August 20, 2019
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    India's second lunar module has begun orbiting the Moon, nearly a month after blasting off, officials have confirmed. The manoeuvre to put the module into the lunar orbit was completed at 09:02 local time (04:32 GMT) on Tuesday.Chandrayaan-2 was launched from the Sriharikota space station on 22 July, a week after the scheduled blast-off was halted due to a technical snag.India hopes the $145m (£116m) mission will be the first to land on the Moon's south pole.
    Last month's launch was the beginning of a 384,000km (239,000-mile) journey. Scientists hope the lander will touch down on the Moon on 6 or 7 September as planned.
    India's first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, was launched in 2008 but it did not land on the lunar surface. However it carried out the first and most detailed search for water on the Moon using radars.
    Chandrayaan-2 (Moon vehicle 2) will try to land near the little-explored south pole of the Moon.The mission will focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, among other things.

    India used its most powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III), in this mission. It weighed 640 tonnes (almost 1.5 times the weight of a fully-loaded 747 jumbo jet) and, at 44 metres (144ft), was as high as a 14-storey building.

    The spacecraft used in the mission has three distinct parts: an orbiter, a lander and a rover.

    The orbiter, which weighs 2,379kg (5,244lb) and has a mission life of a year, will take images of the lunar surface.

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    The lander (named Vikram, after the founder of Isro) weighs about half as much, and carries within its belly a 27kg Moon rover with instruments to analyse the lunar soil. In its 14-day life, the rover (called Pragyan - wisdom in Sanskrit) can travel up to a half a kilometre from the lander and will send data and images back to Earth for analysis.

    How long is the journey to the Moon?
    The journey of more than six weeks is a lot longer than the four days the Apollo 11 mission 50 years ago took to land humans on the lunar surface for the first time.

    In order to save fuel, India's space agency has chose a circuitous route to take advantage of the Earth's gravity, which will help slingshot the satellite towards the Moon. India does not have a rocket powerful enough to hurl Chandrayaan-2 on a direct path. In comparison, the Saturn V rocket used by the Apollo programme remains the largest and most powerful rocket ever built.

    "There will be 15 terrifying minutes for scientists once the lander is released and is hurled towards the south pole of the Moon," Isro chief K Sivan said prior to the first launch attempt.

    He explained that those who had been controlling the spacecraft until then would have no role to play in those crucial moments. So, the actual landing would happen only if all the systems performed as they should. Otherwise, the lander could crash into the lunar surface.


