Rama Krishna Sangem
Space industry is opened for private sector in India now. We can expect our own Elon Musks in India. Entrepreneurs, and startups can try crossing new frontiers and enter uncharted horizons in skies. The new space policy cleared by the Union Cabinet on April 7, details of which are made public on April 20 gave us an idea of what’s coming up in the space sector.
First let’s view the big picture: Space, which is under the control of department of space monitored by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is almost un-bundled, into four wings – 1. IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre) that will look after coordinating between ISRO and private players at all levels. 2. NSIL (New Space India Limited) that takes care of commercial launches of satellites and trade deals.
3. ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) which till now held monopoly over all space launches and related issues will only play the role of a scientific and research outfit. At the most, it may continue its monopoly on matter relating to outer space – beyond moon and solar system. 4. Department of Space will play the role facilitator between the public and private players, means a sort of regulator.
Space, not Government business
To put it simply, the new space policy 2023 says that launching satellites is not just the business of government. Especially, at a time satellites have become a roaring business for various applications – from mobile phones to GPS maps and data transfer etc. PM Modi has been particular about opening up of space sector for private players. The PM had to face stiff resistance from the bureaucracy and ISRO, but he had his way.
This is the thinking of the governments after the liberalization in 1991. Doing business is Not the job of government, running factories and airlines is not the job of government, maintaining telephones or hotels is not the job of the government – the list goes on and on. Now it came to the space and satellites. In fact, this new policy came into operation a couple of years ago, but now the full details have been officially announced.
Editorials have been written about the pluses of this new space policy. More technologies, more funds, investments will come into the sector, more speed and transparency will enhance efficiency of the whole sector. Separate targets are fixed for separate wings – with involvement of private players on a large scale. As of now, one thing is clear – only NGEs (Non-government entities) of Indians are allowed into the sector. More clarity will later.