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Monday, July 04, 2011

India's former Main Battle Tank [MBT] Vijayanta at Avadi [Photographs]

Found these pictures of the Main Battle Tank, Vijayanta, earlier in service with the Indian Army. These are licensed manufactured British Vickers Tanks that were later successfully adapted for use in varied configurations as Bridge laying, Armoured Recovery Vehicle etc. Successful demonstration involving incorporation of a more powerful & reliable power-plant & up-gunning its main gun to a higher caliber were also made, but did not find a favorable response from the end-user.

They were to be withdrawn from service by 2008. Counted four of them at my place, being used as monuments outside defence establishments - quite imposing, they look.

The Heavy Vehicles Factory [HVF] in Avadi [an acronym for Armoured Vehicles and Ammunition Depot of India], Tamil Nadu currently houses the country's only assembly line needed for putting together battle tanks in service with the Indian Army.

Click on the thumbnails to view larger-sized images

Main Battle Tank [MBT] Vijayanta [Vickers derivative] at Avadi factory Main Battle Tank [MBT] Vijayanta [Vickers derivative] at Avadi factory
Main Battle Tank [MBT] Vijayanta [Vickers derivative] at Avadi factory Main Battle Tank [MBT] Vijayanta [Vickers derivative] at Avadi factory

via www.photodivision.gov.in

Godspeed


Friday, July 01, 2011

Create a shortened j.mp URL without signing in or signing up

Had been using the j.mp URL shortner bookmarklet for long for posting to Twitter. Recently  discovered that the bookmarklet was no longer doing so & was instead creating shortened bit.ly URLs, both URL shortening services being run by the same enterprise. From now onwards, in order to create a j.mp URL, one has to sign in into the service & only then would it be possible to do so - *hate* signing in anywhere & avoid it as far as possible.

Turns out, as of the time of posting, bit.ly & j.mp URLs are inter-changeable, i.e, if you had created a shortened bit.ly URL, then it is possible to shave off 2 more characters by simply replacing the bit.ly by j.mp without any change in result. Critical, if one posts on twitter, where character real-estate is a premium. However, with growing number of URLs being shortened with their service, it may be just happen that they decide to turn j.mp & bit.ly URLs unique. Until that time, no signing-in required to create a shortened j.mp URL.

Example:

Original shortened bit.ly URL: http://bit.ly/ujkp5

a j.mp URL created by replacing the bit.ly: http://j.mp/ujkp5

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Was looking up something, when I came across this site still hosted on Geocities. Ran a Google search query & found out, as the URLs above indicated, around 60,000+ sites continue to remain hosted on Geocities. This does not count their service in Japan, which they continue to run. However, considering the fact that Yahoo! was supposed to have shutdown Geocities.com, it was indeed surprising to find these pages still there. Will try searching around for an answer. Some kind soul could cut short my work & save me some time by posting the answer, in the comments below, though.

Godspeed


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ship MV Wisdom on Juhu Beach in Mumbai [& some PDA]

Some pictures of the ship MV Wisdom currently stranded on the Juhu beach in Mumbai. The ship, more like an empty hull as it was on its way to being dismantled in Alang from Sri Lanka, drifted towards the beach after cables being used to tow it snapped.

Click on the thumbnails to view larger-sized images

Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India
Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India
Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India
Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India
Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay], India

via developerscentral.net

Was curious to see it first-hand for myself. The manner in which the monstrosity is positioned, it would not seem out of place in an apocalyptic disaster movie made in Hollywood. To see it sitting there on the beach with people, looking tiny & miniscule in comparison, milling round made for a surreal & bizarre sight.

Ship MV Wisdom stranded on Juhu beach in Mumbai [Bombay] India

Save for the near never-ending commute to reach places over there, thankfully something that need not necessarily be endured by many here, the city itself feels not significantly different from my place. Nearly every major commercial operation - malls, brand biggies or corporate establishment, operating there are mirroring their presence here with more clamoring to open shop. What is most striking about the place, however, thanks to the relaxed FSI the city has enjoyed for long, are the innumerable skyscrapers that dot & define the skylines of Mumbai [or "Bombay" as the Anglophones here still prefer calling it]. The ones currently under construction are all aiming to reach even higher, competing to look  as different from the one adjacent as possible, bearing virtually no resemblance in form or shape to the ones already standing.

