The three-year-old campaign leading up to the season’s first classic continues at Caymanas Park today, with the Mercury Sprint for native bred maiden three-year-old colts and geldings over the straight taking the spotlight. The race, which has been divided into two sections, follows on the heels of the Eight Thirty Sprint for the fillies last Saturday, which saw the highly-fancied debutante DANCING QUEEN and odds on favourite POISON GAS winning their respective divisions in contrasting fashion. Division one of the Mercury Sprint has attracted 12 starters and indications are that first-time runners MEGATRON and BOLD SYMPHONY, to be ridden by champion jockey Shane Ellis and Orlando Foster, respectively, will fight out the finish. Both have looked well forward at exercise in preparation for the race, especially the Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes-trained MEGATRON. The roan colt by Seeking The Gold out of the Slick Trick mare Chikiney looked real sharp at exercise last Saturday morning, galloping from the gates in 1:00.0, the last three in 46.1, beating stable-companion LITTLEMISSEMMY, who is no slouch, quite easily. A week before that he clocked 1;00.1 and with his preparation complete, gets the nod over the Philip Feanny-trained BOLD SYMPHONY, a bay colt by Image Maker out of Tejano Symphony, who galloped from the gates in 1:00.4 last Saturday morning as well, the last three in 46.1. So it’s MEGATRON to win from BOLD SYMPHONY and the Wayne DaCosta-trained LITTLE BIG HORN, who has shown promise in two of his three starts to date. Division two looks tailored for the Feanny-trained newcomer DR BANNER, with Oneil Mullings aboard. The chestnut colt by Adore The Gold out of the Schism mare Deja Vu caught the eye at exercise recently when clocking 1:01.0 out of the straight. Having secured a favourable high number draw in another 12-horse field, DR BANNER should lead home Gary Subratie’s NOLAN HILL, who ran well on his recent debut over the round course when chasing home CRUISING MOTION, and returns with Lasix administered. Other firm fancies on the 10-race card are SOUTHERN CRUISE in the opening race over 1400 metres, NUCLEAR AFFAIR in the third, EL CLIENTE in the fourth, TURBO MACHINE CAT in the fifth and STORMING in the ninth.
The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday ordered a probe into allegations of liquor distribution and belly dancing at an official event of the Lala Lajpat Rai Medical College on Monday. An alumni association event of the Meerut-based medical college had a performance by Russian belly dancers. However, the organisers said they saw nothing wrong and rejected allegations that an ambulance was used to fetch liquor for the event.Minister for State Medical and Technical Education Ashutish Tandon, announced an official probe. “It is an extremely unfortunate incident. It should not have happened,” he told the press on Tuesday. “I have constituted a probe committee which will be headed by the director general of medical education. Action will certainly be taken once the committee submits its report.”A video footage of the incident, which went viral, shows an ambulance loaded with cartons of liquor parked on the premises of the medical college.The event which was held to mark the golden jubilee of the LLRMC’s 1967 batch, was organised by the doctors of the 1992 batch.Dr. Parvez from the organising committee for the event defended the belly dance. He said that all the required permissions, like obtaining the licence for a one-day bar and applying for permission from the college and local administration, were completed in advance. “There was nothing illegal or wrong in having belly dance, which is a form of art. The event had nothing to do with the medical college,” he said. “We strongly reject the allegation and insinuation that ambulance was used to fetch liquor. I repeat, no ambulance was used to transport liquor,” said Dr. Parvez.
