Debating India

Chip in for Galileo, EU tells India

Rajat PANDIT

Monday 17 May 2004, by PANDIT*Rajat

BRUSSELS : The 25-member European Union is hard-selling the 3.3-billion euro ambitious Galileo global satellite navigation system, much superior to the American GPS.

With China having agreed to pitch in with 200 million euros towards Galileo’s development and Israel chipping in with another 70-80 million euros, it’s trying to woo India to take an early decision on its formal equity contribution in this project.

India which has kept it’s card close to it’s chest so far, however, is not happy with certain conditionalities of the Galileo project.

The Galileo system, scheduled to become fully operational by 2008, aims to break the monopoly of the US Global Positioning System (GPS), which India currently uses.

"We have some problems with access to Galileo’s PRS (public regulated service) channel and how the entire system will be run during a crisis or conflict situation," an Indian official said.

But EU officials are quite hopeful the agreement - with India picking up a 300-million euro stake in the Galileo project - will be inked in "the second half of this year". "We have had several meetings with the Indian government and Isro officials," said one.

"The American GPS was developed for military use and is controlled by the Pentagon. Galileo, in turn, is a totally civilian. We don’t want a US monopoly in this field," said an EU scientist.

This fits in with the Indo-EU vision of promoting "effective multilateralism" in the world. The new "strategy paper" being finalised by EU for India , in fact, seeks to build strategic ties between the two beyond the largely economic so far.

See online : The Times of India

P.S.

in The Times of India, Monday, May 17, 2004.

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