On May 5, India will again be scripting history in the arena of space programs by launching a satellite that will benefit the SAARC countries.
“The benefits of this satellite will go a long way in meeting the developmental needs of the countries participating in this project,” PM Modi said during his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address today.
The satellite appropriately named South Asia Satellite (SAS), formerly known as SAARC satellite, is essentially a communication satellite through which each member country will be able to beam their own set of programs.
The countries which are part of the project are India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan – all of them SAARC members.
But isn’t SAARC an eight-member body? Yes, the member which is, quite expectedly, not part of the project is Pakistan.
Pakistan chose to opt out because of its deep distrust of India. Islamabad had raised security-related concerns with India and insisted on a joint venture but New Delhi declined stating that it is a “gift” from India to SAARC.
Of course, a haughty Islamabad wouldn’t accept any “gift” from Delhi.
It was PM Modi who had put forward the idea of such a satellite at the 18th SAARC summit held in Nepal.
Costing just Rs.235 crore, the satellite weighs 2.2 tons. It will, as the PM said, carry forward the ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas‘ (cooperation of all, development of all) concept.
The PM said that the satellite will also help member countries in mapping of natural resources, tele-medicine, education, IT connectivity and people-to-people links.