Video grab of PM Modi's announcement of the success of Mission Shakti | PTI
Video grab of PM Modi's announcement of the success of Mission Shakti | PTI
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PM Narendra Modi announced Wednesday afternoon that India had successfully used an anti-satellite missile to shoot down a live satellite. His praise for ‘Mission Shakti’, however, only brought one film to mind.

No safe space

Amongst the most terrifying scenes in Alfonso Cuarón’s film Gravity was the one during a spacewalk when mission control tells the astronauts to get into the space station as soon as possible because a deadly wave of space debris was approaching. It was ironical that one of the astronauts conducting the spacewalk was also singing an old Bollywood song – Mera Joota Hai Japani.

The debris strike was a gruesome scene visually and technically, because not only did the debris claim lives, it also destroyed the space station.

The debris in the film was the result of a Chinese missile strike on a defunct satellite in space. The remnants of the strike caused havoc. The debris was not fiction, the movie may have been. In a similar manner, the debris created from India’s strike Wednesday on a low earth orbit satellite is a fact and not fiction.

The Ministry of External Affairs put out a series of FAQs on the anti-satellite test after PM Modi’s announcement. Among the interesting points it covers, one is on the debris generated. The MEA declares: “The test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris. Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks.” But the fact is that low-earth orbit or higher up, there is going to be debris, and like all pollution, it is damaging, whatever its shelf life.

The goal of the missile strike is politically motivated.

Also read: How AIR & Doordarshan beat EC’s model code to air PM Modi’s A-SAT speech

No security sense

PM Narendra Modi’s announcement of India’s membership in an elite club of countries that can destroy a satellite in space is a technical achievement. But it pales in comparison to sending a mission to the moon, like Chandrayaan-1. The use of a missile on a live satellite as claimed by the government makes little military sense and virtually no security sense.

By conducting this test, India has, in fact, joined the club of irresponsible nations that lack global citizenship ethos and suitable environmental concerns. Just as the oceans are, so are the rivers and so is space – a global commons. And concern for the commons is a responsibility of every citizen and nation in the world. By adding to the debris in space, India has demonstrated its complete disregard for the moral principles governing the commons. Creating debris in space is as bad as Kanpur adding industrial sewage to mother Ganga.

The main reason why satellites can be used as weapons of war is for reconnaissance, communications and to guide missiles toward their designated targets. That situation arises in an all-out conventional war. A scenario that looks highly unlikely now and if it were to happen, it would be the result of gross diplomatic failures. In the foreseeable future, the conflicts that India is going to remain engaged in will be low intensity in nature, whether in Kashmir or the Naxal areas of central India, or the northeast. In these conflicts, the only satellite user is going to be India and its security forces. Given these scenarios, destroying a live satellite on 27 March 2019 raises questions that are completely in the non-security realm.

Also read: PM Modi didn’t consult Election Commission before ‘Mission Shakti’ address

No race with China

Any claim that by conducting by one anti-satellite test India is at par with China in terms of space capabilities is the figment of somebody’s vivid imagination.

India has a very advanced and admirable space programme with non-military uses. Dovetailing that into military use doesn’t take much tweaking or relearning, but what it requires is an entire network that is on land, on the sea, in the air and in space.

India is far from developing the military network that joins the three services and gives them a space use platform. On that score, China is so far ahead of India that they didn’t even announce their anti-satellite test, until the US Department of Defense confirmed it in 2007.

The author is a Congress leader and Editor-in-Chief of Defence & Security Alert.

Also read: Bharat Mata chants & ode to Vajpayee’s muscular ‘Shakti’ — how Modi made the most of A-SAT

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15 Comments Share Your Views


  1. The former NSA has now confirmed that former Chief of DRDO has never sought green signal or refused. Saraswat himself has made it clear that time what was it’s priority. His statement now only added more amo to Political Assault Upon Opposition (PASU) in political war in bhoo

  2. Shows that the moment someone becomes a congressi, the blood flowing through his veins changes into raw sewer and his brain turns into unadulterated pidi turd. Period

  3. I am ordinary Indian like millions of others having grown middle class family. I neither have any affiliation with Congres or BJP. If I am correct the author is originally from Jaswant Singh dynasty and senior member of BJP. The author has participated in Kargil War during Vajpayee era. So he cannot be declared as anti national and Pakistani agent. The world is already under constant threat in land, water and sky. He has only questioned the efficacy of joining space war club. His views should be read with open mind irrespective of whichever party one represents. By the way at a time when we are celebrating our membership in space war club, six sanitation workers in Sriperambadur in Tamil Nadu chocked to death when they entered to clean septic tank. While celebrating space war club is fine, let Modi and BJP take credit and also win second term, India also need to spend more money on saving life of our sanitation workers. We should not allow our Netajis to wash their feet for photo ops. If our leaders really do something for such poor, they would be more than happy and would rather not allow netas to wash their feet. If any of us like the ideology of party Print reader can join instead of reading from the point of view party

  4. As a Kanpuriya I object to the comparison with industrial sewage from Kanpur, the biggest city on the Ganga . It is far cleaner than its tributary the Yamuna at either Delhi or Agra. Municipal wastewater is also a major pollutant, not just industrial waste.

