EXPLAINED NATIONAL

A Perfect Sync Between ISRO and Government – What it holds for India’s future

ISRO launch

Each ISRO launch event is a story of optimism and promise. On November 29, 2018, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched 30 satellites by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV C43). The main satellite in this ISRO launch event is India’s own earth observation satellite, Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite (HySIS). The other 29 satellites on PSLV C43 have come from eight other countries among which USA has a major share with 23 satellites. This mission is the sixth one this year that used a PSLV. Among many other things, this development signifies 2 major things.

  • With the leading role of ISRO, India is fast becoming a pioneering space technology nation, which is having its own equipment in space, which has the capability of revolutionising everything from agriculture to medicine to security in the days to come.
  • In the recent years, ISRO’s brand value has sky-rocketed at a global level which is evident by the fact that more and more countries are interested in utilizing Indian rockets for launching their satellites, that also resulted in the expansion of Indian space agency’s commercial viability.
Recent Achievements of ISRO & Support from the Administration

Since its inception in 1969, ISRO has been proving its mettle all the way. From building India’s first satellite, Aryabhata in 1975 to launching Chandrayana-1 in 2008, the institution has evolved leaving many glorious milestones. When the Modi Government came to power in May 2014, it considered space as a prime focus area and gave a further boost to the already progressing ISRO.

Here are the highlights that show how ISRO and the current administration have found a perfect rhyme and rhythm in achieving newer heights in various space endeavours. Each ISRO launch offers different insights and a promise of progress. Some are highlighted below:

  • Between 2014 and 2017, ISRO has accomplished as many as 36 missions which include 17 launch vehicle missions, 16 satellite missions, and 3 technology demonstration missions.
  • Between 2014 and 2017, in total 145 satellites have been launched by PSLV for 13 countries.
  • In 2017, ISRO launched a record 104 satellites in a single launch.
  • In May 2017, ISRO launched GSAT-9, which served as a redefining moment for Indian diplomacy as it was meant for five SAARC neighbours, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Maldives. It was actually a challenge thrown by Prime Minister Modi in his June 2014 interaction with ISRO.
  • The constellation of seven satellites, NavIC (Navigation Indian Constellation) is paving way for India to have its own Global Positioning System. The first satellite in this series was launched in July 2013 and the rest six were launched between 2014 and 2016.
  • In 2014, India was not sure about the exact number of islands it has. On the request of PMO, an island mapping programme was initiated by ISRO in 2015, which then developed a whole Island Information System.
  • Compared to pre-2014 era, where the number of Ministries using ISRO data was limited to few, under the Modi Government, every possible department under various Ministries are using ISRO data. This has particularly increased the scope of work of the institution.
  • Important satellites put on the orbit in the last four years include RESOURCESAT-2A for natural resource monitoring, SCATSAT for advanced cyclone tracking and ocean studies, INSAT 3DR for weather updates, to name a few.
  • PM Modi has set the 2022 deadline for India’s manned mission to space and has assured the required budget for the same.
Widening the ISRO’s Scope of Work in the Administration

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s penchant for technology to bring efficiency in the administration is very well-known. This has resulted in exploring the full potential of ISRO in nation-building. To cite few examples, more than 1 crore assets have been tagged under Geo-MNREGA; houses under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana have been geo-tagged. In addition, there are various work-in-progress, for example, using technological means to help fishermen, avoiding violation of international water boundaries which often result in imprisonment. It is primarily ISRO’s work which is enabling all these unique initiatives.

Various media reports and analysis in the recent time also recognise the increased engagement of the government with ISRO. Some are collected and presented below:

Conclusion

Prime Minister Modi’s vision of transforming governance with technological interventions and the kind of work ISRO has been doing seems to be in perfect sync with each other. Even today’s successful ISRO launch of HySIS aims at collecting the data related to pollution, soil, and water for the country. The transformation that is expected to take place once such data is applied to governance and nation-building is quite promising and provides endless possibilities for India.