Commonwealth Games 2022 ends; Parliament session; Delhi High Court to hear Umar Khalid’s bail plea in Delhi violence case; Mathura court hearing on maintainability of suit in Krishna Janmabhoomi-Shahi Masjid dispute; UNSC to discuss Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza

1. Super Sunday for India at CWG 2022
1. Super Sunday for India at CWG 2022
  • Medal rush: On the 10th day of the CWG 2022, three boxers — Nikhat Zareen, Amit Panghal and Nitu Ganghas won gold medals. Eldhose Paul won gold in the men’s triple jump.
  • Nikhat Zareen won 17th gold for India in the women’s light flyweight while Amit Panghal won the yellow in the men’s flyweight and Nitu Ganghas made the country proud in the women’s minimumweight.
  • Top two in one event: Eldhose Paul recorded a 17.03 metre jump for gold in the men’s triple jump. In the same event, Abdulla Aboobacker Narangolintevid won silver with a 17.02 metre jump.
  • Silver: Achanta Sharath Kamal/G Sathiyan lost their men’s doubles duo lost their table tennis men’s doubles final against England’s Paul Drinkhall/Liam Pitchford, winning a silver medal for India.
  • Bronze: Annu Rani won bronze medals for India in the women’s javelin throw while Sandeep Kumar bagged the bronze in men’s 10km race walk. India also won the bronze medal in women’s hockey, beating New Zealand in a shootout.
  • Eyes on more gold: Lakshya Sen and PV Sindhu have entered the final of badminton men’s and women’s singles. Pugilist Sagar Ahlawat will also play for a gold medal. India’s Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty are eyeing gold medals in the badminton men’s doubles final late Sunday night. India take on Australia for gold in the women’s cricket final.
  • More hopefuls: Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand will play for a bronze medal in the badminton women’s doubles, after losing their semi-final match.
  • Meanwhile, medal hopeful Kidambi Srikanth faced defeat in the badminton men’s singles semi-final. Latest CWG updates here
2. When CMs go missing from PM’s meeting, it means…
2. When CMs go missing from PM's meeting, it means...
  • Missing CMs: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Telangana counterpart K Chandrashekar Rao skipped Prime Minister Narendra Modi-chaired Niti Aayog’s seventh governing council meeting in New Delhi on Sunday. This was the second meeting with PM Modi that Nitish skipped. Having been critical of PM Modi in the past several months, KCR boycotted Niti Aayog’s meeting over the Centre’s alleged blatant discrimination against states.
  • Nitish miffed? Reports suggest Nitish, who has just recovered from Covid-19, wanted to send his deputy to the Niti Aayog meet but was apparently told that the meeting was for the CMs only. Nitish had earlier skipped President Droupadi Murmu’s inauguration on July 25. He has skipped five BJP-linked meetings since July 17. By the evening, his party pulled out of the Modi government.
  • Demand for funds: Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel urged the Centre to increase the share of states in the central taxes and duties. Baghel sought a five-year extension for the compensation paid to the state beyond June 2022, claiming that the state was facing a revenue shortfall due to the new tax mechanism.
  • Aayog as ombudsman: Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik said NITI Aayog can take up the role of an ombudsman to resolve disputes between states and the Centre in the implementation of central schemes.
  • What was on agenda: The Niti Aayog’s meeting was originally scheduled to discuss crop diversification and achieving self-sufficiency in oilseeds and pulses and agri-communities, implementation of National Education Policy and urban governance. PM Modi praised the states in combating Covid-19.
3. SSLV parks satellites in wrong orbit on its maiden voyage
3. SSLV parks satellites in wrong orbit on its maiden voyage
  • The maiden mission of India’s brand new rocket about Rs 56 crore-Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) on Sunday morning ended in a failure. It could not place Developmental Flight-1 (D1) in the intended orbit.

Data loss at the terminal stage

  • About 12 minutes into the rocket’s flight, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced the separation of EOS-02 and the AZAADISAT. However, ISRO’s tryst with history suffered a setback, as the maiden SSLV suffered “data loss” at the terminal stage.
  • And hours after the SSLV-D1 was launched with two satellites at about 9.18 am, ISRO said satellites are unusable as they were put into a different orbit than the intended one.
  • The space agency said a committee would analyse and make recommendations into today’s episode and with the implementation of those recommendations. It said, “ISRO will come back soon with SSLV-D2.”