A manifestation of a lifestyle quite unique to the city, I found, is that of people engaging in quasi-graphic public display of affection [PDA] as can be witnessed on its beaches & parapet walls bordering the beaches. My place being a fairly accommodating & chilled out city in most parts, its not uncommon at all to see couples here holding hands, cuddling or pecking in public places whose environs evoke such amorous urges; eyebrows here don't rise up as high as it would elsewhere with the display of intimacy of this kind.

The kind of PDA people were indulging out there, however, seems to take the concept of PDA to an all new level, nearly blurring the distinction between the P & I*, & very often transgressing it. Such behavior could possibly be explained by the exorbitant cost of living Mumbai is known for, that often does not permit an average individual to acquire a living accommodation large enough to afford the kind of privacy needed to engage in acts of intimacy he/she desires, with the presence of other family members around in the house at the time. Thus for couples in search of their private moment, anonymity seems to make up for the privacy, or lack of it. A stranger sitting adjacent, not likely to cross paths ever again in a city as populated as Mumbai, is a non-existent entity as far as the couples are concerned, thereby giving them the space & freedom that is unavailable to them otherwise in an actual indoor location.

Okay. Done claiming to possess knowledge of human psychology & behavior & attempting to sound intelligent, or at least that is what had been the intention while typing in the last two paragraphs. Trying hurts too much and there is a limit to it. Whatever!

Also recited a small prayer, in binary, while passing by Lamington Road - not enough people on-board who shared the interest to make a stop there :(.

Godspeed

* - indoor


Monday, June 13, 2011

Nokia C3-00 Mobile phone - some observations & experience [not a review]

Been using a Nokia C3-00 mobile handset since November. Having used it for more than 7 months, thought of jotting down some observations gathered from these few months of use.

Nokia C3-00 cellphone

  1. Keypad becomes noticeably warm while charging
  2. Videos & Music can not be fast forwarded or rewinded: However if you stop midway, then the next time you open the media player it will resume playing the same audio/video from the point you had stopped [actually from a few seconds earlier, which is nice].
  3. Battery seems to drain fast: 2 days of moderate use for making & receiving around 10-12 calls of 5-7 minutes duration each & around a total of 20 minutes of surfing brings the battery level indicator bar to its last bar.
  4. Not able to update the phone software via the OVI suite or Nokia PC Suite: Keep getting an error message after it has finished downloading the relevant install package. Very frustrating - will keep looking into it.
  5. QWERTY keypad is very convenient: Totally fallen for the full QWERTY keypad. Keys feel solid & typing is very convenient. The bilingual keypads, as are the keypads on most C3s being retailed here, initially feels a bit confusing, but after a couple of hours of using it, it becomes a non-issue. However, it does tend to make the keypad look a tad cluttered IMO. Not planning to buy any future phones if does not have a full-QWERTY keypad.
  6. Multi-tasking: It doesn't have "multi" tasking in the true sense of the term at all. You can run the media player in the background and perform other task like surfing, or running another app. Two tasks can be performed, provided one of the tasks is the media player.
  7. Alarm fails to ring: Found out that if the internet is being used at a time when the alarm had been earlier set to go off, it fails to do so. Only after you've closed the Internet connection, does the alarm ring, even if it is more than an hour after the time the alarm was to go off.
  8. Can't set multiple alarms: At a given time, one can set the alarm to go off at only one time of the day. It could be set to go off at that time on any number of days of the week of choosing. This limitation could be overcome in some manner by using the Reminder feature instead.
  9. No PDF reader available: Was hoping to be able to do some light reading on the cellphone. However found no compatible app that could do so. However, on hindsight, realised that a 2.4" screen is not very conducive for the kind of layout in a PDF, if auto-scaling of the text can not be performed.
  10. D-pad paint chipped off: The silver colored paint of the D-pad has got chipped off at a few small points within 7 months. Possibly due to the initial couple of months of excessively long duration of surfing, which involved extensive use of the D-pad for navigation. On purchase of the C3-00, Airtel, unknown to me before purchase, provided a free Internet connection via GPRS for 6 months that got activated the instant the SIM card was inserted into the handset, with 2 GB of free permissible data transfer each month. Restricting oneself to normal use of the Internet & keeping the nails trimmed would probably have prevented the paint from chipping away.
  11. Speakers loud, but sound quality average: No complains here.
  12. Sound gets distorted during recording if the source of sound is too close to the handset: Find this very frustrating. Say, I'm recording a conversation I'm having with some one standing a few feet in front of me with the camera held in front of me. The voice of the person in front gets recorded in an reasonably audible manner. My voice, on the other hand, sounds all garbled & incomprehensible for some reason. Unable to figure out the reason. An example of this would be the following video that I had shot of a parrot that sat on the window grills at home. While the TV in the background can be heard, my voice, as I speak towards the end comes out sounding all garbled.
    Video caputre using a Nokia C3-00 mobile phone
  13. TXT files get truncated: It is unable to display the full content of a long *.txt file, truncating it to display only the initial few paragraphs of the document, with a prior message saying it is truncating the document before displaying it.
  14. Reminders start up when it strikes 12 o clock if Internet is running: Unlike in case of the alarm issue [point 08] the reminder starts ringing at 12 at midnight if the internet is being used at that time, no matter when it was originally set to go off. Say, the reminder had been set to go off at 0830 in the morning, it will go off the moment it strikes 0000, if the Internet connection was currently being used at that time. Very irritating.
  15. Can't use the camera as a webcam: Did not find any compatible app that would do it. Still looking. If anyone knows of any such free software for the S40 platform, please inform - drop in a line in the comments below. The 2MP camera in the phone takes unremarkable photos & videos, just like any 2MP camera without flash normally performs - no complaints, taking lots of pictures and shooting videos without restraint :)

