New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday described the launch of the South Asian Satellite by India as a “historic moment” and said it opens up new horizons of engagement in the region, a view that was shared by leaders of six other countries of South Asia.
Modi, who has projected the satellite as India’s “priceless gift” to its neighbours, said the “unprecedented” development sends out a message that “even sky is not the limit when it comes to regional cooperation”.
The launch was celebrated jointly through a video conference by Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutanese Prime Minister Thering Tobgay, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Srisena.
Pakistan is not a part of the project as it had refused to accept India’s “gift”, which Modi had proposed soon after becoming the Prime Minister in 2014.
“Successful launch of South Asian Satellite is a historic moment. It opens up new horizons of engagement,” Modi tweeted immediately after the GSLV-F09 carrying South Asia Communication Satellite lifted off from Sriharikota spaceport.
Underlining the concept of ‘sabka sath, sabka vikas’ (cooperation of all, development for all), he said the development marked fulfilment of India’s promise made two years back to advance its space technology for the growth and prosperity of South Asia.
Noting that this was the first of its kind project in South Asia, Modi said the satellite would help the individual countries in meeting their own needs with regard to development, better governance, poverty eradication and disaster mitigation.
Hailing the scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for ensuring the flawless launch, he said the satellite will greatly benefit South Asia and the region’s progress. He said the mantra was “Cooperation, not confrontation, development, not destruction and prosperity, not poverty.”
“And in this, you will find a strong and committed partner in India that truly believes in the strength of this choice and principle,” he told leaders of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan which are a part of the project.
Ghani described the launch as “South Asia’s giant step towards regional cooperation” and said it makes the region’s integration a reality. Hailing India’s “pioeneering” endeavour and Modi’s vision, he said, “cooperation outweighs confrontation”.
Hasina, while congratulating Modi and ISRO for the launch, said it will “change the face of South Asia”. With the launch, the cooperation among the South Asian nations has expanded from land, water, air to space, she said.
Tobgay described it as a “historic moment for the world” and said the “gift from India reflects true cooperation”. Thanking India and Modi for the “very priceless gift”, the Bhutanese leader said the free use of the data from the satellite will greatly benefit his landlocked country which does not have the capacity on its own to launch satellites.
Yameen said the “very special gift” symbolises vision and commitment of Modi towards the region. Noting that the satellite will serve to improve the lives of people of entire South Asia, the Maldivian President said, “I call upon all South Asian friends to seize this opportunity”, perhaps a message to Pakistan which has refused to join the project.
Dahal, popularly known as ‘Prachanda’, thanked Modi and India for “the thoughtfulness” of sharing the data of the satellite with other countries of the region. “This is a testimony of South Asia becoming self-reliant in space technology. Nepal looks forward to the best use of the data,” the Nepalese leader said.
Srisena described the occasion as “historic” and said the development signifies inclusiveness and friendly cooperation.
Initially, it was to be named as ‘SAARC Satellite’ but its name was changed to South Asia Satellite after Pakistan refused to join the project. The satellite will provide a significant capability to each of the participating countries in terms of DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things.