Indian Satellite Launch Vehicles

Indian Satellite Launch Vehicles

This article deals with ‘Indian Satellite Launch Vehicles‘. This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here.

Satellite Launch Vehicles

Satellite Launch Vehicles


  • SLV = Satellite Launch Vehicle.
  • It was a four-stage launch vehicle (all stages used solid fuel).
  • Payload that SLV could carry = 40 kg till 400 km
  • The first successful launch of SLV happened in 1980 in the project headed by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam.  
  • Later, India also used SLV to place the Rohini satellite in its orbit.
Satellite Launch Vehicle


  • ASLV = Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle.
  • ASLV was designed to augment the capacity of SLV. 
  • It was a five-stage lunch vehicle (all stages used solid propellant).
  • The payload that ASLV could carry = 150 kg till Low Earth Orbit
  • The first successful launch of SLV happened in 1994, and it is retired now.


  • PSLV = Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle 
  • The first launch using PSLV happened in 1993. 
  • The payload that PSLV can carry = up to 1600 kg till Sun-Synchronous Polar Orbit.
  • ISRO uses it to launch Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) such as Cartosat, Oceansat etc. and some other historic missions like Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), IRNSS/ NAVIC etc. 
  • It has three variants, i.e. PSLV–G, PSLV-CA and PSLV-XL. The latest version of PSLV, i.e. PSLV-XL, can carry up to 1750 kg. Chandrayaan & Mars missions were launched using this.
  • Stages of PSLV: Four stages using solid and liquid fuel alternately. 
First It uses solid fuel, i.e. HTPB- Hydroxyl Terminated Poly-Butadiene.
Second It uses liquid propellant, i.e. UDMH- Unsymmetrical Di Methyl Hydrazine and Nitrogen Tetroxide as an oxidizer.
It employs a Vikas engine.
Third It uses solid fuel, i.e. HTPB- Hydroxyl Terminated Poly-Butadiene.
Fourth It uses liquid propellant, i.e. Mono Methyl Hydrazine.
It also employs Vikas Engine.

PSLV and importance to the Indian space programme

  • PSLV was the country’s first operational launch vehicle and is dubbed the ‘workhorse of ISRO’. 
  • It is highly successful and reliable. It has a record of 97% successful launches, which is one of the most successful in the world.
  • It is used to carry IRS satellites to Polar Sun Synchronous Orbits with utmost precision. Till now (2020), India has launched 51 Indian satellites and 222 foreign satellites using PSLV. 
  • It poses potential competition to the west due to its lower launch price and is helping to earn a lot of revenue.
  • It has also helped India in launching spy satellites and boosting national security.
  • ISRO launched the maximum number of satellites in the world in a single operation, i.e. 104 satellites using PSLV. 


  • GSLV = Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle
  • The first launch using GSLV happened in 2001.
  • ISRO made it to launch Geosynchronous and Geosynchronous Satellites.
  • It can carry up to 2500 kg till Geostationary Orbit (and 5,000 kg till Low Earth Orbit (LEO)). 
  • It can be used to launch Indian National satellites (INSAT) & GSAT  in Geostationary and Geosynchronous orbits. (but most of Geostationary Satellites are around 3000 kg to 4000 kg, which GSLV MK II launch cant & we used to be dependent on Ariane Aerospace for their launches)
  • The next version of this launch vehicle is GSLV MK-3.
  • Stages of GSLV: GSLV is a 3 stage vehicle
First Solid propelled
Second Liquid propelled with hypergolic fuels
Third Liquid propelled 

Stage 1 & 2 are directly taken over from PSLV.



Earlier (before June 2017), ISRO was in the position to launch only satellites weighing between 2 & 2.5 tons into geostationary orbits. But most contemporary communications satellites usually are in the weight category of 3 to 5 tons & therefore require a more powerful launcher. Moreover, India’s future missions to the Moon, Mars and Venus also need a powerful launcher. Appreciating this need, ISRO has made GSLV-Mark III a vehicle capable of placing 4-ton satellites in geostationary orbit.


Main Features of GSLV MK-III

  • It is the latest version of GSLV.
  • GSLV MK-III made its maiden flight from Sri Harikota in 2017, placing GSAT-19 in Geostationary Orbit. 
  • Later, ISRO used the GLSV Mk-III to launch Chandrayaan-2 Mission (India’s second Lunar Mission). 
  • GSLV Mk-3 can carry 
    • Up to 4 tons till Geostationary Orbit
    • Up to 10 tons till Low Earth Orbit (Polar Satellites) 
  • Hence, it has ended India’s reliance on the EU’s Arianespace launch vehicle to send GSAT satellites into Geosynchronous orbits.

GSLV MK-3 is a three-stage vehicle 

First Solid propellant
Second Liquid Propellant
Third Cryogenic Engine uses the Liquid Oxygen & Liquid Hydrogen as oxidiser and fuel, respectively (this stage differs from GSLV Mk-2). 

Compared to solid and liquid propellants, a cryogenic propellant is more efficient. It provides more thrust by burning the same amount of propellant than Earth-based storable liquid and solid propellants.

Note: India had signed MoU with Russia to transfer Cryogenic Engines to India in starting 1990s, but the USA pressurised Russia not to supply these to India, arguing that it would violate MTCR Treaty (although Cryogenic engines are not used in Missiles). Due to this, India’s program suffered.


  • GSLV Mark III has made India a competitive player in the multimillion-dollar commercial launch market. It will help in earning substantial foreign exchange. 
  • It will end India’s dependence on foreign launch vehicles to put its heavy satellites (GSAT series) in the geosynchronous orbit. (Earlier, India was dependent on France’s Ariane space ).
  • India can also send its astronauts into space using this.  
  • It will boost India’s communication resources as the cost of launching Communication Satellites will reduce
  • Cryogenic Technology used in it can be further used in making Inter Continental Ballistic Missile.
  • It is a massive step in making India a ‘knowledge-based economy’. Till now, only USA (Saturn V), Russia (Proton M), China (Long March 5) & European Space Agency (Ariane), along with one private player (Space X), can launch geostationary and geosynchronous satellites.

Semi Cryogenic Engine

  • MoU regarding this has been signed between the Russian Space Agency & ISRO.
  • It would be India’s third Rocket Development Program.
  • Project Cost – approx. ₹1,800 crores.
  • It will be able to launch a 6 to 10-ton payload to the height of 36,000 km (more than GSLV-Mk-3). 
  • Currently, only Russia & US has this technology.

Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)

  • In 2016, ISRO successfully launched the first technology demonstrator of the indigenously made RLV. However, many more such successful launches have to be undertaken before ISRO readies a reusable launch vehicle for commercial use.
  • In simple words, it is a winged vehicle that will take off vertically like a rocket and glide back to land horizontally like a plane.
  • It will have a two-stage-to-orbit configuration. 


  • It will cut down the cost of launching satellites to 1/10th. The main launch cost currently comes from building the rocket, which can be used just once, as the rockets get burnt on re-entry into the atmosphere. 
  • A more developed version of the vehicle could be used for human-crewed missions in the future.  

