Saturday, 25 December 2010

GSLV-F06: ISRO detonates the geo-stationery satellite after it develops technical snag

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 25: India's ambitious geo-stationary satellite mission received a major setback on Saturday as the satellite launcher, GSLV-F06, had to be detonated seconds after its launch. The GSLV-F06 plunged into the Bay of Bengal with its payload, the geostationary satellite, GSAT-5P, badly hitting the telecommunications expansion programme in the country.

This is the third GSLV launch failure and the second one in eight months. However, this is the first time that ISRO's satellite launch mission had failed in the crucial first stage itself. Of the seven GSLV launch missions, India could successfully accomplish four, with three missions being a total failure. However, in contrast the PSLV launch has been successful, with only one of the 17 missions failing to take off.

The GSLV-F06, which uses the third stage cryogenic engine from Russia, deviated from the designed path moments after the launch. Fearing that it would hit human habitations, the ISRO team monitoring the launch, pressed the detonation command to abort the mission. This is perhaps the first time ever the ISRO had to kill its own mission fearing loss to human life and property. The ISRO spent Rs 125 crore on the satellite. The failure will affect ISRO's planned missions, including the manned mission to moon.

GSAT-5P was by far the weightiest communication satellite made by ISRO and was to replace Insat2E communication satellite launched 11 years ago. ISRO said a defective strap-on boosters hurled the GSLV rocket off-course soon after a smooth lift-off from Sriharikota Range in Nellore district.

The launch was originally scheduled for December 20, but was put off by five days following a leak in the cryogenic engine. ISRO had switched to the Russian cryogenic engine for the present launch after the earlier test mission in April this year using India-built cyrogenic engine proved unsuccessful.

GSAT-5P had 24 C-band transponders and 12 extended C-band transponders and was meant for augmenting communication services currently provided by Indian National Satellite System. It was meant to boost TV, telemedicine and tele-education, and telephone services.

The satellite, developed by ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, was the fifth in the GSAT series. Had the mission been successful, GSAT-5P would have served the teleccommunications needs of the country till at least 2022.

Experts in liquid propulsion systems Dr D Sashi Kumar and Dr Nambi Narayanan described the failure of the ISRO's mission as "unfortunate and a stupid thing to have happened in the history of India's space mission".

Unfortunately, the whole operation was over even before cheers and claps that rented the air when GSLV took off died down much to the
disappointment of ISRO engineers.

ISRO chairman r K Radhakrishnan told reporters that the control room lost control over the on board computer system of the GSLV-F06 vehicle and the activation system in GSLV failed to react to the commands from the ground.

He said an expert’s team will study the reasons for the deviation of the path for next two days to assess about what exactly triggered the problem. “We suspect that a connector which takes signal down snapped” he said pointing to a possible snag on strap on motor in the first stage.

Reacting to a question on GSLV failure affecting the business of
launching foreign satellites, he maintained that it will not have much
of an impact while pointing to their success with PSLV. He indicated
to the plans to launch next GSAT 8 French Guiana. He said Chandrayaan II project will be launched in 2013 or 2014.

The first flight of GSLV took place from SHAR on April 18, 2001 by launching 1540 kg GSAT-1. It was followed by four more launches, GSLV-D2 on May 8, 2003 (GSAT-2 1825 kg), GSLV-F01 on September 20, 2004 (EDUSAT 1950 kg), GSLV-F02 on July 10, 2006, GSLV-F04 on September 2, 2007 (INSAT-4CR 2130 kg) and GSLV-D3 on April 15, 2010.

"We have brought seven cryogenic engines from Russia and used six so far and have one more. We have taken sanction for redesign the core element of GSLV in 2011 first part. Our current plan for 2011 to 2012 we would like to go through ground tests related design and
configuration of GSLV before next flight” Dr Radhakrishnan added.

