Morning News 12th Dec 2017


  • Preliminary work to design and develop an ambitious small launch vehicle began about three months ago.
  • Its design will enable a handful of engineers to assemble it within a week.
  • The launcher should be able to put satellites of up to 500-600 kg in orbits close to the Earth.
  • The development cost would be kept low at a few crore as the new launcher’s requirement of advanced electronics is considerably lower.
  • It could also tremendously cut the launch fee that customers would have to pay. Which is what all space agencies aim at: low-cost access to space, as they call it.


Today, it takes 300-plus engineers and about 40 days to assemble a PSLV. A small launcher that can be got up perhaps in three days by a small team would make a big difference in the market. For one, satellite operators need not wait one or two years to launch their spacecraft. In shared space rides, satellites going on the same rocket must have compatible sizes and shapes. The thinking , is why waste a big vehicle for a small job?

Secondly, a ride on small launchers could even be a ninth or tenth of the present cost. ISRO,will not be the first to think of a small launcher. Globally, the small satellites market is booming as they are used for various applications. Some of ISRO’s satellites are also going to reduce in mass. As such, worldwide, operators and private players are developing small launchers to capture the market at a much lower cost.


Lalji Singh

  • Eminent scientist and ‘father of DNA fingerprinting in India’ Lalji Singh died following a heart attack on Sunday. He was 70.
  • Dr. Singh was one of the leaders instrumental in making DNA fingerprinting mainstream in India, both at the level of research as well as for forensic applications.


DNA profiling (also called DNA fingerprinting, DNA testing, or DNA typing) is the process of determining an individual’s DNA characteristics, called a DNA profile, that is very likely to be different in unrelated individuals, thereby being as unique to individuals as are fingerprints (hence the alternative name for the technique). DNA profiling with the aim of identifying not an individual but a species is called DNA barcoding.


DNA profiling is most commonly used as a forensic technique in criminal investigations to identify an unidentified person or whose identity needs to be confirmed, or to place a person at a crime scene or to eliminate a person from consideration.

DNA profiling has also been used to help clarify paternity, in immigration disputes,in parentage testing and in genealogical research or medical research. DNA fingerprinting has also been used in the study of animal and floral populations and in the fields of zoology, botany, and agriculture



  • India has taken a hard stand at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting  on e-commerce, investment facilitation and norms for small firms access to the global marketplace.
  • On e-commerce, India has laid preconditions for giving its consent for extension of a ‘moratorium’ that constrains member nations from levying customs duties on electronic transmission.
  • The ‘moratorium’, which was included in the 1998 ‘Declaration on Global E-commerce,’ at the trade body’s second Ministerial Conference (MC), stated that “member countries will continue their current practice of not imposing customs duties on electronic transmission”. This moratorium — which is ‘temporary’ in nature — gets extended at every biennial MC.
  • In a communication to the WTO, India said its decision will be subject to the other members agreeing to extend a similar (‘temporary’) moratorium on Non-Violation Complaints (NVC) under TRIPS (Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property rights agreement).
  • NVC covers situations where a “government can go to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body even when an agreement (of the WTO) has not been violated (by another country).”
  • Some countries, particularly from the developed world, are demanding a ‘permanent moratorium’ on imposing duties on electronic transmissions.
  • India contends that such a move could reduce the negotiating leverage for developing countries to seek a ‘permanent moratorium’ on NVC.
  • Such a scenario would hurt the global generic pharmaceuticals industry, including in India.
  • However, for the time being, WTO members have agreed not to use NVC, and this ‘temporary moratorium’ too keeps getting extended.
  • India’s decision on granting its nod to the moratorium on electronic transmissions will also be subject to other members agreeing to continue the e-commerce discussions under a ‘Work Programme’ based on the existing mandate as well as guidelines in the relevant WTO bodies as set out in the Work Programme.
  • Objecting to attempts to include ‘non-trade’ items,  India has said that shifting the priority from the Doha Development Agenda issues to non-trade issues like investment facilitation and small firms, for which there is no mandate, is difficult to accept.