Privatization Boom: ISRO Partners With Private Players To Build Satellites; Niti Aayog Roping In Private Experts


ISRO Main Imae

Post-Independence, the 90s decade is often cited as the phase when India opened up their economy, removed license raj, and invited private players to join the revolution. It helped India to introduce computers, telecom services and automobiles which were out of bounds earlier.

A somewhat similar trend is now being witnessed in India, wherein private players are not only being invited by established Govt. agencies but also being sought for their niche expertise in various subject matters.

In a way, this is the new phase of Make in India, wherein the line differentiating between Govt. and Non-Govt. entities are being removed. And for a good purpose.

ISRO Taking Help of Private Players For Satellites

For the first time ever, ISRO has partnered with private players for building satellites. This is one big leap for India’s premier space agency, as never before in the history of India’s space program, private players been allowed to contribute.

Is it a direct effect of SpaceX revolution ushered in by Elon Musk?

A consortium led by Alpha Design Technologies from Bengaluru is right now building two full-fledged satellites for ISRO, which shall be used as a backup for NAVIC or the Swadeshi GPS system. Already 7 satellites are orbiting the Earth under NAVIC program, but in case any satellite malfunctions, ISRO wants to be ready to launch a replacement.

Shankar, Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Alpha Design Technologies said, “It is a challenging task for any Indian company to undertake assembly, integration and testing of a satellite and that too for the first time in India..”

Rs 400 crore worth Alpha Design Technologies would thus become the first private Indian company to make satellites for ISRO. Colonel H S Shankar, the man credited to provide first Electronic Voting Machines to Indian Govt. is leading the consortium, and 70 young engineers who are working round the clock to finish this mission critical ISRO project.

Commenting on this giant leap, M Annadurai, Director of ISRO Satellite Centre in Bengaluru, said, “Basically there is a gap between what we are capable of doing now versus what we are supposed to make. There is a gap between the requirement and our capability. That gap we want to fill up with support from the industry… 16 to 17 satellites we have to make every year. So it is a really-really quantum jump and to fill that gap…, we thought the industry could come in..”

After 150 missions and 30 years of space travel, ISRO has set a new path for Indian space program. And this is just the beginning.

Niti Aayog Ropes In Private Experts

Niti Aayog, which has replaced the Planning Commission to become the leading think-tank for deciding India’s economic and social policies, has decided to invite private experts from different niches.

And again, this is one big leap for privatisation, as never before in India’s history, such private players have been allowed to take command of India’s critical economic related decisions.

Till now, IAS, IPS and IRS officers were the only officials who were invited to be part of Niti Aayog.

A Govt. source said, “The days of automatic seniority-based promotion for officers is over as Niti Aayog has come out with a path-breaking initiative to allow lateral entry at all levels, including senior advisers (secretary rank), advisers (additional secretary level), joint advisers and deputy advisers..”

And explaining the rationale, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said, “The attempt is to get the best, brightest and most talented people to work for development of India,”

The allocation of the job would be based on niche experience of the concerned experts, and the pay grade would be equivalent of Govt. approved salary structure: Rs 3.64 lakh for senior officers with Govt. accommodation and Rs 2.88 lakh for advisors.

The selection shall be based on the departmental selection committee, and after interaction with Niti Ayog Vice President and clearance from the Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister.

The inclusion of private experts in a high-level department like Niti Ayog will certainly induce fresh viewpoints and perspective, in respect to India’s development.

And, the journey has just started.

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