The Growing Case for an Indian Space Policy

Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived. After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, an independent public policy institution based in India.

Even as India has made important progress over the decades to establish itself as a major spacefaring power, its performance can be maximized if India’s political leadership is to drive the policy with a greater sense of purpose, instead of being driven by the technocrats’ agendas. Given the increasing security imperative, India needs to make the shift from a purely civilian-driven programme to one that is driven by national security imperatives.

Although officials associated with India’s space programme have repeatedly declared that India’s space programme has never been short of financial resources, the reality is that both its institutional and financial resources are stretched too thin to be effective. India also needs to strengthen its rocket launching facilities to augment India’s capacity to launch higher number of rockets. The debate on a second and third launch pad is currently on. A quick decision in this regard is important both from a commercial and national security perspective.

India needs to adopt a considered space policy that would integrate both the commercial and national security needs in a balanced manner. Lastly, India’s political leadership has to take ownership of this domain and dictate priorities and directions including in the military realm for more effective and efficient pursuit of its national interests in this area.