Note – No sovereign space agency has RLV for satellite launches. SpaceX is also working on this project.

Scramjet Engine

  • ISRO successfully conducted the Scramjet (or Supersonic Combusting ramjet) engine test. India has become the fourth nation to successfully flight-test a scramjet engine after the United States, Russia and China.
  • The scramjet engine uses natural oxygen present in the atmosphere to burn the fuel stored in the rocket. Hence, it reduces the amount of oxidiser carried along with the fuel, bringing down launch costs. 


  • It increases lift-off mass as there will be no need to carry liquified oxygen on board. (Note: propellant accounts for nearly 85% of the weight of a rocket, and in that oxygen accounts for almost 60% .)
  • Scramjet does not have rotating parts, so the chances of failure are also measurably reduced. 

Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV)

  • Due to the advancement in electronics, small satellites have started to be built on a large scale. Globally, 17,000 small satellites are expected to be launched between now and 2030. ISRO is developing a small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV) to exploit this newly emerging market. 
  • India is also building its second launch station in the Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu, and it will house one launchpad exclusively for small satellite launch vehicles (SSLV).
  • JAXA (of Japan) has already made this type of launch vehicle.
  • A private company named bluShift is also focused on manufacturing Small Satellite Launch Vehicles. In January 2021, their Satellite Vehicle named Stardust1.0 came into operation with a mass of 250 kg and a carrying capacity of 8 kg. 

Mains Question: India & Satellite Launch Market

  • Satellite Launch is a multi-billion dollar industry, and Antrix (commercial wing of ISRO) is emerging as a significant player in this sector. 
  • Among 10 countries that have launch capability to launch satellites, only US, Russia, EU, Japan, China and India (6) make their services available commercially.
  • Satellite launch business has two basic categories:
    • Launching satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO): India provides services here using PSLV.
    • Launching 3-5 tonne satellites in Geostationary Orbit: After making GSLV MK III, hopefully, India will enter this market in the future. But presently, no commercial deal in this category has been made.
  • India launched SAARC/ South Asian Satellite in 2017, indicating that it is now using satellite technology as a foreign policy tool.  
  • ISRO has made a world record with the launch of 104 Satellites in one launch. With this, India has shown its technological prowess to the world. Out of 104, 101 were foreign satellites. 
  • With the entry of private players like SpaceX, Boeing and Blue Origin, the satellite launch market is becoming more competitive. 
  • For becoming more competitive, India needs to take the following immediate steps.
    1. PSLV’s design should be shared with the Indian private industry.
    2. India should develop more launching sites to perform more annual launches. 
    3. Small satellites below 100 kg are becoming popular nowadays, but they are launched as piggyback with large satellites. Countries like the US, Japan, Russia & China and private players like SpaceX are making LV launch these satellites. ISRO should make a conscious decision to develop a new rocket for launching the small satellites.


  • The entry of private giants like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing etc., in this field increased the competition.
  • ISRO is a minor player in the global space industry. Although ISRO is launching a large number of satellites on commercial terms, these are nano and microsatellites, while the main revenue comes from launching heavier satellites.  
  • Indian share is just 2% 
  • According to the Economic Survey, Antrix is marketing only medium and coarse resolution data products, but Commercial potential for the medium and coarse resolution data segment is facing a threat due to Free and Open Access to such data from Landsat-8 of US and Sentinel from the European Space Agency (ESA). 

Indian Satellites

Indian Satellites

This article deals with ‘Indian Satellites‘. This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here


  • A satellite is a natural (moon) or man-made object that orbits around a planet or star. E.g., the Moon is the satellite of Earth and Earth is a satellite of the Sun. 
  • Artificial Satellites are man-made objects orbiting around the Earth which help us to study, communicate and observe the distant universe. Artificial Satellites include Aryabhata, Bhaskara, Rohini, INSAT, GSAT, AstroSat, CartoSat etc. 


1957 Sputnik-1 launched by the Soviet Union
1958 Explorer-1 launched by the USA
1975 Aryabhattathe first Indian satellite was launched (with Soviet Launch Vehicle).
1980 Rohinithe first satellite was launched using Indian Launch Vehicle. 


Theory behind working of Satellites

If a stone is thrown with some speed in the horizontal direction, it will follow a curved path as it falls to the ground. If the stone is thrown at a higher speed, it follows a path of a bigger radius.

Conclusion: Greater the speed => Greater the Radius of Curved Path

Theory behind working of  Indian Satellite

If somehow we could throw the stone with such tremendous speed that the radius of its path becomes a little greater than the radius of Earth, the stone would never fall on the Earth & would keep revolving around it. This is the principle on which Artificial Satellites work. 

Side Topic: Types of Orbits

1. Low  Earth Orbit (LEO)

  • It is situated 400 to 900 km above the surface of the Earth. 
  • As it is situated closest to Earth, satellites have to overcome massive drag due to the atmosphere. Hence,  satellites located in Low Earth Orbit have a shorter life span of 2-3 years.
  • They appear to be moving in the sky & take approx. 1.5 hours for one revolution
  • The maximum time LEO satellites are visible from a fixed point on Earth is 20 minutes.
  • Following are placed in LEO
    • Astronomical Telescopes (eg : India’s Astrosat) 
    • Space Stations (eg : International Space Station (ISS))
Low  Earth Orbit

2. Geostationary Orbit

  • There is only one Geostationary Orbit at 36,000 km above the earth surface at the equator. 
  • Satellites placed in the Geostationary Orbit revolves around the Earth with an orbital period of one sidereal day (23hours, 56 minutes, and 4.1 seconds). 
  • It is a circular orbit lying in the equatorial plane
  • It has a special property of remaining permanently fixed in the same position in the sky, meaning ground-based antennas do not need to track them but can remain fixed in one direction. 
  • Such satellites are often used for communication and broadcast purposes (due to the above property). 
  • Note:  Single Geostationary Satellite can cover about 40% of the Earth’s surface. If three satellites are placed at proper longitude, the whole Earth can be covered. Arthur C Clarke first conceptualized this & the Geostationary orbit is sometimes referred to as Clarke’s Orbit in his honour.
Geostationary Orbit

3. Geosynchronous Orbit

  • Geosynchronous Orbit is also situated at 36,000 km above the Earth’s surface, but it is non-circular & non-equatorial.
  • Satellites placed in the Geosynchronous orbit also revolve around the Earth in one sidereal day, but they don’t appear to be stationary from Earth. 

4. Polar Orbit

  • Polar Satellites pass above both poles of Earth, i.e. they are inclined at 90 degrees from the equator.
  • They are used for earth mapping, earth observation, surveillance & weather.

How it is used for mapping?

The time period of a polar satellite is nearly 100 minutes, and the Satellite completes many revolutions in a day. A Polar satellite covers a small strip of the area from pole to pole during one revolution. The next revolution covers a different area strip since the Earth would have moved by a small angle. In this way, polar satellites cover the entire surface area of the Earth.

