Concluding Remarks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director VIF during the 2nd Indian Defence Space Symposium 2024 organised by ISpA from 18-20 Apr 2024

Dear Friends,

I begin by congratulating ISpA for organising the 2nd Indian Defence Space Symposium 2024, which has seen the participation of key stakeholders including senior government officials, industry leaders, representatives of the Armed Forces, Start-Ups and think tanks. The discussions have been extremely focussed covering a wide range of issues ranging from the current state of technology in the country, the progress made in the participation of the private sector in the space industry and the future challenges. This is a heartening development.

India is witnessing the emergence of a new era in the development of the space sector. Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan missions, plans to send Indians to space have finalised the Indian ambition. Since 2020, when the decision to allow the private sector in space activities was taken, the pace of reforms has quickened. The National Geospatial Policy 2022, the new Space Policy 2023, the new telecommunication in 2023 and now 100 percent FDI in the space sector and now the 100 percent FDI in the space sector have created the enabling environment for the participation of the private sector in the space industry. The geospatial policy now allows access to remote sensing data which is crucial for developing more applications. Similarly, the New Telecommunication Act 2023 has resulted in the allocation of spectrum to communication providers.

These are momentous steps. Today Indian companies are already building satellites, the ground infrastructure and various applications including geo-analytical services. The private sector has stepped up its game. HAL and L&T have formed a consortium for building Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles. Private companies are now building Small Satellite Launch Vehicles. The allocation of a Global Mobile Personal Communication by Satellite (GMPCS) licence to Eutelsat OneWeb and Jio Satellite Communication will help in providing communication to remote areas. The downstream sector offers immense opportunities for private-sector companies.

Space plays a crucial role in national security. The announcement of Mission Defence Space and 75 Defence challenges will motivate the private sector to develop products, services and applications for the defence sectors. This will help strengthen the development of dual-use technologies and make India Atmanirbhar in defence.

These are the initial steps. The Indian space industry is still in its infancy and still needs the government’s support in various areas such as taxes, capital, R&D, assured orders, export promotion etc. ISpA after consultation with members and stakeholders should prepare policy papers on different subjects to generate awareness and also influence policy makers.

The next step should be to ensure that the Space Activity Bill should be passed by the parliament as soon as possible. This should be the priority for the next government.

We cannot be oblivious to the breath-taking developments in the space sector. The private sector has revolutionised the space sector. In the Russia-Ukraine war, the private sector’s role in providing communication support and cyber security has been immense.

The international security environment is deteriorating. The likelihood of outer space being weaponised is growing. Arms race in space can no longer be wished away. The competition for exploiting outer space resources is increasing. The private sector will be an important player in these developments.

India has to contend with the growing profile of China and other countries in space. This requires a long-term vision, policy, strategy and a roadmap. Apart from ISRO, which focuses on futuristic plans, our institutions, particularly in the security domain need to be strengthened to develop a vision for the future. We have to focus on capacity building, education, skills and R&D will require renewed focus. We need to build a robust framework for the further growth of the space ecosystem. This will require urgent attention to capacity building, skill, and R&D apart from regulations, policy, technology development and international cooperation; Aatmanirbharta etc. The space Sector will be crucial to national security.

We should keep a laser-sharp focus on international trends in emerging space law and space technologies. We are entering the era of ‘new space’ and a new space race. The space law regime governed by the outer space treaties is under stress. The notion of space as a global common is changing. Issues like equal and non-discriminatory access to space, sustainability of space activities of arms race in space, have taken on new emerging national laws that are coming under security for their impact on internal treaties. There is a great deal of speculation about whether some countries are thinking of placing nuclear weapons in space. We need a systematic study of those issues. Ad-hocism would not do. The time has come to set up a research institution in the country dedicated to the study of space issues from an Indian perspective. We need to strengthen skill development and capacity building in the space area,


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