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A Tribune Special
Risat 2: A feather in the cap

Our Bangalore Correspondent Shubhadeep Choudhury writes about India’s state-of-the-art satellite

T
He
emergence of outer space as an arena for snooping by nations on the activities of their potential enemies has made spy satellites an essential tool for military and intelligence communities. 

Haryana needs a powerful reform movement
by D.R. Chaudhry

P
atriarchy
in social organisation has been the dominant reality to define the nature of gender relations in human society that has rendered it male-centric since the dawn of civilisation. Much has changed since the primitive times but the male dominated ethos still holds sway. In spite of all the advances for woman emancipation, male hegemony is still a dominant reality.



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OPED

A bold and fearless judge
Justice Pasayat stands out for his remarkable rulings
by V. Eshwar Anand

I
t
is very rarely that one recalls a Supreme Court Judge’s services to the nation after he demits office. While most judges are outstanding and have served the nation with high professional integrity and rectitude, some stand out for their innings. And Justice Arijit Pasayat is one of them.

On Record
Corporate lessons will help governance: Murthy

by Charu Singh
I
NFOSYS Mentor Narayana Murthy was in New Delhi recently to promote his book, A Better India, A Better World. It provides a rare insight into India and the developmental processes working on the nation presently.

Profile
Setback to Naidu
by Harihar Swarup

O
ne
politician who has received a severe drubbing in the elections is Nara Chandrababu Naidu. His Telugu Desam Party has been defeated in the elections to the Lok Sabha and the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly.

 


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A Tribune Special
Risat 2: A feather in the cap
Our Bangalore Correspondent Shubhadeep Choudhury writes about India’s state-of-the-art satellite

THe emergence of outer space as an arena for snooping by nations on the activities of their potential enemies has made spy satellites an essential tool for military and intelligence communities.
Roaring into the sky: The Radar Imaging Satellite, Risat 2, launched by the ISRO with the help of its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on April 20, from the launching station at Sriharikota is the first real state-of-art spy satellite launched by India. It is designed to return images, day or night, under all-weather conditions
Roaring into the sky: The Radar Imaging Satellite, Risat 2, launched by the ISRO with the help of its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on April 20, from the launching station at Sriharikota is the first real state-of-art spy satellite launched by India. It is designed to return images, day or night, under all-weather conditions

The origin of spy satellite is traced back to 1955 when the United States Air Force had first ordered the development of an advanced reconnaissance satellite to provide continuous surveillance of “preselected areas of the earth” “to determine the status of a potential enemy’s war-making capability”. The idea soon caught up with other nations. As of now, at least 13 countries including France, Japan, China, Egypt, Germany and Iran are having one or more functional spy satellites sending data to their respective control stations.

A spy satellite is used for high resolution photography of selected areas,

Measurement and Signature Intelligence (data collection with the help of sensors to facilitate detection and classification of a military target), eavesdropping in communication networks, covert communications, monitoring of nuclear tests and detection of missile launches.

We have our own example of what a spy satellite can do. In 1995-96, India wanted to carry out its second underground nuclear test after the first successful test was carried out in 1974. However, the project had to be abandoned as an American intelligence satellite picked up pictures of the renewed activities at the test site and the US put pressure on India to refrain from carrying out the test. Later US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner produced these pictures before the Indian authorities.

It is believed that the display of American satellite imagery by Mr Wisner had compromised the US intelligence “sources and methods” giving India a fair idea about the US monitoring activities and look for possible avenues for cover. The US officials might have inadvertently shown India the way to evade detection of its pre-test activities in 1998 when it successfully carried out its second nuclear test.

Apparently, India was able to estimate the times when the satellite passed over the site by analysing the pictures presented by Mr Wisner. It was also suggested that India could track the orbits of US satellites and moved equipment only when there was nothing overhead.

While India learnt how to deceive a spy satellite, it was yet to muster the technology of how to make one for its own use. This was achieved in 2001 when the ISRO launched the Technology Experiment Satellite (TES). It was followed by the launch of Cartosat 2A in April 2008.

Both the satellites are capable of mounting surveillance on various geographical areas and have been categorised as spy satellites by international agencies. From 600 km above the earth, the camera aboard the Cartosat 2A can take picture of objects as small as a car.

However, it is the Radar Imaging Satellite or Risat 2, launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with the help of its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on April 20, from the launching station at Sriharikota is the first real state-of-art spy satellite launched by India. It is designed to return images, day or night, under all-weather conditions.

While both TES and Cartosat 2A use a panchromatic camera for taking pictures, RISAT 2 uses radar for imaging the earth. Thanks to Risat 2, India now has a “bird’s eye view” of any geographical area that it wants to keep under watch.

