Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated the Kalpana Chawla Centre for Research in Space Science and Technology (KCCRSST) at Chandigarh University on Monday.

During the function, Singh also announced a scholarship scheme worth Rs 10 crore for the wards of personnel belonging to the Indian armed forces. The Defence Minister said, “In the 21st century, the future of India can be secured only when you have a gleam in your eyes to reach the stars and planets. More Indians like Aryabhatta, Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan and Kalpana Chawla will emerge from among you all if you have an eye for different planets and constellations.”

He lauded the contribution of Chawla and called her the ‘pride of India’ who brought universal recognition to her country of origin. The Minister also underlined the importance of space science in today’s times, which is deeply connected with mapping, imaging, and connectivity facilities, speedy transportation, weather forecast, disaster management as well as border security. He added, “The government understands the potential of the space sector. The major pillars of reforms in the sector as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi are freedom of innovation to the private sector, the role of the government as an enabler, preparing the youth for the future, and viewing the space sector as a resource for progress.”

The Minister also emphasised on the need for an active and long-term public-private partnership to take the education and science sectors to a global level and make India a knowledge economy. He said, “Today, the private sector is exposed to a large number of opportunities in the space sector. Whether it is defence or space, we are fully welcoming the private sector.” In his address, Singh reiterated the government’s commitment to strengthening the private sector for the holistic development of the nation and also listed the measures taken by the government to promote the private sector like the government is sharing technology and expertise and opening its various facilities for the private industry. He added that the transfer of matured technologies is under consideration. Singh also informed the gathering that the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), an independent agency, will start soon which will act as a facilitator and regulator of space activities and matters related to the space sector in India.