Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday described the launch of the South Asian Satellite by India as a “historic moment” and said it opens up new horizons of engagement among the countries of the region.
In his speech to SAARC leaders, except Pakistan, Modi said, “Our coming together is a sign of our unshakeable resolve to place the needs of our peoples in the forefront. It shows that our collective choices for our citizens will bring us together for: cooperation, not conflict; development, not destruction; and prosperity not poverty.”
Modi’s remarks were seen as a veiled message to Pakistan which stayed out of the project as it didn’t want any “Indian gift”. Due to Pakistan’s absence, the SAARC satellite had to be renamed as South Asia satellite.
Soon after taking over as the Prime Minister in 2014, Modi had made a unilateral proposal of India launching the satellite whose data would be shared with the eight SAARC countries for their development. PM, who had invited all SAARC leaders at his swearing in ceremony in 2014, said that the satellite could not have happened without their cooperation. “We extend our close links into outer space,” he said.
The satellite will provide a significant capability to each of the participating countries in terms of DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things.
Afghanistan president Md Ashraf Ghani said, “The gap between talk and action is bridged today.” The leaders of South Asia minus Pakistan who joined Indian prime minister via video-conferencing praised his visionary leadership and called for greater linkages among the countries in the region for the greater common good. The President of the Maldives Abdulla Yameen said Modi’s “sabke saath sabka vikas” is an ideal template for the South Asian integration.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay called for greater people to people contact in the region and the satellite could benefit the region in various spheres such as tele-medicine, telecommunication and weather forecasting. Prime Minister Prachanda of Nepal said his country too would benefit immensely from the satellite. Tobgay said it is for the first time in history a country is launching a satellite for an entire region.
“Together we will achieve better governance, banking services and education in remote areas. Linking people with top-end medical services and quick response to natural disaster,” Modi added, underlining the benefits of the satellite which will have 12 transponders to cater to different countries’ individual need.