The phone runs the Series 40 software with a re-worked interface, looking very different from the default interface of traditional S40 phones. Actually, some of the lack of  features mentioned above [02, 06, 09, 13, 15] are inherent limitations of the software platform itself, rather than a deficiency on part of this phone model in particular. Still, goes without saying, being able to overcome these lacunae would help a great deal.

Despite these few minor niggles, totally satisfied with the purchase decision. Considering the price point at which this phone was then bracketed [around $125-$147 USD, depending on your bargaining skills], it certainly made a good buy with the right price-feature balance backed by the reliability that the Nokia brand name provides. Bought mine for Rs. 5650 INR [~$128 USD] then, with a pouch for carrying the phone thrown in with it. Should be available for a bit lesser today - guessing one should be able to get it at around the Rs.5000 [$113 USD] price point. In subsequent reviews of the handset by tech magazines & shows, folks have had good things to say about the handset. Also won the Budget Phone of the Year award at the NDTV Gadget awards held few months back.

Listing out some of the ways this handset is being used:

  1. Media player: Stopped carrying the iPod. Media player in the phone coupled with a 8 GB SD card currently fulfills all multimedia needs quite easily. It also contains an FM Radio receiver, but the RJs on stations here, with their fake display of over-enthusiasm are shite - avoid them like the plague.
  2. Notes taking software: Many of the observations listed above were actually noticed while in the middle of some other activity. So instead of trying to remember it & stay distracted or note it down on a piece of paper & risk the possibility of misplacing it, jotted it down quickly in the notes apps instead, which was transferred on to the computer when convenient. Also being used for noting down other such info & thoughts for perusal later.
  3. Reminder tool: Absolutely heaven sent! Helps neatly arrange & schedule activities in a systematic manner. Forgetting events and tasks are a thing of the past. Had been using Google Calendar with SMS reminder occasionally earlier. This is much better IMO, as I can add a reminder immediately, without having to wait to access a computer, by which time it may have slipped out of the mind.
    Can also be used as an alarm set for different times of the day, something that the actual alarm feature can not do.
  4. Audiobook: Have taken to reading audiobooks recently. That way it becomes possible to go through 2 books at a time - listen to audiobook during commute or while travelling some place or waiting in queue & read a conventional book when not in motion or when back at home. As mentioned earlier, since the default media player does not allow one to fast forward or rewind the track, in the event that playback of the audiobook had been stopped and some other track is then played, it would make it necessary to restart playback of the audiobook, often with 3-5 hours duration, right from the beginning - impractical. Using Mp3splt, splitting the audiobook into files of shorter duration. Find 15 minutes to be the most convenient duration of each segment. In a way, they've made up for not being able to read PDF files, & this is, in a sense, way better IMO.
  5. Shooting photos & videos: Doing lots of it. Picture quality does not make them appear worthwhile at present. But 10-20 years from now, looking through them would impart it a great deal of nostalgic value I think :). Some pictures taken with the camera: Indian Army OT-62 TOPAS Armoured Troop Carrier [Photographs].
    Some other pictures taken with its camera. It has begun raining out here, hence the cloudy outdoors.
    Sample photo taken with the 2 MP camera of a Nokia C3-00 cellphone [outdoor] Sample picture taken with the 2 MP camera of a Nokia C3-00 cellphone [indoor]
  6. Internet: Very convenient to do a quick surf of some sites & forums & be done with it. Earlier, in order to do the same, the computer had to be used. Invariably ended up spending more time than initially planned, as it is quite easy to lose track of time doing so. However, with the cellphone, a bit inconvenient as it is to surf using it, it is easier to stop after the initially planned work using the Internet is completed. Also, as the Internet could be accessed from anywhere using the cellphone, the same work could be done, say during commute or waiting at some place. That way, it frees up time for some other work, otherwise spent surfing the Internet.
    The phone also comes pre-installed with some soc-media apps, which is essentially the reason why this handset was released by Nokia in the first place - an affordable soc-media-enabled handset to be used by the younger college-going crowd to stay connected on current soc-media networks. Haven't used the apps for any meaningful duration of time though - still do most all of my soc-ing through the traditional soc-media IRC network.
    Did not face issues logging on to a Wi-Fi network - was able to do so without issues. Many members on forums have been complaining about being unable to do so.