Though ISRO is at pains to deny that Risat 2 has a military objective — it insists that the satellite will be used for disaster management, floods, earthquakes, etc — the claim has no takers.

Built in collaboration with the Israel Aerospace Industry (IAI), a premier aerospace and aerial manufacturer of Israel producing aerial systems for military and civilian usage, Risat 2 is believed to be a replica of the IAI produced Tecsar satellite launched from India last year. Other reports state that it uses the Tecsar radar on top of an ISRO satellite bus. The command and control system and down links are also maintained by ISRO.

The Tecsar, a reconnaissance satellite (official term for a spy satellite), was launched by ISRO with the help of its PSLV rocket in January last year. ISRO officials described the launch as a “purely commercial arrangement” between the IAI and the Indian space agency.

The IAI, however, had good reason for choosing India for the launching. It wanted to put the Tecsar on a polar orbit but lacked a vehicle capable of boosting the satellite into the intended orbit.

It is no secret that the main purpose behind launching of Tecsar by Israel is to keep a watch on Iran and its nuclear facilities. A fortnight after the launch, Iranian Ambassador Seyed Mehdi Nabitzadeh disclosed in New Delhi that he had conveyed Iran’s viewpoint about the launch to India. He said, “wise and independent countries like India” should not make available their advanced space technologies for spying operations against Iran.

There are striking similarities between Risat 2 and its predecessor Tecsar. Both weigh about 300 kg and are armed with synthetic aperture radar (SAR). The SAR gives the satellite an all weather and day-night capability of imaging the earth. The SAR’s capability aboard the Tecsar with regard to picture resolution is a grey area as the IAI does not give out the details on that.

According to reports, Tecsar is capable of picturing images with a resolution of up to 10 cm, implying that it can even monitor the movement of humans, not to speak of vehicles or aircraft. Risat 1, according to an ISRO official, has a resolution of one metre. As a result, any object measuring one metre or more can be distinguished from its background by the SAR aboard Risat 2. Possibly, the SAR of Risat 2 can picture even smaller objects.

Given that both satellites are meant for a polar orbit, there are other similarities between them as well. Both Tecsar and Risat 2 have an orbit period of 90 minutes, which means specific objects or areas can be photographed by the satellites in every one and half hour. The satellites’ respective altitudes from earth are also about the same (580 km for Tecsar and 550 km for Risat 2). The inclination of both satellites is 41 degree with respect to the equator. While Israel snoops on Iran with the help of Tecsar, India will keep a watch on its western neighbours, namely, Pakistan and Afghanistan, by positioning the satellite thus.

The radar transmits beams towards earth and measures the reflected signals to create detailed images of objects on the ground. Previous Indian satellites (TES and Cartosat 2A) carried optical imaging sensors that were hampered by darkness and bad weather conditions on the ground.

It is believed that after India agreed to launch Tecsar from the Sriharikota spaceport, Israel offered a similar satellite to India. ISRO was planning to launch the indigenously manufactured Risat 1, with night vision and all-weather capabilities, in the beginning of 2009. But the project is running behind schedule.

In view of the Mumbai terror attacks, the Union Government did not want to further postpone the deployment of a surveillance satellite with all-weather and night vision capabilities. That is how Risat 2 materialised while work is still on for manufacturing the indigenous radar imaging satellite (Risat 1).

The ISRO had earlier announced that Risat 1 would weigh 1780 kg. The launching of the 300-kg Risat 2 did not figure in the ISRO agenda for 2009-10.

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Haryana needs a powerful reform movement
by D.R. Chaudhry

Patriarchy in social organisation has been the dominant reality to define the nature of gender relations in human society that has rendered it male-centric since the dawn of civilisation. Much has changed since the primitive times but the male dominated ethos still holds sway. In spite of all the advances for woman emancipation, male hegemony is still a dominant reality.

Haryana is primarily an agrarian society. Most of its towns are extended villages with modern facilities. There is not a single city in the state that has the ambience and culture of a metropolitan centre. In such a social milieu, a woman’s sensibility is very much shaped by agrarian lifestyle.

A Haryanvi woman is not a soft creature as reflected in the Indian myths. She is not much burdened by scriptural authority and Brahmanical value system. However, she has yet to escape from the crippling effect of the male dominated ethos.

In male-dominated social ethos, the quest for a male child is incessant while the female child is treated as a curse. Haryanvi folklore crudely depicts the girl child as highly unwanted. An example or two would suffice here. “Chhora mare nirbhag ka, chhori mare bhagwan ki” (One who loses a son is unlucky and one who loses a daughter is god-like) or Dunia men do garib batae, ek beti ek bail (There are two unlucky creatures in the world: a daughter and a drought bull).