Polar Orbit

5. Sun Synchronous Orbit

  • It is a special type of Polar Orbit. 
  • In this, altitude & inclination are set in such a way that it guarantees the same illumination.
  • It has the same application as polar satellites.

6. Junk Orbit / Graveyard Orbit

  • When the life of Geo-Stationary Satellite completes, they are sent above Geostationary Orbit known as Junk Orbit
  • It is an excellent way to tackle space junk. 

7. Halo Orbit

  • It is a specific type of solar orbit located at three Lagrange points (L1, L2 and L3) between Earth and the Sun.
  • Lagrange point is a point in the space where the combined gravitational force of two bodies is equal to the centrifugal force felt by a third body.


  • Transponders are part of the payload of satellites. 
  • Since the radio waves have to transverse long distances, the satellite receives the carrier signals at very low power. Therefore, satellites need to significantly boost the power of these signals before re-transmission back to Earth, ensuring that they are detectable by an Earth-based receiver. Transponders perform this function. 

Different Types of Transponders

Transponder Band Frequency Range Application
L 1 to 2 GHz GPS
S 2 to 4 GHz Weather radar
C 4 to 8 GHz Communication 
X 8 to 12.5 GHz Military (defence tracking, maritime and air traffic control) and Meteorological (weather monitoring)
Ku 12.5 to 18 GHz DTH, Internet and VSAT services.
K 18 to 26.5 GHz BSS and FSS (Fixed Satellite Service)
Ka 26.5 to 40 GHz High resolution and close range targeting radars

Satellite Systems

Remote Sensing Satellites

  • Remote Sensing Satellites collect the data by detecting the energy that is reflected from Earth. They might track animal migration, watch crops for weather damages or see forests fire and deforestation.
  • These satellites are  
    • Placed in Polar Orbits.  
    • Sun-Synchronous (so that illuminance of the point is the same) 
    • Revolves around the Earth in low earth orbit (900 Km) 
  • Spaceborne remote sensing is better than ground surveys and airborne sensing because it is 
    1. Cheaper
    2. Speedier
    3. More accurate 
    4. Reliable 
    5. Multidimensional
  • IRS-1A, launched in 1988, was India’s first India first remote sensing satellite. Present examples include Cartosat, Resourcesat, Scatsat, Oceansat, Saral etc.

Applications of Remote Sensing Satellites

1. Defence

  • These satellites act as the ‘Spy in the Sky’ and are used for reconnaissance.
  • They can easily pick up the troop movement and deployments by the enemy.

2. Agriculture

  • Remote Sensing Satellites can be used to 
    1. Assess net crop area.
    2. Movement of locust.
    3. Damage assessments.
  • India is divided into 15 Agro-climatic zones based on data from IRS 1A and 1B.
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is also using the data of these satellites to estimate crop damages.

3. Disaster Management

  • They are used for
    1. Early warning of cyclones, floods etc. 
    2. Monitoring of forest fires.

4. Natural Resource Management

  • Remote Sensing Satellites are used in
    1. Land use mapping 
    2. Mineral prospecting 
    3. Forest surveys 

5. Urban Studies

  • They are used in
    1. Mapping urban sprawl. 
    2. Structural plans for cities. 

6. Governance

  • Geotagging of all the assets created under schemes like MNREGA, RKVY etc., can be done using these satellites. 

7. Fisheries

  • By analysing the colour of the ocean, surface temperature and wind conditions from the Oceans, it is possible to identify areas in the sea where the fish school will assemble.

Side Topic: BHUVAN

  • BHUVAN is an application developed by ISRO using data provided by Indian Remote Sensing Satellites like Resourcesat, Cartosat-1 and Cartosat-2. National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA) played an essential role in its creation. 
  • It provides medium to high-resolution imagery, with spatial resolution ranging from 10-100 metres, of entire India over the internet. 
  • The portal is designed to run even on slow internet. Images of Bhuvan includes weather information, administrative boundaries etc. 

List of Remote Sensing Satellites

  • Starting from IRS 1A, ISRO has launched many Remote Sensing Satellites, including HysIS, ScatSat, Cartosat etc. 
  • Initially, ISRO used to name its Remote Sensing Satellites as 1A, 1B etc. Later, it started to name these satellites based on the application of the satellites like CartoSat, OceanSat etc. 

Important Indian Remote Sensing Satellites are as follows:-


  • SARAL= Satellite with ARgos and ALtiKa.
  • It is an Indo-French satellite
  • It was launched from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
  • Application:  meteorology, oceanography, climate monitoring etc.

2. Megha Tropiques

  • It is an Indo-French Joint Venture.
  • It was launched in 2011 using PSLV.
  • Application: Study the tropical atmosphere and climate-related aspects such as monsoons, cyclones, etc.

3. HySIS

  • HySIS is India’s first Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite (HySIS).
  • It was launched with PSLV in Polar Orbit. 

What is Hyperspectral Imaging Technology? 

  • This technology combines the power of digital imaging and spectroscopy. Hence, every pixel in the image contains much more detailed information about the scene than a standard colour camera. 
  • It was earlier used in the Chandrayaan-1 mission for mapping lunar mineral resources.  
  • Applications of Hyperspectral remote sensing are as follows
    1. Mineral prospecting
    2. Soil survey
    3. Coastal water studies
    4. Environment Studies and detection of Pollution from industries.


  • NISAR = NASA-India Synthetic Aperture Radar 
  • Launched in 2012, it was India’s first indigenous radar imaging satellite
  • NISAR is a combined mission of NASA (of USA) and ISRO (of India).
  • Main features 
    • It is a dual-frequency (L and S-Band) Radar Imaging Satellite.
    • NISAR is an Earth-monitoring satellite. NISAR will take images of the Earth every week. It is strong enough to take images of a tectonic plate and small changes in land use patterns.
    • Landslides, volcanoes, drought, flood, etc., can be easily be observed through NISAR.
    • Its application includes mapping and monitoring natural resources, assessing soil moisture, mangroves, surface deformation due to seismic activities, etc.

5. EOS-01

  • EOS = Earth Observation Satellite .
  • Launched in November 2020 in Polar Orbit using PSLV launch vehicle (PSLV-C49).
  • Applications: It will be used for agriculture, forestry and disaster management


  • RISAT = Radar Imaging Satellite 
  • RISAT-2B was launched in May 2019. 
  • RISAT is an earth observation satellite using radar imaging with an advanced 3.6m radial rib antenna. 
  • Application: Earth observation intended to improve agriculture, forestry, and disaster management services.

7. Aditya – L1

  • Aditya-L1 is India mission to study Sun. 
  • Aditya L1 will study the magnetic field of the Sun’s corona.
  • It will be placed at Lagrange point (L1).
  • Note: NASA has announced its Parker program, which will study corona by going to the Sun. 