INSAT blasts off from Cape Canaveral: Hollow triumphFor all its pioneering role, INSAT-1A is a satellite that the Space Department may want to quickly forget. Almost the only thing that can be claimed on its behalf is that it is operational: certainly a triumph in itself, but one robbed of,INSAT blasts off from Cape Canaveral: Hollow triumphFor all its pioneering role, INSAT-1A is a satellite that the Space Department may want to quickly forget. Almost the only thing that can be claimed on its behalf is that it is operational: certainly a triumph in itself, but one robbed of much of its real value.The launch was late by 22 months. Despite that leeway, most of the related ground facilities to make use of the satellite are not in position. By the time they are, the satellite will probably have lived out its life, reduced from the planned seven years to perhaps just three because of the unanticipated burning up of vital hydrazine fuel.Even before the launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 10, some fuel had to be off-loaded from the satellite since its weight exceeded the stipulated 1,150 kg. The US National Agency for Space Administration (NASA), contracted to do the launching, had insisted that its Delta rocket would not otherwise be able to put the satellite into the required orbit.Hitches: Later, up in space, the dish-shaped C band antenna, the single most crucial part of the satellite, refused to open, blanking out the only means of communication with INSAT-1A. When all other manoeuvres failed, the scientists at ground control in Hassan, Karnataka, played their last card: firing the thrusters under the closed antenna in an effort to literally thrust the antenna open. Tests at the Palo Alto headquarters of Ford Aerospace and Communication Corporation, which built the satellite, had shown that firing the thrusters would not damage the carbon-fibre antenna.advertisementThe first firing failed, and it took a second burst, using up further precious fuel, to eventually work the trick. Meanwhile, the satellite had drifted eastward and been nudged gently back to its space home 36,000 km over the equator, at 74 degrees East. Each of these manoeuvres saw the fuel reserves drop further, and more than a fortnight after launch, problems still plagued the satellite.The solar sail, designed to counterbalance the array of solar panels on the opposite side of the satellite and give it stability, refused to open. Until it does, the thrusters will have to be fired periodically to keep the satellite in position. Space Department scientists refused to speculate on the full impact which the loss of fuel would have on the satellite’s life. But a Central minister responsible for the satellite confided that its life might not be more than three years instead of the planned seven.Even as the scientists at Hassan were struggling with the wayward satellite, moves were initiated in Delhi to inquire into the series of technical problems and the possibility of costly human error. But all this was well in the future on launch date. The blastoff had already been pushed back twice because of mechanical failures; and on April 10, there remained just two days before the booking of the space parking lot would expire. Storm clouds milled over the horizon.Uncertainties: Project Director Pramod Kale mulled over an astrologer’s prediction that the original schedule was not an auspicious ‘muhurat’ for the launch. Satish Dhawan, chairman of the INSAT coordination committee, sat quietly in front of flickering video screens monitoring activity on the launch pad. The delays and uncertainties had taken their toll, and the initial excitement had dissipated into nervous fatigue and latent tension.Back home in Delhi, officials of the ministries that would make use of the satellite fumed in frustration: none of them had been invited to witness the launching in Florida. And, days later, when the satellite began to look like a problem child, some of them would ask mockingly about the “deaf and dumb” satellite and call for accountability.”T minus 20 and counting,” intoned the commentator at the mission director’s centre (MDC) as scientists and technicians, both Indian and American, busied themselves with last minute duties. The heavens spent themselves in the nick of time, some rain clouds still skirting a near full moon in the newly washed sky. Criss-crossing searchlight beams bathed the 116-foot Delta rocket before an incredibly picturesque blast-off. A thanksgiving coconut, brought by one of the Indian scientists, was offered to the gods and, in a release of tension, the rain came down again.Disastrous Planning: In Nagpur, on the day of the launching, Mrs Gandhi was laying the foundation stone for a satellite-linked TV-radio complex that should have been ready before the launching of INSAT- 1A. Nothing drove home the disastrous planning of ground facilities as the bizarre timing of this ceremony. The final clearance for the INSAT project had been given in 1977, but the related clearances for the ground facilities came a full two years later. Charan Singh, finance minister in the Janata government, had steadfastly stonewalled the whole proposal as a waste of money. The delay he caused has virtually made it so.advertisementSome of the clearances came only in 1981. Going by the present schedule, some