The mission

  • Hoping to celebrate India’s 75th anniversary of Independence in style, the ISRO launched its freshly minted rocket SSLV-D1 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota.
  • On its first developmental flight, the SSLV-D1 carried an Earth Observation Satellite-02 (EOS-02), formerly known as Microsatellite-2, weighing about 145 kg and the eight kg AZAADISAT built by 750 students of government schools facilitated by SpaceKidz India.

Safety issues now

  • The launch failure of a small rocket powered by solid fuel puts the focus on the safety of India’s human space mission that will be carried out by Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk III (GSLV-Mk III) with the tricky cryogenic engine stage.
4. Big Bull’s Akasa Air takes off
4. Big Bull’s Akasa Air takes off
  • Akasa Air is finally in Indian skies. The first flight of the airline promoted by ace investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, dubbed as the Big Bull of the Indian stock market, took off on Sunday between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
  • Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya M Scindia and MoS VK Singh cleared the inaugural flight. Akasa Air — airline code QP — will operate 28 flights in a week between Mumbai and Ahmedabad in the initial phase. Beginning August 13, Akasa Air will start operating 28 weekly flights between Bengaluru and Kochi. Tickets for all are open for sale.
  • Akasa Air’s network strategy is focused on establishing a strong pan-India presence and providing linkages from metro to tier-2 and tier-3 cities across the country, said the airline’s co-founder and chief commercial officer Praveen Iyer.
  • The carrier expects to have a fleet of 72 737 jets within five years.
  • Jhunjhunwala-backed airline received the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in July. The grant of the AOC is the final step of a comprehensive and rigorous process laid down by the DGCA and marks the satisfactory completion of all regulatory and compliance requirements for the airline’s operational readiness.
  • This comes at a time when a series of technical snags were reported by some low-cost airlines. The DGCA recently ordered SpiceJet to cut down its flight operations by 50% for eight weeks.
  • Most rival airlines in the cutthroat Indian market are tainted with repeated non-fatal incidents caused by mid-air technical malfunctions. The aviation regulator recently grounded two Airbus SE A320 aircraft of Go First, India’s second-biggest airline, and a Boeing Co. 787 jet of Air India Ltd., the former state-run carrier that’s now under Tata Group, after they reported incidents. More here
6. Jamia’s engg student arrested for suspected IS link
6. Jamia’s engg student arrested for suspected IS link
  • Ahead of Independence Day, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested an engineering student enrolled in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University for suspected link to terror outfit Islamic State. The NIA said the first-year student, identified as Mohsin Ahmed, was “radicalised” and an active member of the IS.
  • Hailing from Patna, Bihar, Mohsin was arrested from Delhi’s Batla House area where he lived. The NIA claimed Mohsin was involved in the collection of funds for the IS outfit from sympathisers in India as well as abroad. He was allegedly sending funds to Syria and other places in form of cryptocurrency.
  • The arrest was made on Saturday following the NIA’s search operations in the residential premises of the accused near Jogabai Extension in Batla House. The raids were conducted in connection with an FIR that the NIA had suo motu registered on June 25 to probe the IS’s online and on ground activities.
  • On July 31, the NIA had carried out searches at 13 premises of suspected persons across six states — Bhopal and Raisen in Madhya Pradesh, Bharuch, Surat, Navsari and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Arariya in Bihar, Bhatkal and Tumkur City in Karnataka, Kolhapur and Nanded in Maharashtra and Deoband in Uttar Pradesh.
7. What is fueling Israel-Palestine violence
7. What is fueling Israel-Palestine violence
  • What’s happening: Israel and Palestinian militants are exchanging fire in the Gaza Strip in the worst bout of cross-border violence since an 11-day war last year. Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 25 people from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed militant group.
  • Where’s Hamas? Hamas is still there and is the biggest and the ruling group in Palestine. Islamic Jihad is the smaller of the two main Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip. But with the direct financial and military backing from Iran, it has become the driving force in engaging in rocket attacks and other confrontations with Israel.
  • Is Hamas weakening? Not exactly. But Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007 from the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority, feels constrained in its ability to act militarily because it bears responsibility for running day-to-day affairs of the impoverished territory.
  • Islamic Jihad has no such duties. This gives it more freedom to undertake militant action, at times undermining Hamas’ authority.
  • Is it a new group? No, Islamic Jihad was founded in 1981 with the aim of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and all of what is now Israel. It is designated a terrorist organisation by the US State Department and European Union among others.
  • Why Iran supports it: Israel is Iran’s archenemy. Iran trains Islamic Jihad and provides money and technical know how to produce weapons locally. It is said to have built an arsenal equal to that of Hamas.
  • Trigger: The arrest this week of a senior Islamic Jihad commander in the West Bank following a month-long operation sparked the latest round of violence. Israel began airstrikes when Islamic Jihad’s top leader visited Tehran to consult Iranian officials.
8. This ship’s welcome, that’s a problem and…
8. This ship’s welcome, that’s a problem and…
The good ship

