[Answered] India has contributed tremendously in space exploration. Do you think India should expand private players role in its space industry? Critically analyse.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Write a contextual introduction.
Body. Need of privatisation of space. Benefits, and issues.
Conclusion. Way forward.

India is among the global leaders in space exploration. ISRO has spearheaded India’s success in space. From a modest beginning in the 1960s, India’s space programme has grown steadily, achieving significant milestones. These include various satellite launch, space-launch vehicles, and a range of associated capabilities. But private sector has not contribute much to it.

Why private sector should be involved in space industry?

  1. Increasing Demand- Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s annual budget has crossed ₹10,000 crore ($1.45 billion) and is growing steadily. However, demand for space-based services in India is far greater than what ISRO can provide. With limited number of staff, its difficult to meet the ever increasing demand from various stakeholders. Therefore, private sector investment is critical, for which a suitable policy environment needs to be created.
  2. Overall growth of space sector- Private sector participation is needed to ensure overall growth of the space sector. ISRO has a strong association with the industry, particularly with Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and large private sector entities like Larsen and Toubro. But most of the private sector players are Tier-2/Tier-3 vendors, providing components and services. The Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) role is restricted to ISRO. Role of private industries should be increased.
  3. Very less global contribution- The global space industry is estimated to be $350 billion and is likely to exceed $550 billion by 2025. Despite ISRO’s capabilities, India’s share is estimated at $7 billion (just 2% of the global market). Private sector role is must to increase India’s contributions globally.
  4. International trends and experienceElon Musk’s “SpaceX” and its high profile projects have highlighted the increasing significance of the private players in the space sector. In India, despite the various strategic, security and regulatory constrains, a limited private ecosystem has evolved around the ISRO. Private are merely contracting with national space agencies to build satellites and subsystems. Contrarily, the current trend is developing entire vertically integrated operations without licensing or purchase agreements with national agencies.

Various Benefits of private sector’s participation in space industry

  1. Greater pool of resources- Public resources- land, labour, capital are limited. Private sector participation will open new pool of resources and talent. It will bring more funding, and experience into space exploration activities.
  2. Human Capital- Restricting space activities to ISRO, limits proper utilisation of talent all over the country. With demographic dividend, private sector participation can exploit the talent across the nation contributing a lot to space explorations in India.
  3. More time for ISRO- Today every space mission is done by ISRO, whether its communication satellite or any weather monitoring satellite. With increased role of private player, ISRO can concentrate more on its pathbreaking innovations like Reusable PSLVs, Cryogenic rockets, mars inhabitation.
  4. Technological advancement– Commercialisation will also develop better technologies which is important. It will allow integration of many other technologies like artificial intelligence into space exploration activities. With experience from space activities, private sector can increase role of technology in other areas.
  5. Risk Sharing- Every launch consists Risk. Privatising helps in sharing the risk of cost factor. Failure costs will be distributed. Also with increased private participation, failures will reduce due to increased available human capital and mind. Joint venture brings the knowledge from various stakeholders minimises failures and increases productivity.
  6. Commercial demand- There is need to enhance internet connectivity for the masses, which is another demand pull factor for increased commercial interest in space. Asteroid mining is also another potential area that looks promising, with scope for monetisation and disrupting commodity markets.

Issues and Concerns of private participation in space industry

  1. Data Risk Though space it gives an opportunity to entrepreneurs but raw data of ISRO in the hands of public is sensitive and consists of danger of misuse or improper utilisation of data.
  2. Regulation- Though its a profitable investment, regulation of private sector participation is not easy. The time taken for regulatory clearances and unstable political institutions can cause delays and hurdle in decision making of investors.
  3. Revenue lossISRO will loose a fair amount of money it is earning through its space activities. This will reduce government revenue.
  4. Unfair commercial practices– Allowing private sector may lead to lobbying and unfair means to get space projects or launch of any satellite for their own profit. It may also lead to leakage of sensitive information by private players to other countries and companies to make profit.

India should create an independent body that can create a level playing field for government and private space enterprises. A new Space law for India should be framed which should aim at facilitating growing India’s share of global space economy to 10% within a decade which requires a new kind of partnership between ISRO, the established private sector and the New Space entrepreneurs.

Print Friendly and PDF