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Will India negotiate China's plunge in space?
Once again, space race has emerged between India and China, with the latter collaborating with its neighboring countries in a number of space-related programs.
It is true that whenever India’s competitors carry out a task or a program, India follows suit. Instead of being proactive, India is always reactive. By collaborating with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives on space programs, China has unleashed terror and fear in India’s National Security Council.
In fact, India’s department of space and ministries of information technology, information and broadcasting, and external affairs, will work closely with a couple of intelligence agencies this week to examine the situation in detail and come up with a plan to match China’s space mission.
This goes to show that India is getting prepared to face China head on. The meetings with relevant agencies this week will determine if India is ready to build and offer satellites for its neighboring countries. In fact, recent reports have shown that India has increased its expenditure on space technology.
In every report that India publishes on space technology, it makes it a point to highlight the differences between its space programs and China’s space programs. This goes to show that India is in the midst of a space race with China.
The recent 2013-2014 Indian Budget throws light on the increased spending of the country on space programs over the years. The budget for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has increased significantly over the years from Rp 31,954 million in 2004 to Rp 70.4 billion this year.
The ISRO took 27 years to accomplish its first 50 missions and the next 50 missions only took 10 years. Given the substantial amount of budget set aside for the ISRO, the organization is planning to conduct the next 58 missions in an even shorter time frame of five years. It is evident from India’s plans and ISRO’s vision that the country will not sit and watch as China plays its game of diplomacy with India’s neighboring countries.
China’s plunge into space will definitely trigger a number of discussions between Indian agencies. And this is not the first time that both the countries have been involved in a space race. The fight between both the countries has been ongoing for decades and now, China has triggered the ‘accelerator’ button on India’s space programs.
China is also working closely with Pakistan and there is a possibility that China will transfer or share its space technology with India’s arch rival – Pakistan – in the future, just like how China shared its nuclear technology with Pakistan to counter India’s efforts in this area.
China’s move in engaging India’s neighbors in its space programs does not limit China and India’s rivalry to space technology alone. The rivalry has also spread to the political and economic spheres. Once China’s ties with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives improve, India will have fewer friends in the neighborhood. This will pose a number of challenges for India in the areas of bilateral trade and political negotiations.
India will not allow China to jeopardize its relations with its neighboring countries. There will be discussions between a number of Indian agencies and stakeholders of space technology on the next steps and plan of action to counter China’s efforts in this domain. India and China – the two rising superpowers – will leave no stone unturned to capture the attention of the international audience and to become the next sole superpower.