(Current Affairs) India and The World | February: 2015

India & The World

India signs up for a Multi-crore Project

  • Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan signed a multilateral agreement admitting India‘s participation in the development of the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) in Hawaii.
  • This project was rapidly cleared by the Union Cabinet and India has agreed to spend Rs. 1299.8 crores over the next decade for this project.
  • Besides learning about the universe, India will gain the technology to manufacture fine aspherical mirror segments from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). This technology, say experts, will form the basis of the next generation of spy satellites.
  • TMT will contain 492 hexagonal mirror segments of 82 different kinds. These will behave like a single mirror with an aperture of 30 metre diameter.
  • This large collecting area of 650 square metres is thrice as sensitive as the Hubble Space Telescope. India’s role will primarily be to create the control systems and software that keep the mirrors aligned and collects the data.
  • The control system is an intricate process involving edge sensors—that detect the mutual displacement of mirrors, actuators to correct their alignment, and the segment support assembly.

India and France agreed to fast-track Rafale deal

  • Indian and France to overcome differences and fast-track ongoing negotiations for the purchase of 126 Rafale fighter jets from France, a Defence Ministry spokesperson said.

  • The decision came during discussions between visiting French Defence Minister Yves Le Drian and his Indian counterpart, Manohar Parrikar. Both sides also decided to expand strategic cooperation, the official added.

  • Negotiations have been going on since 2012 when India selected Dassault Rafale from among competing medium multi-role combat aircraft. Differences cropped up between the two sides on delivery guarantees and price.

  • The tender stipulates that the first 18 jets should come in “fly-away” condition from France, while the remaining 108 will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) in India over seven years with Transfer of Technology (ToT).

  • Dassault has refused to give delivery guarantees for HAL-made aircraft, which the Air Force is insisting on. With the ToT, the cost too escalated from the initial estimate of $10 billion to almost $30 billion.

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