Space start-ups blossom in India


Question: With India’s successful space mission to the moon, is there opportunity for private players to establish space related start-ups? Would sufficient funds from venture capitalists be available in the initial stages?

ANSWER: Even before the success story of India’s lunar mission, start-ups in the Indian space sector have attracted funds from global investors to the tune of $62 million as of August 2023. The average deal size in space technology investments has risen from $2.8 million in 2020 to $15 million in 2023. Earlier the technology space was dominated by government players. In 2020, privatisation was announced and several private space tech companies entered the arena. Currently there are 84 companies which have taken entrepreneurial action to great advantage. With the landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the South Pole of the moon, the country’s space start-ups have gained credibility in the global arena. This has enhanced the opportunities for overseas direct investment especially in respect of launch vehicles, satellite technology, and space exploration domains. Further, Indian companies have established strong tie-ups with space agencies in the United States, France, Singapore and other countries. The global collaboration opportunities will therefore assist a new generation of engineers and scientists to enter the space industry.

Question: The deficiency in rainfall in India during August may be a source of great concern in terms of farmers’ income and declining food stocks. Will this affect the economic growth prospects in the current year?

ANSWER: In many parts of the world, rainfall has been sparse due to the El Nino effect. However, over the years, India has invested in Minor Irrigation (MI) facilities. During the period 2013-14 to 2017-18, additional 1.42 million MI facilities have been set up. The present number of such facilities is around 25 million spread all over India. Ground water irrigation infrastructure has made certain parts of India drought proof. As a result, farmers have been able to increase the area of cultivation despite the erratic rainfall. The largest number of MI facilities are in Uttar Pradesh followed by Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Ground water schemes comprise of dug wells, shallow tube wells, medium tube wells and deep tube wells. Surface water irrigation facilities consist of surface flow and surface lift schemes. A recent census report presented by the irrigation department of the government indicates that a majority of the MI schemes are under private ownership owned by individual farmers or group of farmers. Hence, it has maximum outreach for irrigation facilities.

Question: I am planning to invest in a residential property in a building which is under construction. I have been informed that the project has been registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority. Does this give me enough comfort and provide safeguards to enable me to invest in a residential unit?

ANSWER: Once a project is registered by a developer with the regulatory authority, a quarterly progress report has to be submitted by the developer by uploading it on its portal. The report has to provide details of the amount invested by the builder in the project, status of the progress of construction and booking details. Stringent action would be taken by the regulator for failure to adhere to project timelines and for not investing the funds received from those who have booked for the project. In other words, if funds are diverted by the builder from one project to another, action would be taken against him. The instalments paid by the buyers need to be kept in an escrow account. Therefore, if you find that the project is not being implemented as per the scheduled time stipulated in the agreement, you can file an official complaint with the regulatory authority. Site surveyors would be appointed to visit the project site, cross check the complaints and give a report to the Authority on the project status.

H.P. Ranina is a practising lawyer, specialising in tax and exchange management laws of India.