India to launch ambitious satellite on May 5 to widen regional communications

India’s space diplomacy in South Asia is set to take wings on May 5 as it plans to launch a satellite that will help countries in the region to enhance communications.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the 2,230kg space bird, entitled South Asia Satellite, will help countries to map its natural resources, tele-medicine, education, IT connectivity and people-to-people links.

This can also help South Asian countries to beam common programmes.

Seven of the eight countries associated with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) are a part of the project.

Pakistan is the sole outlier as it did not want the “gift” from India amid heightened tensions in recent months. Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan will be the beneficiaries of the ambitious space project.

“We have always attempted to move ahead with the concept of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas (cooperation of all, development for all),” Modi said in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’.

The concept of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ is not confined to India but is relevant globally too, especially in the context of the neighbourhood , he said.

“There should be cooperation of our neighbours and there should be the development of our neighbours too,” he said. “On May 5, India will launch the South Asia Satellite.”

Soon after taking over as the Prime Minister in 2014, Modi had made a unilateral proposal of India launching the satellite whose data would be shared with the eight SAARC countries for their development.

The space capsule, which cost Rs 235 crore (roughly $36.5 million) and three years to develop by Indian Space Research organisation (ISRO), will have 12 Ku band transponders to increase communications between countries, The Times of India reported.

The satellite will be launched from Sriharikota on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.