Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 11 announced the launch of the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an independent industry body that will be a single contact point between the private sector and the government in all matters related to space and technology.
What is significance of the association?
Envisioned to be the collective voice of the Indian private space industry, the formation of the body indicates the willingness of the government to open up space to private players like many other countries have begun to do. The achievements of Virgin Galactic, Blue Shephard, SpaceX, among other names, were on display this year as space exploration and innovation has seen an increased boost due to interest from the private sector.
India may be looking to replicate the same success by bolstering the connection between public and private sectors, and supporting nascent space-based startups and companies. The drift down of technology from space exploration to everyday life has been pivotal for the layperson, and boosting the technological advances in the sector means more innovations later down the line.
Advanced satellite tracking and measuring systems are now quickly becoming essential as the world deals with extreme weather events and tries to accurately measure its own emissions, but the new body is also expected to help sectors like agriculture and pisciculture. Better forecasts would also enable more accurate prediction of natural disasters and a more detailed look into the present ecology.
Who are the stakeholders?
The group’s council will be made up of leading companies in the sector from both India and other countries. Its founding members include Larson & Toubro, Nelco (Tata Group), OneWeb, Bharti Airtel, Mapmyindia, Walchandnagar Industries and Ananth Technology Limited. Other core members include Godrej, Hughes India, Azista-BST Aerospace Private Limited, BEL, Centum Electronics and Maxar India, the PMO stated in a press release.
The Indian Space Association will be headed by retired Lieutenant General A.K. Bhatt, who will be its director-general while Satyam Kushwaha will be one of its directors.
What is the aim?
The agency will aim to open up space for the private sector, drive innovation and exploration. While more cooperation was seen in recent years between the government and other private enterprises for space technology, space was seen as a frontier for governmental regulation.
The association will focus on self-reliance and boost India's capabilities in the space sector on the lines of ‘Atmarnirbhar Bharat.’
"This is the time for exponential and not linear innovation. This is possible only when the government plays the role of an enabler, and not the handler. Today, the government is sharing its expertise, and providing launch pads for the private sector. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is being opened for the private sector,” Prime Minister Modi had said during the video conference of ISpA’s launch.
(Edited by : Shoma Bhattacharjee)