Sex ratio is an important indicator of gender relations. South Asia is the least gender sensitive region in the world. The global ratio (excluding South Asia) of female to male is 106 while in South Asia there are only 94 women per 100 men. Haryana’s record is shockingly dismal in this regard.

According to 1991 census, the female-male ratio in Haryana was 865:1000. The latest figure is worse. As per 2001 census, sex ratio in Haryana is 861. Of India’s 50 worst districts with child sex ratio lower than 850, 17 districts are in Haryana. Sex ratio in the age group 0-6 in Haryana is 820.

Haryana is ahead of Kerala in per capita income. However, female life expectancy in Haryana is 64.3 years while the same in Kerala is 75.8 years. 47 per cent of women in Haryana is anaemic while the corresponding figure in Kerala is 22.7. Sex ratio in Haryana along with Punjab is the worst in the world.

The highly adverse sex ratio in Haryana society is creating a serious problem for matrimonial alliance for the male youth. The shortage of brides is being met by importing girls from other states. Haryana has become a flourishing market for the sale and purchase of girls bought from distant places. According to a survey conducted by Shakti Vahini, an NGO, sponsored by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, about 5,000 girls are bought in Haryana every year.

These hapless creatures are not familiar with the dialect, customs and lifestyle of Haryana society and thus lead a subhuman existence. They are mere fodder for the male lust.

Female infanticide in the form of foetal genocide is rampant in Haryana. Clinics conducting sex-determining tests have mushroomed all over the state.

The gross distortion in sex ratio in Haryana has created an explosive situation. It is likely to have devastating consequences in times to come. The unsustainable imbalance in the sex ratio is fast reviving the outdated, hideous custom of atta-satta (exchange of brides between two families).

The growing assertion of the khap panchayat in matter of marriage between two consenting individuals is assuming alarming proportions in Haryana. Kangaroo courts are held and barbaric judgements like liquidation of the couple, tonsuring their heads in public, ostracising their families from the community, depriving them of their right to property and residence in the village etc, are passed if a particular marriage is suspected of violating certain norms thought to be sacrosanct by the panchayat Mukhias.

A parallel judicial system has emerged in the state. It is again the girl who suffers most in this medieval system of justice.

There is an urgent need for gender-specific development paradigm to correct the pervasive gender imbalance in the state. The state government has taken several legal and administrative steps in this regard but the governmental initiative has limitations for obvious reasons. The issue has yet to figure meaningfully in the public discourse in Haryana society.

A powerful reform movement is the need of the hour. The hope of male generosity in this matter is misplaced. Women have to work out their own salvation. They have to organise themselves and struggle hard with the possible help of enlightened individuals from the male population.n

The writer is Member, Haryana Administrative Reforms Commission

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A bold and fearless judge
Justice Pasayat stands out for his remarkable rulings
by V. Eshwar Anand

Justice Arijit Pasayat (retd)
Justice Arijit Pasayat (retd)

It is very rarely that one recalls a Supreme Court Judge’s services to the nation after he demits office. While most judges are outstanding and have served the nation with high professional integrity and rectitude, some stand out for their innings. And Justice Arijit Pasayat is one of them.

Justice Pasayat, who attained the age of 65 years on May 10, 2009, was a bold, upright and fearless judge. He never tolerated injustices in the system and took the lawbreakers, high or low, to task. His rulings reflected his abiding faith and confidence in the system and an earnest desire to stem the rot and help the litigants.

Justice Pasayat was a staunch upholder of the rule of law. He firmly believed in the supremacy of the Constitution and the protection of the constitutional dharma at any cost.

He proved his mettle in Constitutional, Taxation and Commercial matters. He was sincere and hard working both as an advocate and judge. He joined the Orissa High Court as an Additional Judge in March 1989. He took over as the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court in September 1999. After a short stint, he was shifted to the Delhi High Court. He was appointed to the Supreme Court in October, 2001.

He averaged nearly 300 judgements a year, a unique feat that is difficult for a judge to accomplish. Just a day before his retirement, i.e. on May 9, 2009, he delivered 29 judgements and cleared all the pending work. Early this year, he surpassed Justice K. Ramaswamy’s record of 2,255 judgements. One reason for Justice Pasayat’s success in this regard was that he had, like Justice Ramaswamy, a long innings of eight years in the Supreme Court.

He was deeply worried about the drawbacks in the criminal justice system. However, he tried to introduce some semblance of order in the system in his own humble way. He was not merely interested in giving judgements; issuing directives and guidelines to the authorities, in his rulings, with a view to improving the system was his hallmark.

