Remote control | The Indian Express

2020-01-13 | 2 minutes

Context: Recently, the Saudi Aramco oil facility in Saudi Arabia was attacked by using drones. This has raised concerns, and the government is making regulations on drones strict.


  • In August 2018, the government (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) announced Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) or Drone Regulations 1.0. The regulations came into effect on 1 December 2018.
  • In April 2018, the government set up a 13-member task force in order to fast track Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology.
  • On 1 December 2018, the government has launched a digital sky platform for Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) or drones. The operators and manufacturers of RPAs or drones are first required to register on the digital sky platform.
  • In January 2019, the government released Drone-Ecosystem Policy Roadmap. It is estimated that the drone market in India will reach US$ 886 million by 2021.
  • Along with other topics, Drone-Ecosystem Policy Roadmap was also part of deliberations during Aviation Conclave 2019 organized by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in February 2019.

Applications of drones: In terms of applications, drones are comparable with communications technologies. Like them, drones can be used in a large number of sectors. They can be used by e-commerce and fast food companies for cost-effective delivery of products and services to tall apartments common in urban areas. They can be used for supplying medicines or delivering seeds for reforestation in inaccessible mountain areas. Other sectors where drones can be used are photography, agriculture, insurance and policing.

Opinion on drones and their regulations: For a long period of time, the communication sector remained under government control. It was liberalized in mid 1990s. Similarly, due to concerns over negative impacts on traditional retail businesses, government did not allow FDI in retail and e-commerce sector for long time. But, their opening up did not negatively affect retail and traditional sellers. The regulation of drones is needed as they can be used for surveillance or for carrying out attacks and pose a threat to public security. But, the regulations should not be excessive and hurt the growth of drone industry and technology in India. 

Way forward:

Proposed and existing drone regulations in India are similar to recent drone regulation under US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAA also operates a platform like India’s Digital sky platform for drone registration. Drone industry in India is just starting. As per drone ecosystem policy roadmap released by government recently, drone market in India will reach at US$ 886 million by 2021. Global drone market will reach at US$ 21.47 billion by that time. So, it is necessary that drones in India should not be overly regulated. The regulations for the purposes of personal and national security should also be based on logical assessment of threat perception as drones offer opportunities for growth in sectors like health, economy and environment.



  • Drones are categorized into following five categories.
    • Nano (≤ 250 grams)
    • Micro (>250 grams and ≤ 2 kg)
    • Small (>2 kg and ≤ 25 kg)
    • Medium (>25 kg and ≤ 150 kg)
    • Large (>150 kg)
  • Currently, drone regulations in India are based on ‘No Permission – No Take-off” system.
  • Nano category drones were allowed legally after December, 2018.
  • Drones in micro and above categories are currently required to be registered on Digital Sky Portal.