About the satellite:-
- It is a geosynchronous communications and meteorology satellite by the ISRO for the South Asian region.
- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka are the users of the facilities provided by the satellite.
- It was launched on GSLV Mark-II rocket (GSLV-F09) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
- The South Asia Satellite has 12 Ku band transponders which India’s neighbours can utilise to increase communications.
- The satellite will facilitate DTH television, VSAT links, teleeducation and telemedicine.
Disaster management support: The satellite will facilitate DTH television, VSAT links, tele-education and telemedicine.
- It is also equipped with remote sensing technology and thus enables the real time data weather condition and help in observations of the geology of the South Asian nations (i.e. mapping of natural terrain and resources).
- It will help in better governance, better banking and education in remote areas and linking people with top-end medical services through telemedicine. Its benefits also include deeper IT connectivity and fostering people-to-people contact.
- During the 18th SAARC summit held in Nepal in 2014, Indian PM Modi mooted the idea of a satellite serving the needs of SAARC member nations as a part of his Neighbourhood first policy.
- But India rejected Pakistani offers, saying that it wanted the project to be a “Gift” and multi-national collaboration would be time consuming. As a result, Pakistan declined to participate in the project.
- Since Pakistan opted-out of the satellite project, so it couldn’t be called a SAARC satellite. Thus it was renamed as South Asia satellite”.
Significance of the launch:-
The significance of the launch has been discussed below:
- India has gifted regional communications satellite worth Rs. 450 crore for free to our neighbors without asking anything in return. This shows that not only shows that India is willing to use it’s space capabilities as a tool of diplomacy, but also shows that we have a large heart.
Development of south Asia:
- SAARC nations – which are economically lagging with limited technological resources – would receive in communication, telemedicine, meteorological forecasting and broadcasting.
By this it will not only solve the problems of the region but will also spur economic growth in the region.
New frontier of cooperation among SAARC nations:
- In the words of PM, “With this launch we have started a journey to build the most advanced frontier of our partnership. The South Asia Satellite tells us that even the sky is not the limit when it comes to regional cooperation.”
- The sentiments were equally shared by Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani who stated that “If cooperation through land is not possible (because of Pakistan’s reluctance to grant transit rights for Afghanistan-India trade), we can be connected through space.”
- If not SAARC, then SAARC-minus one: Pakistan opted out of the project on the ground that India refused to technical help from her (even though everyone knows that Pakistan’s space program is primitive as compared to India).
- But still India went ahead without Pakistan. This shows that India will continue to cooperate with it’s neighborhood – be it in the form of SAARC, or in the form of SAARC-minus one. By this India have silently told Pakistan that it’s obstructionist attitude (whether in motor vehicle agreement or south Asia satellite) will not stop India from carrying out it’s neighbor-first policy – be it in the form of SAARC, or in the form of SAARC-minus one.
Containing China in South Asia:
- This is also one of the many steps towards containing China’s growing influence in the region.
- Even in pace also, China is gradually entering south Asia. SupremeSAT (Pvt) Limited, a Sri Lankan satellite operator has partnership with China’s state-owned satellite manufacturing institution China Great Wall Industry Corporation.
- Techno-diplomacy is the new frontier: By launching south Asia satellite, India has taken the first step in techno-diplomacy.
- The new satellite would change the face of South Asia and expand connectivity from land and water to space. The launch has also added yet another feather to ISRO’s cap.
- India created space history and broke record by launching 104 satellites from a single rocket in one go in mid-February, this year. So far, ISRO has ferried 226 satellites into orbit, including 180 from abroad.
- ISRO is attempting to increase its capacity to deliver by scaling up the frequency of launches to 12 per year from the seven, currently, by building more satellites and lowering the cost of access to space.