Significantly, the common man and the poor litigant always occupied a special place in his heart. As the Chairman of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee and the Executive Chairman, the National Legal Services Authority, he played an important role in expediting the justice delivery system. Equally important is his role in streamlining the Lok Adalat system as an alternative dispute redressal mechanism. Owing to heavy backlog of cases in the courts, he used to tour the states to streamline the Lok Adalat machinery.

Justice Pasayat’s tenure will always be remembered for his landmark judgements. It is common knowledge how justice was derailed in Gujarat in the Best Bakery case during the post-Godhra violence. The trial court acquitted all the 21 accused and the Gujarat High Court later upheld it.

However, on a petition seeking a fair trial from Zaheera Sheikh, who lost her close relatives in a Vadodara bakery in March 2002, Justice Pasayat and Justice Doraiswamy Raju ordered a retrial of the case, that too, outside Gujarat. “The acquittal of the accused is no acquittal in the eyes of the law and no sanctity or credibility can be attached to the so-called findings”, he ruled.

Justice Pasayat’s even-handed approach can be gauged by the fact that he did not spare Zaheera Sheikh when she was found changing her statements with impunity. After the Registrar-General’s inquiry found her guilty of perjury, she was convicted and sentenced to one-year imprisonment. He felt that it was only by sending her to jail that the judiciary’s credibility could be preserved.

Interestingly, Justice Pasayat called Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi the ‘Modern day Nero’ for his government’s failure to come to the rescue of post-Godhra riot victims. He minced no words in lambasting the government for its failure to uphold the rule of law.

Very recently, Justice Pasayat kicked off an avoidable controversy by directing the Special Investigation Team to investigate a petition against Mr Modi, his Cabinet colleagues and top police and administrative officers for their role in post-Godhra riots. The judgement was well-intended, but doubts were raised about its timing, especially when the nation was in the election mode. Mr Modi called the Supreme Court order “a Congress conspiracy”.

Mr Fali S. Nariman, eminent jurist, in an article in The Tribune (April 29), said that “the April 27 order will, certainly, influence people as how they will cast their vote.” He rightly suggested that judges should defer cases with “political overtones” during elections. As both the judges — Justice Pasayat and Justice Ashok Ganguly — are not amenable to any kind of pressure or influence and their integrity is unimpeachable, this ruling should have been given much earlier keeping in view Justice Pasayat’s superannuation.

His concern for the common people was unparalleled. He took the political parties to task for destruction of property, public and private, during agitations sponsored by them and held them accountable by making them liable for damages. He laid down elaborate guidelines to be followed by the state governments to deal with such incidents.

He was a “No-nonsense judge”. He was never lenient to those charged with serious and heinous crimes like rape and murder. He was of the view that such people should be sternly dealt with by awarding maximum punishment. Significantly, he strengthened the existing parameters and guidelines laid down by the court for awarding the death penalty in the rarest of rare cases of murder.

He was also part of a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court which decided upon the constitutional validity of the reservation to the Other Backward Classes in professional institutions like the IIMs and the IITs. He was of the view that quotas cannot continue in perpetuity and there must be a cut-off date to end reservations.

In another important ruling, he ordered compulsory registration of marriages for all religions. He fixed accountability on the states and UTs in this regard after some states had provided for mandatory registration only for the members of the Hindu community.

Justice Pasayat will always be remembered for his rulings on reforms in the educational institutions. Maintaining that political parties have no right to use colleges and universities for political purposes, he streamlined the students’ union elections. His directive on banning ragging in colleges, checking alcoholism in among the students and stopping UGC funding to those institutions found wanting are salutary.

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On Record
Corporate lessons will help governance: Murthy
by Charu Singh

Narayan Murthy, Infosys Mentor
Narayan Murthy, Infosys Mentor

INFOSYS Mentor Narayana Murthy was in New Delhi recently to promote his book, A Better India, A Better World. It provides a rare insight into India and the developmental processes working on the nation presently.

In an interview to The Sunday Tribune, Murthy speaks about India’s economic and social development, on Indian governance and politics and on courses of development open before the nation.

Excerpts:

Q: What made you write this book?

A: It is basically a collection of my speeches that I have developed in India and abroad. Three lines of development are possible. First, values like good work ethics, honesty and discipline should be followed by the majority of people. Secondly, the role of leaders who espouse these values is important. And thirdly, the commitment of the elite, the rich and the powerful to eschew the coloniser mindset in a post-colonial society and desist from creating a separate set of rules.

