India to send manned mission to space by 2022: Modi


"If we had continued at the same pace at which toilets were being built in 2013, the pace at which electrification was happening in 2013, then it would have taken us decades to complete them", said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his over 90-minute speech on Wednesday.

As he laid down his vision for a new India, audience broke into applause. "We will always take decisions in the interests of our nation", said Prime Minister Modi. If successful, India would be the fourth nation to achieve the feat after the US, Russia and China.

Talking about his government's initiatives to tackle corruption and black money, Modi said, "We will not forgive the corrupt and those who have black money". Prior to the actual launch by 2022, the ISRO will have two unmanned missions, and the spacecraft will be fired using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-III, he said.

Modi is seeking to spend more on the countryside - home to about 68 per cent of India's 1.3 billion people and a key voting bloc in the world's largest democracy - as he prepares to face general elections in eight months.

India can potentially be the fourth country to send a man to space, after erstwhile USSR, the U.S., and China. The space capsule that will transport India's astronauts was tested a few days earlier.

Indian-born Kalpana Chawla and Indian-origin Sunita Williams are among the known names to have gone to the space.

Admitting that the space agency was "surprised" by the Prime Minister's human space mission announcement, Sivan said the technological preparations for the project were on track since 2004.

Catholic priests abused 'thousands of children' in Pennsylvania
The scandals have also hit the church hard financially, and many dioceses have paid millions in compensation to victims. The lengthy report , released Tuesday afternoon, investigates clergy sexual abuse in six dioceses dating back to 1947.

He said India will become a growth engine for the world economy as the "sleeping elephant" has started to run on the back of structural economic reforms.

He said the world had accepted that India was synonymous to "policy paralysis and delayed reform".

Modi, who is expected to call an election for early 2019, announced that an ambitious health insurance scheme - providing annual cover of about $7,000 for 500 million Indians - will be rolled out on September 25.

Referring to Jammu and Kashmir, Modi repeated the lines from his last year's 15 August speech that the Kashmir problem can be resolved only by embracing its people, not with bullets or abuses.

He said its economy was seen as fragile before 2014 but was now attracting investment.

"India's voice is being heard effectively at the world stage".