Side Topic: Lagrangian Points

  • Lagrange points are the positions in the space where the gravitational pull of two masses equals each other. 
  • In this case, it is about the gravity on all pulls of the Sun and Earth. There are 5 such points in the space. They are important because the object placed at these points remains stationary w.r.t. to both Earth and Sun.
Lagrangian Points

8. Cartosat – 2

  • Cartography is the science of drawing maps.
  • Cartosat satellites: Cartosat series are earth observation satellites in a sun-synchronous orbit. They have high-resolution cameras installed on them. The imagery sent by Satellite is useful for cartographic (drawing maps) applications.
  • Cartosat-2 was launched in Feb 2017.
  • In 104 satellite launches, this was the primary Satellite. 
  • It is primarily meant for military requirements (hence, it can be said that ISRO is moving from Civilian to Military uses too).

9. Cartosat 2s

  • It was launched in 2018.
  • It was launched using PSLV-40, which was India’s 100th launch, along with 30 other satellites.

10. Cartosat 3

  • Cartosat 3 satellite has high-resolution imaging capability.
  • Application: It is used for large scale urban planning, rural resource and infrastructure development, coastal land use and land cover along with Disaster Management Support Programs like Cyclone and Flood Mapping & Monitoring, Landslide Mapping & Monitoring, Agricultural Drought, Forest Fire, Earthquakes etc.


  • DRDO developed EMISAT under Project Kautilya. 
  • It is India’s first Electronic Intelligence Satellite
  • Application: EMISAT is meant for electromagnetic spectrum measurement and provides information to armed forces about hostile radars placed at the borders.


  • It is a weather satellite that mainly focuses on Cyclone formation.
  • It has replaced the (earlier) Oceansat.

13. Kalam Global Sat

  • It is a global satellite for Disaster Risk Reduction.
  • It was launched at UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held at Sendai in Japan in March 2015. 

14. ISRO Student Collaborations

  • KalamSat-V2: It was developed by students of Chennai based Space Kidz India, and it is the world’s lightest Satellite ever put in orbit with a mass of 1.26 kg. 
  • ANUSAT: Satellite built by Anna University.
  • JUGNU: Satellite built by IIT Kanpur.
  • SRMSAT: Satellite built by SRM University.

Side Topic: Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS)

  • ISRO plans to launch a set of satellites that will track, send and receive information from other Indian Satellites.
  • IDRSS satellites will be of  2,000 kg class and will be launched using GSLV launcher to geostationary orbit around 36,000 km away.
  • In the coming years, these satellites will be vital to ISRO, whose roadmap includes advanced LEO missions such as space docking, space station, and distant expeditions to the moon, Mars and Venus.

Geosynchronous Satellites 

INSAT and GSAT are the backbones of Indian Geosynchronous Satellite systems.

  • Ford Aerospace Corporation of USA built the INSAT series under contract.
  • GSAT series is an indigenous system developed by ISRO to make India self-reliant in broadcasting services. 


India is considered a leader in the application of space technology to solve problems on Earth.

1. Telecommunication

  • Satellites are responsible for the communication revolution in India.
  • Using satellites, remote and far-flung areas have been effectively connected.

2. Television

India uses geostationary satellites to provide DTH (Direct to Home) services all over the country.

3. Disaster management & meteorology

Satellites can be used to provide

  • Warning mechanism for the cyclone.
  • Short term weather forecasting.
  • Impact assessment for droughts and floods.
  • Geosynchronous satellites can also be used in satellite aided search & rescue.

4. Navigation

  • All the navigation systems like GPS, GLONASS, NAVIC, Galileo etc., use geosynchronous and geostationary satellites. 

Important Geosynchronous satellites of ISRO

Earlier, India used the INSAT series, but now the GSAT series is used. INSAT 1 and 2 series (except INSAT 2E) has expired, but many INSAT 3 and 4 series satellites are still functional.

1. INSAT-3

  • INSAT-3A was launched in 2003 using the Arianne launch vehicle, followed by INSAT-3B and 3C.
  • INSAT-3 satellites have C and Ku band transponders and were meant for communication purposes.

2. INSAT-4

  • INSAT-4A was launched in 2005 using the Arianne launch vehicle, followed by INSAT-4B.
  • These satellites are used for telecast purposes. E.g., INSAT-4A is used by TATA Sky and INSAT-4B is used by Sun Direct and DD Direct.

3. CMS-01

  • CMS-01 is the communication satellite launched by ISRO in December 2020.
  • It has replaced GSAT-12, which was launched by India in 2011 and was India’s primary communication satellite. 
  • It will provide telecommunication services to mainland India as well as Andaman-Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands. 

4. Kalpana 1

  • It was launched in 2002 using PSLV (weighing around 1060 kg).
  • It is India’s exclusive meteorological Satellite and was initially named MetSat.

5. Rukmini / GSAT-7

  • It was the first military communication satellite launched by ISRO in 2013, with the Indian Navy being the primary user. 
  • It secures real-time communication for the military.

6. SAARC or South-Asian Satellite / GSAT-9

  • PM Narendra Modi announced it at the SAARC Summit of 2014, and it was launched in 2017 using a GSLV launch vehicle.
  • It points to India’s having started to use space diplomacy to strengthen the “neighbours first policy”. 
  • It is a communication satellite with Ku band transponders. South Asian countries, namely Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Afghanistan, will get at least 1 Ku transponder each. It will provide the nations with capability in teleeducation, telemedicine, broadcasting, Direct-to-Home services (DTH) and VSAT capacity. 
  • It was the first Indian Satellite to use Electric Propulsion. 
  • India has borne all the other costs for the launch of the satellite.

7. GSAT 11

  • It was launched in Dec 2018. 
  • It is the ISRO’s heaviest Satellite (5855 kg).
  • GSAT-11 is aimed at providing broadband internet from space to untouched areas.

8. GSAT – 29

  • It was launched in June 2017 with Indian Launcher GSLV Mk – III with operational Cryogenic Stage from Sriharikota (first Satellite to be launched with GSLV MK III – Earlier all GSATs were launched with the help of French Agency Ariane Aerospace.) 
  • Application: Drive India’s Broadband Internet from space to the untouched areas by providing the throughput data rate of 16 Gbps.

Some satellites of other countries

1. Amazonia 1

  • Amazonia-1 is a Brazilian satellite launched by ISRO using PSLV (C51).
  • It is a sun-synchronous remote sensing satellite that will be preliminary used for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon forests.

2. Laser Communication Relay Demonstration (LCRD) Satellite

  • NASA has launched the LCRD, the first Satellite to use a laser communication system. Till now, radio communication has been used to transmit data via satellites. 
  • It is advantageous because it uses optical communication, which uses a shorter wavelength can transmit more data in a shorter time. Moreover, optical communication systems are lighter and are cheaper to launch.

3. Ravana 1

  • The Sri-Lankan satellite was launched with Japanese (JAXA) help.

4. Ibuki 2

  • Japanese satellite to observe Greenhouse Gases.


  • The joint mission of NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)  for mapping Earth’s gravitational field. 

Mission Shakti – Anti Satellite Missile

What is Mission Shakti?

