[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]
August 4, 2009 16 Comments
(A long pending post triggered by the recent Chandrayaan launch)
Like any boy of his age, the vast night sky with stars and planets fascinated him. He learnt to spot half a dozen constellations and a few planets like Jupiter and Venus. In spite of his tryst with Asimov, he never wanted to be an astronaut. He had been hearing stories of the strenuous training involved in preparing oneself to become an astronaut. The story had a tragic end, else he could have said he knew India’s second astronaut.
Much before ISRO became an acronym and was still an abbreviation, he could list out the chronology of all missions; he took pride in knowing the expansions of SLV-3,ASLV, SROSS and APPLE,IRS,INSAT etc without having a clue of what any of those words meant. Any opportunity in school to flaunt what a Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit or a Geo Stationary orbit was cleverly utilized. His dad keenly explained him the meanings, good for him as he could impress teachers in school.
Like any ISRO home, his house bore a sepulchral silence on mission failures, which were many(be it ASLVs or the PSLV) during those times; the number of failures enough for imbeciles to come up with jokes like I.S.R.O rockets make the life of Indian fishermen vulnerable(as they may fall on them). He took jokes on I.S.R.O personally, why would he not for something that fed him. The sweets that his dad brought home after every successful launch reflected the euphoria that everybody shared.
He would look at stickers and posters of satellites and launch vehicles, feel good about them and keep them safe. For him the display of Launch Vehicle models at home were signs of opulence.
He felt elated and delighted at the sight of such stickers on scooters and cars; something like a mixed feeling of association, happiness and superiority passed through him.
The young boy looked expectedly at the grey colored VSSC buses to see if there were people he knew inside. He felt big, arranging passes for the whole class for ISRO visits, not to forget the brownies he got from teachers. Every time when someone asked where his dad worked, his answer took himself a notch above.
He sweated and bit his nails in anticipation watching live telecasts of launches. He accumulated sleep debt watching many Baikonour and Kourou launches. He still reminisces the countdowns that he counted along like a duet and the smoke filled uncertainty he shared just after any lift off.
His passion has not changed a bit. He still gets a high talking about I.S.R.O
For the population that thinks a toss is bigger than a countdown and KANK is an easier acronym than SHAR, hope someone tells them space matters. A media that is over the moon with stars, may you look at what is happening on the moon in reality.
I take a bow before this force to reckon with, that has out done itself in every step.
Update: Post featured in Reuters India
November 16, 2008 50 Comments