  5. Publishing this article and circulating it among the readers leads to mass consumption of electricity and depletion of mobile and laptop shelf life. That this reading devices are made from rare elements. The print therefore, is a very irresponsible publication who in means to propagate its myopic views blatantly disregards environment.

  6. The article has a sole purpose of criticizing modi even at the cost of demoralizing the scientists who put their hard work for this great feat. The technologies that are used by common men now a days are all result of technology invented for claiming superiority over enemy in a war by Nation.

  7. I was going to criticize the article and checked the author. He is a Congress dynast.
    This is another example of Congress being blinded to national interest in its pursuit of power.

    Advice to The Print team – please put the political party’s symbol next to the article headline so we don’t waste time reading BS.

  8. were and are the people of countries like USA, erstwhile USSR, China who have developed such capacity and capability fools ? Why they have spent their valuable national resources on acquiring and developing such fire-power ? If it is imperative for big powers to have this capacity, why India as emerging super power should shun this capability. question to be posed today is – why UPA government did not give permission to our scientists to go for development of this fire power when India was within striking distance to acquire this type of fire power a decade earlier ?

  9. Dude it just shows that you guys have a hard on for this government.I mean really?the ability to destroy a satellite which only 3 nations had before us and now we have it is reduced to a joke by you guys.I thought print was a sensible and fact based but you guys just want to attack this government and it proves that you shouldn’t be taken seriously.kudos to you.

  10. This article lack knowledge of millitary importance of satellites. Satellite wars are essence of this era and when such attack will come it wont announce 5 years early and then we should try devloping this technology. The best time to devlop a millitary technology is when you think you may not need it. Today India is a nuclear power bit has never used it in war, that doesnt mean possesion of nuclear technology is waste.
    Also what was shown in movie gravity was a bit exxagerated, dont worry our space has a lot of room for debris from tiny satellite and its not that we are going to daily blast one satellite as kanpur releases sewage in ganga

    • The man is made a complete joke of himself by writing this ill-timed and propagandist article. who wrote this article. of-course he is a congress guy and had to write a hit article demeaning Indian achievement. He talks like pakistan talks about “eco-terror” after Balakot strike. The author says

      “But the fact is that low-earth orbit or higher up, there is going to be debris, and like all pollution, it is damaging, whatever its shelf life.”

      Pollution of your “mother ganga” happened all these years and what steps did Congress party of the gandhi dynasty take? A small amount of space debris in already polluted environment by India is not going to help anyone but weaken the country against the anti-sattelite threats by the likes of China. Why is congress party so China tilted and pakistan loving?

      I am amazed that this CONgressi is more concerned about a kilo of space debris while NEW DELHI is so polluted that world environment bodies are issuing warnings to tourists. The whole of India is suffering pollution but this man is so concerned about space debris!

      Nahh…congreess just is out of its depths as to hw to handle Modi’s popularity …and write mindless articles like this which sounds “intellectual” but are just nonsense written in English language 😀

      Arguments provided by the Congress party author can be used against Indira Gandhi doing a Pokhran…she polluted the environment and also made sure that India acted irresponsibly with complete disregard to human welfare issues that ” lack global citizenship ethos and suitable environmental concerns.”


  11. In which world r u living? Saying…India has demonstrated its complete disregard for the moral principles governing the commons. Let me clear it for you…in the world where terrorist is blocked by power nation to be declared terrorist….the other big power nation scraped climate change trearty and whole world is on trade war….some big city is running out of water….in such scenario it is always better to have proactive security measures and high end developed tech weaponry…..and mission Shakti is in that direction. This article is totally politically motivated. Very sad!

  12. Congress is a confused party. On one side it takes credit for first nuclear test, setting up BARC, sending man to space by begging USSR, on the other hand if something done indigenously it criticises. Only if it was done by Gandhi family, the act would have been purified like washing sins with Ganges water. If congress is so averse to anti-satellite technology, why did it allow DRDO to come to a stage where it was almost ready to execute the project? Congress should have simply said as a peace loving nation, we do not believe in any form of weaponisation. May be time to dismantle army, nave and airforce. Like Pandit Nehru gifted permanent membership of UN to China, like Pandit Nehru gave up Akshai Chin to China because not a blade of grass grew there. International relation cannot be run with bleary eyed policy of pacifism. One must have the ability to hit back, if need arises, that is real dharma. A weak person can never say I forgive you, only a strong can.


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