Interrelation between Indian politics and space science-based projects

This time, we have our member Vasudev Pathak, a student in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, shower his exquisite words on the “interrelation between Indian politics and space science-based projects” agonizingly. His mettlesome yet simultaneously cheery speech filled in the audience not only the rigor to contribute in science but also the same with a certain caution. Here go his words..

SRM Astrophilia
SRM Astrophilia

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“Needless to say, the subject at hand is quite delicate and needs a very diligent analysis before one can come to a conclusive understanding of the same. We’re about to understand, in a comprehensive and concise fashion, the operation of research grants in the country, project sanctions, governmental control and budget allocations which operate at different levels.

Politics in the Indian subcontinent is an incredibly complex topic to explore. India has a diverse social base with multitudes of communities and interest groups, and the country has an interesting history of space research as well, with the inception of our premier space agency, ISRO. From innovating with limited resources in the 1960s to launching a record 104 satellites in a single mission recently, an anti-satellite weapon and a second mission to the moon that will involve a soft landing on the south portion of the moon, we have come a long way.

Early Days of INCOSPAR

We are definitely not in the dark about the extent to which politicians may go when it comes to mudslinging and vilifying each other when it comes to credit wars. However, we may acknowledge that the development of space science related technologies in the country has steadily seen an incremental growth irrespective of the party that has been in power. Space research in India began in the 1920s with studies conducted by scientists SK Mitra, CV Raman and Megahnad Saha. However, it was only from the 1940s and 50s that institutionalized probe into space-related activities gained nationwide attention. The history of space activities in India, however, reached its first milestone when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the year 1962 established the Indian National Commission for Space Research, or the INCOSPAR. Consequently, India’s first rocket launch took place in 1963.

The first sounding rocket, Nike Apache supplied by NASA

In 1969, the INCOSPAR grew to become the Indian Space Research Organization. India’s 2014 Mangalyaan mission made ISRO the world’s fourth agency to reach Mars and notably the least expensive Mars Mission till date. As we know, ISRO is charged with the responsibility of steering India’s space program. Every Budget, finance ministers allocate money to it: in 3 of its 10 years, the UPA spent less than what it budgeted at the overall level. After the NDA came into power at the Centre, variance over the budgeted amount has been insignificantly marginal. Though in its first year, the NDA struggled to get going on ministry wise spending, it did significantly better in the subsequent years, with 60% allocation. The UPA had allocated a sum of just 5165 crores for the ISRO, and had also brutally revised it down to 4000 crores in the same year. However, the NDA government, after coming to power in 2014, increased the government grant by 50% raising it to 6000 crores in the very same fiscal year. The budgeted expenditure for DRDO was just 11,960 crores in the interim budget of 2014–15, and it has seen a massive 58.4% jump in 2019–20, at 19,021 crore rupees. In the interim budget of 2019–20, the allocation for ISRO reached 10,252 crores of rupees, thereby, on an average, the money allocated to ISRO increased by more than 1000 crore per rupees per year. The Department of Space saw a hike in its budgetary allocation from 11,200 crores in 2018–19 to 12,473 crores in 2019–20. The Head of Space Technology, however, has seen a hike of 1400 crore. Needless to say, this is also possible because the overall economy has been showing steady growth.

Evolution of India’s Space Budget

Also, the industry participation in the space sector is seeing a revived interest following the present government’s initiatives in attracting private players into the sector. New Space India Limited, a recently announced commercial arm of the Department of Space, is a new public sector undertaking that experts expect will be the crucial look for the sustainability of commercialization of space and satellite technology.

ISRO is one of the world’s most efficient space agencies of the world. It has elevated our nation as a special space power in the global platform, launched 103 spacecraft missions and 72 launch missions so far. The organization has also launched 10 student satellites for the purpose of educational welfare. It has helped India to project its soft power in the countries of the world.

When ISRO successfully launched Chandrayaan 2, the Congress sparked a major controversy by tweeting what appeared to politicize the achievement of the country’s space agency. Meanwhile, BJP leaders including PM Modi, Late. Sushma Swaraj and Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman lauded the historic launch of this ambitious mission and expressed their pride in the prowess of the scientists at ISRO who made it possible for the country to scale new frontiers of science.

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MkIII-M1 used in the Chandrayaan 2 mission.

It is absolutely unnecessary to politicize the achievements of ISRO, which stands as a staunch testament to the scientific temperament and the infinite technical and imaginative potential that lies dormant, waiting to be kindled in the intellectual fiber of the country. We must pay attention to the facts and facts alone, as to how each party prioritizes the importance of space-related projects and ventures, and not allow our premeditated biases to jump in. Let’s keep in mind what’s best for ISRO, which irrefutably is on the breakthrough lines of fresh innovation and boundless enterprise that is a potent source of pride to every Indian. We hail the determination and the tenacity of the scientists, their patience and grit and their unending, incessant willpower to project India as no less than any other. ISRO deserves a healthy percentage of the national GDP so that we can continue making momentous strides in the future of space technology and space development programs and projects. I end my presentation applauding ISRO and the entities it is constituted of, especially taking a moment to observe respect and the sincerest of esteem for the brilliant fire-brains of the nation working there to demonstrate the country’s outreach in space exploration.”

We wish Vasudev best for his career in science delivering, and hope that he keeps on inspiring his audience.

To contact him, click here.

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