'Have simplified space tech for those lacking literacy'

A S Kiran Kumar, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation from 2015 to 2018

At a science forum intended to showcase Indian advances to international delegates, a former Isro chairman heaped praises on India’s satellite programme, which he said had solved many of the country’s problems.

Speaking at the six-day Science Technology and Innovation Policy in the city on Thursday, A S Kiran Kumar, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation from 2015 to 2018, explained that satellites have helped the country gather data for crop forecasting, deforestation, glacial melting, cyclone tracking, pollution monitoring, tackling forest fires and carrying out atmospheric studies. 

“Satellite information has even saved our sea-fishing community nearly Rs 15 to 25,000 crore per annum in diesel costs because satellites equipped with ocean-colour monitoring and thermal systems are helping to guide them to much better fishing grounds through the use of hand-held devices, which provided information in their native languages,” he added, explaining how complicated space technology can be simplified for use by people lacking literacy.

The talk, attended by delegates from Mexico, Ecuador, Bangladesh and several African and Southeast Asian nations, drew praise and scepticism as well. 

When a delegate from Bangladesh expressed hesitation about the expenses of space technology, Kiran responded that Dhaka could use the South Asia satellite network for telemedicine and disaster management.

India’s ‘aha moment’

Early in his talk, the former chairman said that India’s ‘aha moment’ about satellite technology came after Isro leased a US satellite in 1975-76 to conduct an experimental TV-based education outreach programme to cover 2,400 villages across six of the most backward states in the country.

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