Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Insights Daily Current Events, February 25, 2014

February 25, 2014



AKASH- India successfully test-fires the indigenously developed surface-to-air missile

Akash missile system from the Integrated Test Range test fired at Chandipur in Odisha. These were part of a series of tests being conducted in various engagement modes from the first of Production Model system produced to equip two regiments of the Army.

Akash is India’s first indigenously designed, developed and produced air defence system missile capable of engaging aerial threats up to a distance of approximately 25 km.

The multi-target, multi-directional, all-weather air-defence system consisting of surveillance and tracking radars is designed to enable integration with other air defence command and control networks through secured communication links

Developed by DRDO, Akash is being produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) as the nodal production agency with the involvement of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and a large number of other industries.

The total production value of Akash air defence systems cleared for induction by Indian Army and Indian Air Force is more than Rs. 23,000 crore.

The missile was developed under DRDO’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme using state-of-the-art technology. It could be launched to engage and destroy fighter aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and other targets. Supported by phased array Rajendra radar, which can track 64 targets, Akash missiles are guided towards their targets.

The warhead of the missile gets triggered by radio proximity fuze, while the onboard digital autopilot helps in stability and manoeuvring capability.

Akash missile is an air defence weapon system and capable of engaging multiple targets. It can thrust all the way up to the target because of its ramjet propulsion. It can fly at supersonic speed reaching a maximum of 2.5 Mach and engage the enemy aircraft at a maximum range of 25 km

The missile was bang on target — a pilotless aircraft. The Akash weapon system is an all-weather, air defence system for defending valuable assets from aerial attacks. The missile can engage adversarial aircraft flying at a distance of 25 km. It can target fighter-aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and cruise missiles.


Related information

AkashAkash is a medium range surface-to-air missile developed as part of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Program to achieve self-sufficiency in the area of surface-to-air missiles. It is the most expensive missile project ever undertaken by the Union government in the 20th century. The missile is completely guided by the Radar, without any active guidance of its own. This allows it greater capability against jamming as the aircraft self-protection jammer would have to work against the high power Rajendra, and the aircraft being attacked is not alerted by any terminal seeker on the Akash itself.

Integrated Guided Missile Development Program- The Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) was an Indian Ministry of Defence program for the research and development of a comprehensive range of missiles. The program was managed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Ordnance Factories Board in partnership with other Indian government research organizations. The project started in early 1980s and ended in 2008 after these strategic missiles were successfully developed. The last major missile developed under the program was the Agni 3 intermediate-range ballistic missile which was successfully tested on 9 July 2007.

Rajendra radar- Rajendra is a passive phased array radar developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), an agency of the Republic of India. It is multifunction radar, capable of surveillance, tracking and engaging low radar cross section targets.

It is the heart of the Akash surface-to-air missile system and is the primary fire control sensor for an Akash battery. The Rajendra Multi-Function Phased Array radar system, designed at the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), part of DRDO, is currently in production at Bharat Electronics. It is named after India’s First president Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

Rajendra is a slewable passive phased array radar used for 3-D target detection, multi target tracking and multiple missile guidance under extreme hostile EW environment. It makes use of a passive phased array to search a volume of space, distinguish between hostile and friendly targets, automatically track up to 64 targets and command one of several launchers to engage up to 4 targets simultaneously. Initially designed as a standalone system, Rajendra is now equipped with the ability to integrate with a network of sensors, including long and medium-range surveillance radars of foreign and indigenous origin.


Cellphone tower A dedicated website will be set up to let the public know how much emission occurs from every tower in the country.

The DoT will create a national EMF Web portal to provide the public access to the status of compliance with the prescribed EMF norms of all BTSs [base transceiver stations that produce electromagnetic fields] and mobile towers and related relevant information.

DOT will continue the extensive audit of self-certificates being provided by the telecom service providers in order to ensure compliance with the prescribed stricter norms of EMF radiation.

At present, the department has no permanent mechanism to check emissions on a daily basis and it depends on “self-certification” from the operators. It carries out random checks and penalizes operators whose towers emit excess radiation.

The DoT adopted the EMF radiation limits prescribed by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) in 2008, which were further reduced to one-tenth of the safe limit prescribed by ICNIRP with effect from 2012. All telecom service providers have to comply with these prescribed limits.

WHO has been investigating the health effects of electromagnetic fields for last 18 years

The EMF project noted in September: “Despite extensive research, to date there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health. The limits in international standards have not changed for over 15 years because no research has found any health effects below these levels. There are needs to be research on the effect of mobile phones on children. Studies conducted so far have not shown that they are more sensitive to EMF than adults.