  • Mission Shakti is an Anti-Satellite Missile. 
  • It is made by DRDO (not ISRO). 
  • It is the modified version of the Ballistic Interceptor Missile. 
  • It can detect, target & destroy space objects
  • To show it’s working, an obsolete (Indian) satellite at 300 km was tracked with sensors and destroyed. 
Mission Shakti
  • Note: Outer Space Treaty prohibits placing any weapon in earth orbit or on the celestial body. But none of the treaties is against such tests. 


  • It has made India a Space Power as India is the 4th country after the US (1958), Russia (1964) & China (2007) to have this capability.
  • It will create a ‘credible deterrence‘ against attacks on India’s growing space assets (especially China).
  • It will help India to avoid any chance of repeating the experience of what happened in the nuclear domain. If NPT-like mechanisms come in the space domain, India will be on the safer side.


  • It has created huge space debris. Earlier, 2007 Chinese tests produced 2000 space debris. NASA criticized India for the creation of Space Debris.
  • It will lead to Arms Race in Asia. Pakistan will get an excuse to get this technology from China to claim parity.

ISRO and Indian Space Program

ISRO and Indian Space Program

This article deals with ‘ISRO and Indian Space Program.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is an important pillar of the GS-3 syllabus. For more articles, you can click here

Evolution of World Space Journey

Timeline of developments in the Space Technology

Space Program of India

  • Indian Space Program is operated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
  • Vikram Sarabhai is known as the father of the Indian Space Program

Objectives of Space Program

India has historically viewed space technology applications primarily for societal development. Hence, the objectives of the Indian Space Program are

  1. Using Space Technology for the socio-economic benefit of people.
  2. Make India self-reliant in space technology.
  3. Peaceful use of outer space.

Department of Space (DoS)

  • Nodal Agency for Space-related activities in India is the Department of Space (DoS). 
  • ISRO is the primary R&D wing of DoS.
  • Other Agencies of DoS include
Physical Research Lab (PRL) Ahmedabad
Semi Conductor Lab Chandigarh
National Atmospheric Research Lab Chittor
North Eastern Space Applications Centre Shillong


  • It is the primary body of Space Research under the Department of Space. 
  • Present Chairman = Dr K Sivan 
  • It is headquartered in Bangalore.


1961 Space Research started under the Department of Atomic Energy under Homi Bhabha.
1962 Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCSR) established & worked to establish TERLS (Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Centre) started.
1969 ISRO was formed.
1972 – Department of Space (independent department) formed.
ISRO was brought under the Department of Space.
1975 Aryabhatta – the first Indian satellite was launched (with Soviet Launch Vehicle).
1980 Rohini – the first satellite was launched using Indian Launch Vehicle

Regional Centres of ISRO

  • ISRO has its various regional centres like
    1. ISRO Satellite Application Centre, Bengaluru (ISAC): Design and fabricate satellites. 
    1. Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram (VSSC): Develop satellite launch vehicles (like PSLV and GSLV).
    2. Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota (SDSC): Satellite launching station of India. 
    3. Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad (SAC): Conceptualize and carry out different space research projects. 
    4. Liquid Propulsion System Centre, Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu (LPSC): Development of satellite propulsion systems. 
    5. ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network, Bengaluru (ISTRAC) 
    6. Master Control Facility, Bhopal and Hassan (Karnataka): Observe and control all geostationary satellites.
    7. National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad: Act as a key player in earth observation program and disaster management.
ISRO and Indian Space Program


  • Antrix is the commercial wing of ISRO
  • It was incorporated in 1992 and awarded ‘Miniratna‘ status in 2008. 
  • Its main functions include 
    1. Promotion and commercialization of space products.
    2. Providing technical consultancy services.
    3. Deals with the transfer of technologies developed by ISRO.  
    4. It also offers various services and space products to international customers worldwide.

New Space India Limited (NSIL)

  • NSIL is the commercial arm of ISRO. 
  • It was incorporated in 2019 as a Government-owned enterprise.
  • The main functions of NSIL include 
    • NSIL will enable Indian industries to build the capacity of the domestic market for space manufacturing.
    • NSIL will facilitate the transfer of ISRO technologies to the industry. 
  • The launch of a Brazilian satellite named ‘Amazonia-1’ in 2021 was the first commercial deal of NSIL.

Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACE)

  • IN-SPACE is the Department of Space’s department.
  • IN-SPACE functions autonomously and parallel to ISRO.
  • IN-SPACE has its own directorates for technical, legal, safety and security, monitoring and activities promotion.
  • The function of IN-SPACE includes regulation and promotion of the building of satellites, rockets and commercial launch services through Indian industry and StartUps.

Side Topic: Equivalent of ISRO of other nations

Russia RKA
China CNSA
Europe ESA
Japan JAXA

Satellite Launching Stations / Launch Pads

  • Presently, India has only one launch station at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh with two launch pads.
  • India is building its second rocket launch station in the Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu. 
  • Note: Satellite launching stations (including that of India) is located on the east coast and as close to the equator as possible due to the following reasons:-
    • The Earth’s rotation provides an additional boost, and the strength of the boost is higher closer to the equator.
    • In case of failure, debris would fall into the Bay of Bengal, potentially saving property and lives.

Side Topic: Satellite Launch Stations of other countries

USA Cape Canaveral (Florida)
France French Guyana (in South America)
Iran Emamshahr
China Jiquan
Japan Uchinoura
Russia Kapustin Yar

Achievements of Indian Space Programme

  • India has emerged as one of the 6 most important countries in the field of space research. 
  • India is self-reliant in launching remote sensing and communication platforms.
  • With GSLV MK-III, India is now in the elite club which can launch heavy Geo-Stationary Communication Satellites. 
  • World Record was created by ISRO by launching 104 Satellites in a single launch.
  • ISRO is launching satellites for other countries as well and earning foreign exchange (Eg: Amazonia-1 (Brazil).
  • Space program contributes to national security in the form of improving surveillance capability.
  • The space program is helping India emerge as technological power and knowledge-based economy. 

Challenges to Indian Space Programme

  • Indian Space Program needs to move from research and development to a commercial level.
  • India should boost the frequency of launches. This will reduce the cost & make it cost-competitive.
  • There is a need to develop capabilities to build a much larger number of satellites than the current 3-4 per year. 
  • Most of the space launches are for socio-economic development. ISRO needs to move ahead and work for the country’s military and defence needs as well.

Side Topic: Cases in news

Nambi Narayanan Case

In 1994, Nambi Narayanan, who was working on Cryogenic Engine and was on the verge of making it, was arrested for selling secrets. CBI later found that the charges were false, and he was discharged in 1996. The case was fabricated by IB Officials in connivance with the CIA because the US didn’t want India to develop a Cryogenic Engine as it would have challenged the monopoly of the US, Russia, and France.

Devas Antrix Case

In 2005, Antrix Corporation signed an agreement with Devas Multimedia to lease S-band transponders on two ISRO satellites (GSAT 6 and GSAT 6A) for a price of ₹1,400 crore, which is significantly lower than the market price. In 2009, the Devas – Antrix deal was exposed. This was named Antrix – Devas S-band spectrum scam. After a CBI investigation, the deal was annulled. Subsequently, Devas made an appeal in the International Court, which has declared that the annulling of the agreement by the Government of India was “unfair” and inequitable”. 

