Q) Space has emerged as a new venue for global powers to compete and create dominance in competition and cooperation. Discuss.
Why this question
Important part of GS paper-III.
Key demand of the question:
Define how countries cooperate in space technology- Space Diplomacy, its benefits and challenges ahead.
Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.
Give an overview of Space Diplomacy.
In the first part, categorically highlight the significance of Space Diplomacy especially for the smaller countries who do not have enough resources to invest in space technology.
In the next part, give a list of challenges ahead in the process of Space Diplomacy.
Conclude with how India is trying to develop its Space Diplomacy.
Space has always been an unmapped territory but almost all the countries including India have tried to establish their presence in the space. Space program is not limited only to strategic purposes but also has various economic and technological benefits. This is why every major country of the world is engaged in this race. Space has emerged as a new platform to cooperation and competition for major powers of the world to compete and establish supremacy. So we can say that Space Diplomacy is the capability of using space to maintain international relations and furthering national interest.
Significance of Space Diplomacy
- It can work as a means of cooperation among nations, to explore resources from space for the needs of the increasing population of the world.
- It increases the negotiation power of the countries For example, Russia launched India’s first satellite and used its port in return.
- It can help fight challenges in outer space like militarization and weaponization of outer space, space debris, etc.
- It can help in collaboration between countries for finding common solutions to common problems like climate change.
- it acts as a tool to further enhance India’s Neighbourhood First Policy by strategic research and military innovation. South Asia Satellite or GSAT-9 is a remarkable step in the same direction.
- It can further enhance India’s capabilities in dealing with China.
- It is a tool to enhance India’s soft power. ISRO provides a cheaper alternative to developing countries compared to European and American counterparts.
Challenges to Space Diplomacy
- Growing the number of states in space is a major challenge. It can increase the rivalry of states for resources in space, as well as on earth.
- The developed countries hesitate in sharing their capabilities in space technology as they want to solely dominate outer space.
- There are very few treaties in case of space. Fewer treaties mean less legal binding towards the space-related program. That can create a chaotic condition in outer space.
- Developed- Undeveloped Divide- it makes other underdeveloped and developing nations dependent on developed nations for space technology.
- There is also concern that developing countries could spend too much on space programmes instead of addressing their citizens' basic needs. Eg- North Korea.
- Weaponization of Space- As part of their space diplomacy, the weaponization of space could become a new instrument in the hands of nations in the future. This would be detrimental to the entire mankind.
Therefore it can be said that Space Diplomacy is increasingly important especially for developing countries like India. But this will be possible only when there is an international treaty governing all aspects of this and has all the space powers as signatory to it. A better dealing of the overall space program can work in the favour of mankind. India has also taken steps to leverage its space technology in a process to further enhance its national interests.