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South Asia Satellite: What is India's Rs 235-crore gift to its neighbours?

Pakistan opted out from the proposed Saarc satellite

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

PM Narendra Modi
PM Narendra Modi

Come May 5, India will write a new chapter in the sphere of In his monthly address, Mann ki  Baat on Sunday Prime Minister announced that the will be launched on May 5. He described it as India's "priceless gift" to its neighbours.

India has an edge over other countries in terms of space technological advancement and has cut beyond mediocrity.

What is
  • It is a communication satellite, weighs 2,230-kg and it took three years for fabrication. 
  • It has 12 Ku-band transponders which the neighbouring countries can utilise to increase communications.
  • Each country will get access to at least one transponder through which they could beam their own programming and there could be common 'south Asian programming' as well.
  • Each country has to develop its own ground infrastructure though India is willing to extend assistance and know-how.
When was the plan initiated? 

  • In 2014, after assuming office Modi asked the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to develop a which can be dedicated as a “gift” to the neighbouring Saarc countries. 
  • "I ask our space community to take up the challenge of developing a SAARC Satellite, that we can dedicate to our neighbourhood as a gift from India. A that provides a full range of applications and services to all our neighbours," Modi had said speaking at the Sriharikota spaceport, after witnessing the PSLV C-23 launch. 
How will the help?
  • The will enable a full range of applications and services to our neighbouring countries in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications like television, direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, telemedicine and disaster management support.
  •  As the region is highly prone to earthquakes, cyclones, floods, tsunamis, it may help in providing critical communication links in times of disasters. 

Why was the name changed? 
  • opted out from the proposed Saarc suggesting that it ''has its own space program" after participating in the planning meeting on June 22, 2015. So, the project was renamed as

Which countries are on board? 

  • Besides India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka are on board, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said. Afghanistan will ink the deal with some minor technical details still to be fixed in Kabul.

The status of these countries

  • Sri Lanka possesses full-fledged communication satellites with assistance from China. 
  • Nepal has already floated a tender to acquire two communications satellites.
  • Afghanistan also has a communication satellite, an old India-made acquired from Europe. 
  • Bhutan and Maldives will largely benefit from India's initiative to launch  as they don't have their own communication satellites as of now.