Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Indian Space Association (ISpA) on Monday, in a path-breaking initiative that provides a greater role for the private sector to accelerate innovation in space technology.
“This the time for exponential, and not linear innovation. This is possible only when the government plays the role of an enabler, and not the handler. Today, the government is sharing its expertise, and providing launch pads for the private sector. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is being opened for the private sector,” he explained.
In his bid to break silos and pursue an integrated approach to
PM Modi laid out what he described as “four pillars” of reform for space technology: Freedom for innovation in the private sector, a government which plays the role of enabler and not handler, preparing youngsters for the future, and treating the space sector as a resource for the progress of the common man.
He also said that in a marked change from the earlier system in which the space sector used to be associated with the ruling dispensation, his government has changed this mindset. “We introduced innovation to this field. We also gave the mantra of cooperation between the Centre and start-ups,” Prime Minister Modi said.
The founding members of ISpA include private sector giants Larson & Toubro, Nelco (Tata Group), Bharti Airtel, OneWeb, Mapmyindia, Walchandnagar Industries and Ananth Technology Limited. Other core members include Godrej, Hughes India, Azista-BST Aerospace Private Limited, BEL, Centum Electronics, Maxar India.
Referring to the government's role in boosting the private sector in space technology, the Prime Minister said, “We will ensure that technology that has matured in the sector is transferred to private companies and the government will act as an aggregator for space assets."
"India will have to ensure that space plays an important role in uniting and connecting the world in the 21st century," he said.
PM Modi said that India is one of the few countries which has developed expertise to launch vehicles, satellites and interplanetary exploration. "We need to strengthen efficiency and affordability and become part of the end-to-end space system supply chain. As partners, the government will support the industry, young innovators and startups," he added.
From using geo-tagging to satellite monitoring to helping fishermen and planning disaster management, space technology is helping in good governance, the Prime Minister said.
PM Modi also noted that ISpA's launch was taking place on a day when the world celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child. Recalling the celebrations of women scientists involved with India's Mars mission, he said he was hopeful that reforms in the space sector would encourage more women to participate.