President's address: Mars mission, slew of reforms in the offing - The New Indian Express

President's address: Mars mission, slew of reforms in the offing

Published: 21st February 2013 11:41 AM

Last Updated: 21st February 2013 01:33 PM

India will launch its first space mission to Mars this year, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.

"Several space missions are planned for 2013, including India's first mission to Mars and the launch of our first navigational satellite," Mukherjee said in his maiden Address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget Session.

The Indian Space Research Organisation will also put in orbit the first of its seven satellites of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). The system is India's version of the Global Positioning System.

The Mars Orbiter mission, scheduled for launch in October, will look for signature of life and reasons for loss of atmosphere on the red planet.

Under the mission, India will put in orbit a spacecraft using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The satellite will undertake a 300-day journey to Mars and is expected to be put into the Martian orbit in September next year.

Mukherjee said the space programme epitomised India's scientific achievements and benefits the country in a number of areas.

"The launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on September 9, 2012 marked our 100th space mission. India's first remote sensing satellite RISAT-1, with all-weather imaging capability, was also launched in 2012," he said.

The address, a constitutional requirement, marks the commencement of the Budget session of Parliament.

Mukherjee also announced that government proposes to introduce the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill in this session as a "significant" measure towards judicial reforms.

The President devoted a considerable part of the speech to the economic situation and the burden of gathering anxieties about slowdown, job security and employment prospects.

"People are concerned about the security of our women and children. They are also anxious about timely delivery of their entitlements and about persisting social and economic inequality," he said.

Mukherjee said the past year has been "very difficult one" for the global economy. "Europe is in recession. Most emerging markets are growing very slowly. It has been a difficult year for India also. Both global and domestic factors have affected our growth.

"We need to address the impact of both. My Government has responded to the situation by taking several measures to revive investment activity and investor sentiment," he said.

Mukherjee, who was Finance Minister before his election as President last July, noted that the Indian economy is currently experiencing slower growth.

"Real GDP grew by 5.4 per cent in the first half of the current fiscal year. This is significantly lower than the average of around 8% in the last decade. Our slower growth is the consequence of a combination of global and domestic factors," he said.

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