Immediate Missions

1. Resource Sat II launch through PSLV in January 2011.
2. Youth Sat made by Masco University and ISRO in January
3. A satellite made by Singapore University in January

History of GSLV launches

GSLV-F06 launched GSAT-5P on December 25, 2010 (Unsuccessful)
GSLV-D3 launched GSAT-4 on April 15, 2010 (Unsuccessful)
GSLV-F04 launched INSAT-4CR on September 2, 2007 (Successful)
GSLV-F02 launched INSAT-4C on July 10, 2006 (Unsuccessful)
GSLV-F01 launched EDUSAT(GSAT-3) on September 20, 2004 (Successful)
GSLV-D2 launched GSAT-2 on May 8, 2003 (Successful)
GSLV-D1 launched GSAT-1 on April 18, 2001 (Successful)

Sanghi brothers fight it out in the open over property share

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Dec 25: The ongoing feud between Sanghi brothers came into open on Saturday with both the sides filing police complaints against each other, alleging attack with deadly weapons and damage to
personal property.
The police registered cases based on the complaints by the brothers, Mr Sudhir Sanghi and Mr Girish Sanghi, and posted a picket at Sanghi Polyesters Limited, as a precautionary measure. Trouble between the
Sanghi brothers has been brewing for quite a long time, but this is the first time that the fight became open with scores of people including employees taking sides with the estranged brothers.
The Sanghi brothers are divided on the issue of sharing property with Anand Sanghi and Sudhir Sanghi locked horns with Ravi Sanghi and Girish Sanghi.
Trouble began when Mr Sudhir Sanghi, along with his wife Usha Sanghi and son Siddharth Sanghi went to Sanghi Polyesters on Saturday with an order from the AP High Court that had set aside the ruling of the Company Law Board, Chennai. The Board gave a ruling in favour of Girish Sanghi and Ravi Sanghi. But Sudhir and Anand obtained stay from the High Court on December 15.
Sudhir Sanghi alleged that he and his family were stopped by the "hired goondas" of Girish Sanghi. "They attacked me, my wife, my son and my security guards. They tore my shirt and caused bleeding injuries to
me and my guards". Later, Sudhir and his supporters sat on a dharna demanding that the police take penal action against Girish Sanghi and those involved in the attack.
However, Girish Sanghi denied the attack and alleged that Sudhir Sanghi and his followers had vandalised the premises. "They have damaged my two cars and attacked my employees. Sudhir has not paid electricity bills of Rs 3 crore and sales tax of Rs 63 crore of the company. I sent him three smses on Saturday asking him for talks. But he brought 3000 people and attacked us," Girish Sanghi, a former Congress MP said.
Usha Sanghi alleged that though they had lodged a complaint with the police two days ago, the latter did not initiate any action against Girish. "We have represented our case to the home minister and the DCP, LB
Nagar. But no action was taken. The police intervened after we were attacked by the hired goons of Girish," she alleged.
Sudhir Sanghi alleged that the police were acting partisan and siding with Girish. "The police are not protecting us though we have open orders from the High Court," he pointed out.
Vanasthalipuram ACP Ravindar Reddy said Sudhir had not sought police protection. When asked why the police had not registered cases against those who prevented Sudhir from entering the Sanghi premises,
Ravindar Reddy said the police had not received a formal complaint.
"Since it involved legal issues, we will study the case and act accordingly," he said, denying any partiality in the investigation. 

Monday, 20 December 2010

The missing objects of Falaknuma Palace

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: “The Falaknuma Palace has been painstakingly restored to its original glory,” claim the Palace authorities. But old timers, who have observed the Falaknuma Palace from close quarters, point out that some of the royal arts, artefacts, marble statues and  precious articles that once adorned the Palace walls and rooms are conspicuous by their absence in the now “restored” Palace.

Every object in the Falaknuma Palace, one of the most secretly kept royal palaces in the  world with access only to a privileged few in the last 100 years till it was turned into  a Palace Hotel last month, is unique and one of its kind, each adding to the grandeur and  majesty of this “Mirror in the Sky” (as Falaknuma is known in Urdu). But the absence of  some of these objects, old timers argue, has robbed the Palace of its “original glory”.

According to close observers, one of the piece de resistance now missing is the  translucent marble statue of a little boy in tears. The statue is a masterpiece of art in  that the tear drop rolling from eyes was majestically eternalized in marble. It once  adorned the unique 101-seat dining room in the Palace, the longest dining hall in the  world.

“I have observed the statue a number of times in the old Palace. I remember the boy was  holding a still bird in hand, and perhaps mourning over its loss. The highlight was the  tear drop so beautifully sculptured in specially selected translucent marble stone from  Rome. It is equal in art value to that of the veiled Rebecca in Salarjung Museum. I have  closely observed the restored Palace during a party hosted by the hotel last week but  could not find the marble statue,” a senior city historian with close contacts to the royal family told this correspondent.

