A ground view of the India Space Policy 2023

A ground view of the India Space Policy 2023

News: Recently, The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) released the Indian Space Policy 2023 that had been in the works for some years

 Until the early 1990s, India’s space industry and space economy were defined by ISRO. Private sector involvement was limited to building ISRO designs and specifications.
 The Second Space Age began with the licensing of private TV channels, the explosive growth of the Internet, mobile telephony, and the emergence of the smartphone.
 Today, ISRO’s budget is approximately $1.6 billion. India’s space economy is over $9.6 billion. Broadband, OTT and 5G promise a double-digit annual growth in satellite-based services.
 The Indian space industry could grow to $60 billion by 2030 directly creating more than 2 lakh jobs.

How have different policies evolved in India’s space sector?
 The first satellite communication policy was introduced in 1997 It had guidelines for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the satellite industry. As per figures, more than half the transponders beaming TV signals into Indian homes are hosted on foreign satellites, resulting in an annual outflow of over half a billion dollars
 A remote sensing data policy was introduced in 2001. In 2016, it was replaced by a National Geospatial Policy that has been further liberalized in 2022.
 A draft Space Activities Bill was brought out in 2017, which went through a long consultative process. It lapsed in 2019 with the outgoing Lok Sabha.

Significance of new space policy: 

Basis Basis Important Aspects
VisionTo “enable, encourage and develop a flourishing commercial presence in space” – Thrust given to private sector
Reference to securityLittle reference to ‘security’ in the document. The focus is on civilian and peaceful applications.
Key FocusPrimarily on space-based intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, communication, positioning and navigation capabilities.
ISRO’s roleISRO will “transition out of the existing practice of being present in the manufacturing of operational space systems, ISRO to focus on R&D and share technology, products and processes and best practices with Non-Government Entities (NGE’s)
Defining roles and responsibilityThe policy lays out a strategy. It spells out the roles of the Department of Space, ISRO, the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (INSPACe), and the NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).
NSILIt will become the interface for interacting with the industry.
IN-SPACeIt is expected to act as the single window agency for authorising space activities by government entities and NGEs.
Role of NGE’s                                                                                                                      They are allowed to undertake end-to-end activities in the space sector through establishment and operation of space objects, ground-based assets and related services, such as communication.
Satellites could be self-owned, procured or leased. Communication services could be over India or outside; and remote sensing data could be disseminated in India or abroad. 

Way Forward
 The policy sets out an ambitious role for IN-SPACe but provides no time frame for the necessary steps ahead. Neither is there an indicative timeline for ISRO’s transitioning out of its current practices nor is there a schedule for IN-SPACe to create the regulatory framework.
 The policy framework envisaged will need clear rules and regulations pertaining to FDI and licensing, government procurement to sustain the new space start-ups, liability in case of violations and an appellate framework for dispute settlement.
 A regulatory body needs legislative authority like The Reserve Bank of India was set up by the 1934 RBI Act, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) by the 1992 SEBI Act etc. IN-SPACe is expected to authorize space activities for all, both government and non-government entities. Currently, its position is ambiguous as it functions under the purview of the Department of Space.
Source – The Hindu, Indian Express

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