Elon Musk has just received a big jolt from the Government of India. Which has barred his company from selling satellite-based broadband internet plans in the country. In the absence of requisite permissions and licences. Starlink – which is SpaceX’s satellite internet service seems to have thought that it can enter India without any licences. And begin distributing its network across the country without anybody raising an eyebrow. Musk’s SpaceX has been accepting pre-orders for the beta version of the service. For a fully refundable deposit of $99 (around ₹7,400). Not only did the Modi government bar Starlink from selling internet plans in the country. But also issued a public advisory asking people to not buy such plans under any circumstances.
Indian Communication Ministry on Elon’S decision
In a statement, the Communications Ministry says, “The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) points out that Starlink Internet Services is not licensed to offer satellite-based internet services in India advertising to the public… the government, (accordingly), has asked the company to comply with the Indian regulatory framework for rendering satellite-based communication services. And refrain from booking/rendering such services in India with immediate effect.”
Asking Indians to desist from subscribing to Starlink, the ministry’s public advisory said, “It’s hereby informed to the public at large that the said company (Starlink Internet) has not obtained any licence/authorisation for rendering satellite-based internet services that are being booked on their website,” adding that the company “needs the requisite licence(s) from DoT” for rendering satellite internet services in Indian territory.
In September, Elon Musk, while responding to a question on Twitter regarding Starlink services in India, said, “Just figuring out the regulatory approval process.” In October, Starlink India director Sanjay Bhargava announced on LinkedIn that the company has successfully registered its India subsidiary —Starlink Satellite Communications Private Limited. He added, “Pleased to share that SpaceX now has a 100% owned subsidiary in India…We can now start applying for licenses, open bank accounts, etc.”
Essentially, Starlink and its parent company – SpaceX knew very well that they do not have licenses and approvals to operate in India. Yet, they went ahead offering their services, and close to 5,000 Indians even ended up paying for the Starlink connections. Starlink’s India director even encouraged potential customers to get added to the company’s priority list by depositing $99 to avoid being waitlisted.
Elon Musk’s pro-China Proclivities
In China, despite Elon Musk’s rather brazen prostration before the Chinese Communist Party, the plug has been pulled on Tesla. TFI reported in June how a negative PR campaign by the CCP against Tesla was affecting not just the company’s car sales, but also it’s market performance. Ever since, Tesla has been looking to take its operations out of China, to other countries – including India. In China, Tesla got its designs and technology stolen, which the CCP used to propel the rise of homegrown brands. So, Elon Musk is heartbroken by the treatment meted out to him.
Elon Musk’s attempt to strike a fine balance between his commercial interests. In both India and China had received a severe blow from Nitin Gadkari. India’s Minister for Road Transport & highways had drawn a clear distinctive line between doing business in India and catering to China’s interests. Nitin Gadkari asked Elon Musk to start producing electric vehicles in India. Instead of selling China-manufactured cars in the Indian domestic market. Assuring Tesla of all necessary support, the minister also asked Musk to export made-in-India Tesla cars.
Once again, the Modi government has taught Tesla a lesson. And made it clear for Elon Musk that for his operations to run smoothly in the country. He will have to abide by and respect Indian laws.