India decided to go to space when Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was set up by the Government of India in 1962. Indian Space Research Organisation, formed in 1969, superseded the erstwhile INCOSPAR. Vikram Sarabhai, having identified the role and importance of space technology in a nation’s development, provided ISRO the necessary direction to function as an agent of development. ISRO then embarked on its mission to provide the nation space-based services and to develop the technologies to achieve the same independently.
Throughout the years, ISRO has upheld its mission of bringing space to the service of the common man, to the service of the nation. In the process, it has become one of the six largest space agencies in the world. ISRO develops and delivers application, specific satellite products and tools to the nation: broadcasts, communications, weather forecasts, disaster management tools, GIS, cartography, navigation, telemedicine, dedicated distance education satellites being some of them.
Apart from technological capability, ISRO has also contributed to science and science education in the country. Various dedicated research centres and autonomous institutions for remote sensing, astronomy and astrophysics, atmospheric sciences and space sciences in general function under the aegis of Department of Space. ISRO’s own lunar and interplanetary mission along with other scientific projects encourage and promote science education, apart from providing valuable data to the scientific community which in turn enriches science.
The Indian Space Agency has helmed numerous space programmes to make the country proud and has gone to achieve milestones that set parameters for the rest of the world to follow. Today, ISRO is widely considered one of the best space agencies on the globe. The greatest achievements of the ISRO that made every Indian as well entire world proud are (i) Mars Orbiter Mission, 2014, (ii) 104 satellites at one go on February, 2017, (iii) The NAVIC making India one of the 5 countries in the world to have its own navigation system, (iv) The Moon Mission, (v) highly cost-effective missions, (vi) Heaviest Commercial Mission, 2015 (vii) The Reusable Launch Vehicle etc.
ISRO is currently working on sending a probe to Venus, in sometime around 2021-22. India’s achievements at its space programmes has shown to the world that inspite of being a developing country with limited resources and money, we are still not less than the best space agencies of the world.
The former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam said “Many individuals with myopic vision questioned the relevance of space activities in a newly independent nation, which was finding it difficult to feed its population. Their vision was clear if Indians were to play meaningful role in the community of nations, they must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to their real-life problems.” Today ISRO showed to all those that India is not less than anyone in space technology. India’s economic progress has made its space programme more visible and active as the country aims for greater self-reliance in space technology.
A torchbearer is any person or institute who leads and inspires others in working towards a valued goal and in India ISRO has been the main torchbearer for space technology innovation.