Today’s demonstration of anti-satellite missile technology by India invited mixed reactions in the country. Although most people on social media welcomed this move and congratulated the scientists and government for this achievement, there were the usual suspects who didn’t agree. While some people mistook the significant missile test by DRDO to destroy a satellite in orbit as a simple satellite launch by ISRO, others thought it was an election stunt by the government. But senior Congress leader Manish Tewari added another dimension to the debate. He tweeted by saying that once the euphoria settles down, the International community will ask some tough questions to India, and we should be prepared for that.
Once the euphoria settles down the International Community will ask some hard questions. Hope we as a nation are ready with the answers. https://t.co/qTMIU3kHPj
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) March 27, 2019
About the probable reaction of the international community, Manish Tewari is not wrong. When China had demonstrated similar capability in 2007 by successfully destroying a defunct weather satellite, it had attacked worldwide condemnation. Acquiring the capability to destroy satellites in orbit is taken very seriously by the international community. Satellites are indispensable technology of modern era which is used in everything like communications, defence, intelligence gathering, entertainment, air traffic, weather forecasting, agriculture, urban planning, traffic monitoring, self-driving vehicles etc, and destroying a functioning satellite on orbit can have serious implications.
The tweet of Manish Tewari also reveals why UPA didn’t allow DRDO to conduct this test although the agency had developed this capability by 2010. In 2012, DRDO chief V K Saraswat had said that the agency can demonstrate anti-satellite capabilities if the government gives the nod. He had made it clear that the then UPA government did not sanction the development of an anti-satellite system. The Congress leader’s tweet indicates that it was not sanctioned due to fear of hard questions from the international community.
This shows a basic difference between governments led by Congress and BJP in recent times. After the first nuclear test during the Indira Gandhi government, Indian scientists needed another test to fine-tune its nuclear capabilities and also to test new developments in the technology. But it was left to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to do the Pokhran tests as earlier govt’s did not go ahead with a nuclear test. NDA-I government knew that India will face sanctions after the tests, but they still went ahead with it as it was needed to strengthen the defence capabilities of the nation. Expectedly, India faced sanctions, but the country faces that successfully and eventually all sanctions were lifted.
Now the similar courage is being shown by the Modi government which was absent during the UPA governments. Despite facing several terror attacks from Pakistan based terrorists, India under UPA governments took no action against terror camps across the border. But the current government has conducted multiple operations against terror camps located inside Pakistan and Myanmar. The launch of Mission Shakti also shows a similar resolve to think about nation first instead of fearing about international pressure.
Moreover, India’s position in the international scene has undergone a sea change in recent times. When India launched the airstrike against terror camps in Pakistan, the international community didn’t condemn that. In fact, almost all countries defended India’s right to take action against terror camps. While announcing the launch, PM Modi also reassured that India is not violating any international law or treaty, and this will be used only to defend the nation. Given the goodwill India has earned recently on the international stage, it is unlikely that the country will face any serious condemnation now.