Tuesday, November 05, 2013

India's Mars mission: between national pride, criticism

MOM before the heat shied closure (Pic: ISRO)

NEW DELHI (AA) – India on Tuesday launched its first inter-planetary satellite, the Mars Orbiter Mission.
As the launch was broadcast live on national television, millions of Indians remained glued to their TV sets.
If the mission proves a success, India will join an elite club of terrestrial powers to have explored the Red Planet.
Anadolu Agency spoke to eight different Indians of diverse backgrounds, whose reactions to Tuesday's spaceflight ranged from national pride to criticism of government priorities.

Name: Zeenat Shaukat Ali
Occupation: Director-general, Wisdom Foundation; former professor of Islamic studies, St. Xavier College
Location: Mumbai
Gender: Female

I think our scientists in India need to be congratulated for this monumental effort. Every country has a vision. And of course a budget!
The question once asked was, 'Why do we in Mumbai need to spend extravagantly on gardens given that millions of Mumbaikars [Mumbai residents] still live below the poverty?'
The answer given was, 'The poor and downtrodden are human and need to rejuvenate their lives. Where can their families go for a breadth of fresh air without spending much?'
Every country in the world needs a budget to fulfill its goals. As Gandhiji [Mahatma Gandhi] said, there is enough in the world to satisfy everyone's need but not everyone's greed.
If we can take care of corruption, we can achieve many such goals. Hurrah to India. Maybe we can cover the costs by organizing safe trips!

Name: Nazia Erum
Occupation: Communications consultant
Location: New Delhi
Gender: Female

Upgrading its science and technology is as essential for a nation, as is ensuring good governance and social protection and upliftment for its citizens. There has to be a balance if we wish to ensure India's position in the world.

Name: Dr. Saud Ansari
Occupation: Resident doctor of pulmonary medicine, Hiranandani Hospital
Location: Powai, Mumbai
Gender: Male

Frankly speaking, I really don't care about it. I hate the way Indian democracy functions and implements its laws. There is rampant corruption presided over by inefficient and corrupt politicians.
And what are they [the politicians] going to achieve by spending millions on these kinds of satellite programs? India signed a nuclear deal with the US some years ago.
What's the outcome of the deal? When are we going to see change? After 50 years? India will remain the same. Nothing is going to change.
Neither I nor anybody else is bothered about an inefficient governance system. We are happier in our own lives. Our outburst against the system is temporary, and after sometime we tend to forget.

Name: Amol Vhatkar
Occupation: Model-turned-Bollywood actor
Location: Pune City
Gender: Male

I am very positive about the Mars Orbiter Mission. As we prosper in life, we all desire to have little extra in life.
I don't know if India will be in the elite space club or not, but this mission, I am sure, will open doors for many more aspirants in the field of space exploration. Since India is already a superpower country, so I guess it's already in the elite club.
The result of this project is uncertain at this moment, but I believe you have to take a step to reach to a new level and, hopefully, India is moving in the right direction.

Name: Kinshukh Jain
Occupation: Advocate and executive member, Rajasthan High Court Bar Association
Location: Jaipur city
Gender: Male

I most humbly submit that it is basic human nature to explore new things and it is in this sequence we have reached here and discovered many things in all the fields of science.
In my considerate view, expenditure on such programs is necessary. With regards to the success rate, one has to take that risk as failure cannot be a reason not to try again.
These projects are very sensitive and involve the best care and expertise to make them successful. I see no link between poverty and expenditures involved in such projects. There are many other areas to check so as to eliminate poverty. 

Name: Nihal Khan
Occupation: Textile laborer
Location: Malegaon Town
Gender: Male

I am not aware about any Mars Mission by India. I don't even know what Mars is. The only mission of my life is to earn enough money to feed my family members.
Is this mission akin to the rocket launches which I occasionally see in the skies in the form of smoke trails? If yes, how can a rocket launch benefit and increase my livelihood?

Name: Nitasha Singh Borah
Occupation: Clinical psychologist
Location: New Delhi
Gender: Female

The question to be asked: to what end? Are we spending all this money so that someone can validate us as a 'developed' space program and consequently a developed nation?
If so, that's a lot of money to spend for external validation. On the other hand, if the objective is to explore something, why set out to explore what other countries have already successfully explored? Why not set original targets?

Name: Rakesh Sharma
Occupation: Documentary filmmaker
Location: Goa
Gender: Male

I hope the mission is successful and huge reserves of gold, diamonds, coal and oil are found on Mars, triggering an exodus by the Indian political class and their dishonest corporate brethren – preferably on one-way flights!
It will then pave the way for campaigns to combat some of the basic problems that plague our society. We will become a superpower only after we ensure no more starvation deaths, child malnutrition or farmer suicides.
We need policies and campaigns to ensure clean drinking water and sanitation for all, along with universal healthcare and education to allow all our citizens a chance to live a life with dignity and realize their talents/skills to ensure a better life for themselves and a better future for coming generations.
No one is opposed to technology or scientific progress, but we must have our priorities very clear. Even within the space program, I'd like to see a focus not on some showcase mission, but on aspects like more satellites for improving telecoms, weather prediction, river mapping, flood/cyclone forecasts and suchlike. 
Let's get our gullies, gutters, bylanes, streets and expressways in order before we hurl ourselves on the space super-highway!
Anadolu Agency, November 5, 2013

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