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Drones for Development

Meghalaya transports medicines; Himachal uses drones to take apples to markets while rouge Pakistan exports drugs, arms and illicit money for terror


West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya has come trumps up for setting up the first centre at Jengjal sub-divisional hospital to deliver and distribute medicines to remotest parts through drones.


An X3 certi-plane developed by an Indian start-up was used by the district administration to deliver 1.5 kilos of medicines to a remote Pedaldoba primary health centre in just 32 minutes two days back. In contrast, it would have taken over two hours to take medicines by road.

Tech-Eagles, a drone start up is behind the entire operation for Meghalaya government’s hub and delivery network to supply medicines, blood, vaccines, blood components and life-saving drugs.

This on the ground application of drones to fight inhospitable terrain and is a big break-through in India’s seven North Eastern sister states. Drones have the capability to cover a radius of 50 kilometres that would be enough to reach out to most remote parts of North Eastern villages bracing up to fight disease and get access to medicines, save lives.

In Himachal Pradesh, innovators went a step ahead from medicines and blood samples delivery to transporting apples to roadside for their onward journey to mandis and export to South and South East Asian destinations. Himachal Pradesh with a drone policy has been betting big on drones to transport goods over the hills and bring consumers, producers and markets nearer to eliminate wastage, decay of fruits and vegetables and improve peoples’ earnings.


Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti districts, Pangi in Bharmaur of Chamba, remote areas of Kullu, Mandi and Shimla that are under heavy snow blanket for about six months would get some respite with medicines, goods and connectivity intact through drones.

Nichar panchayat in upper reaches of Kinnaur district recently transported up to 20 kilos apple in one go to road-head as a way to connect with markets.

These two instances have been flagged as unique cases to underscore how technology came handy in India’s socio-economic development thrust by reaching out to the unreachable.

Scores of drone applications from usage by logistics companies, delivery of groceries to usage in agriculture for application of pesticides and nano fertilizers is being done in India as part of its grand development strategy.

In what can be termed diametrically opposite application, Pakistan used drones and technology to export guns to terrorists in Kashmir valley, drugs in Punjab as well as bomb Balochs that sought freedom from the Sunni extremist state led by its security establishment and draconian Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

A recent Border Security Force (BSF) briefing counted 16 drones from across Pakistan that were shot down in first ten months this year while attempts were being made to export arms and money to terrorists apart from drugs to peddlers.

In fact, this menace of transporting drugs, illicit funds, arms, ammunition as part of ‘drones’ offensive’ by Pakistan security establishment has been on rise. Drones fuelled terror activities in both Border States seem to have doubled in 2022.

Over 3000 kilometres of border with Pakistan spread across Punjab, Kashmir, Gujarat and Rajasthan have turned porous with easy pass over for drones deployed by Pakistan even as BSF and other para-military forces kept vigil.


It’s not just Pakistan. Even countries like Ukraine have taken recourse to drones to counter battle offensive against Russia as part of its larger security policy. For instance, Kursk airfield in South West Russia was targeted by Ukraine last week for two days to retaliate for what it called ‘war crimes’ committed by Putin’s forces.

Turkey, Iraq, Syria and several other Muslim dominated militias have used drones to settle scores with adversaries and create havoc in Europe and elsewhere.

Yemeni Houthi rebels have had access to high technology drones and hit two key oil installations in Saudi Arabia during September 2019. These drones had damaged the oil refineries 500 miles away from Yemen border that heightened risks to energy supplies. This had also led to a huge flare up between US and Iran tensing up the entire Persian Gulf region.


What clearly come out is should drones and other high technology driven vehicles be used to export terror, fight wars or redeployed to fight hunger, disease, link the remotest tribals and citizens with mainstream markets?

India should take its avowed mission of pushing technology for development as a big narrative at G-20 as President and through Shanghai Cooperation Organization as its head.

A framework may have to be evolved globally and with immediate neighbours on restricting drones usage to wage wars and terror campaigns in most unbecoming way.

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