Another object now not seen in the Palace premises is a simple, yet historic, weather cock fitted to a long pole with a triangle at the top. The weather cock had been showing the wind direction ever since the Palace was constructed about 120 years ago. Since the Palace is located on a hill, 2000 ft above the ground, the Nizam might have thought the weather cock would be quite useful to him. The Asaf Jahi flag used to flutter atop the pole fitted with the weather cock, just in the foreground of the main Palace. According to sources, the object was removed after the pole had rusted for want of maintenance.

The Palace reportedly had a beautifully crafted swing with golden chains. The Nizam VI, Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, was said to have specially ordered for the swing for his children to play. The swing is now not seen in the restored Palace. The famous Jade Room once had a rare collection of precious objects, some of which are now valued hundreds of crores of Rupees. What is now left in the Jade Room now are a set of wooden furniture, chandeliers and a few artefacts. The “old glory” is said to be missing.

According to an old timer, the Jade Room was the centre of attraction for the VVIP dignitaries during the regime of the Mir Mahboob Ali Khan and his successor, Nizam VII Mir Osman Ali Khan. He alleged that rare paintings, marble statues and artefacts had been shifted from the Palace before it was handed over to the Taj authorities.

Sources point out that there was no inventory of the objects in the Falaknuma Palace till one was made in mid 1990s during the handing over of the Palace to the Taj Group. Almost 20 lorry loads of material was said to have been removed from the Palace between 1980 and 1995. Some of the objects are said to have been kept in the store room of the Palace.

The Palace had been virtually deserted after the death of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan on August 29, 1911. Within a month of his demise, the royal family including the new ruler, Mir Osman Ali Khan, vacated the Palace. Except for a few occasions the Palace was kept locked. The Palace fell on bad days after the death of Mir Osman Ali Khan and the objects were clandestinely sold to pay off debts and salaries of the staff.

City historians note that marble statues and chandeliers were imported from Europe by the hundreds to adorn the Falaknuma Palace. Marble statues of Roman goddesses and nymphs were specially brought from Italy during the regime of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan. There were also unique sketches and murals, many of which are now not seen.

The Taj Group of Hotels, which now maintains the Palace, has clarified that it has not moved out any art or artefact after the Palace was handed over to it. "Since Taj has taken on the palace, we have not moved out any art or artefact from the palace. We have in fact, carefully and painstakingly restored all that was there in the Palace. In regards to the particular statue (of boy) that has been referred to, we have not seen this statue in the palace since we have come here," a Taj spokesman pointed out when asked about the objects now reportedly missing from the Palace.

There have been instances of the Nizam’s objects being auctioned outside the country. The shoes of the one of the Nizams were sold to a leading footwear manufacturer. They are said to be one of the 10 most expensive footwear ever made. Other royal items auctioned abroad were a rare Lorenzoni system
flintlock repeating gun (1770 CE) and a rare Indian flintlock dagger pistol.

“Since the Nizam collection is purely personal, the Antiquities and Art Treasures Act, 1972 does not 
apply as long as the objects are sold within the country. “The law applies only if the objects are moved out of the country,” says senior advocate AK Basha.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

NRIs outsource medicines from motherland: Indian medicines are cheaper but effective

By Syed Akbar
As Ratnakar, a finance manager from Florida, packs his luggage after a month's vacation in Hyderabad to fly back, he makes it sure that he has bought enough stocks of medicines for himself and family. He 
got stocks sufficient for a whole year for just Rs 14,000, which otherwise cost him anything upward of Rs 1,00,000 back home in the USA.

Everyday thousands of NRIs and even foreign nationals purchase large stocks of personal  medicines from India to beat the huge price barrier. According to local pharmacists, NRIs, who visit their dear ones in the city,  make it a point to purchase medicines in the bulk before flying home. They save as much as six to 
10 times on daily use medicines, and two to four times on life-saving drugs. NRIs also obtain medicines from 
their relatives visiting them.

Senior pharmacist P Venkatesh, who runs a leading chain of drug stores in the city, says  "many NRIs and people going abroad for a few months purchase complete stock of medicines from here. Tablets and capsules taken daily for diabetes and heart diseases are usually in demand. They also purchase precautionary drugs 
for fever, pain etc."

According to Ratnakar, since most medical insurance do not cover the cost of medication  post- or pre-
hospitalisation, many NRIs have been preferring to outsource medicines from India. "Whenever I come here I carry lots of medicines for me and my family. I even share some with my friends in the USA," he  says.

