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Asia Minute: India’s Satellite Diplomacy

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

  India’s space program has marked another milestone. Late last week, the country launched a communications satellite with an unusual story. HPR’s Bill Dorman has it in today’s Asia Minute.


India has launched a communications satellite combining science with diplomacy.

The New Delhi government is paying for the satellite and making a dozen Ku band transponders available to neighboring countries.

Each government gets access to at least one transponder, but needs to develop its own ground infrastructure.

The satellite space can be used to boost broadcasting and telecommunication capabilities. Part of the idea is to provide a link among the countries in case of natural disaster.

That’s a situation the region is all too familiar with—from massive storms and flooding to tragedies like the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

India’s Economic Times reports Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka will be sharing data…while a deal with Afghanistan is still being negotiated.

Pakistan was involved earlier, but has dropped out.

The venture is the latest success for India’s space program, which earlier this year launched a record 104 satellites in a single mission.

There’s definitely an element of soft power in this effort.

Some analysts say India is trying to counter the regional space influence of China…which has helped both Sri Lanka and Pakistan in their satellite programs.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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