ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) has finally launched the much anticipated, “South East Asia Communication Satellite” recently. Famously projected as the India’s and PM Modi’s gift to the six southeast Asian countries, the ISRO GSLV F – 09 is a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the communication and broadcasting satellite took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre located at the Sriharikotta.
PM’s Gift to South East Asian Countries
In a recent episode of the “Mann Ki Baat” PM Narendra Modi mentioned that this satellite would be the India’s gift to the south east Asian region, and will go a long way in addressing the development and economic priorities of the six nations in the region.
The six countries which will be benefited with this satellite include Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives, and these countries will be participating in a space based regional communication process.
Pakistan Pulled Out of the Project
Though, the project was aimed for seven countries, including Pakistan, but, Pakistan pulled out of the project citing the security reasons. Pakistan, allegedly, viewed this entire project with suspicion and as an instrument for creating the Indian hegemony. Reportedly, Islamabad had qualms over the national security concerns and data security. Eventually, it pulled out by citing its wish to focus on the country’s own space program, which is a far less advanced programme currently operating only five satellites, that too, without the heavy duty launchers and fabrication facilities.
Without the Southeast Asian satellite, Pakistan would probably rely on the China’s assistance. At present, Beijing has about 90 satellites, including the five sophisticated ones, the Yaogan series satellites which it can share with Pakistan. However, a few personnel are convinced with the reasons cited by Pakistan for undermining this highly promising regional cooperation initiative, in which as many as six countries from the region participated.
Well, how valid are these reasons given by Pakistan, nobody knows, but the apprehensions over the satellites have existed since decades. Right from the launch of the world’s first satellite in 1957, these earth orbiting objects have grown immensely in capabilities and features. The satellites can easily collect the information from across the border, and have dual-role potential with a very thin line separating the military and civilian roles.
With the ability to easily tweak the satellite controlling software, in this scenario, India will have the power. But, what they didn’t realize before citing the security reasons is that India possesses the robust indigenous capability in the surveillance satellites, and thus, it does not need to use a collaborative satellite such as GSAT-9 to spy on Pakistan.