Current AffairsIndia

India must raise its budget allocation for space scientific research: Group Capt Ajey Lele

Panaji, Oct 26 (IECurrentAffairs) Group Captain Ajey Lele, Senior Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses has said that India must raise its budget allocation for space scientific research and expenditure from 0.04 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in sync with developed countries like US that spends 0.5 per cent of its GDP.

Speaking at the valedictory function of the three-day conclave on Space as part of Sagar Discourse 2.O, organised by Forum for Integrated National Security (FINS) here on Thursday, Group Captain Lele pointed out the need for increased allocation for space and its significance in economic, security and geo-strategic dimensions.

In other words, India allocates a meagre eight per cent or less than one-tenth of the comparative budget allocation in terms of GDP that is undertaken by US. As outer space turns into the new diplomatic battleground, experts at the conclave believed that misuse and misconduct of space technology along with rising space debris is threatening to be a big challenge.

K Radhakrishnan, former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chief earlier in the day said, “With the rapid rise in state and private actors and stakeholder in the outer space, the world has changed from a bipolar to multi-polar world.”

However, contrary to the lower budget allocation by the government, space technology has caught the imagination of venture capitalists with investment of over $12 billion being made in the last decade, according to experts who spoke earlier in the day.

M V Kotwal, former Executive Director of L&T and President, Heavy Engineering, said investments in space sector have seen an all-time high of $4 billion during 2017.

“In early 2000, 3-4 companies use to raise funding while the number has now risen to 25-30 in 2017. In the next ten years, around 15,000 satellites are set to be launched almost ten times the number prevailing today. By 2040, space business is expected to cross $1 trillion with 2,000 new players entering the domain,” Mr Kotwal said.

As in 2017, global space industry was estimated at $348 billion, of which satellite industry alone accounted for 77 per cent or $268 billion. While upstream accounted for five to ten per cent, down stream services accounted for the balance market size, said Rakesh Sasibhushan, CMD Antrix Corporation Ltd, earlier in the day at Sagar Discourse.

A paradigm shift with the rise of small satellites and mega constellations is also taking place with over 3,000 satellites of over 50 kg scheduled to be launched over 2017–2026.

Global experts like Dr Jana Robinson, Space Security Program Director, Prague Security Studies Institute, too during the day expressed with strong optimism that India was well-positioned to promote democratic model of space partnerships and can play a key role in promoting international space partnerships based on transparency, accountability, preserving sovereignty and the rule of law.

“Cascading effects of purposeful, hybrid operations could cause major disruption of many critical services, including transportation, banking, internet connectivity, etc. Grey zone operations permit a competitor/adversary to achieve desired objectives or effects without triggering unwanted political or military responses by other nations. Moreover, lack of precedents complicates effective preparedness and response strategy,” Dr Robinson said.

Presiding over the session, Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India today drew a parallel between cooperation upon nations with nuclear technology with those in space.

“If this leads to dividing the earth in terms of haves and have-nots in terms of resources in space, then we will land in a difficult situation. We must strive to make sure that it moves according to democratic principles. Since the rich and powerful corner major resources with different stakeholders having different degree of importance including the first mover advantage, let us hope that such scenario does not occur,” Mr Kakodkar said.

Inaugurating the SAGAR Discourse 2.O conclave on October 23, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu had said, ‘’India would be looking at the space co-operation at three levels—governmental, scientific-technological and private sector commercial level. Crowding of low earth orbit, mitigation of space debris, development of capacity in space situational awareness and advancement of International space laws for activities such as space mining and tourism need multipronged efforts at various levels.”

SAGAR, as part of SAGAR Discourse, is an acronym for Security And Growth for All in the Region coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The first edition termed SAGAR Discourse 1.0 was held in October 2017 that dwelled in great detail on Ocean terrain and cooperation. The 3-day conference this year, aimed to highlight the unprecedented technological, economic and developmental opportunities for humanity with opening up of space and how efficiently and collectively the governments can utilize this potential. The next edition of Sagar Discourse 3 will be on Genome in October 2019 and Sagar Discourse 4 will be on Cyber Space in October 2020.

Via UNI-India
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