The Indian newspapers have hailed the thrust on research and development. This augurs well for the country’s desire to be one of top scientifically developed nations. The dailies have said that the drone attacks in the Gulf on oil tankers belonging to Saudi Arabia is bound to escalate the tension. India is all set to launch a NASA space experiment aboard Chandrayaan 2, opine the Indian press.

FINANCIAL EXPRESS in an editorial writes on many aspects of the Research & Development ecosystem, India still lags global giants like the US, a handful of European nations and China. But, the indications of a new energy within India and gathering enthusiasm from MNCs in investing in India for work on innovation are strong, and India will likely bridge a significant part of the gap with the R&D giants of today in the coming years. Between 2015 and 2018, a Nasscom analysis reveals, India-domiciled countries filed 4,610 patent applications in the US, and in 2017/2018, technology-related applications (chiefly in computer technology, communications technology and emerging tech like Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine-learning, etc) significantly outnumbered non-tech ones (mostly chemicals, pharma and mechanical inventions). Tech-related filings, buoyed by emerging technology, now make for nearly 65% of the patent-mix, up from 51% in 2015. Within tech patent-applications, emerging tech such as AI, internet of things, cloud computing and cybersecurity have steadily increased their share from 38.3% in 2015 to 56.3% in 2017/18.

THE STATESMAN in an editorial THE OIL SABOTAGE says the Gulf is in ferment again. Though details are still rather sketchy, Saudi Arabia’s claim that two of its oil tankers have been attacked by drones off the coast of UAE does have the potential to ignite a crisis that might spin out of control and exacerbate towards military action. In the version that emanates from the fractious palace in Riyadh, the circumstances of the alleged sabotage remain mysterious.

The prologue has been unnerving not the least because of the build-up of tension after the US sent an aircraft carrier to the Gulf. In parallel, Iran suspended its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, weakened as it is after Donald Trump withdrew last year, a major compulsion being that it was concluded by his predecessor, Barack Obama. Though the attack on the vessels caused no casualties or oil-spill, it did damage the structure of the ships. Either of the two eventualities would arguably have led to disastrous consequences. The attack will almost certainly have an effect on petro-dollars, verily the bedrock of the desert kingdom’s booming economy.

THE PIONEER in an editorial SPACE AGE DIPLOMACY observes, the US space agency NASA is literally hitching a ride on Chandrayaan-2, India’s second Moon mission satellite. Planned for a July launch, it will have 13 payloads and one passive experiment from NASA. No doubt that our second mission has more special memories to make, like landing on the moon’s South Pole, so far an unexplored region. The rover will roll out for carrying out more scientific experiments than attempted ever before. With this landing, India will become the fifth country in the world to achieve the feat after the Soviet Union in 1959, the US in 1969, China in December 2013 and Israel in 2019. The approval and trust of NASA, which is facing huge budget cuts and is desperately trying to procure funds for a new lunar mission in 2024, shows that India has arrived in the space age with its ingenious and cost-effective modules. In space technology, India does not have to deal with a Western bias. Space, therefore, is quickly turning into not just our final frontier, but a profitable, multi-dimensional one. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has in a quick spurt of a decade or so emerged as one of the key players in the global space market, particularly as a low-cost carrier of surveillance and communication satellites.