Having made the purchase decision, am satisfied with it. While looking for a suitable handset, came across a lots of models from Indian companies peddling Chinese-made handsets stamped with their companies name here. Considering that these phones were packed to the gills with feature-sets at a price-point far less than that of the Nokia or other well-established brands, was often tempted to buy one of those. But then again, these phones are known to have several performance issues and are known to go kaput very often. Not having a fraction of the network of service centers of those like Nokia also served as an effective deterrent against going in for those phones.

Recently read about Samsung having released a similar handset of their own - Samsung S3353. It seems to have the same set of specifications & price-point, except for the fact that the Samsung model comes with a track pad instead of a D-pad in the Nokia C3. Haven't checked it out though.

The Nokia C3, at the Rs. 5000-5500 INR price point, IMO, is a good choice for anybody looking to purchase an entry-level QWERTY handset. Does its job well - just remember to keep your nails trimmed while using it.

Godspeed


Sunday, June 12, 2011

a poem, a prose, a line from a movie [and a little Afghanistan]

Came across these two writings this week. Not one normally capable of figuring out most poems, what their liberal, unrestrained use of use of  metaphors, puns & a salad bowl of other figure of speeches used with with gay abandon [show offs!!]. Yet, this one I could figure out [I think] & it felt very nice & quite uplifting in a sense.

Sharing it. Do read & share.

Agneepath! Agneepath! Agneepath! - Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan [Ph.D.]

Vruksh ho bade bhale,
ho ghane ho bhale,
Ek Patra chhah bhi mang mat, mang mat, mang mat,
Agnipath, Agnipath Agnipath;

Tu na thamega kabhi tu na mudega kabhi tu na rukega kabhi,
Kar shapath, Kar shapath, Kar shapath,
Agnipath, Agnipath, Agnipath.

Ye Mahan Drushya hain,
Chal raha Manushya hain,
Ashru, Sweth, Rakta se Latpat Latpat Latpat..
Agnipath, Agnipath, Agnipath.

Translation:

(There may be huge, warm and shady trees all around)
(Don't even as the shade of a single leaf)
(Walk on the Path of Fire, Walk on the Path of Fire)

(You will not stop, You will not turn, You will not halt)
(Take this oath, take this oath, take this oath)
(Walk on the Path of Fire, Walk on the Path of Fire)

(This is a great situation)
(Man Walks)
(Tears, Sweat and Blood)
(They swathe Him, they swathe Him)
(Walk on the Path of Fire, Walk on the Path of Fire)

via roy writes

Save for the fact that he was the father of the of the awesomeness personified Amitabh Bachchan, hadn't taken any interest in knowing any more about him. Know a little more today.

