chief minister of the state in 2001, staying on in the post until he became Prime Minister in 2014.Shah addressed rallies in Mehsana, Aravalli, Ahmedabad and Vadodara, and accused the Congress of “disrupting peace”. He alleged that during Congress rule, the state saw communal riots and curfews. In Ahmedabad, Shah said the BJP converted it from a city of “badshahs and begums” to “Karnavati”. Changing the name of Ahmedabad to Karnavati, after the legendary king Karnadev Solanki, has been on the BJP’s agenda since the 1990s.“They (Congress) orchestrated Hindu-Muslim riots and ensured that there was a curfew for 250 of the 365 days… Bombs used to be found from homes of their Cabinet ministers and 200 people would get stabbed daily in Ahmedabad jail. In 2001, when Narendrabhai became the chief minister, noone had the courage to cast an evil eye on the rath yatra of Lord Jagannath… The Congress had backed rioters always and so in 2002, they (miscreants) made another attempt to create a riot. But they were taught such a lesson that they never lifted their heads again,” Shah said.Also appearing at rallies in the state for the BJP on Monday were Union ministers Smriti Irani and Parshottam Rupala, as well as Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and actor-turned-politician Paresh Rawal.Kejriwal held a townhall with diamond workers in Surat, and also addressed a roadshow in Katargam, which was hit by stone-pelting, according to the AAP. Kejriwal appealed to the people to vote the AAP to power for five years and said that even to those who pelted stones, he would give “free electricity and education to your children”.The AAP, which is fighting on 182 seats, saw two of its candidates withdraw their nominations, of which the Abdasa candidate Vasant Khetani joined BJP on Monday.Addressing a public rally at Behrampura on Monday, Congress president Kharge targeted the BJP for failing to provide jobs in Gujarat and for paper leaks, while also taking a dig at the party for deploying PM Modi, Union ministers and chief ministers at the Gujarat election campaign.“If the BJP believed it was winning in Gujarat, then Modiji, who should have been in Delhi working for the central government, would not have left it to tour the alleys of the state, visiting every Assembly segment of Gujarat. He is going to every ward of Gujarat. He is going, Shah is going, four-five other chief ministers are going, more than 40 Union ministers are going…Because they got to know people are against them and they can see it…I’ve been seeing that votes are sought in the name of Modiji, be it municipality elections, corporation elections (or Assembly elections)…Ask for vote in the name of the candidate…is Modi going to come and work at the municipality? Is he going to help you in times of your need?” Kharge said.Sarma again brought up the Shraddha Walkar murder case on Monday in Ahmedabad. “So, it is my clear allegation that Congress has given the country an ecosystem where such incidents of ‘love jihad’ have become very easy. And people like Aaftab were under the impression that there is still a Congress government… Therefore, I believe that the country needs a law against ‘love jihad’. And it can be possible only in the BJP government under the leadership of Narendra Modi.”
With only two days remaining for the first day of polling in the Gujarat Assembly election, as many as 11 BJP leaders will campaign for the party in various parts of the state Tuesday. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is at the helm of the party’s preparations for the elections, is scheduled to address four rallies in Dahod, Kheda and Ahmedabad city.Party’s national president JP Nadda will address two public rallies in Dahod and Vadodara city, and hold a roadshow in Bhavnagar. Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel is scheduled to hold a roadshow in Patan.Union Minister Parshottam Rupala will address four public meetings in Amreli, Mehsana and Ahmedabad, while his colleague Mansukh Mandaviya will address two group meetings in Gir Somnath.Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, among the star campaigners, will address public meetings in Mahisagar, Anand and Vadodara. He will also lead a roadshow in Godhra.Other senior party leaders who are scheduled to campaign in various parts of the state include Union Minister Smriti Irani, party’s youth wing president Tejaswi Surya, sitting MLA and Gujarati film actor Hitu Kanodiya, former MP and film actor Paresh Raval and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Savant.