PM Modi launches India’s first private space association

The draft policies, which are being finalised, are expected to enable commercialisation of space technology and facilitate private investments in India’s space sector.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with dignitaries at the inauguration of Indian Space Association (ISpA) in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacts with dignitaries at the inauguration of Indian Space Association (ISpA) in New Delhi on Monday. (PTI)
Updated on Oct 12, 2021 01:25 AM IST
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New Delhi: India will soon have policies on space communication and remote sensing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday while launching the Indian Space Association, a group formed to promote space technology.

The draft policies, which are being finalised, are expected to enable commercialisation of space technology and facilitate private investments in India’s space sector.

“The government’s approach to space reforms is based on four pillars,” the Prime Minister said. “First, the freedom of innovation in the private sector. Second, the role of the government as an enabler. Third, preparing the youth for the future. And fourth, to see the space sector as a resource for the progress of the common man.”

The new association counts private companies such as Bharti Airtel, Larsen & Toubro, Tata Group’s Nelco, OneWeb, MapmyIndia, Walchandnagar Industries and Alpha Design Technologies as members, besides the state-owned Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).

“The space sector is a major medium for the progress of 130 crore countrymen. For India, the space sector means better mapping, imaging and connectivity facilities for the common people,” Modi said. “Also, the space sector means better speed from shipment to delivery for entrepreneurs. It also means better security and income for fishermen and better forecasts of natural calamities.”

The opening up of the space sector is in sync with the government’s overall reforms policy, Modi said.

“While opening a host of sectors, the government has built a regulatory environment in which priority has been given to national interest as well as the interests of different stakeholders. Space sector was once synonymous with the government sector, but the government has worked to change this mindset,” he said. “Now is not a time for linear innovations for the country, but for exponential innovation, and this will be made possible when the government plays the role of an enabler and not handler. That is why it has been sharing expertise in sectors ranging from defence to space.”

Modi said his vision of a self-reliant India is a strategy to make the country a global manufacturing and innovations powerhouse by enhancing the capabilities of local entrepreneurs and youth. It will play a big role in global development, enhancing the prestige of India’s human resources talent, the Prime Minister said.

In the past seven years, space technology has been converted into a tool of last-mile delivery and leakage-free, transparent governance, Modi said, providing examples of the use of geo-tagging in houses for the poor, roads and infrastructure projects.

“Development projects are being monitored by satellite imaging. Space technology is being used in settlement of Fasal Bima Yojna (crop insurance scheme) claims, NavIC system is helping fishermen, disaster management planning is also being carried out through this technology,” Modi said.

NavIC is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by Isro.

Several countries are turning their attention to space technologies, especially since 2020 when SpaceX became the first private agency to fly humans into space. The company also has the Starlink project -- a constellation of satellites meant to deliver internet connectivity, as does its upstart rival, Blue Origin and its project Kuiper. Earlier this month, SpaceX announced it intends to offer Starlink broadband services in India starting December 2022.

According to estimates of the space industry, 95% of the $366 billion earned in the sector was from what is called the space-for-earth economy. This include goods or services produced in space for use on earth, such as telecommunications and internet infrastructure, earth observation capabilities, and national security satellites.

The announcement by Modi on Monday about the policies in work could serve as a crucial signal for potential investors.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2021