The first budget of the second term of Modi government is expected to set the tone for policymaking for the next five years. In her maiden budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the government had launched a new commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The commercial arm of the esteemed organization has been named NewSpace India Limited (NSIL). The commercial arm will be a public sector undertaking under the Department of Space. Countries across the globe want to harness the expertise of ISRO in launching their own satellites for communication, education and other services and products and ISRO’s commercial arm would empower it to tap its commercial potential.
ISRO is one of the most efficient space agencies in the world. It has uplifted the stature of India in the globe as a major space power. It has launched 103 spacecraft missions and 72 launch missions so far. The organization has also launched 10 student satellites for the purpose of educational welfare. ISRO has helped the country to project soft power in neighboring countries by facilitating satellite launches. It has launched 269 foreign satellites of 32 countries including USA, Israel, Japan and many European countries and has massive commercial capacity and the potential compete with foreign space agencies.
NDA government has always emphasized on increasing India’s prowess in space technology. In FY2013-14, UPA government allotted just 5,615 crore rupees for ISRO, the premier space agency of Government of India. The UPA government later revised the ISRO budget to 4,000 crore rupees in the same year. Modi government came to power in May 2014 and presented the new budget in the month of July and increased the government grant by 50 percent to 6,000 crore rupees in the very same fiscal year.
In the interim budget 2019-20, the allocation to ISRO has reached to 10,252 crore rupees. On average the money allocated to ISRO increased by more than 1,000 crore rupees per year under the Modi government.
India emerged as major space power due to ISRO’s success. Indian space programme is among most powerful in the world after US, China and Russia despite relatively low funds. ISRO is working on sending three Indian astronauts to space by 2022, as part of India’s ambitious Gaganyaan project and its expenses are expected to grow. The decision of Modi government to create a commercial arm will empower ISRO to earn more revenue so that it becomes self sufficient and embarks on more ambitious projects.