Self-reliance doesn’t mean we do everything: Isro, IN-SPACe chiefs | India News

BENGALURU: Stressing on the need to initiate action to become self-reliant in critical technologies, Isro and IN-SPACe (Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre) chairpersons S Somanath and Pawan Goenka said self-reliance, however, “does not mean we do everything.”
“Indian Space story is one of self-reliance. Self-reliance is nothing but if you want to do something you aren’t denied the possibility.It doesn’t mean you do everything yourself, that meaning doesn’t exist. When the world is getting more connected and inclusive we cannot take a stand of doing everything and be in a closed society. Such a society cannot grow because growth happens by participating with so many other people,” Somanath said.
Pointing out that this has been Isro’s trademark, Somanath said when India started the space programme, it was not equipped to do it, it took support and help, including from advanced nations and the fruits of the benefits are here.
“As secretary department of space (Somanath) said, self-reliance doesn’t mean we do everything ourselves but we are capable of doing everything ourselves, we don’t have reliance on someone else for doing things that are mission critical for our country,” Goenka said.
Somanath, recollecting how there were challenges when the Space programme was being conceived in India, said: “…Look at electronic chips. Today we know we are weak in this sector and it may take another 10-20 years for us to come up. Who do we blame today? We will be blamed in the future for actions we did not take…”
“But Space isn’t like that… There were men and women to envision, support and create it so that we can talk about opening it up, expanding space enterprise because we have the capability today. It could have been very easy not to have it [capability] because it would have been easy to justify not having a space programme as India was not a developed country. Investing in Space would have looked like a fool’s paradise. But we overcame that and even today are repeatedly asked about benefits even to spend the kind of money we do,” he added.
He reiterated that expenditure on Space was “very very small” compared to any other space faring nation. “But we have an aspiration now. Having seen the results of the vision and work that the department of space has been doing, we have the aspiration that more people should participate in the programme. It cannot be limited only to a class of people who are looking at space and doing something — going to Moon and Mars — and look at what benefits it brings to the people,” he said.
Stating that a lot of indigenisation has taken place in rocket building — from not having anything, even propellant chemicals — to making 90% of the PSLV indigenously, Somanath, however said, the same has not been achieved in satellite making.

“For spacecraft only 50% of the content is produced in India. It is not a bad thing to import systems because there are better products available outside and we can make a more efficient and cost effective satellite. It is equally important to look at, if we ever look at expanding satellite building in this country, will we be choked. Will we be able to get the best of the processors and chips made in the world so that we can design a better satellite and compete with others,” he said.
India should be able to showcase that it’s able to build cost-effective solutions with whatever indigenous solutions we have, specifically in semiconductors.

So we have a very exciting journey ahead of us. We have all the key industry players, Isro, department of space, INSpace, NSIL and if we all work together not only we will have an exciting journey we will also see a very good outcome for our country and perhaps for the globe having just announced singing of the Artemis accord I think we are now playing on that global space

Goenka on Artemis

“We have been able to do things with substantially lower costs than anybody else in the world. Space is a classical example and I think this can be replicated in any other sector. We have to tell the story to the entire world again that we are only spending this much money but deliver value that is worth more. And that this is an efficient organisation that is actually delivering,” he said.
He added that Isro would like to see new companies become an integral part of this journey and serve the entire world. “We must ensure this is replicated in sectors where we’ve still not embarked upon, for example, semiconductors, high-end materials research, biotechnology, additive manufacturing… There are many areas where India has not created a niche and it is important for us to do that,” he said, while Goenka echoed his views.

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