This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by WTD News. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Impact Of ISRO’s Commercialization Plan: What Privatizing The Space Arena Could Mean For India

More from WTD News

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set to double the number of satellites it launches by next year. However, with the existing shortage of manpower and funds, it seems to be almost impossible. Solution? Bring in, private players. And that’s exactly what the state-owned organisation is planning to do. In 2017, ISRO announced their plans to privatise their Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launches, which are currently operated and developed only by them.

When the United States legalised privatisation of its space sector in 2004, the nation witnessed a bunch of private players popping up. SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin, Moon Express popped up one after the other. SpaceX successfully launched the first-ever reusable rocket. Arianespace came up with technology which reduced the cost of launches by 50%. And the list of successes goes on and on. This soon can be a reality for India too.

Here’s what commercialising the space arena could mean for India :

1. New Businesses

In India, when we say the word Space, we often associate the word with state-owned Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). That’s because, till date, they have been the only ones doing the majority of space-related activities. The reason why we have hardly exploited the budding private space industry is the absence of laws and policies that would support space entrepreneurship. This has been a roadblock for commercialisation. However, off late, by introducing new bills like the Space Activities Bill (2017) and announcing Private-Public partnership plans, the Indian government is making it easier for the private industry to enter the space arena.

Further, the global NewSpace movement has given a push to the Indian private space sector as well. NewSpace, is a global phenomenon where space entrepreneurs are developing products and services which are focused on spaceflight by using private funding. SpaceX, OneWeb and PlanetLabs are companies which fit into this bracket. They work independently to the government and often challenge the traditional space methods which are expensive and time-consuming. They are rapidly gaining popularity. For instance, at least 10,000 New Space startups are expected to kick off around the world in the next decade or so. And more companies mean more business!

NewSpace has inspired many entrepreneurs in India as well and has led to the establishment of several innovative startups like Team Indus, Earth2orbit, Astrome Technologies, SatSure etc. For instance, in 2017 the Bangalore based Team Indus launched a rover which could be landed on the Moon and beam back images and videos. Well, this invention paved the way for India’s entry into Google Lunar XPRIZE competition. According to the head of the team, Rahul Narayan, “the future of space exploration will be fuelled by private companies that dare to push the envelope“.

2. More Innovation

Dhruva Space, a Bangalore based start-up became the first in India to design and manufacture satellites. They have claimed that they have the capacity to manufacture at least 10-12 satellites annually. That’s just one success story of innovation. There are many like these in every nook of the country which could be a big helping hand for the ISRO. So, rather than being competitors, the private industry should be seen as allies to ISRO. It saves their time for bigger, challenging innovations and operations; and most important research and development. This means ideas will be pouring not just from the new industry but from ISRO as well.

This could mean India becoming the brainchild of innovative ideas and not merely importing them. Typically, India receives the technology much later than other countries. Technologies like the 4G internet, GPS, DTH, entered the Indian markets, much later than the other countries. Which might not be the case once we divert our focus to better and relevant R&D in space technologies. For instance, Susmita Mohanty, founder of Earth2Orbit (India’s first space startup)is all set to solve climate change from outer space. According to her, space plays a vital role in monitoring and understanding the effects of climate change. So, she decided to work on an Earth observation satellite, which combines big data and analytics to collect information about our planet on a global scale.

Maybe with many such projects, other nations would soon want to import our innovations and ideas and not the other way round. Now as ISRO too, plans to privatize their basic and well-established technologies, they can focus on the research and development of newer technologies and more cutting-edge missions. And leave the basic operations for the new space players.

3. Additional Employment

As the space sector expands with bigger projects and missions, more people will be required to get the job done. The current strength of ISRO is around 16,000 people, which is clearly not enough to achieve the set objectives and missions planned by ISRO. Further, there have been reports of scientists not willing to work for the state-owned organisation. The traditional work culture, its reluctance to change and innovation, lack of promotions are a few reasons for the same.

Due to this human resource challenges at least 300 scientists fled ISRO in just 5 years. Results? Brain Drain. No wonder India tops the list of immigrant scientists and engineers working in the U.S. Commercialising and privatising, will bring in the much needed fresh ideas and perspective which will suit the younger generation. This will also channelize employment via the growing number of new space companies and startups. And will bring back many scientists and engineers, who flew overseas due to the lack of growth in the Indian space sector.

4. Better Educational Course

Finally seeing more scope and growth,  youth and students interested in space technology, will see Aeronautics and Space sector as a career option. Let’s understand this with the current careers landscape. With the boom on the internet, there was a rise in demand for workforce in the social media field, software development, coding etc. Accordingly, we have niche courses and programmes for social media. That’s how it will work for the space sector as well.

According to Adithya Kothandhapani, an engineer at the Team Indus the rise in the number of private aerospace companies will result in an increase in placement opportunities in the sector. He further adds, that currently, the students in India lack general interest in the field of Aeronautics and Space. There is a lack of research-based curriculum, outdated syllabus which does not reflect the demands of the industry and lack of a candidate’s ability to apply knowledge to solve the real-world problems.

Indian scientists have contributed largely to the astronomy and the space sector globally. But, when it comes to promoting education in this sector, we are lagging far behind. At present, there are very few universities offering postgraduate courses in the field and a handful number of colleges offering undergraduate courses. More programmes in this field could pave way for more budding and young scientists and engineers.

Although commercialisation of space comes with a huge number of opportunities, it also comes with a fair share of risks. While many have welcomed this move, critics are of the opinion that the newly established startups and organizations lack experience and cannot match the quality standards of the 50-year-old state-owned establishment.













You must be to comment.

More from WTD News

Similar Posts

By Pradeep Maurya

By Fayeza Asad

By Bengali Love Cafe By Ms Sakshi Guha

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below