Our track record in using space tech for societal benefits is unparalleled: Former ISRO Chairman

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on January 03, 2020 Published on January 03, 2020

AS Kiran Kumar, former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Globally, India may be only among the top four spacefaring nations. However, in terms of using space technology for societal benefits, India is clearly a world leader, said AS Kiran Kumar, former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

India’s space technology has focussed on making rapid development in such areas as communication, broadcasting, tele-medicine and education, he said, in a ‘fireside chat’ at the Shaastra2020 — a technical festival run by students of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras).

Kumar recalled Vikram Sarabhai, the Father of India Space Programme, who had initiated the country’s space programme. In the early 1960s, ISRO had identified Thiruvananthapuram as a unique location in geomagnetic equator to conduct upper atmospheric research. But the area happened to be part of a fishing village and Sarabhai convinced the local fishermen to shift by telling them that the experiments would benefit the country, in general, and the fishermen, in particular. The first launch took place in 1963 and satellites were launched by bringing sounding rockets in kits from Germany, France and Russia.

Today, ISRO has helped the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System in Hyderabad in providing information to fishermen about prospective fishing zones through satellites. . This annually saves the fishermen ₹15,000-20,000 crore as they do not have to spend on fuel in search of fish catch, he said.

Navic programme

Going a step further, a new capability was added by way of the Navic programme. Boats are fitted with a small battery-operated gadget that transmit messages about prospective fishing zones to fishermen in their mother tongues about prospective fishing zones. The video in the mobile app will navigate them to the fishing zones. In addition, the gadget also forecasts weather alerts.

Fishermen can thus make use of the most advanced space technology to tap fish for daily living. “This is one of the societal solutions using space technology,” said Kumar. Kumar said that the technology is being used to record the assets created by the MNREGA programme.

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Published on January 03, 2020
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