The space industry in India started in early 1960. With a gradual upward movement, the Indian space industry has gained a prestigious stand in the global diaspora of space sciences. The parts of rockets and the satellite being transported on a bicycle and a bullock cart is still captivating in the mind of millions and millions of passionate Indians. The Indian space industry has travelled far from that face and has gained a significant amount of scientific development in the field of space sciences. With the ending of dependence on rocket technology on foreign nations and being able to master missile technology, Indian scientists and engineers have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge and experience which is growing larger and larger with every passing moment. During the space race of the last century, India neither had the capability nor any intentions to race, as the conditions were also not favourable to do so. But the new temptation and curiosity towards space and the objects moving in this space and various large-scale initiatives being taken by the global financial and technological powers have also compelled India to strive for the same and act within the reasonable time period to have a say on the global diaspora of the technologically and the financially stronger states. And besides that, the flourishing of technologies and abundance of resources is always considered as better than the opposite of it.
With a radical change in the space policy by the government, the Indian government has tried to introduce this sector to the private players of the economy and to have an atmosphere of competitiveness, technological improvement, and innovation. One of the biggest factors affecting it today is the inadequate commissioning of funds for the space industry. The Government agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation has allowed private sector entities in the space industry to use the stabilized assets of the government sector to carry out any permitted act necessary to be done. Post the liberalisation, privatisation, and globalisation of the market in the year 1991 the private sector has today also gained a significant position in supplying and assisting the government sector entities in big projects. The private sector is also allowed to test rockets, terrestrial object rovers, and landers. At present, there are hundreds of start-ups in the space industry in India and almost all of them are in the preliminary stage with few exceptions. It has to be noted that still there is no private company that has even flown the rockets in India. This also shows the gap between the gigantic public sector and the emerging private sector in the Indian space industry.
If we try to compare the space industries and space and aviation laws of the leading countries in terms of population and financial aspects, then it could be the Republic of India, the Public Republic of China, the United States of America, the European Union, and the Russian Federation. Now further, when we inspect the area of the advancement and easing of the legislations and creating an attractive point of destination for space exploration and technological innovation then what we find is that India lags far behind other countries. If we take an example of the United States of America which has the greatest number of private entities working in the area of the space industry, then it could be said that the States might not have the most preferred set of regulations, but it is still the most liberal in the leading destinations of the space industry. Besides NASA and the European Space Agency, there are a number of private players like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, Lockheed Martin, et cetera, which are leading in the industry. Russian and Chinese space industries are looking to set up their own space stations in orbit. Though the Indian Space Research Organisation also has such plans, when we examine them then the huge difference and inferiority of the Indian plan are evidently visible. The reason for this is that the Russian and Chinese industries are far more equipped in technology and resources and probably to some and extent with similar ideologies and forms of governments. While the European Union and the United States of America mostly rely on delegating the work to the private players in the industry and take advantage of their specialty, knowledge, and experience to elaborate the efforts in conquering the space. While on the other hand, the Indian space industry is severely overburdened and exhaust full of resources. Upon this, not having support from the private players in the space industry is another setback that the Indian space industry faces.
With the advancement of technologies and the human desire for space exploration and colonisation, future technologies and widespread capacity are very much essential for all those countries who are aspiring to be pioneers in the field. Space colonization is no more science fiction and has become a necessity for further exploration and the profound availability of scarce resources. Therefore, it has also become a necessity to ease the Indian laws as well as the international treaties to leverage more on the availability of opportunities in the space. Currently, India does not have any specifically designated space law, and space is regulated by various other legislations like the Satellite Communication Act 1997, the Aircraft Act of 1934, the Anti-Hijacking Act of 2016, and et cetera. Though the draft of Space Activities Bill 2017 is ready and is under consideration by the Prime Minister’s office, but it has unable to get enacted till now. In the meantime, it is required for the air and space laws and to facilitate with the legislations which are not restrictive but enhance the operation of exploration and colonisation of the space. and accumulation of the resources required. This is also necessary for ending resource scarcity, exploring the approachable space, and leading society to a new world of opportunities. And for doing all this it is essential to have proliferating private sector industries which will take the risk, invest the time and resources, and will eventually come up with a working model and formula.
It does not mean to do away with the government sector in the space industry, instead to delegate work to the private sector which will further it. This way the government resources will be saved and people’s resources will be utilised in developing the science of exploring space. The easing of laws will benefit both the governments and the common people as this will also ease the reach to the space and the abundance of opportunities there. The reforms in the legal sector will positively affect the private entities to leverage the space industries which will in return enhance the national capacity and innovation in terms of Science and Technology. This will also be a promising area of employment for many of the Indians. And will also enhance the national capacity in times of war and natural disasters.
Author’s Name: Vaibhav Singh (Bennett University, Greater Noida)