Delhi is not far

India setup the headquarters for its space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bengaluru to stay far away from political influence or interference. Or so, the legend goes. But it’s success has got it Delhi’s attention.

The political interference began with Delhi giving ISRO a target of 2022 for flying an Indian into low earth orbit in an Indian vehicle. The opening up of the space sector and the creation of various institutions to regulate the sector have still not stabilized. The lack of a space act is a big part of this lack of stability.

In a recent podcast episode of The Seen and the Unseen, K P Krishnan suggests that the government is shaking up institutions that it sees as being captured by elites. I wonder if it is doing the same to ISRO and the space sector. If so, this is a welcome move.I think the engineering and the science focus of the space sector may save it more than anything else.

The government is the only institution that can invest in space and wait patiently (as it has for the past seventy years) as it develops. Even with the opening up of the space sector, the sector will need continued patronage of the government to grow. The private sector can, at best, make more efficient use of the capital that the government deploys for developing new technologies and applies it in various fields.

January 2, 2024