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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 27 New Delhi June 25, 2016

ISRO’s ‘Monumental’ Feat

Sunday 26 June 2016, by SC


The last few days have seen several major developments on the domestic front.

The government went out of its way to widen the doors to ensure more Foreign Direct Investment last Monday (June 20). This was termed as “radical liberalisation” of the FDI regime with the easing of norms for entry of such investment in a host of major sectors like defence, civil aviation and pharma-ceuticals—in fact these have been opened up for total foreign ownership.

The more significant step than these FDI reforms was the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C34) of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lifting off from the Second Launch Pad in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota this morning and lobbing 20 satellites into orbit in one go. These included a Cartosat-2 series satellite, two student satellites from universities in Pune and Chennai, and 17 satellites of four foreign countries (the US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia).

This has been described by the PM as a “monumental accomplishment” by the ISRO. He also said on Twitter: “20 satellites in a go! @isro continues to break new barriers. Hearty congratulations to our scientists...” One does not frequently find oneself on the same wavelength as Narendra Modi but this is one of the rare occasions when his statement needs to be endorsed without any equivocation whatsoever.

The 725.5 kg Cartosat-2 would be used for earth observation. According to the ISRO, the imagery sent by satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation and utility management like road networking.

Apart from putting 20 satellites into orbit, the PSLV-C34 performed two tricky experiments of the same nature.

Eight years ago in April 2008 the ISRO had launched 10 satellites in a single rocket. And two years back in 2014 Russia had launched 37 satellites in a single mission, an unparalleled record.

According to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre Director P. Kunnhikrishnan, today’s achievement was indeed a “major milestone” for the ISRO.

The present dispensation running the country should be made to understand and appreciate that the technological development carried out over the years since the time of Jawaharlal Nehru, the genuine architect of modern India, has helped the nation to register this outstanding feat. So it is pointless to repeat ad nauseam, as our PM has been doing, that practically nothing was achieved during the Congress rule under Jawaharlal Nehru and that the nation’s real development began after the advent of Modi as the PM in May 2014.

Sixteen years ago when India had successfully test-fired Agni, the intermediate range missile, the founder of this journal had in these columns highlighted the unique national pride at our scientists having attained a “degree of self-reliance in sophisticated technology”. It is this sense of national pride—also being witnessed now—that needs to be harnessed today for building a new, inclusive, united and self-reliant India braving all the heavy odds that beset our path of advance.

June 22 S.C.