A recitation of the poem by the Amitabh Bachchan, his son,

Recitation of Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan's Agneeptah by his son Amitabh Bachchan

This one arrived in the inbox this morning - a prose, I think, the word structure is called.

Work

If you are poor, Work.
If you are rich, Work.
If you are burdened with seemingly unfair responsibilities, Work.

If you are happy, continue to Work.
Idleness gives room for doubts and fears.
If disappointments come, Work.
If sorrow overwhelms you and loved ones seem not true, Work.

When faith falters and reason fails, just Work.
When dreams are shattered and hopes seem dead - Work.
Work as if your life were in peril; it really is.

Whatever happens or matters, Work.
Work faithfully, and work with faith.
Work is the greatest material remedy available.
Work will cure both mental and physical afflictions.

- Swami Vivekananda

On similar lines, one of the most enduring lines spoken in any movie - from the The Shawshank Redemption,

"Get busy living, or get busy dying"

Was originally uttered by Tim Robbins's character Andy Dufresne in the movie, but Morgan Freeman as Red, with his deep baritone voice, repeating it later, I felt, infused a much dramatic effect & brought out the  profound nature of its significance. Also one of the all-time favourite movies, cutting across all genres and linguistic distinctions.

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Read this very nicely written article about the Afghan Cricket team yesterday - The Astonishing Story of Afghani Cricket.

As rightly suggested in the article, India's BCCI must take the initiative to groom the team to a standard that can challenge & defeat the biggies of the game, till the time they are able to put up decent facilities & infrastructure on their own land.

Extensive & continued sessions of regular grooming, training & guidance at the National Cricket Academy & MRF Pace Foundation, under the guidance of some of the best in business would do the talented folks a great deal of good. For all its abysmal sports culture, the facilities available to cricketers performing at the upper echelons of Indian cricket are comparable to best available elsewhere. Overflowing coffers of the cricket association can throw up such aberrations here and there.

As part of of its diplomatic outreach towards engaging Afghanistan, that involves contributing $2 Billion USD towards various development programmes there [all non-defence], it must also incorporate sports relation in its quiver of options. No other nation is placed better than India in helping Afghanistan achieve the pinnacles of success in cricket [okay, the second place, with the Indian team positioned at the pinnacle ;)].

Regular victories by the Afghan team against established teams on the international arena could play a pivotal, possibly cataclysmic role in achieving national integration in the truest sense of the term, cutting across the deep-rooted ethnic divides that seem to mar all efforts to achieve this. With every Afghan victory on the playing field, India scores one on the diplomatic field, with the good word of India's efforts in enabling this feat being reiterated and reinforced amongst the common Afghan, creating an even greater positive disposition of the Afghan towards India. Sports, or more specifically cricket, could be yet another prong in India's multi-prong "soft power" approach in its engagement with Afghanistan.

Godspeed


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Yeahh!! I won a prize!

Was at home in the afternoon when the Courier came to deliver my prize - a Sheafer Ballpoint pen. The contest was organised by Digit magazine in association with IBM some many months back. Don't quite recollect what had to be done to win the prize - questions had to be answered, I think.

But I do remember telling myself that the only prize that would be of any use to me would be the pen. The rest, if I'd won, I'd probably have passed them on to someone. Then again at that time I'd thought they would be giving away a pen set - a fountain pen and a ballpoint pen as I was looking forward to owning a decent fountain pen after the last half-expensive Parker fountain pen [had a plastic body - hence half expensive :)] I had bought lasted only a couple of months, thanks to my careless handling which resulted in the pen dropping on the ground and its nib going kaput. Turns out the prize is just a ballpoint pen; no fountain pen - KLPD. Will probably pass it on to someone anyway - have a whole bouquet of multi-colored pens of various kinds on my table.

Bouquet of pens - see, how studious I am!! [or at least would like you to believe]

The Sheaffer pen, as I learnt is the 3rd prize - the 1st prize being a Canon camera, 2nd an iPod Nano & the 4th a watch, none of which I was particularly looking forward to winning. Had my heart set on the third prize & I won it - happy I am anyway.

