The Elephant Observing the Dragon: Sociotechnical Imaginaries of Satellite Technology and the Sino-Indian Security Dilemma
Based on the assumption that Indian foreign policy-making is characterized by an inherent military restraint and funding for technologies is focused on civilian issues, it is not surprising that the application of Indian satellite technologies has so far been dedicated to societal development and the public good. Against this background, it is puzzling that the Indian Space Research Organisation has recently launched a communications satellite designed to provide services to the Indian Navy. Indeed, the installation of India’s first dedicated military satellite in orbit represents a shift not only in India’s perception of the use of its satellite capacities but in its security policy in general and maritime doctrine in particular. The following article combines the notion of “sociotechnical imaginaries” and the idea of the “security dilemma” in order to explain this shift in India’s use of satellites. Pointing out the salience of realistic theorizing in International Relations, this paper argues that a full understanding of this repurposing of hitherto civilian technologies requires a conceptual blending of IR with science and technology studies.