Narendra Modi holds surprise teleconference with South Asian leaders after GSat-09 launch by Isro

Isro has successfully launched the South Asia Satellite from the second launch pad at the Sriharikota High Altitude Range(SHAR), on board a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The mission was designated as the GSLV-F09, and Isro refers to the communications satellite as the GSat-09. The launch was a big step in the direction of space diplomacy for India.

The satellite was a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who first proposed the idea of a SAARC satellite in June 2014, after seeing the successful launch of PSLV-C23 with five satellites on board. Pakistan withdrew from the initiative, after which the satellite was renamed as the South Asia Satellite. Unlike previous launches, the press were not invited to the launch, and Isro as well as the National broadcaster, DD were mysteriously silent about the launch.

The reason was revealed about half an hour after the launch, when the Prime Minister announced a surprise live video conference with the leaders of the participating nations, from the capitals of the respective countries. The video conference included Isro scientists, and was broadcast on DD News.

The heads of states attending the video conference were the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay, President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen, Prime Minister of Nepal Pushpa Kamal Dahal and President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena.

Isro Chief AS Kiran Kumar opened the proceedings on the behalf of Isro. Kumar reported that the satellite had successfully been transported from earth to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit, and that the mission had been successful. The satellite control will be carried out from Hasan, and the satellite is expected to reach its orbit in a few weeks.

The launch programming that Isro normally casts live was shown during the video conference. The short video included the countdown, the rocket launching off, the ground station tracking the flight of the rocket, and the separation events including the heat shield and the boosters. The entire launch sequence happened as planned. On board video footage showed the satellite being placed into the intended orbit.

Prime Minister Modi then welcomed all the leaders to the video conference. Speaking in English, Modi said “Today is a historic day for South Asia, a day without precedents. Two years ago, India made a promise, a promise to extend the advanced space technology for the cause of growth and prosperity of our brothers and sisters in South Asia. The successful launch of the South Asia satellite marks the fulfillment of that. With this launch, we have started our journey of building the most advanced frontier of our partnership. With its position, high in the sky, this symbol of South Asian co-operation would meet the aspirations of economic progress of more than one and a half billion people in our region.”

President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani then spoke. Ghani said, “We know that nature does not know political boundaries, and the pioneering effort of India in making our co-operation possible gives us an immense advantage.” Ghani then spoke about who stand to benefit the most from the satellite. The satellite, Ghani said is “child centered, woman centered and poor centered.” He then congratulated the Indian prime minister, the other leaders, and Isro scientists before concluding that “South Asia has taken a giant step today towards regional co-operation, and our citizens will be much better together. If co-operation through land is not possible, it is certainly possible through the sky.” Narendra Modi laughed in pleasure and clapped at the remark.

The video conference then moved to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh made a few remarks. “On today’s auspicious occasion, I congratulate you (Narendra Modi) and the Government of India for successfully launching South Asia’s satellite. I am confident that the launching of this satellite will change the face of South Asia. With this, we have expanded our connectivity from land, water and air to space. I am sure that co-operation in space will definitely lead us to the ambitious technological enhancement for the benefit of the region.

The Prime Minister of Bhutan Tshering Tobgay then spoke from Thimpu. “This is the first time that a country has launched a satellite for the free use of its neighbours. Then launch of this satellite, is an impressive milestone in the history of the world. One (a world), that ushers in new era of regional co-operation. I congratulate the government and the people of India for successfully launching this important satellite, and I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to their visionary leader, Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi, for dedicated it to the common good and the common progress for all countries in the South Asian region. This satellite will help improve the happiness and well-being of our people. This generous gift from India is an example of true friendship and co-operation.”

President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen then thanked Prime Minister Modi for his vision and commitment towards the development of the region. President Yameen said, “This satellite will, no doubt, serve to improve the lives of people of South Asia. I would like to re-affirm Maldives’ commitment towards the betterment and prosperity of the region. It is my sincere hope that we be able to put aside our differences, and work together as an organization, that can fulfill our hopes and aspirations. Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.”

The focus then shifted to Khatmandu, and Prime Minister (Prachanda) Pushpa Kamal Dahal of Nepal addressed the other leaders. “We are glad to learn that the South Asia Satellite has been launched just a while ago. We extend hearty congratulations to Prime Minister Modiji, and express our much sincere thanks for your thoughtfulness to help South Asian neighbours benefit from the progress India has achieved in the field of science and technology. This is a testament to South Asia becoming self-reliant in space science. Nepal looks forward to making the best use of this facility. It would also be helpful in providing communications service in the mountainous and hilly regions of Nepal. I want to extend my best wishes to the future efforts of the space program of India.”

The teleconference then moved to Sri Lanka, and President Maithripala Sirisena addressed the video conference. “This important initiative by India will assist in many priority areas in the region, including mapping natural resources, education, environment, conservation, forecasting and various other subjects. I hope that that this initiative will support the people in all the regions by enhancing the economic and social conditions, by alleviating poverty and improving the standard of living. I take this opportunity to thank all the leaders of the SAARC countries.”

The satellite has 12 ku band transponders on board. The ku band is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum in the microwave range. Each of the participating nations will get to dedicatedly use at least one of the transponders. The participating nations are expected to come up with the content for the communication services on their own. The satellite stands to benefit the nations with economies in the early stages of development more, particularly Maldives and Bhutan. There are also incipient plans for common programming for the south Asia Region.



Published Date: May 05, 2017 07:10 pm | Updated Date: May 05, 2017 07:10 pm