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Major Feat, Suspicious Timing: Foreign Media on Mission Shakti

Here is a look at how international media reacted to PM Modi’s announcement of Mission Shakti. 

Published
India
4 min read
Photo used for representation.
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On the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India had managed to shoot down a low-orbit satellite using an A-SAT, through its Mission Shakti, international media hailed the country’s latest entry to the elite space club.

As announced by PM Modi on Wedneday, 27 March, India became the fourth country along with United States, Russia and China to achieve this feat.

While some articles raised the authenticity of the claims made by the Prime Minister, others media reports questioned the “timing of the announcement” due to the upcoming the Lok Sabha elections.

Some reports also indicated a shift in the balance of power between India and its neighbours, China and Pakistan, with the latest military developments.

(Catch all the live updates on Mission Shakti here)

‘Anti-Satellite Test Could Destabilize Balance of Power Between India & Pak’

In the article titled India Shot Down a Satellite, Modi Says, Shifting Balance of Power in Asia, The New York Times stated that if PM Modi's claims are confirmed, the "successful anti-satellite test could destabilize the balance of power between India and Pakistan."

However, cautioning about the space race between India and China, which is one of the three nations who has successfully carried out anti-satellite missile, the article noted that "the regional rivalry between India and China... has moved into space."

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Announcement Significant But Raises Questions

Quoting Indian politicians over the timing of the development, BBC in its article noted that PM Modi's Wednesday announcement "raised questions," as India will hold its 17th Lok Sabha elections in the coming month.

"With less than two weeks to go for a national election, the opposition has accused Modi of trying to score political points and take credit for the achievements of the country's space agency," article read.

The report also called the announcement "significant," however, said the news came "as a bit of an anti-climax to the country's media"

"It did come as a bit of an anti-climax to the country's media, who had worked themselves into a frenzy after seeing Mr Modi's initial tweet. The guess was that the address would about national security and, therefore, something to do with Pakistan," the article titled India election 2019: Modi says India now a 'space power' read.

“Pundits came into television studios and “Dawood” began trending on Twitter. Dawood Ibrahim is a fugitive in India and is accused of masterminding serial bombings in Mumbai in 1993. India alleges that Ibrahim lives in the Pakistani city of Karachi, but Islamabad has always denied the charge,” it added.
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‘Latest Feat Demonstrates India’s Growing Ambitions’

In its report, The Washington Post noted that India's latest feat demonstrates country's growing ambitions and footprint in space, therefore, giving a tough competition to its “dominant” neighbour China.

"The latest feat demonstrates India’s growing ambitions and footprint in space, where its neighbor China is seen as dominant. Last year, the government set aside a budget of $1.43 billion for the country’s first manned mission to space by 2022. The space research organization aims to send a three-member team to space for a week," the article titled India shoots down satellite in test of space defense, Modi announces read.

The American daily also indicated that the success of the test sends a broader message about India's readiness for modern battles to Pakistan.

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Mission Shakti Will Have Reverberations and Repercussions Across the World

The Qatari independent news organisation, Al Jazeera, in its report stated that Mission Shakti, "which was started way back in 2012 under former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will have reverberations and repercussions across the world."

Quoting experts, the article titled, India shoots down satellite, joining space 'super league': Modi, further read:

“Space is being turned into a battlefront, making counter-space capabilities critical. In this light, India’s successful ‘kill’ with an ASAT weapon is significant.”

The Qatari media quoting another expert added that the latest defensive development is of a huge significance and it can be “compared to India's first nuclear test in 1998."

"This will certainly increase India's defence capabilities. India can now respond to threats from space assets of foreign countries. Only very few countries are capable of doing what India has demonstrated," expert told Al Jazeera.

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Modi Claims Indian Scientists Shot down a Live Satellite

Meanwhile, the government-run press agency of China, Xinhua carried very short summary of the announcement saying, "Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday in a surprise address to nation claimed Indian scientists shot down a live satellite on a low earth orbit with an anti-satellite weapon."[sic]

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Criticism for Govt, Praise For India’s Space Scientists

The Guardian in its report, said that the "dramatic nature" of the announcement during the "caretaker period when governments are restricted in what they promote" drew criticism alongside “praise for India’s space scientists.”

Speaking on the speculations on the nature of the announcement, prior to PM Modi's address, the British daily noted:

“The sudden news that Modi was going to speak on Wednesday morning led to speculation of a major national security development, just weeks after the country exchanged tit-for-tat airstrikes with its neighbour Pakistan.”

"Some on social media joked about needing to stockpile money, a reference to Modi’s surprise announcement in November 2016 that he was cancelling India’s two most valuable banknotes, a move that sparked months of cash shortages," The Guardian said in its article, Modi's space weapon announcement struggles for lift-off.

(With inputs from The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, The Guardian, Al Jazeera and Xinhua.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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