India will be furthering its space activities with the launch of South Asia Satellite this week.
Making strides in space diplomacy, India is gearing up for the launch of the South Asia Satellite (SAS). Earlier named the SAARC (acronym for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) satellite, with the aim to integrate and benefit the nations involved in the project, it is reportedly slated to launch the satellite on May 5. India’s neighbouring country and important member of SAARC, Pakistan, has opted to stay out of this project, however, which led to the change in name.
India is establishing itself as a leading space giant with a number of leaps it has made in the past few months. It recently broke records in the process of launching the highest number of satellites to be launched in a single mission, in February, and successfully tested two ‘scramjet’ engines last year, which made India the fourth country in the world to showcase the engine technology.
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In a monthly address that Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi hosts, the announcement for the launch of the satellite was made. “On May 5, India will launch the South Asia Satellite. The benefits of this satellite will go a long way in meeting the developmental needs of the countries participating in this project,” he stated. Looking to strengthen ties with neighbours and create cooperation of SAARC countries, Modi added, “We have always attempted to move ahead with the concept of sabka sath, sabka vikas (cooperation of all, development for all).”
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“Such a satellite will be helpful in SAARC nations’ fight against poverty and illiteracy, and in overcoming the challenges to progress in the scientific field, besides opening up opportunities for the youth of SAARC countries,” Modi had asserted in 2014, when he pitched the idea for such a satellite, during a SAARC Summit in Nepal. Now, the country has geared up for the launch of the satellite from the base in south-eastern coast of Andhra Pradesh.
South Asia to benefit, Pak opts out
Meant to be a communication satellite, this project, executed by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), was meant to be launched a few months back. It is reported as being a boost to telecommunication, education and data provision that can aid water conservation initiatives, weather forecast and natural disaster alerts. Each country is set to gain an ability to also launch its own set of related projects. Of the eight member states of SAARC, including India, seven are set to be a part of this. Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have confirmed with Afghanistan soon to follow after the completion of technical formalities.
#PMonAIR:Capacities of satellite & facilities it provides will go long way in addressing South Asia’s economic & developmental priorities
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Modi deemed the satellite as a ‘priceless gift’ from India, highlighting it as a significant step towards promoting cooperation with entire South Asia. “This is an appropriate example of our commitment towards South Asia. The satellite of South Asia will help in the overall development of the entire region,” he stated in the monthly nation-wide address. However, as the volatile Indo-Pak relations have been identified as the major roadblock to full realisation of SAARC ideals, historically and currently, even this project has not seen reconciliation by both parties as Pakistan has opted out of it.