Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s idea of an Indian satellite to be launched to benefit South Asian nations is all set to be achieved as G-Sat-9 shoots into orbit today (Friday). With the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) grounded due to Indo-Pak souring of ties, this satellite seeks to cement this country’s ties with its South Asian neighbours minus Pakistan of course. The regional integration would benefit Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka by providing secure hotlines between India and these countries during natural calamities and disasters as well as terror attacks, insurgency or military coups. Modi has indeed been stressing in bilateral partnerships that regional communication is at the heart of regional integration. Besides India, only China has the expertise of making satellites and launching them into orbit in the region. By offering the benefits of this satellite to South Asian countries India has indeed asserted its technical superiority and set a rare example of offering its expertise to a group that has the advantage of proximity to India.
The Indian satellite for South Asia has other benefits to offer too, from broadcasting to telecommunication and telemedicine. Exchange of data like library information and meteorological findings would become possible under applications that Gsat-9 will provide to the country’s neighbours. Each country can use at least one transponder for its local needs. This would indeed be a big boon for them. One can only keep one’s fingers crossed that the launch would go through without a hitch since India has matured over the years as a satellite power. In the event of any hitch developing, our scientists and engineers have time and again proved equal to the task of getting over them. With a neighbourhood that is highly prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, the fact that one of the applications will help disaster management is a major plus for the South Asia satellite. All in all, it is a worthy initiative that must be fully harnessed to draw maximum advantage from it. It is to be hoped that someday Pakistan would shed its obduracy and return to the path of cooperation with India and the rest of South Asia.