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To each,its own space

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[This is a post full of links. You need not click on all of them as you read,as there exists a great level of uniformity in their tone]

Update: (I am a supporter of India’s space programme and this has been written in a way to show the British media’s concern for India) :-)

Why should a country where millions still lack basic services run a successful space programme? Why are they trying to reach the stars? Shouldn’t they be waiting for every problem to be solved and then start thinking about space and nuclear submarines? Why are they biting more than they can chew?

Once a colony,always a colony. Don’t you agree?

Here, we are still debating if we should get into space research on our own and there comes a colony that tries to launch itself into a different league. No, we do not suffer from any inferiority complex. We are plain jealous.We still believe in running an agency and paying annual membership fee to the ESA; getting out of the partnerships and stop being a pile on and do nothing much,yes, we do even that at times. UK probably believes in wiping out poverty which is just over 22% of the population unlike India with over 42% of the population below the global poverty line(or a bit less [33%] than that).Critics speak only to the Western media, you know they are genuinely concerned at the waste of resources in such over ambitious plans. Even the cynical ill-informed locals talk to them.

We believe in repeating our canned statements to help a developing nation focus more on infrastructure development and eradicating poverty. You read it right, repeat. We said this in Oct 2008 and again in July 2009

But the Indian government’s space efforts have not been welcomed by all.

Some critics regard the space programme as a waste of resources in a country where millions still lack basic services.

At times, we try to balance our opinions. In the name of balancing, we show our concern by taking a dig in the end like this or like this. We would want every Indian to first learn to read and write and then think about rockets. We are waiting for Global warming and pollution to be tamed, racism to be curbed and then get into the space war.If India uses its own satellites and launch vehicles,what will happen to the developed world? Who will lease ESA’s transponders? Poverty is widespread,go tackle that. No,our concern is genuine irrespective of the media house we come from. We do not believe in doing things simultaneously,even if the tasks are unrelated. First tackle,child malnutrition and chronic poverty, then build satellites. If we don’t ask,who will. Thank us for being this responsible.

Space technologies can be used for the common man’s good,right? No, no one told us this. We can never miss out on including some numbers to polish our articles. Poverty,mention of IT industry are must ingredients in these concoctions. [another example]

Frankly, like NY Times we also fear if India would use these technologies for military goals.

[Disclosure: My father works for the Indian Space Research Organization]

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16 comments

1 scorpiogeniusNo Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 3:23 am }

Every country has their right to self-esteem and pride. and being the abode of a few millions of unlucky souls doesn’t mean that we must always take the backstage and watch the superstars perform. the critics of our space programme probably chose to be ignorant and hypocritic.

What kind of answer would these so-called aristocrat nations have if we ask them about who is spreading poverty in this world by unnecessary wars and arms-race. I think vikram sarabhai has given the right answer for all these sceptics in his monumental speech which is there for everyone to read in VSSC..

I quote the great man again:

” There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned space-flight. But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.”

And after waiting many decades we have put our good feet forward to know more about the moon, since we believe we have enough pennies to play with. Go India! GO!!

2 Rakesh VanamaliNo Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 10:08 am }

Development, I believe, needs to be multi-faceted and all inclusive! A nation must focus on its people, infrastructure and other areas of interest and importance – for instance the space program which you spoke about! One is never a substitute for another, of course!

But, having said that, issues such as poverty, basic amenities, healthcare, food, education and sanitation need to be addressed more aggressively and systematically so as to bring about a sense of upliftment and well being……., which unfortunately is not being done in our nation!

However, the contradiction appears when one or more areas are neglected and focus is thrust on seemingly unimportant areas!

3 Swapna Raghu SanandNo Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 11:56 am }

Hi Nikhil,

I found your topic very interesting and I think its a good topic to discuss and debate. You’ve presented us with an opportunity to do that. Thank you.

Here are some points that I agree with you on:

1. Poverty is widespread, go tackle that.
2.We would want every Indian to first learn to read and write and then think about rockets.

I also agree with Scorpiogenius who sparked off this discussion with the invaluable quote from Vikram Sarabhai.

Indians can focus on literacy, yes but the Indian government cannot afford to lag in the advancement of technological applications. Favoring space activities is not an indication that the government will cease to fund projects pertaining to end poverty, unemployment or illiteracy. The difficulty would be to draw a reasonable balance between the two so that both ends are well-endowed.

I have to say that I really enjoyed reading your article, Nikhil. Your passion for the country and its welfare comes through. I hope you keep writing on such current issues and give us an opportunity to debate on those aspects.

So, keep writing:)

4 ShefalyNo Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 12:21 pm }

Nikhil: So I have my uses. ;-)

5 | Balu |No Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 12:35 pm }

I get your point but I still see nothing wrong in India’s apce program. I would have had a problem if we were spending the kinds money USSR did without providing almost nothing to the public. India’s space ventures leaves a scope for monetisation some time in the distant future and that’s good enough for me.