Having won a few such prizes online earlier, one thing I realised is that each time I won a prize, it has invariably been in a contest I forgot all about after entering. Wait myself silly each week to catch the latest episode of Cell Guru on NDTV and, once uploaded, scroll to the end of the episode first to see if they've announced my name as one of the winners in the giveaway they conduct at the end of almost each episode & after experiencing KLPD each time not seeing my name, go back to the start to begin viewing that episode. Never enter my name when they give away Micromax or one of the many Chinese rebranded Indian handsets though. Giving away a HTC Desire Z this week - actually last week, but they had not broadcast the episode last Saturday, due to the 2011 Cricket World Cup final match that India won.

Found out recently that Airtel has activated my free GPRS Internet that came with the Nokia C3-00 handset I purchased some months back. The moment I inserted my SIM card into the C3-00, I got an SMS saying that as an Airtel customer, I was entitled to free Internet surfing on my Nokia C3 handset, subject to a data transfer limit of 2 GB each month for the next 6 months [total data transfer of 12 GB]. Had bought the handset in November. But each time I tried surfing, it kept getting connected through the Airtel Live service and I kept getting charged for the surfing. Had spent a full morning then, talking to various operators at their call center trying to get my GPRS configuration in order so that I could make use of the free Internet, but to no avail. Then gave up all hope and forgot all about it as there was no real need, since Internet access is available on the desktop.

Was fiddling with the phone the other day, while waiting to pick up Mum, when without realising, went to the Internet section and clicked on a bookmark. Viola!! the site opened up and was not even being interrupted with a message every few minutes, informing me of the amount that had been deducted for the browsing as it would happen when connected through Airtel Live - my legitimate, free Internet through GPRS had been activated on my Nokia C3 :D.

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Update: Was catching up on watching an episode of Gadget Guru broadcast a few weeks backs in which they showed the proceedings of the Gadget Awards 2011 ceremony. Learnt that it has awarded the Nokia C3, the budget phone of the year award. Vindication of my purchase decision made a few months backs :). A good purchase, if you can get it for <= Rs. 5700 INR [~ $129 USD]. Got mine for Rs. 5600 INR [~ $127 USD].

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Having Internet access on the cellphone does have some advantages though. Waiting becomes a lot more tolerable. Also, when I feel like taking a quick peek at discussions going on different forums, without wanting to take part in any of them, doing it on the cellphone instead of the desktop means I can do it and be done with it & not keep on using the computer for long hours thereafter as it invariably happens when I use the computer, with the initial intention of doing a quick surf.

Thanks a lot to the wonderful people at Digit & IBM for giving me a prize - much appreciated. Thanks again!

Some pics of the pen that came today.

Click on the thumbnail to view larger-sized image

20110405-Prize-Sheafer-Ballpoint-Pen-02

20110405-Prize-Sheafer-Ballpoint-Pen-03 20110405-Prize-Sheafer-Ballpoint-Pen-01

Godspeed


Sunday, April 03, 2011

Indian Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma: 27th year

"Saare Jahan Se Achcha"

Never have Iqbal's words soared such great heights [quite literally, in this case] touching the emotional chords of every Indian who has heard these magical words being uttered by the first Indian in outer Space, Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma.

India-Russia Manned Space Mission [Soyuz T-11]

Dutifully ripped off Wikipedia

Today [3rd April 2011] marks the 27th anniversary of the historic journey that took the first Indian into Space. Strapped inside the Soyuz T-11 mission capsule [the first variant of which first went to Space in 1966 & whose improved variant continues to perform nearly the same task even today], mounted atop what was essentially an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile [ICBM] to travel to the furthest reaches of Space not travelled by any other Indian before. Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma, besides becoming the 1st Indian in Space, also became the 138th human in Space.

This journey by Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma, in which he spent more than a week aboard the Salyut-7 orbiting Space Station, was made possible as part of Soviet Union's Intercosmos programme - an outreach initiative by the Soviets, using Space travel, to enhance friendship & co-operation with Warsaw Pact nations, & in a few exceptional cases like that of India, Non-Aligned Movement [NAM] countries. Thus Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma, then a Squadron leader in the Indian Air Force [IAF], was selected for this mission with then Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra, also serving in the Indian Air Force, was to be his backup undergoing all the training and procedures being performed by the primary members selected for the mission.

