Under India’s G20 presidency, the precursor meeting of the G20 Space Economy Leaders Meeting (SELM) commenced in Shillong, Meghalaya on Monday.
The focus of the two-day event is to showcase all the capabilities of ISRO and the Department of Space and to collaborate in future science missions.
The inaugural programme of the meeting held at Hotel Courtyard by Marriott was attended by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, Union Minister of State (Finance) Pankaj Chaudhury, Union Minister of State (Ind. Charge) Science &Tech Dr Jitendra Singh (virtually), G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant, Secretary, Department of Space (DOS) Somanath S, Chairman IN-SPACe Dr Pawan Kumar Goenka and other dignitaries.
Union Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhury in his address said that the Indian economy is growing at a faster rate and the major contribution to this growth is from the New Space Segment.
Stressing on the need to conduct the space activities in a responsible manner he said that efforts are being taken to promote New Space for further fuelling the space economy. As all the G20 members have established space agencies and industries, the country should also look forward to possible alliances, he said.
Chaudhury also said that space-based technologies are recognised as one of the key contributors for growth and prosperity. The space technologies like satellite based earth observation, satellite communications and navigation have positive impacts in agriculture, disaster management, transportation, health and in addressing climate change issues, he added.
Hinting on the commitment of the Government for developing and promoting space technology for the nation, the minister said, ”Indian space programme was evolved with the intention of harnessing the benefits of space technology for solving the problems of common man. The Government of India has recognized Space as a key contributor for developing the Indian economy in the times to come. To enable this the Government has opened up the Indian Space sector for private investments through the 2020 space sector reforms”. Talking about the opportunities in space technologies, he said that the country needs a vital alliance of responsible space actors to enhance the contribution of the space economy in the global economy.
Jitendra Singh while virtually addressing the inaugural session said that significant progress has been made as far as India's space sector is concerned.
“Over these last few years space technology has penetrated into all walks of life, as a result of this there is a huge demand for space based services which have huge commercial potential. So far as the Indian space and Research Organisation (ISRO) is concerned, it has been striving hard to meet the demands for the space based services and at the same time it is also realizing the need to concentrate on the research for developing new technologies and new applications,” he said.
"The government headed by Prime Minister Modi took a path breaking decision to open up the space sector for Indian private industry through the 2020 Space sector Reforms in order to enhance the participation of the private players in end to end space activities. The increased private industry participation will eventually result in increased contribution of India in the global space economy”, he further added.
Chief Minister of Meghalaya Conrad K Sangma in his address expressed gratefulness in the decision of the Prime Minister to hold the G20 programmes throughout the country as he said, “If we look at the entire theme that has been brought in today discussion on space technology and economy, and the fact that it is happening here in Shillong is something that I really feel very privileged”.
Sangma said that in the recent times India have seen a large number of reforms and while the country as a whole have moved forward, Northeast India and states like Meghalaya which had not seen the kind of growth economically have been able to become a part of the economic growth and success of this great Nation.
Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa in his address said that India firmly believes that the country, as a global community, must think and act as one in this journey to and through the final frontier – space. He referred to the historical event and the thought shared by Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian citizen who went to space - “Anyone who goes to space tried to look at his own country first, but soon it appears that there is no boundary between the countries and the entire world is one family where our destinies are integrated.” He appealed to the delegates and participants to take a moment to consider how this thought, shared decades ago, is reflected in the theme of India’s G20 Presidency, "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" or "One Earth. One Family. One Future."
Speaking about the enormous potential of Space Technology, Kant said that from providing digital communication services in the hardest to reach places to monitoring cyclones, rainfall, and crop cycles, space-based technology solutions help all our nations leapfrog in socio-economic development. The G20 must recognize that space-based technology solutions play a central enabling role in such development in each of our nations and also as a global community, he added.
Speaking about the Indian Space Policy 2023, Kant said that the policy was announced earlier this month with the goal of institutionalizing and facilitating the access of private sector participation in the space sector for India. “It continues to hold the vision of Dr Vikram Sarabhai at its core, and provides a framework of roles and responsibilities of ISRO, IN-SPACe, and the private sector to work together towards establishing India as a hub of the global space economy. This approach encourages developing meaningful partnerships with the international community”, he added.
Somanath S, Chairman, ISRO in his address lauded the activities undertaken by Northeastern Space Applications Centre and said that it is looking specifically to the problems of this region across different issues. The Chairman hoped that the effort everyone put in today will come up with some fruitful outcome and assist the space community at different levels in each of our nations. Stressing on the power of the G20, he further added that the space application for the benefit of mankind will increase many folds and can play the role of an economic contributor and benefit the global economy. Speaking about the need for cooperation among the Nations for the development of Space technology and its applications he said that there have been a great amount of bilateral relationships including all these nations and these relations should further be strengthened.
During the technical deliberations in today’s programme, the delegates discussed the perspectives of the respective G20 countries on space economy and the present state of space economy in the respective countries. Efforts by the respective governments to promote space economy, including the New Space and the challenges faced were also discussed. Following this, a session on policy perspectives of space economy was also held, wherein there were curated talks on specific aspects of space economy by think tanks and experts.
The second session on Space Economy was moderated by Dr Pawan Kumar Goenka, chairman, INSPACe, who provided insightful discussion on “Evolving Indian space policy framework and future outlook”. The panel consisted of other prominent leaders in the relevant fields and they deliberated on various topics like framework for measuring space economy, New Space and responsibility for sustainable and safe space operations, New Space economy in the G20 countries and opportunities for collaboration etc.
Twenty-eight delegates from the G20 and Guest countries attended the meeting from Argentina, Australia, France, South Korea, Mexico, Türkiye, USA, Oman, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, China, Russia, Netherlands, Germany, Indonesia and UK. Prominent international and national experts also attended the discussion.
Startups in the space economy sector participated in the precursor event and showcased their products. Some of them are Alpha Design, Satsure, Oneweb, Data Pattern, Centum Azista Aerospace, Caliche, L&T, Skyserve, Ananth Technologies, Agnikul, Digantara, Pixxel and Dhuruva Space.