  • US navy ship Charles Drew, which provides critical support to the US fleet operating in the Indo-Pacific, on Sunday arrived at Larsen and Toubro shipyard at Kattupalli in Tamil Nadu for undergoing repairs.
  • Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral SN Ghormade and other senior defence ministry officials visited the shipyard to welcome the vessel.

The bad ship

  • China’s embassy in Colombo has sought an urgent meeting with senior Sri Lankan authorities after the island nation sought a deferment of the planned docking of a high-tech Chinese research vessel at the strategic Hambantota port over which India raised concerns.
  • The Chinese space and satellite tracking research vessel ‘Yuan Wang 5’ was scheduled to dock at the Hambantota Port from August 11 to 17.
  • New Delhi is concerned about the possibility of the ship’s tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian installations while being on its way to the Sri Lankan port.

A ship for refugees?

  • Bangladesh on Sunday sought cooperation from China to repatriate Rohingya refugees to Myanmar during a visit by Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
  • China had used its influence in Myanmar to broker a November 2017 agreement to repatriate about 7 lakh Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar in August that year.
9. How India is using its oil dependence to its advantage
9. How India is using its oil dependence to its advantage
  • India is among the top importers of crude oil, depending on foreign fuels to meet 85% of its requirements. And it seems to have put its overdependence on imported oil to its advantage when the Ukraine war pushed the fuel prices in the global markets. Saudi Arabia seems to have lost out to Russia in a race to sell oil to India.
  • A Bloomberg analysis shows that Russia has outcompeted Saudi Arabia to emerge as the second largest oil exporter to India in June. This happened as Russia sold its oil at a discounted rate. Iraq played smart by reducing its oil price for India.
  • In February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, India was hardly buying any oil from Russia. Iraq and Saudi Arabia dominated the Indian basket of oil purchase. The February 24-invasion brought a series of sanctions against Russia.
  • In March, Russian oil made a sizeable entry into the Indian tanks. But the Russian oil was still $13 costlier compared to Saudi Arabia’s per barrel supplies.
  • Meanwhile, the oil prices were rising through April and May. In April, Russian oil became cheaper than Saudi oil to India. Iraq was still selling costlier oil to India. Russian stock in Indian tanks kept increasing on account of discounted price.
  • While Saudi Arabia did not renegotiate its oil pricing for India, Iraq slashed its rates slightly in May and sharply in June. This helped Iraq remain the top exporter of oil to India while Saudi Arabia lost its place to Russia.
  • The Russian barrels were cheaper than Saudi Arabian barrels from April to June. The gap had widened to nearly $19 a barrel in May before it eased to a $13-difference in June. Oil from Iraq was about $9 a barrel more expensive than Russian crude in May but cheaper in other months.

Nallathamby Kalaiselvi. Senior scientist Kalaiselvi has been appointed as director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), becoming the first woman to lead the consortium of 38 research institutes across the country. Known for her work in the field of lithium ion batteries, Kalaiselvi is at present director of the CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute at Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu. She succeeds Shekhar Mande, who superannuated in April. Kalaiselvi has risen through the ranks in CSIR and broken the proverbial glass ceiling by becoming the first woman scientist to head the Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CSIR-CECRI) in February 2019.

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Tejeesh Nippun Singh, Jayanta Kalita, Prabhash K Dutta
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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