The Rs 450 Crore gift to South Asia by India is referred to as the ‘Heavyweight bird in the sky’. On May 5, the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), also called the ‘Naughty boy of ISRO’ in its 11th mission will carry the message of peace over the skies of the Sriharikota island. The ‘South Asia Satellite’ as it is referred to, which India has built for use by countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have agreed to be part of this mission. Afghanistan has also backed the venture, and will be on board when the complete commissioning is established.
Among India’s neighbours, three countries already have communication satellites, with Sri Lanka and Pakistan having been assisted by China. Afghanistan also has an old India-made satellite, acquired from Europe. As this project by India will assist all the SAARC, the services is also available to Pakistan, who has fully opted out of the project suggesting, ‘Pakistan has its own space program’.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced the launch of the satellite and it also places the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in a new orbit by providing this space- based platform that would cost the participating nations almost USD 1,500 million over the 12-year life of the satellite.
The satellite also called ‘GSAT-9’ will enable a full range of applications and services to the subscribing countries in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz. television, direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, telemedicine and disaster management support. The use of this satellite to predict earthquakes, cyclones, floods, tsunamis, etc; and also the much needed communication inter-countries with a hotline facility is what can be achieved.
The ‘Satellite for SAARC’ will have 12 KU band transponders and is expected to provide assistance in telemedicine, tele-education, village resource centre, crop productivity and disaster management.
On the face of it; it seems to be interesting, however there is a large amount of CBM (Confidence Building Measures), that is essential to to convince the SAARC countries of noble intention and concern of India. The ‘Security’ aspect in this project need also to be made robust so as to allow adequate faith on the Indian venture. The issue of ‘Privacy’ is also a point of contention and countries will be concerned of data availability to other countries and also for the safeguard of the citizens.