    The drug-resistant malaria parasites will not affect Sri Lanka and the possibility of the disease entering the country naturally is very unlikely, Anti Malaria Campaign Director Dr. Hemantha Herath said.According to Dr. Herath, Sri Lanka eliminated malaria in 2016 and the World Health Organization certified Sri Lanka as a malaria-free country. But Sri Lanka maintains a very strong surveillance system and is one of the best when compared with other countries. Therefore, malaria is very unlikely to escape detection by the system. “Actually, our surveillance is more than the required standard and strength. We are overdoing it,” he said.
    Dr. Herath said there is no reason to panic because second-line drugs can be used to treat drug-resistant malaria. Patients can be cured and spread of the disease arrested in the country. Therefore, there is no risk of death from malaria or of the disease spreading in the country. The Anti Malaria Campaign has all required technologies and facilities to detect any type of malaria. On rare occasions, the assistance of Singapore is obtained to diagnose special cases.
    Sri Lanka is constantly at risk of malaria entering the country due to the large number of people travelling to and from countries where the disease is prevalent, due to the presence of foreign workers who work on various projects in the country, and due to the presence of mosquitoes responsible for the spread of the disease in all parts of the country. But the strong surveillance system which is of international standards does not allow any case of malaria to go undetected, he said.
    Describing the current situation with regard to drug-resistant malaria found in certain countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, he said those countries have land boarders, while Sri Lanka is an island. Rarely do malaria-affected persons come to Sri Lanka from East Asian countries. This is not something new. The issue has been in existence for around 10 years. Therefore, Sri Lanka is equipped with all relevant drugs and equipment.
    “If conventional drugs fail, second-line drugs are administered to the patient and there is no way local mosquitoes could pick up the disease. We detect patients very successfully, treat them and follow up on the cases. Annually, we screen nearly one million Sri Lankans for malaria. We have already identified high-risk groups and have a proper system to monitor them. We monitor foreign workers in Sri Lanka who visit their countries of origin where malaria is prevalent, for vacations or short visits, he said.
    “In order to maintain our malaria and filariasis-free status and to prevent their reintroduction via inbound migrants, we hope to introduce an inbound health assessment scheme shortly. To address TB, HIV, dengue, malaria and filariasis, we shall soon adopt an inclusive approach to assess and treat long-term resident migrants, we do not want to leave any one behind,” Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said.
    Minister Senaratne said the last case of malaria-related death was reported in Sri Lanka in 2008. The National Strategic Plan was developed with the aim of becoming malaria-free within a time-bound framework to reach zero local transmission by 2014. Since Sri Lanka was declared malaria-free on September 5, the country has now emerged as an example of what is needed to eliminate malaria and what the opportunities and challenges of malaria-free status are.
    Several key factors among many other factors such as the government commitment, dedication of health workers, and technical and professional approach combined with the extremely effective surveillance system paved the way of our reaching the objectives two years ahead of the target year with the last case of locally transmitted malaria reported in 2012, the Minister said.Sri Lanka was able to save Rs. 650 million from 2008 to 2014 by eliminating malaria. In 1935, malaria became an epidemic in Sri Lanka which killed 82,000 people. In 1999, about 600,000 Sri Lankans were affected by malaria, the Minister added.
    Each year around 50 cases of malaria are reported from various parts of the country involving travellers who visit malaria-prone countries. If these cases of imported malaria are not detected early and treated promptly, there is an enormous risk of an epidemic occurring in Sri Lanka. There were 41 and 57 cases of malaria involving those who visited malaria-prone countries in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
    Sri Lankans travelling to India, Madagascar, Mozambique and military personnel returning from UN peace-keeping missions in the African region and returnees from South India resettling in the North and East are at high risk of being infected with malaria and of the disease spreading in Sri Lanka. Foreigners arriving from malaria-endemic countries and workers from malaria-endemic countries including the refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Myanmar are also at risk of spreading malaria in Sri Lanka.




    Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed” - Vaclav Havel -Czechoslovakian Statesman

    Sri Lankans undoubtedly are inclined towards slogans, and the time of elections is the high season. They appear everywhere; on walls, bus stands, huge boulders, vehicles and even on the garments worn by the campaigners. Usually we are given somewhat pedestrian catchphrases/exhortations like ‘grow trees, the country will grow’, ‘a roof over your head, food in your stomach’ ‘one for all, all for one’. When elections are announced the temperature is raised several degrees, urgent, strident slogans are introduced; ‘protect your vote, keep dictators out’, ‘throw corruption out of the country, put the corrupters in jail’, ‘Be patriotic, have just one passport’.

    If slogans can deliver, Sri Lanka would be paradise on earth by now. We all know that slogans are just hot air; those who can, don’t need slogans; those who cannot, can only shout slogans. Floundering in a bog of failure, inventing slogans has become our remedy. Where there is no true achievement, make believe would do, words create a myth and the myth overwhelms realism.

    However imperfect its depiction, every slogan represents an ideology, an interpretation of an idea. The other day I saw a three wheeler with the message “Che Guevara wants you to rebel” painted on the rear body of the vehicle. He got in front of me, over-taking on the wrong side, and then suddenly blinked his right signal light indicating a right turn but stopped on the left hand side of the road to pick up a customer. While passing him I had a momentary glimpse of the driver; the bearer of a dangerous road culture. An immature unkempt face gaped at me, the “rebellion” on three wheels was happening.

    Cuban revolution

    Che Guevara (1928-67) was an incandescent star that streaked across the revolutionary firmament in the mid -20th Century, a brilliant life, eventually consumed by its own fire, as it were. Of Spanish/Irish descent, Che was born in Argentina. In addition to being a revolutionary of the uppermost quality, he was a physician, writer and a poet (among the poets Guevara admired were Pablo Neruda, John Keats, Antonio Machado and Walt Whitman). Obviously a man of global relevance, his name is particularly etched in the annals of the Cuban revolution, in which, with Fidel Castro, he played a decisive role. Jean Paul Sartre the famous French existentialist philosopher, met Guevara in Havana, after the revolution. Such was his impact on the philosopher that Sartre later described Che as “the most complete human being of our time”.