Also, we need to remember that we are in India, if money is spent on trying to improve the condition of the poor, it stops at the pockets of politicians and only a tiny fraction reaches the poor.

6 Preeti ShenoyNo Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 1:02 pm }

Nikhil,
This is very well researched and written. But I think the sarcasm on BNSC and other related stuff is so subtle here that may who read this will miss the point completely on exactly what you’re trying to say.
Cheers
preeti

7 Preeti ShenoyNo Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 1:03 pm }

I meant ‘many who read this’

8 | Balu |No Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 1:53 pm }

Me being one of those many :-P

9 NikhilNo Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 3:20 pm }

@Scorpiogenius
Thanks for the comment.If only the ‘concerned’ British media understood what you said.
@Rakesh
Yes,but we can not wait for every issue to be solved to start our space research.
@Swapna Raghu Sanand
My mistake.
You missed it.Added a clarification in the beginning.
Thanks for visiting. :-)
@Shefaly
:-)
@Balu
Talk about not being on the same page.Now,we are there.
@Ps
Realized.Thanks.:)

10 | Balu |No Gravatar { 08.04.09 at 5:08 pm }

Yes yes now that I have actually read the post…
There are some people who like to poke their nose into everything. Well media is like that. But when it comes to media they play two roles, one, formulation of opinion (myth buster). Two, reflecting sentiment (almost stereotyping). In all the above cases they are doing the latter.
It’s not just about presenting a complete picture, but it’s also about telling the world that they are speaking about India. What is the first thing people associate with India. Poverty? So they have forced it into the story, without a second thought. Now put in the USSR example I gave here. (For Brit media’s reference). Too bad Indian media doesn’t believe in an eye-for-an-eye.

11 LaymanNo Gravatar { 08.05.09 at 12:11 pm }

Well put Nikhil.
Though I feel some of the people missed the sarcasm.

Regarding the opinion of the layman in one of the links (who thinks iti s just a gimmick); all I can think of is the saying

” A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be.”

(the leader here refers to ISRO and its visionaries)

12 PraveenNo Gravatar { 08.06.09 at 12:42 am }

I wish atleast one of those over-jealous(instead of zealous) reporters from UK saw this post..
Even 60 years after their grand old kingdom’s sun died out, these guys have that ‘master-slave’ mindset..Whatever we talk about the world being flat and the west treating us as equals, there’s that tinge of ‘u r my dog’ attitude in their inner minds. And its best exemplified in articles like the ones you linked here.. India’s recent sudden surge in economic and technological clout has left many with bruised egos..

And about India’s space program, it cant be said better than the comment tht scorpiogenius posted..those immortal words from the father of the Indian space program..

and here is a raised finger to the skeptics and bad mouthing press.
and a raised thumb to our great space scientists..

13 GWBENo Gravatar { 08.07.09 at 7:00 pm }

Excellent work! I am glad you picked this up.
But sorry to see that your point of view is lost on most readers who have commented above.
Thinking in the shoes of the writers grom Gaurdian etc, they have no clue what happens in India other than the poverty figures, the success of BPO and IT and chicken tikka masala. If only they think about how India happened to become a powerful nation all of a sudden, thanks to the govt investment on eduction (with emphasis on english), affordable healthcare (comapred to the so called developed countries) etc. If we, 20 years back, channelled all our wealth into eradicating poverty, we might be end up being just another UK or US who need another India/China to do all the backend work for them, who need their doctors and nurses, scientists and engineers.

14 maddyNo Gravatar { 08.11.09 at 9:09 am }

It’s funny when people say that we should not waste money on such things. they dont mention of course how the chinese or indians or the vikings or their own forefathers left their lands in search of new lands with little hope and true purpose. it was probably even more challenging than it is for us to go to moon, and they had little community support for their efforts…the original discoverers….

15 rameshNo Gravatar { 08.11.09 at 11:02 pm }

well the crores pumped into the space program do result in lots of things blasting off the ground, provide meaningful employment to thousands and certainly add a bit to national pride .. india has enough problems of bureaucracy and dole money for poverty alleviation mysteriously disappearing due to corruption .. i as a tax payer know that the money given to ISRO is definitely not rotting .. on the other hand out of the 43000 crores going into NREGA this year, how much of that will ever go there who knows ..

16 Nikhil NarayananNo Gravatar { 08.17.09 at 10:07 pm }

@Balu
Now you got the idea.

@Layman
Alland pinne :)
Deshyam vann irikkumbola BBC de oro thamasha

@Praveen
Ya, but BBC has no time to read the vision statement.

@GWBE
Aah! Thanks P for the comment :-)
Ippola oru aaswaasam aaye :-)

@maddy
Interesting point.Thanks maddy.

@ramesh
:-)
NREGA seems to be like what Mughals did building palaces,cities and forts to give employment.

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