With a still-fledgling Space programme that India had at that time, the Scientific significance of the an Indian mission may have been somewhat limited. Material Science experiments devised, however, would have no doubt benefitted from the zero-gravity environment on-board the Salyut-7. However, the upswing of passion and inspiration the travel evoked amongst Indians was, without doubt, immeasurable.

Later, another Indian was said to be undergoing Astronaut training at NASA to be part of its manned mission, plans for which had to be aborted due to some reasons IIRC [will add to this or retract after confirmation - remember reading about it somewhere but can't locate the source any more].

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Update: Yes indeed, 2 more Indian Scientists Nagapathi Chidambar Bhat [Nagapathi C. Bhat] and Paramaswaren Radhakrishnan Nair [Paramaswaren R. Nair], his backup, were undergoing training to become Astronauts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA] to be part of the STS-61-I mission aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger as payload specialists. However following its unfortunate crash during take-off on an earlier mission that resulted in its destruction, this mission was cancelled and they were unable to go to Space.

Thanks to the helpful member on the forum for pointing towards the Challenger disaster incidence - helped fine tune the Google search that got me the answer.

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Subsequently, however, 2 women Astronauts of Indian origin Astronauts Kalpana Chawla & Sunita Pandya Williams did become members of its manned Shuttle mission & Astronaut Edward Michael Fincke is married to an Indian-origin Engineer with association with NASA. There was also news an Indian Space tourist  aboard the Virgin Galactic - don't remember the exact details now - not so relevant.

Its Space programme having reached a certain level of maturity, the Indian Space Research Organisation [ISRO] has scheduled its own manned Space programme, with the maiden launch scheduled for the 2016. Lots of technologies need to be developed and validated and rated for the human Space flight that India would embark upon. One of the most critical of these technologies would be the launch vehicle - the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle [GSLV], that is to power the mission, has had to face certain challenges impeding its successful launches in the last couple of attempts - expected failures that symbolize the authenticity & genuineness of an R&D programme.

Watch: Indian perspective on Manned Space Missions - reasons & necessary Technologies [Aero India 2011]

Extremely unfortunate to find that no Indian newspaper found the anniversary of this achievement by Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma worthy of coverage, even in one of its inner pages as a footnote. Does not bode well for a country that fails to recognise and honor Science & Technology and its men in uniform - primary factors that determines a country's strength and destiny. In this case we've managed to dishonor and disregard both in one go.

The only article I found after searching was published a few days back appeared in the Financial Times, which my chacha Google tells me is a UK-based publication.

Read: India: Rakesh Sharma

Also no coverage in any of the MSM television news channels here in India, that otherwise specialize in whipping up hysteria and infusing melodrama even while reporting about paint drying.

Found this solitary report in a Tamil news channel: Rakesh Sharma Space Travel

Some pictures concerning the occasion.

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Indian Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma Indian Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma with the Soyuz T-11 capsule
Soyuz T-11 capsule blasting off for Space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in present day Kazakhstan with Indian Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma on-board Then Prime minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi with Indian Cosmonaut Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma and his backup Wing Commander Ravish Malhotra
Commander of the Soyuz T-11 mission Yuri Malyshev on his visit to India later Commander of the Soyuz T-11 mission Yuri Malyshev on his visit to India later

photos via www.photodivision.gov.in

A recording of the conversation that took place between the then Indian Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma while in. On being asked by the Prime Minister how India looks from up there, Rakesh Sharma replied with the historic lines stated at the beginning.

Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma speaking to then India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from the Soviet Salyut-7 Space station

You may download and listen to the complete song, whose line was used by Cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma to give the reply.

Read: Saare Jahan Se Achcha - its continued popularity & recital even today a testament to that fact that Indians pay more heed to the message rather than the messenger.

On line of the Soviet Intercosmos initiative, I had asked for India to extend a similar proposal to the Islamic Republic of Iran - a mutually beneficial arrangement that would harm none, yet serve the purpose of realpolitik beautifully.

Godspeed

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To the possibly 7-odd people* who probably visit this blog & wondering why there has been no recent updates - offline activities & commitments take precedence over activates of my online avatar & they are currently leaving me with no time to stay online as much, if at all, or as long as I would've liked. Situation likely to continue for the next couple of months at the very least. Had a few half-written write-ups about a few interesting things I had been reading prior to the virtual stoppage of online activities. May be able to post them only much later though.