DRDO has done it again on the 27th of March 2019. For the uninitiated, with this test India now becomes the fourth country to successfully complete it. The other countries being China, Russia, and the US. Go back a few years and a lot f our own scientists may not have visualized the nuances of targeting one of our own satellites with a ground-based missile. The ASAT targeted Microsat-R that was operating at around 300 kilometers in space. The Space Review points out that this test ‘demonstrates the maturation of India’s missile defense program’.
Those who wish to question this technologically strategic decision need to understand that with 50 operational satellites, the country needs to safeguard its own advancement goals. There have obviously been sections who have been irked by this decision. Demonstrating ASAT (Anti-missile/Satellite (or missile defense or star war capability) Test provides us (Indians) with several important perspectives:
1. Sustained research supported for a long period of time (30-50 years) can give us strategic competitive advantage and earn international respect. So it is better to think on a long term basis and not on short term for corporate growth.
2.Corporate India can learn lessons from DRDO/ISRO and start investing in research on long term basis, (Investing about 0.5 to 1% of net income in research will change Corporate India, and its dependence on the west). The Corporate India will earn respect its competency in technology.
3. DRDO/ISRO Scientists are second to none in the world. In last fifty to seventy years, we have built these intuitions. These are based on the long term vision persons like Indira Gandhi, A P J Abdul Kalam and Narendra Modi. They have understood the importance on research for strategic advantages. We must maintain these institutions.
4. It is not good to have the capability only, it is necessary to demonstrate it to the world.
5. Agni, Tejas, MBT, Arihant and now AST are all our pride. Launching 108 satellites in day, sending mission to Mars in lowest possible cost, show the competence of Indian scientists. I just wonder why a country that can make these missiles and satellites cannot make its own commercial planes. A national vision to make commercial plane in 25 years will give a boost to our scientist and engineer.
6. The advantage the US have today, over the rest of the world is in technologies and research. The American universities and the research done there, provides competitive advantages to the US corporates. We must learn from it and develop technologies on a long term basis in our educational institutions/research labs.
7. Why India the third largest steel maker of the world, having six largest economy and the fourth most powerful defense, continue to buy its steel technology from the west and Japan?
8. It is necessary to tell our sons and daughters to have scientists and engineers as role models. They should know about the history of our scientists and engineers. Names like Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Mahadevan Nair and Dr. Tessy Thomas sound unfamiliar to most Indians. It is time we give due importance to them and make them role model in our society.
9. There may be failures on these projects. It was good that we did not abandon these projects when we encountered. Persons like Dr. A.P. J. Abdul Kalam had that vision to continue on this path in spite of these failures.
10. Media in India, should stop criticizing these institutions and projects at the slightest pretext.
An article published in Eurasiareview points out that ‘this is a game the Cold War era great powers played and which India has hitherto desisted from. No convincing reasons can be seen to change that historic course!’ It must be made clear that the primary aim of tests such as this is to ensure that dysfunctional satellites falling to Earth with toxic debris do not harm innocent citizen in any area. Destroying dysfunctional satellites just before they re-enter into the atmosphere also ensures that low-earth orbit space assets are also not harmed. Even the MEA release states that the test was done ‘to verify … the capability to safeguard our space assets.’