of the 15,000 villages in six states that are to get educational TV programmes via the satellite will be linked to the system only in 1987. INSAT-1A may not be around by then, though the twin INSAT-1B will have been pressed into service. This second satellite was initially designed as a space stand-by. and scheduled to take over from INSAT-1A at the end of the latler’s seven-year life span. Now it seems that 1B will quickly become the primary satellite.Among all the ground facilities, only the telecommunications segment will be reasonably ready by the time the satellite is made available for operational use. But even here, only 1,400 of the 4,000 two-way telephone channels will be made use of initially. Full utilisation may have to wait till mid-1983.At the Meteorological Department headquarters in New Delhi, a week after the launch, floors were still being polished in the main satellite data utilisation centre. Computers were being tested and related equipment still being put into position.Officials in the department considered this state of readiness a minor miracle, given the inhuman schedule to which they had had to work. Construction of a six-storeyed building started only in 1979, with barely a year left for the initial launching date. For some of the equipment, indents were placed with the Directorate-General of Supplies and Disposals only in February 1981, and orders placed with suppliers in November with delivery dates six to eight months ahead.Of the 100 unmanned meteorological data collection platforms that are to transmit weather-related data to Delhi via the satellite, only eight will be in place by the end of 1982. The others will follow in batches of 24 at six-monthly intervals. Officials insist this is according to the schedule, and deny that there have been any delays. But the special receiver sets that are to be used by district officials for getting the department’s disaster warnings based on satellite data are still being developed. Fabrication of the sets will start next year. The disaster warning system may not be fully operational till 1984.Big Delay: The ministry that needed a disaster warning at least a couple of years ago was Information and Broadcasting. INSAT-1A can provide a nation-wide TV hook-up, but there is money now for only 340 special direct reception sets that will be deployed in the villages. Even these will start getting delivered only from December. In contrast, seven years ago, the Government had been able to provide-2,400 direct reception sets for the satellite instructional television experiment (SITE) programme. Manufacturers are only now being approached to produce more sets quickly.Even as the satellite hovered overhead, the ministry was looking into the feasibility of a more cost-effective way of sending TV programmes to the villages. Information and Broadcasting Minister Vasant Sathe was trying to push through a proposal to fit on to microwave towers with special antennae that would be able to receive and transmit TV signals which in turn could be picked up by ordinary TV sets in a five-kilometre radius.advertisementThis would obviate the need for the costly direct reception sets and make things move a little faster. But engineers were objecting that the microwave towers were not built to take the extra load of the special antennae. If their objections stand, the only way out will be to construct at least future towers with the strength to take the extra load.TV programme readiness is no better. The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has been commissioned to do no more than 50 special school programmes of 20 minutes each: a stock of programmes that will last just 25 days at the planned rate of two programmes per day. For the rest, the ministry is falling back on existing Doordarshan programmes and dusting off cans containing old SITE programmes.Little Action: The poor programme readiness roused lively fears among scientists concerned about the uses to which INSAT would be put. Some at the Ahmedabad Space Applications Centre warned that since there was little action in hand to set up field programming centres, select the target villages, or train personnel for maintaining the community TV sets, the satellite would eventually be used for beaming feature films, a mish-mash of other entertainment programmes and sports events.The criticism implicit in that warning was lost in Delhi, where Rajiv Gandhi was said to be furious over the initial satellite failure because he would not be able to ensure nation-wide colour telecasting of the Asian Games. Space Department officials confessed that there had been pressure even earlier to allow the use of the existing experimental satellites for beaming Test cricket telecasts. They had refused on the ground that this was not the purpose of an experimental satellite; that argument will not be available in the case of INSAT.Serious use of INSAT’s television transponders would have meant beaming separate programmes for children, farmers and housewives for at least four hours a day, or about 1,500 hours a year. The programming capacity for this amount of work simply does not exist, calling as it does for probably a 50 per cent increase in total studio capacity. But, as a Doordarshan producer said, “Vasant Sathe is more concerned about making colour TV a national policy.”