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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, September 25, 2017

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India pivots towards space diplomacy, launches first South Asia satellite

Friday, launched the first South Asia Satellite

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NEW DELHI, India - In a bid to better bonds between Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka - India on Friday, launched the first South Asia Satellite.> BNN

Claiming it was ‘gifting’ a satellite to its neighbours, India said that the satellite was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and funded entirely by India.

The South Asia Satellite will help partner countries in effective communication, better governance, better banking and education in remote areas, more predictable weather forecasting and efficient resource mapping.

Pacing ahead with the strategy of space diplomacy, Indian officials noted that the country’s GSAT-9, or the South Asia Satellite will map natural resources, help in telemedicine, IT connectivity and people-to-people links. 

Incidentally, Pakistan was the only South Asian country to opt out of the project and the country even stayed away from the celebration of the launch.

The satellite was launched at 4.57 pm local time on Friday from Sriharikota, off the coast of Andhra Pradesh.

A group of South Asian leaders joined Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi via satellite link for the launch.

Modi, in his statement recalled that he had made a “promise to extend advanced space technology for the cause of growth and prosperity of our brothers and sisters in South Asia” at the 2014 summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) in Kathmandu.

Adding, “The successful launch of the South Asia Satellite marks the fulfillment of that. With this launch we have started a journey to build the most advanced frontier of our partnership. Our coming together is a sign of our unshakeable resolve to place the needs of our people in the forefront. It shows that collective choices for our citizens will bring us together for cooperation, not conflict; development, not destruction; and prosperity, not poverty.”

Modi also noted that the South Asia Satellite will help partner countries link people with top-end medical services through telemedicine and quick response to natural disasters.

Soon after the launch, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani noted that South Asia was one of the least integrated regions in the world. 

Adding, “South Asia today has taken a giant step towards regional integration.”

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said that the satellite would help alleviate poverty and improve the living standards of South Asians.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the new satellite would change the face of South Asia and expand connectivity from land and water to space.

Prime Minister of Bhutan, Tshering Tobgay described the launch of the South Asia Satellite as an “impressive milestone in the history of the world” with one country launching a satellite for the “free use of its neighbours.”

In more comments from leaders, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom said that the launch of the satellite underlined India’s “neighbourhood first” foreign policy and showed its commitment to the development of the region.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Nepal’s Prime Minister said that the satellite was a “testimony” to South Asia becoming self-reliant in space science. 

Adding that the satellite would boost connectivity in the region that in turn would spur development.

The satellite will reportedly provide significant capability to each of the participating countries in terms of DTH (direct-to-home), besides linking the countries for disaster information transfer.

Further, reports explained that each South Asian country will get access to one transponder through which they will be able to beam their own programming, besides common “South Asian programming.”

The satellite that was initially supposed to be named “Saarc Satellite” had its name changed to South Asia Satellite after Pakistan refused to join the project.

 

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