YEAR END SPECIAL

What is in store for India in 2018?

brahmos-babri-aadhaar-chandrayaan

The year 2018 is bound to be eventful for India. The fate of the Aadhaar card will be decided; the second Chandrayaan mission to the moon will take off; the Supreme Court will resume hearing on the Ayodhya case which will have far-reaching consequences; the strategic project of equipping Indian Air Force’s Sukhoi fighter jets with Brahmos missiles is progressing, with the first squadron of the Brahmos-armed Sukhoi jets expected early in the new year.

Linking with Aadhaar

The last date for linking the Aadhaar card to bank account, PAN card, mobile SIM card, etc., is March 31, 2018. The Central government has informed the Supreme Court of the decision to extend the last date for Aadhaar linking, in order to avail of various services, till March 31. Mobile-service providers have been given time till January 1, 2018, to enable mobile-phone numbers to be linked to Aadhaar card through one-time password (OTP).

The result: All services will be based on Aadhaar. Bank accounts that have not been linked to Aadhaar will be deactivated. Mobile-service providers have warned that SIM cards that have not been linked to Aadhaar within the stipulated time will be deactivated. PAN cards not linked to Aadhaar cannot be used to file tax returns.

Fate of Ayodhya

The Ayodhya issue, the most vexed dispute in the history of India, will again go to court in February 2018. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will hear on February 8 the appeals filed by various parties questioning the judgment of the Allahabad High Court of 2010 on the disputed land in Ayodhya.

The result: The hearing, which was scheduled for December 5, 2017 was postponed by the Supreme Court to February 8, 2018. The postponement of the hearing, followed the petitioners’ request seeking more time to submit all the documents related to the Ayodhya case. The Supreme Court has instructed the petitioners to ensure that all the relevant documents are submitted before the court when the case will be heard on February 8. Decisive rulings can be expected from the apex court once all relevant documents are submitted before it.

To the moon again

After the success of the first Chandrayaan mission to the Moon in 2008, India will launch the second edition of Chandrayaan in early 2018. Chandrayaan-2, expected to be put in space in March by the launch vehicle GSLV Mach-2, aims at conducting further scientific studies on the moon. According to the Indian Space Research Organisation, the spacecraft’s main components are the Rover, which will test samples of rock and soil, and the Lander, which will stay on the moon’s surface and conduct experiments.

The result: A successful Chandrayaan-2 will lift India’s reputation in the world of science sky-high. If all goes well, the mission will be able to give evidence-based answers to the centuries-old questions about the moon’s atmosphere, constitution of the surface, and possible presence of water.

Brahmos missile

The Brahmos supersonic cruise missile will add immensely to the might of the Indian Air Force. The strategic project is progressing at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). India had successfully test-fired the Brahmos from a Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet in November 2017. Following this success, the IAF plans to arm 40 Sukhoi fighters with the Brahmos. The first squadron of Brahmos-armed Sukhoi fighter jets will join the IAF in 2018. The HAL is aiming at completing the project by 2020.

The result: The Brahmos-Sukhoi combine will become the IAF’s strongest weapons system on the battlefront. The Brahmos cruise missile, which travels at three times the speed of sound, will add more teeth to India’s aerial combat against the enemy. The Brahmos missile, weighing two tonnes, is the heaviest missile to be carried by the Sukhoi fighter jet.

This article first appeared in Malayala Manorama.

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