Our India, the mother of democracy, is one of the most vibrant ecosystems for journalism. Since the economic liberalization in 1991 we have tightly hugged commercial media, print or audiovisual. One of the world’s largest readerships and viewership resides here, and the content spans genres unimaginable elsewhere. Indian industry and trade journalism are also booming, with sharply delineated readers and viewers having solid preferences based on their expertise and deep informal interests.
Automotive journalism is one such vibrant media niche with more informal patrons than formal ones. Any industry and trade media house massively backed by informed informal patrons is bound to make the sector it attends highly productive. Although unsung, India’s automotive journalism has constructively contributed to making India’s automotive industry globally competitive, highly analytical, and financially strong. There’s a nostalgia element to it too. Ask yourself, or any person, young or old, who has ever subscribed to automotive magazines; they will have a strong sense of nostalgia and will cherish the numerous posters of cars and bikes that adorned their home and office walls as a place of pride and aspiration.
The economic liberalisation in 1991 helped India’s automotive sector, which now stands among the tallest in technology churned, investments made, employment generated, and profits reaped. The Indian government’s space reforms of 2020 are like the 1991-like catapult, especially for the Indian space, geospatial, telecommunications, aerospace and defence industries. The space ecosystem is now a healthy toddler thanks to the painstaking nurturing by the Department of Space, primarily the Indian Space Research Organization. Three years after the reforms, our private space players are preparing for international commercial contracts; ISRO now aims to focus solely on high-end research and development (R&D). IN-SPACe and NSIL, the two new governmental entities under DoS, have been roped in to iron out regulatory hurdles, help with ease of doing ‘space’ businesses, and offer ISRO spinoff technologies, infrastructure, and services to interested players.
These industry chores aside, from a higher vantage, the global space sector operates as a trident between the civilian and military bridged by the commercial entities. These are complex developments that need monitoring. Enormous volumes of scientific R&D are churning out of various space agencies and their affiliated universities and institutions. Space launch technologies, missions to outer planets, ground- and space-based astronomy, human spaceflight, remote sensing and Earth observations, meteorology, satellite communications, and ground stations are all joint efforts of the trident happening in various permutations.
After nearly 60 years since the beginning of the Space Age, India, like many of its contemporaneous countries, has finally attributed economic investments to all kinds of space activities. Private assets, revenues, and profits will drive space activities. The government is keen to operate in the background not merely through the space agency but as a steady supplier of contracts from various ministries and serve as the visible yet invisible hand. It would be there if the non-governmental entities needed assistance, but it would also be not interfering in their daily operations.
The Indian space sector’s economic liberalisation has already unleashed the tremendous potential for combinatorial collaborations between academia, industry, government, military, banks, service sector, not-for-profit bodies, startups, and across various line ministries and their governance realms. Agriculture, road transport and highways, railways, defence, shipping, earth sciences, and home affairs – these and other ministries of the Indian government will become stakeholders and customers of Indian space technologies and services.
Space cooperation is the pinnacle of any diplomatic relationship, and noncooperation is a prominent signal of tumultuous relations. With global politics entering the era of multipolarity, these dynamics must be monitored meticulously, especially regarding avoiding conflicts and setting in international laws and codes of conduct.
Moving into outer space is an emotionally enchanting venture. It has a massive cultural connotation as it can stimulate the hearts of minds of fine artists, literary artists, performing artists, architects, sculptors, connoisseurs of arts, and preservers of culture. We also have to take their opinions carefully, as the technology sector and humanities are converging with the breaking of longstanding thought silos.
There is so much to tap, so much to write on, to ponder, and so much to execute when related to outer space. India has a massive talent pool; our role in the global space economy is to grow; we’ll maintain our autonomy in a multipolar space race; we are to explore planets, set up extraterrestrial space stations and bases, and our space program will become consequential in shaping global astropolitics and space law. Interstellar News, India’s first home-grown (Aatmanirbhar) holistic digital ‘outer space’ media platform, would become the voice of the Indian space sector by curating news, analyses, and opinions entirely from India’s vantage point.