Once the three pieces of the puzzle interlock, we have to look at issues like capital, labour, technology and natural resources that come into play. There are many examples where the ingredients were present but one or more pieces of the puzzle were not there and those nations did not make progress. I wanted to speak to the youth and the enlightened citizens on the importance of these three pieces of the puzzle in the book.

Q: Can corporate experience help streamline Indian governance?

A: India cannot and should not be run like a corporation. However, many lessons from the corporate world can be used for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of a nation. A perfect example is the public healthcare system, the delivery of healthcare services and of education to the rural and urban poor can be improved if we use lessons from project management, operational efficiency and productivity of people delivering these services.

Q: How can India improve on its handling of security?

A: These issues can be handled better if we use principles of strategy, action plan, constant review, better use of technology, better timely escalation and corrective mechanisms. If we come out with a better strategy, our security situation will improve. In India, we have to use resources available effectively and that is where lessons from the corporate world become very useful.

Q: Can the Indian bureaucracy be managed better?

A: We have to bring more transparency, accountability and preparedness in the functioning of our governance. This is where technology systems, processes and training become extremely important. There is a constant need for training, upgrading systems, data collection etc.

Q: What is your vision for India?

A: I want an India where every child has access to a decent level of education, nutrition, healthcare, shelter and opportunities for bettering his/her life through hard work, honesty and discipline. Secondly, India should be respected for its ideals and its ability to usher in peace and harmony. 

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Profile
Setback to Naidu
by Harihar Swarup

One politician who has received a severe drubbing in the elections is Nara Chandrababu Naidu. His Telugu Desam Party has been defeated in the elections to the Lok Sabha and the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly.

Only the other day, he was considered the most important politician in the post-poll scenario. His next move was watched by the Congress, the BJP and their allies. Apparently, both the national parties were too happy to have him on their side but Naidu was keeping everybody guessing.

Naidu reportedly said, “new friendships, new groupings and new polarisation will emerge in the days to come”. Apparently, he was inclined towards the yet-to-be born Third Front. His preference was the Third Front rather than joining the BJP-led NDA.

He has been quoted as saying that rumours were spread that TDP had no option but to move closer to the NDA. This was started by the BJP because its leaders knew that “they on their own are not going to be in a position to form the government”.

Clearly, Naidu knows both the BJP and the Congress very closely. He was an important ally of the BJP in the NDA.As for the Congress, he began his political career in that party as an Youth Congress activist.

The election results have, however, changed the political scenario. Though he fought a bitter battle with the Congress, even by forming a “Grand Alliance” with the TDP, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the CPI and the CPM, his strategy to trounce the Congress has failed.

An associate of the late Prof N.G. Ranga helped Naidu, now 59, to secure a ticket in the 1978 elections to the Andhra Assembly. Two years later, he joined the T. Anjaiah Cabinet. He remained in the Cabinets of two other Chief Ministers — Bhavanam Venkataram and K. Vijaybhaskar Reddy. Naidu was one of the youngest ministers in Andhra Pradesh.

Naidu lost the election from Chandrigiri on the Congress ticket in 1983. The NTR wave was sweeping through the state and the Telugu Desam supremo had created history by routing the Congress and among the vanquished was his own son-in-law. Naidu had married NTR’s third daughter, Bhuvaneshwari. He stood in front of his father-in-law’s house virtually in sackcloth and ashes. NTR asked him to join the TDP, marking the beginning of a new phase in his life.

Naidu was made the party general secretary and elected to the State Assembly from Kuppam in Chittoor district in 1989. In 1994, he was re-elected from the same seat by a record margin of 57,000 votes. Naidu came to limelight for his crucial role after Nadendla Bhaskar Rao overthrew NTR in a coup in August 1984.

NTR started relying heavily on him, realising that others around could not match his drive and hard work. Babu was in full control of the organisation and it was because of his efforts that NTR got widespread sympathy and regained his chair.

NTR opted for a mid-term poll after regaining the chief ministership, but Naidu did not contest election. The Nadendla factor gave NTR another landslide victory as Naidu build the party. It is said that he was the real builder of the TDP. The scene changed in 1995.

Naidu led a “palace coup” against NTR. The rebellion broke because of the domination of NTR’s second wife, young Lakshmi Parvathi. The whole NTR family supported Naidu, marginalising the TDP supremo. He subsequently died as a dejected man.

Naidu was sworn-in as the Chief Minister in September 1995. His tenure was characterised by a policy tilt towards urban areas and downgrading of priority for agriculture and rural industry.

In October 2003, he survived a landmine blast which was believed to be part of an assassination attempt, planned by a Naxalite outfit, the People’s War Group. In 2004, the TDP lost the election to the Congress under Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s leadership.

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