Safety net

With drones increasingly becoming a common sight, the Indian government has demanded mandatory registration of all drones and their operators by January 31. The aviation ministry in a notice yesterday revealed that the presence of drones not complying with civil aviation requirements has been identified and in view of the same it ordered that "to facilitate the identification of civil drones and drone operators, a one-time opportunity for voluntary disclosure of such drones and drone operators is being provided... All persons in possession of drones are required to complete the process (of online registration) by January 31, 2020". It is interesting to note that the government's directive comes in the wake of the US drone strike that killed Iranian commander Soleimani. As technology continues bleeding cutting-edge products, drones have assumed the role of modern-day infiltrators and attackers. Remotely operated small aircraft as it may physically be described, drones have garnered much attention in recent times. With applications across different fields such as agriculture, surveillance, mapping, etc., drones can be both constructive as well as destructive. Independent of its role, it is natural for a government to take cognisance of what occupies its airspace. Security measures include complete identification of all flying objects as they may pose a threat in any sphere. Aviation Ministry's attempt to initiate voluntary registration of drone and drone-operators is a move that will ensure national security in simplistic terms. While civilian-operated drones are not a threat, an identified list of drones will help in singling out unknown drones that may belong to terror groups or other nations trespassing Indian airspace. Proper registration of drones will also help in the classification of drones as per their purpose. Reconnaissance drones — military tech so to say — cannot be in civilian hands and with the possibility of finding almost anything on the internet these days, it is better to be sure than to be sorry. Indian administration's attempt to register all drones is a prudent step in securing Indian airspace. Co-chair of a FICCI committee on drones, Ankit Mehta had pointed out last October that illegal drones in India may range anywhere between 50,000 to 60,000. The US drone attack can be said to be a wake-up call for India to ensure drone regulation and identification. A drone operator is required to use the DGCA's software programme, DigiSky to obtain valid permissions before operating drones in India. Under DGCA's directive, the Civil Aviation Requirements for drones would include a Unique Identification Number amidst other necessary permits to fly drones. Drone registration is a necessary safety net thrown by the government to maintain security amidst growing tangents of technology.

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