LAUNCH OF SOUTH ASIA SATELLITE: SIGN OF GROWING INDIA’S SOFT POWER
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on 5 May 2017 successfully launched the communication and broadcasting spacecraft- South Asia Satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh.
The project involves six countries of the region- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives- and is an outcome of India’s intention to leverage its supremacy in the space sector for deepening external relations.
Instances of India’s presence in science and technology fields at the global level:
- Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme: India has become the part of a bilateral programme which has the aim to touch 161 developed and underdeveloped countries in Asia, Africa, East Europe, Latin America as well as the Pacific and Small Island countries.
- India’s membership in ITER: The ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is an experimental fusion reactor being constructed presently at Cadarache, in the South of France. It’s a step towards future production of electricity from fusion energy. ITER-India is the Indian Domestic Agency(DA), formed with the responsibility of contribution to ITER.
Benefits to India:
The potent mixture of diplomacy and leadership status in cutting edge technologies has been helpinf India in following ways:
- Membership in multilateral institutions: India has become the 35th full time member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Further India’s aspirations to join other influential institutions such as Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG), Wassenar Arrangement and Australia Group is based on India’s expertise in nuclear and related sensitive technologies.
- Trade Relations: Leadership in state of the art technologies helps the country in giving greater depth to foreign trade. Enhanced services exports, including the launch of satellites of other countries, in recent years gave a boost to India’s export earnings.
- Growing India’s Prestige: The USA has selected India for the Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) Mission, Spaceward Bound Programme on the basis of India’s achievements in the space sector. Similarly, Russia agreed to partner with India on the development of 5th generation fighter plane.
- Technology Transfer: For instance, the recently proposed Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO-India) project aims to move one advanced LIGO detector from Hanford, the USA to India. This technology transfer has become a reality because of India’s expertise in ‘Gravitational Waves’ detection.
- Strengthening Strategic Relations: India’s ability to develop cost-effective technologies will help in strengthening bilateral and multilateral ties.
India’s ability to leverage the achievements in various fields of science and technology to nurture its soft power, and in some instances its hard power, is a sign of India’s growing prestige across the world.