Alerted about missed opportunities in the space sector in its neighbourhood, India’s top security managers are now prodding the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to become more active.
Many neighbours have vacant orbital slots but lack the expertise or the resources to put up satellites on their own. A series of reports brought out by the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) have underscored the boost to Chinese interests arising from India’s indifference to its neighbours’ needs.
A top-level meeting last month completed a review that began in the middle of last year and felt the Indian space establishment should have been proactive in helping Sri Lanka and Maldives fill up their allocated orbital slots.
Usually, a technologically-accomplished country launches a satellite for and provides a large number of services to a smaller country.
Colombo-based SupremeSAT Pvt. Ltd. has signed an agreement with the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka to launch a communication satellite with China Great Wall Industry Corporation. It also has plans for a space academy-cum- satellite ground station at Kandy.
Based on the “Department of Space’s assessment on security implications” for India arising from Sri Lanka’s space programme, the March meeting felt the project was at a very early stage. While much depended on the attitude of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government post India’s stand at the Human Rights Council, New Delhi could still get into the game, the officials felt.
ISRO has proposed that India should offer to build and launch satellites for Colombo. “A mutually beneficial cooperation arrangement for building satellites and operating them with increased coverage areas over India can be worked out so that capabilities [of] satellites can be used by both the countries,” the space agency has said.
In the case of the Maldives, there is a Chinese proposal for a joint venture. India’s Antrix Corporation is now expected to put in an alternative proposal. Talks were held earlier here this week between India and Maldives.