Glance at ISRO’s flagship missions

1 . Indian Regional  Navigation Satellite System  (IRNSS) 

  • IRNSS or NAVIC is India’s indigenous GPS.
  • It is already operational.  

2. Reusable  Satellite  Launch Vehicle 

  • This mission will reduce the cost of delivering satellites into orbit to 1/10th.  

3. Cryogenic  Engine (GSLV MK III)

  • GSLV MK III with Cryogenic Stage has been developed successfully.
  • It can be used to launch payloads of up to  4 tonnes into the geostationary orbit. 

4. Chandrayaan 2

  • After the unprecedented success of Chandrayaan-1, ISRO decided to launch Chandrayaan-2 in July 2019. 
  • It had Rover and Lander.
  • Mission achieved a partial success.


Expanding the boundaries Of human knowledge

5. Aditya  Space  Satellite

  • Aditya Mission will study the Corona of Sun.
  • ISRO will launch it shortly.

6. Venus  Exploration program/ Shukrayaan

  • To study the atmosphere of Venus for a period of 4 years.
  • ISRO will launch it shortly. 
  • France is also collaborating with India on its mission to Venus. 

7. Gaganyaan

  • Gaganyaan is a 3-ton ISRO   spaceship to carry a 2-member crew to the Low Earth Orbit and safe return to the Earth after a few orbits to two days.  
  • The extendable version of the spaceship will allow flights up to 7 days and have docking capability with space stations. 

8. Second Launch Station

  • India is building its second rocket launch station in the Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu. 
  • The project will house one launchpad exclusively for Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV).
  • Presently, India has only one launch station at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh with two launch pads.

9. Space Parks

  • The government is making a 100-acre Space Park in Bangalore.
  • Private industry players would be allowed to set up facilities to make subsystems and components for satellites. 

10. Village Resource Centre

  • 473 Village Resource Centres (VRCs) have been established by ISRO.  
  • It uses Satellite Communication (SATCOM) network and Earth Observation (EO) satellites.
  • VRCs provide services like telemedicine (by connecting sick people in villages through VSAT network to the doctors), Tele-education (providing a virtual classroom facility to far-flung villages), and providing advisories related to agriculture. 
  • There is a need to upscale VRCs and link all village Panchayats. 

Outreach Programs of ISRO

  • YUVIKA ProgramProgram aims to inculcate and nurture space research enthusiasm in young minds. Under this 1-month program, 3 students from each of state and UT is selected provided that the student has just finished 9th standard and is waiting to join 10th standard.
  • Young Scientist Program: It is an ISRO program for school students aiming to teach and nurture space research fervour in young minds.
  • Samvad with Students: Under the ISRO program called Samvad with Students, the ISRO chairman meets the students during his outstation visits, addresses their queries, and quenches the scientific thrust.
  • ISRO-Student Collaborations: ANUSAT (Anna University Satellite), Student Satellite (STUDSAT), SRMSAT (SRM University), Jugnu (IIT Kanpur) etc.

This marks the end of the article titled ‘ISRO and Indian Space Program.’ For the rest of the articles, CLICK HERE.

Security Issues in North East

Security Issues in North East

In this article , we will discuss Security Issues in North East .

8 Sister States ie Sikkim, Assam, Meghalaya , Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh are known as North Eastren States of India.

This region is the most insurgency affected region of India and in this article , we will look into insurgencies and security issues in various North-Eastern states

Reasons for   lack  of  development  in  North-East

Centralized Governance  Indigenous people have little share in political and economic structures at central level. This centralized approach has deprived the locals from determining the nature and context of the problem thereby frustrating their aspirations of autonomy.
Economy controlled by outsiders Indigenous people have little role to play in the economy of the region. Eg : most of the plantation industry is dominated  by the immigrant labor force.
Connectivity issue
  • Due to partition of India , North East turned to landlocked country.
  • After 1962 war, Union didn’t built high grade roads and other infra in fear that it can lead to faster movement of Chinese troops.
Lack of infrastructure Lack  of  infrastructure  in  the  region  which  has  subsequently  culminated  into  lack  of industrialization  in  the  region.
Ethnic issues
  • North East has large number of Tribal Ethnicities and they usually rose against each other
  • Ethnic discord marked by some communities being branded “outsiders”
        • Chakma issue in Mizoram,
        • Hill versus valley disturbances in Manipur
        • longstanding NRC issue in Assam
        • Attacks on Sikh residents in Meghalaya
        • Chakma/Hajong citizenship issue in Arunachal Pradesh itself.
AFSPA Imposition of AFSPA has led to the feeling of discontentment
Land acquisition problems The  land  records  are  not  digitized,  and  land  surveys  are  not  done  and  land  records are  not  updated  at  regular  intervals.
Political representation One  of  the  key  reasons  for  not  giving  the  North-East  a  high  priority,  many  argue, is  the  fact  that  it  only  sends  24  Members  of  Parliament  to  the  Lok  Sabha,  out  of which  Assam  alone  sends  14.

Reasons for Insurgencies in North East

Pre Independence Reasons
  • Tribes were not brought under a strict political control and rigid regulations.
  • British tribal policy and Christian education are believed to be the genesis of demands of Independence from India
Post Independence
  • Ethnic and cultural  specificities were ignored during the process of delineation of state boundaries in the 1950s, giving rise to discontentment and assertion of one’s identity
  • Underdevelopment, Poverty, unemployment, lack of connectivity, inadequate health care and educational facilities
  • Governance deficit
  • Migration of people from the plains posing economic, cultural and political threat to the tribals.
  • Hostile neighbours extending moral and material support owing to porous international borders
  • Deep sense of alienation due to human right violation and excesses by security forces.
  • Imposition of AFSPA has led to the feeling of discontentment
  • Difficult terrain and weak infrastructure facilitating insurgents involved in conflict.

Impact of Insurgencies on North East

  • Lack of investment in the region especially in untapped potential for hydro-electric power due to lack of security
  • Economy severely affected due to extortion of “taxes” by various factions on local people, businesses, officials etc
  • Narcotic trade due to its position in vicinity of Golden Triangle impacting young generation


Mix  of  development , military power, governance , dialogue and ceasefireSecurity Challenges in North East

  • Act East Policy : Kaladan Multimodal Project , IMT highway , BCIM etc
  • Infra development . Japan also interested to fund
  • Seven  States  of  the  region  enjoy  special  category  status  to  develop  backward  areas.
  • Development of tourism
  • Job promotion in BPO sector => North East BPO Promotion Scheme
  • Promotion of Organic food
  • Governance – North East Council, Schedule 6 etc
  • Ratio in assistance from Central Government in Core Scheme =   90:10
  • Decentralisation of powers among the tribes
Military Power
  • AFSPA in place in insurgency hit areas
  • Eg : Indian Government in dialogue with NSCN and other Naga groups and is on verge of signing accord .

