New Delhi’s envoy to the UK said that funding that continues to flow to India is only to non-governmental entities selected directly and solely by the UK Government.
Clearing the air over recent articles in the media over a developing country like India “wasting” money on space, India’s High Commissioner to the UK, Vikram Doraiswami, has said that funding that continues to flow to India is only to non-governmental entities selected directly and solely by the UK Government.
Thanking the goodwill that has been pouring in from the UK, Doraiswami in a comment published in The Telegraph said that India’s third moon-shot mission – Chandrayaan-3 – which touched down on the moon’s south pole last week, was a culmination of human dreams collected over the ages.
“Space exploration inspires us because it is genuinely exciting to see mankind’s boundaries being extended. And so the excitement in India and the outpouring of goodwill from thousands in the UK – including dignitaries speaking for His Majesty’s Government – has been hugely heartwarming,” the High Commissioner said.
Welcoming the bilateral and plurilateral partnership with the UK to collective global goals, Doraiswami said the aid received was essentially an effort to support Sustainable Development Goals, or promote UK business in India, through actors of the UK’s own choice. “(So) the benefit and beneficiaries of this spending are in line with your own political priorities, and not at our request,” he said.
The High Commissioner added, “Looking at the sums required to ensure, for instance, sustainable energy transitions in a country of India’s size, the actual amount of funds being so disbursed is also genuinely small. At best, it could help catalyse large doses of funding through public-private partnerships.”
‘Moon mission cheaper than Avengers: Endgame’
Doraiswami said that India’s space programme is a value-for-money proposition. He added that the current moon mission had a programme budget of $75 million. Even if there were overruns, it is well below what was spent on the Hollywood film Avengers: Endgame, which reportedly had a budget of $356 million.
“Our space programme also delivers hugely valuable developmental services. As prime minister Modi said at our space headquarters in Bengaluru on August 26, more than space exploration, data from the space programme has been directly used by farmers, fishing communities, water departments, meteorologists, and now for the design and monitoring of infrastructure projects. Our indigenously built satellites have provided India with state-of-the-art remote sensing services for all these needs, as well as communications support for education and healthcare, well before the internet became ubiquitous.”
The High Commissioner said that India’s space programme had launched 389 satellites, earning some £320 million over the past nine years. While space earns revenue and saves India money, its has also managed to lift more than 450 million people out of multidimensional poverty since 2006. In certifying this, the UN Development Programme noted that, in this same period, incidence of poverty fell from 55 per cent of the population to 16 per cent; the proportion of people with lack of access to electricity fell from 24 to 2 per cent; sanitation deprivation fell from 50 to 11 per cent; and lack of potable water access fell from 16 to 3 per cent. In short, deprivation rates fell in every sector, and in every region.
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