Nov 10, 2004
The import of EDUSAT
Meantime, educationists and content developers had been co-opting satellite television for delivering education. IGNOU and Doordarshan came together in 2000, to run 3 round the clock education channels branded as Gyan Darshan and a network of FM stations, known as Gyan Vani.
It is in the context of the foregoing that the EDUSAT is to be seen. It is not a pioneer in education, as many mistakenly believe, but only a modern tool to serve the massive education movement already underway in India. For those who are puzzled about how a supposedly poor India, has come to be perceived as a nation of brilliant knowledge workers, it may help if they understand, that for Indians -rich and poor- learning has always been a high priority.
Deployment of EDUSAT will proceed in three phases. In the initial phase, current programmes running on INSAT-3B will be synchronised with EDUSAT and enhanced. EDUSAT has five beams covering north, south, west, east and north-east of India. In the second phase, between 100 and 200 classrooms will be connected live. Interactivity will come from one uplinking station in each area. In the final phase, EDUSAT will support a total 20 to 30 uplinks, with each of them connected to 5000 remote terminals. That translates into about 150,000 remote, interactive class rooms.
When you have had a feel for that national purpose, the rocketry behind EDUSAT will make almost prosaic reading. The 2 tonne EDUSAT cost Rs.90 crores to build. The rockets that launched them stood 49 metres high, weighed over 400 tonnes,and cost Rs.160 crores. They were of total Indian build, save for the Russian cryogenic engine. The satellite has 12 transponders taking the total count of transponders that India owns, to 200.
Geo Synchronous Satellites are the top league. India had made two successful experimental launches earlier. On Sep 20, 2004, the assembly that stood on the launch pad in Sriharikota, in south India, was the first operational launch, that would qualify India as a proven, commercial satellite launcher.
At 4.01 that damp afternoon, rockets fired and in copy book perfection, vaulted and placed in the sky, an institution that Indians revere the most - the Guru.