    Guevara the rebel, lived for the revolution, the Colombo three-wheel drive confirms it. Across disparate race and cultural barriers, the impulse to ‘rebel’ unites two very unlike personalities. Use the word, and you become. But is the meaning of the concept, for Guevara and that three-wheel driver, the same?

    These election times we see the blooming of many a democrat as well as patriot, we see men faithful to their fathers’ canons, and men rebelling against the dogmas of the past, we see men whose family tradition is politics, and men whose politics is against family tradition, we see men who claim honesty but have amassed fabulous wealth, and we see men who speak for indigenous things but enjoy nothing but the best comforts offered by the West.

    Respected Statesman Vaclav Havel (1936-2011), before he became President of Czechoslovakia was a writer, poet and rebel. He played a pivotal role in toppling the entrenched communist regime and became the first President of democratic Czechoslovakia (1989 -1992). And then, after the dissolution of the country (the eastern part of the country becoming Slovakia), was elected the first President of the newly formed Czech Republic (1993-2003). Right through his life Havel was a passionate advocate for humanitarianism, environmentalism, anti-consumerism and civil activism. For his pains Havel was put in jail several times by the communist regime. During his enforced stays in jail he evidently gave much thought to the evils of the system that jailed him. One of the products of his meditations was an essay “The Power of the Powerless”, in which Havel examines the meaning of slogans thus;

    “The manager of a fruit and vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: ‘Workers of the world, Unite!’

    Workers of the world

    Why does he do that? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so great that he feels an irrepressible impulse to acquaint the public with his ideals? Has he really given more than a moment’s thought to how such a unification might occur and what it would mean?

    Obviously, the Greengrocer is indifferent to the semantic content of the slogan on exhibit; he does not put the slogan in this window from any personal desire to acquaint the public with the ideal it expresses. This of course does not mean that his action has no motive or significance at all, or that the slogan communicates nothing to anyone. The slogan is really a sign, and as such it contains a subliminal, but very definite message. Verbally it might be expressed this way:

    ‘I, the greengrocer XY, live here and I know what I must do. I behave in the manner expected of me. I can be depended upon and am beyond reproach. I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left alone.’

    This message of course has an addressee: it is directed above, to the greengrocer’s superior, and at the same time it is a shield that protects the greengrocer from potential informers. The slogan’s real meaning, therefore, is rooted firmly in the greengrocer’s existence. It reflects his vital interests.

    If the greengrocer instead had been instructed to display the slogan ‘I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient’ he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth.

    The greengrocer would be embarrassed and ashamed to put such an unequivocal statement of his own degradation in the shop window, and quite naturally so, for he is a human being and thus has a sense of his own dignity.

    To overcome this complication, his expression of loyalty must take the form of a sign which, at least on its textual surface, indicates a level of disinterested conviction. It must allow the greengrocer to say ‘what’s wrong with the workers of the world uniting?’

    Thus the sign helps the greengrocer to conceal from himself the low foundation of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of his power. It hides them behind the façade of something high. And that something is ideology”.

    From the land of Kafka, there is a Vaclav Havel.

    Who will examine the meanings behind the slogans of Sri Lankan politics?


    Showery condition in South-western part of the island is expected to enhance to some extent during next few days. Showers or thundershowers will occur at Northern, Western, Central, Sabaragamuwa and North-western provinces and in Galle and Matara districts. Showers or thundershowers will occur at several places elsewhere, particularly Eastern province and in Badulla district after 2.00 pm. Heavy falls about 100 mm are likely at some places in Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces and in Galle and Matara districts. Fairly heavy falls above 50 mm are likely at some places in North-western province and in Batticaloa and Ampara districts. There may be temporary localized strong winds during thundershowers. General public is kindly requested to take adequate precautions to minimize damages caused by lightning activity.

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