Another area of concern is the radiation emitted by the fixed infrastructure used in mobile telephony, such as base stations and their antennas, which provide the link to and from mobile phones. This is because, in contrast to mobile handsets, it is emitted continuously and is more powerful at close quarters. On the other hand, field intensities drop rapidly with distance away from the base of transmitters because of the attenuation of power with the square of distance.

In order to protect the population living around base stations and users of mobile handsets, governments and regulatory bodies adopt safety standards, which translate to limits on exposure levels below a certain value. There are many proposed national and international standards, but that of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) is the most respected one, and has been adopted so far by more than 80 countries. For radio stations, ICNIRP proposes two safety levels: one for occupational exposure, another one for the general population. Currently there are efforts underway to harmonize the different standards in existence.

Radio base licensing procedures have been established in the majority of urban spaces regulated either at municipal/county, provincial/state or national level. Mobile telephone service providers are, in many regions, required to obtain construction licenses, provide certification of antenna emission levels and assure compliance to ICNIRP standards and/or to other environmental legislation. The safety standards in the U.S. are set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC has based its standards primarily on those standards established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), specifically Subcommittee 4 of the “International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety”.


Astrosat, an astronomical satellite The Indian Space Research Organization intends launching Astrosat, an astronomical satellite, in 2015. The country’s first satellite dedicated to astronomy, which will gaze out at the universe in x-ray, ultraviolet and visible light bands. To be launched aboard a PSLV rocket, the satellite would have six pieces of equipment built by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics.

ASTROSAT will be a multi-wavelength astronomy mission on an IRS-class satellite in a 650-km, near-equatorial orbit. The expected operating life time of the satellite will be five years. The data its instruments supply should help scientists to have better understanding of the ways of the cosmos, whether it is black holes.

ASTROSAT is envisaged to be a National Observatory which will be available for astronomical observations to any researcher in India. Although most of the observation time will be for the use of Indian researchers, a part of the ASTROSAT observation time will also be made available to International astronomical community on a competitive basis.


Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill

  • The Bill sets up an independent authority, the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI), to regulate organisms and products of modern biotechnology.
  • BRAI will regulate the research, transport, import, containment, environmental release, manufacture, and use of biotechnology products.
  • Regulatory approval by BRAI will be granted through a multi-level process of assessment undertaken by scientific experts.
  • BRAI will certify that the product developed is safe for its intended use.  All other laws governing the product will continue to apply.
  • A Biotechnology Regulatory Appellate Tribunal will hear civil cases that involve a substantial question relating to modern biotechnology and hear appeals on the decisions and orders of BRAI.
  • Penalties are specified for providing false information to BRAI, conducting unapproved field trials, obstructing or impersonating an officer of BRAI and for contravening any other provisions of the Bill.

A number of people and organizations are opposed to BRAI, including Greenpeace. Reasons given for opposition include:

  • The bill bypasses the Right to Information
  • The technical expert committee recommends that the regulatory body be located in the MoEF and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The BRAI under the Ministry of Science and Technology will clearly result in a conflict of interest.
  • Deviation from task force report
  • Authority of state government is undermined because agriculture is a state subject under Indian constitution.

The key areas of controversy related to GMO food are whether such food should be labeled, the role of government regulators, the objectivity of scientific research and publication, the effect of genetically modified crops on health and the environment, the effect on pesticide resistance, the impact of such crops for farmers, and the role of the crops in feeding the world population.

The release of transgenic crops in India is governed by the Indian Environment Protection Act, which was enacted in 1986. The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC), Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) and Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) all review any genetically modified organism to be released, with transgenic crops also needing permission from the Ministry of Agriculture. India regulators cleared the Bt brinjal, a genetically modified eggplant, for commercialization in October 2009. Following opposition from some scientists, farmers and environmental groups a moratorium was imposed on its release in February 2010.

Biofortification Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of staple crops is enhanced. This is done through conventional plant breeding and/or modern technology. More research is needed, but it is hoped that people who consume biofortified crops will have an improved nutritional intake.

Various Biofortification projects are underway, including:

  • iron-Biofortification of rice, beans and sweet potato
  • zinc-Biofortification of wheat, rice, beans, sweet potato and maize
  • Provitamin A carotenoid-biofortification of sweet potato, maize and cassava.

Biofortification capitalizes on the consistent daily intake of food staples, thus indirectly targeting low-income households who cannot afford a more diverse diet. Biofortified crops, either by conventional breeding methods or by modern biotechnological tools, are not a panacea. The ultimate aim in global nutrition remains a sufficient and diverse diet for the world’s population. However, biofortified crops can complement existing micronutrients interventions, can have a significant impact on the lives and health of millions of people, especially those most in need.