Topic : Assam Issue


  1. British developed the tea industry in Assam. They imported labour from Bihar & other provinces to work in tea gardens.
  2. Assamese people living mostly in Upper Assam and cultivating one crop per year, were not interested in working as labour in the tea gardens nor in increasing or expanding land cultivation .Therefore, British encouraged Bengali Muslim peasants from present Bangladesh to move into Lower Assam for putting virgin land under cultivation.
  3. Later during 1971 crisis, large number of Bangladeshi Muslims (+ Hindus) too came in Assam. This pattern is going on even after that

Socio-political movement started by  Assamese people in 1979 to evict illegal Bangladeshis ended in Assam Accord in 1985.

Reason for Migration from Bangladesh

  • Increasing pressure on land and mounting unemployment in Bangladesh due to rise in population. Large segments of population in Bangladesh uprooted by severe floods and cyclones
  • Porous India Bangladesh border
  • Better economic conditions in India

Security Challenge

  • Lead to agitations in which public property is damaged : failure of government to respond the issue of illegal migration led to the agitation by Assamese (culminating in Assam Accord)
  • Illegal Voters : Most of the illegal Bangladeshis have got their names enlisted in the voting list illegally, thereby claiming themselves as citizens of the state. The immigrant’s population act s as a vote bank for the political parties in Assam.
  • Issue of terrorism:  Pakistan’s ISI has been active in Bangladesh supporting militant movements in Assam.  Among the illegal migrants there are also militants

Way Out

  • Diplomatic Effort: India has to make diplomatic effort to get Bangladesh to cooperate as illegal migration cannot be solved unless sending country cooperates. Sharing of digital database of its citizens will make it easier.
  • Better Border Management: Fencing, construction of border roads and proper management of border will make a difference
  • Bar from Voting rights: Illegal migrants should not be allowed to vote and this will diminish their ability to influence government decisions by being a political force

Side Topic : ULFA

  • Demand = Separate country of Assam
  • Formed in 1979 against the backdrop of All Assam Student Union’s agitation against foreigners. It established close relationship with organisations such as NSCN of Nagaland . Their objective is to create independent Assam through armed struggle. It conducted several terrorist activities throughout 1990s
  •  ULFA claims that Assam was never a part of India as the Treaty of Yandabu was signed between two imperial powers without the consent of Assamese people.
  • 2011 : Tripartite Agreement between Union Government, State of Assam and ULFA for suspension of operations of ULFA .
  • At present , ULFA is divided into two factions – ULFA (PTF) and ULFA (ATF) ie Pro and Anti Talk Faction .

Topic : Manipur

  • Most insurgent state of North-East
  • More than 15 violent insurgent groups are present


  • There is clear divide between hill and valley people
  1. Meiteis : Valley people
  2. Nagas and Kukis : Hill people
  • Hill areas are affected by the actions of Nagas and Kukis . The people of hill areas feel that Meitis are an  influential group thereby compromising their interest . Meiteis on the other hand feels threatened due to powers and status given to Kuki and Naga people after the independence .

Groups active here

  • United National Liberation Front
  • Oldest Meitei insurgent group which seeks to create an independent and socialist Manipur
  • People’s Liberation Army
  • It is a Meitei organisation that aims to organise the entire North-East into a revolutionary front and bring together all the ethnic groups under a single umbrella
  • People’s Liberation Army of Kanglipak
  • Their aim is to expel the outsiders from Manipur
  • Another Meitei insurgent group
  • Their aim is to cleanise Manipuri society of evils like drugs
KNA Kuki National Army (demanding Zalengam consisting of areas of India & Myanmar)


  • Mass migration since 1947 altered the demography of Tripura from a tribal area to Bengali speaking majority area. Tribals were deprieved of their agricultural land which led to the emergence of Tripura National Volunteers .
  • In 1990, All Tripura National Force was formed which carried out periodic terrorist attacks . Their objective is expulsion of Bengali immigrants and removal of their names from the electoral rolls
  • National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) whose objective is to create independent of Tripura through armed struggle

Topic: Nagaland

Terms involved

Naga Naga people are a conglomeration of several tribes inhabiting the North Eastern part of India and north-western Burma. As of 2012, the state of Nagaland  officially recognises 17 Naga tribes.

Prominent Naga tribes include Poumai, Sumi, Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Liangmai, Lotha, Pochury, Rongmei,Zeme, Mao.

Greater Nagalim Region carved out by integrating all Naga-inhabited contiguous areas under one administrative umbrella .It includes several districts of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur, as also a large tract of Myanmar. The map of “Greater Nagalim” has about 1,20,000sq km, while the state of Nagaland consists of 16,527 sq km .
AFSPA An act of the Parliament of India that grants special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what the act terms “disturbed areas”.

Timeline in Naga Struggle

1826 Assam annexed by Britishers
1881 Naga hill too became a part of British India
  • Root of conflict started in 1918
  • Formation of the Naga Club by 20 members of the Naga French Labour Corp, who had served in World War I. The wartime knowledge motivated the few who had come in contact with the European battlefield to politically organise themselves as a distinct ethnic political entity.
1929 Club had submitted a memorandum to the Simon Commission in 1929, in which it stated that the people of Naga areas and that of mainland India had nothing in common between them. Therefore, it would benefit both to stay separate and form their own political entity as and when the British left India.
  • Club was further reinforced with the formation of the Naga National Council (NNC) under the leadership of A.Z Phizo, a charismatic leader belonging to the Angami tribe.
  • Phizo had been trained by the British, especially Major General Wingate during World War II on the Burma Front against Japanese forces & he utilised knowledge to impart training in guerrilla warfare to NNC members.
  • Nine Point Agreement known as  Akbar Hydari Agreement was signed between NNC leaders T. Sakhrie, Imkonglba Ao and the Governor of Assam, Sir Akbar Hydari on 29 June 1947.
  • The Agreement gave the Nagas rights over their land as well as executive and legislative powers, but within the ambit of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Agreement was rejected by Phizo. On 14 August 1947, the NNC led by Phizo declared independence.
1952 Formation of Naga Federal Government and Naga Federal Army which involved in violent clashes.
  1950s, 1960s and 1970s were a tumultuous period in Naga history with militancy on the rise coupled by the state’s military response propelled by acts like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, amended in 1972.
1962 Efforts for peace were made by the Union Government with the grant of statehood to Nagaland in 1963 and the establishment of a peace mission in 1964.
  • It was the loss of bases in East Pakistan in 1972, with the emergence of a new nation-Bangladesh, as well as the constant pressure from Indian security forces that motivated the NNC under Z. Huire to sign  Shillong Accord.
  • The Shillong Accord however repeated the tragic story of the 9 Point Agreement, in that it split the Naga rebel movement.
  • The Shillong Accord was the proximate cause for the formation of the original unified National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN).
1980 Thuingaleng Muivah rejected the accord and formed Nationalist Social Council of Nagaland (NSCN).
  • Due to intense differences with existing leadership Isak Chisi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah formed NSCN (IM) on 31 January 1988.
  • Followed by the further spilt of S. S. Khaplang led faction and formation of the NSCN (Khaplang) another National Socialist Council of Nagaland, named after its leader came to dominate in Naga inhabited areas.
1990s NSCN(IM)  becomes the largest insurgent outfit in Nagaland demanding Greater Nagalim.
1997 NSCN(IM) signs cease fire
2001 NSCN (K) (Khaplang) signs cease fire
2012 New NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) group was formed as a breakaway faction of the NSCN (K).
March 2015 NSCN (K) breaks cease fire
Aug 2015 Naga Peace Accord Signed with NSCN (IM)

      • NSCN has vowed allegiance to the constitution of India. The details of the accord are yet to come in public domain.
      • Issue : NSCN-IM has been insistent on the integration of Naga-inhabited areas into a greater Nagaland, which they call Nagalim and would involve the partition of three states — Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh and inclusion of areas in Myanmar.

