Indian media: 'Space diplomacy' in South Asia

Mr Modi has backed India's space agency to explore more commercial opportunities Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Modi has backed India's space agency to explore more commercial opportunities

Media in India welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pitch for a regional satellite to benefit South Asian nations.

During a speech on the launch of a commercial rocket, Mr Modi urged Indian scientists to develop a satellite that provides services to countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) region.

"Today I ask our space community to make plans for developing a Saarc satellite, a satellite that provides a full range of applications and services to all our neighbours. There is a lot of poverty in the Saarc nations and we need scientific solutions for this," The Indian Express quotes the PM as saying.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) that took off from Sriharikota launch centre in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh on Monday carried satellites from France, Germany, Canada and Singapore.

Most newspapers praise Mr Modi for thinking about India's neighbours who lack the capacity to develop their own space programmes.

The Times of India says the PM has "thrown out a new and interesting idea on leveraging space for diplomacy".

"Enhanced cooperation in space technology provides an additional dimension to existing regional ties and paves the way for jointly tackling problems of poverty, natural calamities and poor connectivity," the paper says.

The Indian Express also praises Mr Modi for continuing "diplomacy towards the neighbours" as "the foremost priority".

"The subcontinent was on Mr Modi's mind, again, when he called on space scientists... on Monday to build a South Asian satellite that can be shared with the neighbours," the paper says.

Mr Modi had received accolades for inviting the Saarc leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, to his swearing-in ceremony in May.

'Latecomers warned'

Moving on to international news, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius held talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Sawarj on Monday in Delhi, reports said.

Mr Fabius said he was "very confident of the final outcome" on France's bid to sell fighter jets to India, The Times of India reported.

India had chosen French firm Dassault Aviation's Rafale fighter jet in 2012 to boost the Indian Air Force's strike capabilities.

And finally, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar has warned his staff against coming late to work, The Indian Express reports.

He found many chairs empty during an inspection tour of the ministry on Monday.

The "latecomers" were made to officially mark the day as leave, the paper reported.

"Mr Javadekar emphasised on the need to be punctual and passed on strict instructions asking officials to reach office on time," the paper adds.

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