Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, October 11, 2021 launched Indian Space Association (ISpA), an industry body aspiring to be the voice of the country's space sector, and underlined his dispensation's commitment to reforms, saying the country never had a more decisive government.
Mr. Modi cited the government's success in privatising loss-making public airline Air India to assert that this shows its commitment and seriousness.
He said the government's policy about the public sector is that sectors where it is not needed should be opened to private enterprises.
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The Prime Minister referred to the opening of a host of sectors from space to defence to private players, and asserted that his government has kept national interest as well the needs of different stakeholders in mind.
He said India is seeing reforms on such a wide scale because its vision is clear, which is about having an 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat'.
Mr. Modi said India is among the few countries which has end-to-end technology in the space sector.
As a partner, the government is helping industry, young innovators, start-ups and will continue doing so, he added.
He said his government's approach to reforms in the space sector is based on the four pillars; allowing the private sector freedom of innovation, government playing the enabler's role, preparing youngsters for the future and envisioning the sector as a resource to help the common man's development.
The ISpA will undertake policy advocacy and engage with all stakeholders in the Indian space domain , including the government and its agencies, the government has said.
Echoing the Prime Minister's vision of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat', the ISpA will help in making India self-reliant, technologically advanced and a leading player in the space arena, it added.
The ISpA is represented by leading home grown and global corporations with advanced capabilities in space and satellite technologies.
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.
NSA for private investments in space sector
Speking at the event, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval stressed the need to augment India’s commercially available indigenous satellite communication solutions, tracking capabilities across geographies and protection of space assets.
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"Economic growth and technology development are the most important ingredients of national power. In such an environment, the national governments can no longer be the only stakeholders in evolving policies for national security and development," he said.
The private sector is an equal stakeholder in nation-building,Mr. Doval added.
"Hitherto, exclusive domains such as space that were dominated by the public sector, therefore, need to be opened up to the private sector to ensure that we remain ahead of the curve," the national security advisor (NSA) said.
Mr. Doval said, "Private investments in the space sector will generate high tech jobs, facilitate technology absorption, and ensure involvement of foreign partners through joint ventures." These steps will make India a manufacturing hub of space assets, he said Doval said that a strong private sector industry will also contribute to meeting growing security challenges.
"India needs to focus on augmenting capacities in several areas such as...commercially available indigenous satellite communication solutions, research and development into futuristic technologies, tracking capabilities across geographies and protection of space assets," Mr. Doval said.
Pushing digital services to remote areas
Asserting that the government is fully committed to reforms and ensuring healthy competition in the sector, Union Minister for Communications and IT Ashwini Vaishnaw exhorted the industry to study the global best practices and come up with suggestions to contribute in formulation of enabling policy.
"It is very obvious that space and telecom combined can help us reach areas which are conventionally not reachable... like forested areas, the tribal areas which are in very remote places... in North Eastern parts of our country, the Himalayan sections, the desert areas... Many of these sections where conventional methods could not take digital services, I hope with space technologies we will be able to reach those areas," he said.
The combined might of space technologies and telecom would also contribute "in a big way" towards inclusive development, the Minister said speaking at an event to mark the launch of the Indian Space Association.
"We are an open-minded government. We want to reform this sector and provide level-playing-field to everybody. We want that there should be healthy competition in this sector. So please come up with recommendations which will help us formulate policy in that direction," Mr Vaishnaw added.