US Customs estimates that 10 million US citizens bring in medicines from other countries every year. This is besides two million packages of medicines imported from countries like India. That there's a high 
demand for Indian drugs is evident from the fact that the country exports two-thirds of the medicines it 

"Medicines literally cost a fortune in the USA. It is therefore, not a surprise to see most Indians living in the USA buying medicines from India at a fraction of a cost," says breast cancer specialist Dr P Raghuram. For instance, Anastrazole used to treat hormone receptor positive breast cancer in post menopausal 
women, costs Rs 300 per tablet in the USA compared to just Rs 50 in India. The price difference is six times.

Another drug Herceptin, used for breast cancer patients, who are HER 2 positive, costs Rs 2 lakh per injection in the USA, while it is available at half the price in India.

Moreover, the US rule that prescription medicines should be sold only on prescription by  a qualified medical
practitioner also forces NRIs to outsource medicines from India. "Before going to a pharmacist, a patient in the USA needs to approach a doctor, pay him his fee, which is usually quite high. If the doctor's fee is also included the total cost of prescription medicines will go up to 15 times," says a city pharmacist MN Venkat.

Supporting Venkat's argument, Dr S Vijay Mohan, senior consultant physician, Care Hospital, points out "besides the 10-times more cost factor, drugs aren’t available over the counter so easily abroad. Here, one can purchase most of the drugs without prescription but the same isn’t true for the USA or the UK. In the 
US, except tylenol and panadol, which are US versions of crocin, no other medicine can be procured without 

Take the case of  Stieva-A (Renova). It costs about Rs 3,500 for a month's supply in the USA as against Rs 250 in India. The Indian version of cancer medicine Nexavar costs Rs 28,000 a month as against 
its price of Rs 2.80 lakh in the USA. Indian drug Erlocip costs about Rs 1,800 while its US version Tarceva is priced  at Rs 5,500.

While the demand for Indian medicines has been going up, the US does not want to recognise Indian drugs as of high quality. The Centers for Disease Control, a US government body, cautions American  citizens visiting India that they should purchase antimalarial drugs before travel.

"Drugs purchased overseas may not be manufactured according to the United States standards and may not be effective. They also may be dangerous, contain counterfeit medications or contaminants, or be combinations of drugs that are not safe to use," the CDC travel advisory says.

Many doctors point out that medical tourism is booming in India because even the cost of  surgeries is far less here. For instance, heart bypass surgery in the USA will cost around Rs 23 lakh. The same will 
cost between Rs 1 and Rs 2.5 lakh even in high profile corporate hospitals in India.

Comparative cost of medicines

1. Furazolidone-Loperamide (Anti-bacterial, for treatment of diarrhoea and enteritis): Rs 25 per 10 tablets (Rs 300 in the USA)

2. Paracetamol-Aceclofenac (Analgesic, anti-pyretic, for treatment of pains and fever): Rs 15 to 30 per 10 tablets depending on the brand (Rs 250 in the USA)

3. Amlodipine (anti-hypertensive, for treatment of angina): Rs 6.50 to Rs 77 per 10 tablets depending on the brand (Rs 500 in the USA)

4. Ampicillin (anti-biotic, anti-bacterial): Rs 55 to Rs 85 per pack of 10 tablets depending on the brand (Rs 700 in the USA)

5. Omeprazol-Domperidone (gastro-oesophagus reflex disease, peptic ulcers disease): Rs 55  per pack of 10 tablets (Rs 450 in the USA)

6. Pantoprazole (ulcers in oesophagus): Rs 63 (Rs 500 in the USA)

7. Metronidozole-Clotrimazole (anti-biotic, amoebicide, anti-protozoal): Rs 47 (Rs 550 in the USA)

8. Sitagliptin (anti-hyperglycemic, brand name Januvia for type 2 diabetics): Rs 500 (Rs 4700 in the USA)

9. Pimecrolimus (for treatment of eczema and atopic dermatitis; trade name elidel): Rs 600 (Rs 9400 in the USA)

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This Day In History

Mother's Care

Mother's Care
Minnu The Cat & Her Kittens Brownie, Goldie & Blackie

Someone with Nature

Someone with Nature
Syed Akbar in an island in river Godavari with Papikonda hills in the background

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Under the shade of Baobab tree

Under the shade of Baobab tree
At Agha Khan Akademi in Kenya

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Convention on Biodiversity

Convention on Biodiversity
Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity