India has a huge reservoir of talent, currently over 50 startups are set to launch operations in India with a potential not only to bring large revenues but also technology. India is also one of the few countries having a space institute (Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Trivandrum). However, being a restricted domain, most passouts found their future abroad. Now, this pool of talented and qualified engineers shall work for India. This is a major initiative towards making India truly self-reliant (Atmanirbhar).
It was essential for India to open the space sector for private players to meet the demand for space-based applications such as satellite-based remote sensing and data connectivity. This would allow India to digitize several industries and sectors that operate in rural and remote areas. Industry 4.0 applications, such as IoT connectivity over satellite, were also gated as they lacked the enabling infrastructure and open/fair policy. This reform will heavily contribute to creating smart villages, that benefit from both connectivity and space-based services for farming, water management and disaster prevention.
National Security is largely dependent on surveillance, navigation and communication proficiency of the nation. Military needs C4I2STAR capability to have a technological edge over adversaries and also bring in the necessary operational superiority. The use of data, networked and secure communications, AI applications and cross-platform compatibility would now be possible with the space revolution that the country has triggered. DRDO has rapidly built capability to provide state-of-the-art R&D in the field of Defence Space Applications.
They even demonstrated their capability in anti-satellite missions. While the majority of defence application development may still remain under the DRDO domain, availability of private industry for defence needs certainly spares the government resources to engage in more critical missions. DRDO has established itself as a leader in missile technology, it is now set to take strides towards defence space.
Similarly, ISRO would be free from mundane activities of being a space service provider but now would engage in advanced research, in achieving missions that are truly path-breaking in technology and in exploration of space that would be necessary for India to be a credible space power.
Lt Gen PJS Pannu is former Ladakh Corps Commander and deputy chief, Integrated Defence Staff
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