India’s satellite-launch record has been noticed.
The Chinese media in a backhanded compliment hailed the feat but not before reminding India it had the world’s largest number of poor and its space technology lagged China by miles.
The state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Wednesday launched 104 satellites in one go, a triumph that underlines the credibility of the country’s frugal but effective space programme.
India should be proud of its achievements, Chinese state media said on Thursday, pointing out gaps such as lack of a manned mission.
“On the whole, India’s space technology still lags behind the US’ and China’s. It has not yet formed a complete system,” the nationalist tabloid Global Times wrote.
India should remember it had the largest number of poor people in the world and a weak foundation for all-round national development, it said.
India didn’t have rockets powerful enough to support large-scale space exploration. “There is no Indian astronaut in space and the country’s plan to establish a space station has not started,” the editorial said.
China launched its sixth manned mission in October. The first was in 2003. The October launch was part of the long-term mission to have a permanent space station by 2020.
In 2013, China became the third country after the US and the former Soviet Union to successfully soft land a spacecraft on the Moon.
Officially, the Chinese government remained silent on India’s feat, which overhauled Russia’s record of 37 launches in 2014.
“This is perhaps the first widely followed world record India has made in the field of space technology. The Indians have reason to be proud,” the influential state-run daily said.
“India’s Achilles’ heel is its relatively small economic scale and a weak foundation for national development. As a hierarchical society, it has both world-class elite and a largest number of poor people.”
Many lessons could be drawn from India, which as a rising power had done a good job. “It is ambitious but pragmatic… India’s political and social philosophy is worth pondering,” it added before quickly moving to puncture the balloon.
“However, the space technology race is not mainly about the number of satellites at one go. It’s fair to say the significance of this achievement is limited.”
The write-up also compared the money spent by other countries on space missions to argue that even if India was spending less money than China, it worked out to be the same because India’s GDP was a fourth of that of China.
ISRO takes pride in its frugal innovation and it is because of its cost-effective models that India is emerging as a serious player in a crowded launch market.
“It’s a hard-won achievement for India to reach current space technology level with a relatively small investment. It offers food for thought for other countries. India launched a lunar probe in 2008 and ranked first among Asian countries by having an unmanned rocket orbit Mars in 2013,” the Global Times said.
India spends a little over $1 billion a year on its space programme compared with US’ budget of about $19.3 billion for 2017. China spent $6.1 billion in 2013, the write-up said.
Watch video of the PSLV launch here: