Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 11 February 2023

ISRO’s first launch of 2023

GS Paper - 1 (Space Technology)

In its second development flight on 10 February 2023 morning, the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV-D2) was launched successfully from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. It will place the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) earth observation satellite EOS-07 and two co-passenger satellites — Janus-1 and AzaadiSat2 — developed by start-ups, in a 450-km circular orbit around the Earth.

What’s the aim of the launch?

  1. The new vehicle was developed to capture the emerging small and micro satellite commercial market, with launches offered on demand.
  2. The rocket can be assembled by a small team in only a few days, compared to the six months and around 600 people it takes for ISRO’s workhorse PSLV.
  3. The launch vehicle uses three solid stages followed by a liquid-fuel-based Velocity Trimming Module (VTM) to place satellites in orbit.
  4. The vehicle’s first development flight that took place last August after repeated delays due to the pandemic, failed to place the satellites in precise orbit.

What is Janus-1?

  1. Janus-1 is a technology demonstrator satellite built by United States-based Antaris and its Indian partners XDLinks and Ananth Technologies.
  2. Janus-1, which weighs only 10.2 kg, is a six-unit cube satellite with five payloads on board — two from Singapore, and one each from Kenya, Australia, and Indonesia.
  3. The entire satellite was built in 10 months, less than half the time it usually takes to manufacture satellites of this size, according to Gandupalli.

What is AzaadiSat2?

  1. The payloads have been built by 750 girl students from across India. A similar satellite by SpaceKidzIndia was launched aboard SSLV-D1 in August last year.
  2. The payloads remain the same — LoRa amateur radio, a sensor to measure radiation levels in space, and sensors to measure the health of the satellite such as temperature, reset count, and inertial data — but this second satellite has an additional feature.
  3. SpaceKidzIndia — which aims to promote space awareness among children — has made the satellite expandable: the 8-unit satellite will have a spring mechanism-based external frame, which will open up once the satellite is in orbit. After the frame opens up, the satellite will become four times its size.
  4. The satellite will also carry the G20 logo to space and the NCC song to celebrate 75 years of the organisation.


Online platforms blocked under Section 69(A) of IT Act

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) issued orders to block 138 online betting platforms and 94 money lending apps on an “urgent” and “emergency” basis under Section 69(A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The decision was based on a recommendation of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which had received inputs from central intelligence agencies that some of the sites and apps were allegedly linked to China and contained “material prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India”.

What is Section 69 of the IT Act?

  1. Section 69 of the IT Act allows the government to issue content-blocking orders to online intermediaries such as Internet Service Providers (ISPs)telecom service providersweb hosting servicessearch enginesonline marketplaces, etc.
  2. However, the Section requires the information or content being blocked to be deemed a threat to India’s national securitysovereignty, or public order.
  3. If the Centre or state government are satisfied that blocking the content is “necessary” and “expedient” on grounds of “sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence,” it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, direct any agency “to intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource,” the law says.

What is the procedure to block such apps?

  1. Since 2009, the MeitY has possessed blocking powers similar to those of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
  2. Although MeitY derives these powers from the IT Act, it is the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009 or the IT Rules, 2009, which explain the process to issue such orders.
  3. The IT Rules include provisions such as review committees, the opportunity for a fair hearing, strict confidentiality, and maintenance of records by designated officers.
  4. However, there are no recorded instances of the MeitY providing individuals with pre-decisional hearings even while blocking non-emergency content.

What have the courts said?

  1. In a landmark 2015 ruling, the Supreme Court in “Shreya Singhal vs Union of India” struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act of 2000, which entailed punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services, etc.
  2. Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 is struck down in its entirety being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved under Article 19(2),” the Court held.
  3. The plea had also challenged Section 69A of the Information Technology Rules 2009, but the SC held this to be “constitutionally valid”.
  4. It will be noticed that Section 69A unlike Section 66A is a narrowly drawn provision with several safeguards. First and foremost, blocking can only be resorted to where the Central Government is satisfied that it is necessary to do so.
  5. Secondly, such necessity is relatable only to some of the subjects set out in Article 19(2).
  6. Thirdly, reasons have to be recorded in writing in such blocking order so that they may be assailed in a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution,” the Court noted.


5thRegional Dialogue on Afghanistan

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

India reiterated its call for an “inclusive and representative” government in Afghanistan, declaring that the people of Afghanistan were among India’s “foremost priorities”. The ‘5th Regional Dialogue on Afghanistan’ is being held in Moscow.  India’s “historical and special relationship” with Afghanistan and said that the “well-being and humanitarian needs of the people of Afghanistan” would “continue to guide” India’s policy towards Kabul.


  1. It highlighted the heightened threat of terrorism because of the presence of terror groups like Daesh, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in the Af-Pak region and sought security cooperation between the member states in the dialogue.
  2. It is emphasized that Afghan territory should not be used for terrorism and that the natural resources of Afghanistan should be utilized “first for the welfare of Afghanistan”.

Representative regime needed’

  1. India has not recognized the Taliban administration in Kabul. But a technical team stationed at the Indian embassy in the Afghan capital has been overseeing the humanitarian assistance that India has been providing over the past year.
  2. His remarks came days after India's Union Budget presentation, which allocated ₹200 crore for the development and humanitarian needs of the Afghan people. The meeting was also attended by NSA’s  from Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
  3. The third round of the dialogue had been held in Delhi under the chairmanship of Mr. Doval in November 2021.

‘Stay vigilant on terror’

  1. The Russian President said that Moscow was in contact with the Taliban rulers in Kabul, that large economic projects are underway in Afghanistan that could “stabilize the situation in the economy”.
  2. The world should be vigilant for terror groups that are trying to use Afghan territory for international terrorist activities.
  3. “International terrorist organizations are stepping up their activities, including al-Qaeda which is building up its potential.

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