BBC has some reactions by Indians on the launch. One of them is from a fruit vendor Sheila who is quoted as saying: “I don’t think it is a good thing. I think this money could be used here for the poor. Look at how expensive things have become! If the money goes away from (our streets) then obviously things will become more expensive.”
Sheila’s sentiment is probably echoed by many. While it is not accurate – Indians have immensely profited from space capability -, it does point to the problem we have in selling space missions to many Indians. Consider the excitement in US and Europe when a rocket is launched. A whole nation rallied behind JFK after he made his historic speech (whatever the motivations were). I was in Denver Science Museum in 2004 with a thousand other people the night Mars rovers landed. The atmosphere was electrifying.
There is no doubt Indian scientists feel as passionate and as excited as anyone else. It is, however, important to bring that excitement to the common man and woman. It’s way more fun that way.
Perhaps, in the next mission we can send Tendulkar’s cricket bat as one of the payloads (I am not completely kidding here). We must sell the idea in as many ways as we can to allow everyone to viscerally feel the excitement. We need it.