NSCN (IM), which views itself as the sole representative of the Naga people in peace dialogue , is being increasingly threatened on its home turf by the NSCN (Khole and Kitovi) faction.

  • While NSCN (Khaplang) is a major threat to the NSCN (IM) as a rival armed actor, its influence in terms of social legitimacy in Naga inhabited areas in India has been limited at best, due to the fact that its Chairman Khaplang belongs to Myanmar .
  • The Khole-Kitovi faction is however, a real challenge to the NSCN (IM)’s sphere of influence given the fact that both leaders are from Nagaland.

Money Laundering

In this article , we will look into Money Laundering as per the needs of UPSC examination.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is the process of taking money earned from illicit activities, such as drug trafficking or tax evasion, and making the money appear to be earnings from legal business activity.

Money laundering is a way to conceal illegal funds and works by transferring money in an elaborate and complicated manner and to mislead anyone who may seek to trace the transaction. The objective is to make difficult to trace the original party to the transaction also referred to as the launderer.


Money Laundering
Process of Money Laundering
  1. Placement
  • It refers to moving the funds from a direct association with the crime .
  • It involves the initial entry of dirty cash into financial system.
  • The aim at this stage is to remove the cash from its location of acquisition to avoid detection by legal authorities
  • This is the most vulnerable stage in the money laundering

Done through

  1. Currency exchange
  2. Gambling
  3. Purchasing assets
  4. Repayment of loans Etc

2. Layering

  • This is the second and the most complex stage in the process of money laundering .
  • It often involves international movement of funds
  • During this stage , launderers may begin by moving money electronically from one country to another and then investing them back into the markets abroad. This is especially prevalent in those countries that don’t cooperate on anti-money laundering investigations

3. Integration

  • The final stage involves integration of the money into the legitimate economic and financial system. By this stage , it is extremely difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal wealth.
  • Some of the ways it is carried out includes :-
    • Creating front companies and false loans . Such companies are incorporated in countries wth corporate secracy laws in which criminals lend themselves their laundered proceeds in legitimate transactions .
    • Property dealing
    • Generation of false import and export invoices
    • Complicity with foreign banks

Causes why India has high levels of money laundering

  • Poor tax administration 
  • For a long time , India didn’t have any specific law for dealing with money laundering
  • Level of corruption is very high in India
  • Secrecy clauses in DTAAAs (Direct Tax Avoidance Treaties)
  • Nexus between bureaucrats , political leaders and criminals

Hawala & Money Laundering

  • Hawala works by transferring money without actually moving it.
  • It is an alternative or parallel remittance system, which works outside the circle of banks and formal financial systems. 
  • It is frequently used by criminals to launder money for their illicit acts like terrorism, drug trafficking etc
  • As hawala transactions are not routed through banks, the government agencies and the RBI cannot regulate them.

Status of Hawala in India

  • Hawala is illegal in India, as it is seen to be a form of money laundering
  • FEMA (Foreign Exchange Management Act) 2000 and PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) 2002 are the two major legislations which make such transactions illegal.

Cryptocurrency: The New Hawala

  • Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin provides  anonymity & facilitates terror financing which was evident in 2015 Paris terrorist attack.
  • FATF reported in 2015 that some terrorist websites encouraged sympathisers to donate in bitcoins.
  • After, demonetisation action by the Government of India in 2016, there was noticed a flood of such digital transactions.

Impacts of Money Laundering

  • Social Impact
    • Transfers the economic power from the right people to the wrong 
    • Increases income inequality
    • Loss of morality and ethical standards leading to weakening of social institutions

  •  Economic Impact
    • Volatility in exchange rates and interest rates due to unanticipated transfers of funds
    • Discourages foreign investors
    • Policy distortion occurs because of measurement error
    • Legitimate businesses lose , as there is no fair competition involved 

  • Political Impact
    •  Affects the Government’s capability to spend on development schemes thereby affecting a large section of populations who could have benefitted from such spending

  • Security impacts
    • Laundered money is used to fund terrorist organisations

Steps Taken

  • Statutory : Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002

  • Institutional framework: Two bodies:
    • Enforcement Directorate  : Enforce certain provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PML)
    • Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND) : International coordination in Money Laundering cases

  • International :
    • Financial Action Task Force (FATF) :
    • Asia – Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) : India is member

Other International Steps

  • Vienna Convention :  1988| To combat money laundering in Drug Trafficking 
  • Basel Statement of Principles in 1989
  • Financial Action Task Force : Integovernmental body sponsored by OECD & based in Paris . India is member
  • UNCTOC (UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crimes)

Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA)

  • Defines offence of money laundering
  • Impose obligation on financial institutions and intermediaries to verify identity of  clients , maintain records and furnish informations to Financial Intelligence unit -India (FIU-Ind)
  • Brought certain offences under  IPC, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,  Arms Act,  Wild Life (Protection) Act, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and  Prevention of Corruption Act,  proceeds of which would be covered under this Act
  • Tackles Cross border money Laundering: It allows Central Government to enter into an agreement with Government of any country  for enforcing the provisions of the PMLA
  • Confiscate the illegal property
  • An officer not below the rank of a joint secretary would be appointed for management of properties confiscated under this.
  • Punishment shall not be less than 3 years & can be extended to 7 years . May be extended to 10 years in case it is under Narcotics & Psychotropic Substances Act , 1985
  • Special Courts set-up in a number of States  to conduct the trial of the offences of money laundering. 


  • Rapid advancements in digital technology : The enforcement agencies are not able to match up with the speed of growing technologies. Eg : Bitcoins etc used by money-launderers
  • Tax Haven Countries : Their strict financial secrecy laws  prohibit the disclosure of financial information. 
  • Involvement of employee of financial institution : usually employees of the financial institution are involved in money laundering
  • Lack of comprehensive enforcement agencies : In India, there are separate wings of law enforcement agencies dealing with money laundering, terrorist crimes, economic offences etc. and they lack convergence among themselves.
  • Low Financial Education and use of Jan Dhan Account holders as money mules .
  • Failure of Banks to effectively implement KYC norms as stipulated by the RBI

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