People watch as as a rocket from Space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) takes off successfully to launch a record 104 satellites, including India’s earth observation satellite on-board PSLV-C37 from the spaceport of Sriharikota on Wednesday. (Image: PTI)
Beijing: Grudgingly acknowledging ISRO's world record feet of successfully launching 104 satellites on a single rocket would make "Indians proud", China's official media on Thursday said India's space programme offered "food for thought" for other countries on how to achieve space success with small budgets.
"This is perhaps the first widely followed world record India has made in the field of space technology. The Indians have reason to be proud," state-run Global Times said in its editorial on Thursday.
However, the tabloid daily which criticised India in 2013 for sending Mangalyaan to Mars overtaking China despite "millions of poor and illiterate people" said the significance of the ISRO's new feat is "limited".
"However, the space technology race is not mainly about the number of satellites at one go. It's fair to say the significance of this achievement is limited," it said.
Acknowledging that the new record is a "hard-won achievement for India to reach current space technology level with a relatively small investment," the daily said: "it offers food for thought for other countries".
"India launched a lunar probe in 2008 and ranked first among Asian countries by having an unmanned rocket orbit Mars in 2013," it said.
"Many lessons can be drawn from India. As a rising power, it has done a good job. It is ambitious but pragmatic, preferring to compare with others as an incentive to progress.
India's political and social philosophy is worth pondering," it said.
"Nonetheless, the development of a country's space technology is determined by the size of its input. According to data released by the World Economic Forum in 2016, the US' space budget in 2013 was USD 39.3 billion, China USD 6.1 billion, Russia USD 5.3 billion, Japan USD 3.6 billion and India USD 1.2 billion," it said.
"As India's GDP is about one-fifth to one-fourth that of China's, the share of investment in space technology in India's GDP is similar to that of China's," it argued.
The daily which has been carrying critical articles against India on almost on daily basis also sought to make out a case that India is spending more on defence than China in terms of GDP ratio.
China's last year's budget amounted to USD 146 billion against India's USD 46 billion.
"India's defence budget is about one-third of China's, a higher percentage of GDP than that of China," it said.
"India's space technology development tends to project the national image. It's reported that India also plans to reach Venus, another programme that is suitable for media hype but lacks follow-up research," Global Times reported.
"On the whole, India's space technology still lags behind the US' and China's. It has not yet formed a complete system.
For instance, the engine of its rockets is not powerful enough to support large-scale space exploration. There is no Indian astronaut in space and the country's plan to establish a space station has not started," it said.
"India's Achilles' Heel is its relatively small economic scale and a weak foundation for national development. As a hierarchical society, it has both world-class elite and the largest number of poor people," it said.