Does ISRO have any plans?

India’s space programme seems to be stuck in a rut.

India has three broad tracks in it’s space programme – satellites and launch vehicles programme for remote sensing, communications and navigation, planetary exploration and human spaceflight. We are trying to outsource the first to a private industry that is not prepared to handle the responsibility yet. The second is moving in slow motion. The third seems to be pushing really hard to achieve the unachievable. In the recently held, Global Space Exploration Conference 2021, Chairman, ISRO had this to say:

This is a statement that the media in India has run several times. Hence, his statement did not get any media coverage in India. ISRO is going through tough times with the spaceport under lockdown because of the large number of COVID-19 cases.

The United Arab Emirates seems to be having more ambitious planetary exploration plans than India at the moment. They are talking about two lunar missions, they have signed up for the Artemis accords and are planning to send the second astronaut to the ISS soon.

UAE has grown rich on an important natural resource, oil. This resource is limited on Earth. This has helped the nation learn important lessons in importance of natural resources for the development of the country. Hence, they want to be part of the space faring nations who get to decide how space resources are used just like OPEC controls crude oil prices on Earth.

India used to announce plans like this before. Before the Chandrayaan 1 launch, we spoke of landing humans on the Moon by 2020. While factors beyond ISRO’s control delayed the realization of these projects by years, it gave everyone a broad idea of where India was headed. Now, there is just silence in this regard.

Chairman, ISRO in his New Year message had said that the various centers had drawn up decadal plans but so far we have not seen any. When there is no action physically due to valid reasons, this is the right time to think of things. For example, China has been putting out studies about how to get humans to Mars. ISRO has been doing these studies but not publishing them.

The civilian space programme is not secretive. The idea is to use this programme to raise the morale of the workforce, inject excitement for science and commerce in the country and project India’s rising capability in the sector. This communication is an important task that is assigned to Chairman, ISRO.

My Understanding of Cryptocurrency

I am not an expert. I am using this space, my personal blog to help me understand cryptocurrency from various sources. These have been mostly international. This is not investment advice.

Each cryptocurrency is a project that solves a certain problem. Bitcoin tries to transfer value from one individual/organisation to another without the need for an intermediary. Ethereum tries to use the blockchain to build applications. Some of these applications are famous for supporting applications like NFT. Other, some other so called alt coins try to solve specific issues based on Bitcoin and Ethereum by tweaking some of the underlying mechanisms. As an example, Basic Attention Token (BAT) try to provide a part of the value companies make by monetizing people’s attention.

When I invest money in any cryptocurrency, I look at it as investing in the project. Just like you would donate to an open source project or pay for subscription. I put in money that I do not mind losing.

The utility of the blockchain and the value of the cryptocurrency are intertwined. Higher the utility of the blockchain, more the value of cryptocurrency, leading to improvements in cryptographic security, leading in turn to more utility of the blockchain. In addition to this fundamental value of the cryptocurrency, there is speculation on the price which also affects the value of the blockchain.

Bitcoin has such a high value because it is believed that the longer a blockchain has existed, better is the security and the more valuable it is. Like wine.

The world of cryptocurrency uses memes to communicate and help others understand the projects and speculate on its value.

There are efforts to use some stock market techniques to understand the speculative aspects of the cryptocurrency. There are aspects of utility of the blockchain which also affect the price of the cryptocurrency and hence may not be fully applicable.

These are some of the threads that I have in mind with respect to cryptocurrency.

My Clubhouse Experience

I’ve been spending the last few days on Clubhouse after the app became available on Android. I usually listen to YouTube videos and podcasts. These have two or three people listening at a time. Clubhouse helped me listen to multiple people.

The cultural zeitgeist of the times point towards many Malayalis thronging to Clubhouse. There were a lot more rooms with people talking in Malayalam than English. I started listening to these conversations on Clubhouse. It felt great to listen to others talking in your language.

I found the Malayalee Club, Barcamp Kerala club, Kerala Ohari Vipani (Kerala Stock Exchange) club and even a few car enthusiasts.

Clubhouse only has audio. There is no chat option. Hence, I’ve seen everything from Instagram DMs, WhatsApp groups and Telegram chats being used to share links and pics that people were not able to share on Clubhouse itself. But, I saw people doing their best to not have to use these other platforms. Clubhouse could make content accessible to a group of people who cannot read the written word.

I’ve seen my own behavior mirror my behavior offline and other online fora. I’m mostly a lurker and a listener. In the first week or so, I spent close to 18-20 hours. It helped that D was away at her parent’s place. When she got back, I limited it to working hours. I have seen people use music during working hours but I feel listening to people who talk helps me better than music does.

I guess listening people talk gives me the experience of being in office. You catch snippets of what people say. It gives me a connect unlike anything I have experienced. It helps me focus on work better.

There are a lot of music related rooms which has people playing many kinds of music (lo-fi is the most popular) and has people singing if that is the kind of thing you are into.

Things are not all that rosy, though. Being on Clubhouse has destroyed all of my other information consumption patterns. I had stopped going on Twitter, listening to podcasts and reading my books. I am slowly getting back on track. But, the going has been slow and hard.