The Scientific Indian

Launching Chandrayaan – A waste of money?

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.

Comments

  1. #1 Sathya
    October 22, 2008

    Hi Selva,

    Me too agree with the fruit vendor.

    More basic needs and necessities are here to concentrate rather than the Chandrayaan..

    It is a milestone in Indian Science & technology, there is no doubt in that…

    But….

    Its not waste of money, but its waste of money, @ present.

    The facts are
    1. We are not developed country like those in US & Europe (at least with basics)

    2. BBC try to cover the negative part.
    Why it is not asking any technocrat people in India, rather than choosing a street vendor for commenting.

  2. #2 Hindu Atheist
    October 22, 2008

    I agree with Selva. It is not a waste of money. It will inspire an entire generation who will not be afraid to dream, who will think outside the box and come up with creative solutions for the complex indian society which will help the fruit lady ultimately. Considering it an expensive field trip to the moon is not fair.

  3. #3 Hindu Atheist
    October 22, 2008

    I agree with Selva. It is not a waste of money. It will inspire an entire generation who will not be afraid to dream, who will think outside the box and come up with creative solutions for the complex indian society which will help the fruit lady ultimately. Considering it an expensive field trip to the moon is not fair.

  4. #4 Nikhil
    October 22, 2008

    How about we send all of our politicians as the payload… and dump them in the fashion of the probe that’s gonna slam into the lunar surface. It will be worth every rupee spent. ;)

  5. #5 Nikhil
    October 22, 2008

    I think that those who oppose these adventures fail to grasp the importance of scientific advancement. Science and technology will in turn lead to economic benefits that will help everyone. I can understand if the benefits are not apparent to an Indian fruit vendor; but when a westerner starts telling me about how we should sort out our poverty issues before engaging in space exploration, it reeks of hypocrisy. What it means is that they can spend large amounts on hi-tech research and keep pulling away from us, while we struggle to feed the starving. Every nation must balance its priorities. We do need to improve the conditions of the poor, but at the same time we cannot tell our scientists that they can’t do research. This kind of thinking will only cause more brain drain and we’ll never catch up with the rest of the world…. and it pisses me off!

  6. #6 Hindu Atheist
    October 22, 2008

    Talk about wasting money. Just to it in perpsective, take a look at the how much it costs to perform rituals in India:

    http://www.astrojyoti.com/shivapoojas.htm

    I am sure the “educated” folks who care about the poor and oppose this Chandrayaan will be more than willing to spend Rs 2500 for one year of Archanas at their favorite temple. When are we going to learn?

  7. #7 Rezwan
    October 23, 2008

    Kudos to the Indian scientists who made the first mission to the moon from the Indian subcontinent possible. I heard that the India had done it lot cheaper than other countries. Instead of highlighting that some people are labeling it as wastage. This is because they are not looking at the larger picture. Besides acquiring the scientific knowledge, India can share the moon mapping data to affluent countries and earn some money. If India can develop space stations it can cover much of its costs from hobby tourist astronauts etc.

    Technology, scientific advancements never hinder development. Not taking a step forward out of fear is a typical poor’s thought. But taking the leap forward towards a dream can change one’s life.

  8. #8 Ashutosh
    November 4, 2008

    Let’s hope Chandrayan does to young Indians what Sputnik did to young Americans. Now all we need is a worthy foe (not Pakistan)

  9. #9 Ashutosh
    November 10, 2008

    Hi Selva…I agree with you. Here’s my take on it:
    http://ashujo.blogspot.com/2008/11/chandrayan-spur-it-on-chandrayan-was.html

  10. #10 kinshuk
    November 11, 2008

    i am not agree with you selva . because it is not the work of sientiest to spend money for roads. ther work is to inc. there tecnology, they doing the best.

  11. #11 Muntakem
    February 25, 2009

    The sending of Chandrayaan is certainl not a wastage of money nor is it a revival of the cat and mouse chase the world experienced between America and Russia post world war. ISRO had been researching and upgrading its technology and skills for better communication and weather satellites, remote sensing, launch vehicles and other deep space research. Only when it was found that ISRO did have the ability to go forward with its technology , did ISRO get the nod for its mission. Moreover spending just 5% of ISRO’s annual budget behind a moon mission isnt eating away the taxpayers’ money. Moreover the mission is going to increase the knowledge base of our country. Anyone speaking of prospering the country must know that the country needs all round development (including science) and just spending money for faulty govt. policies will do no good for the poor. The vendor questioned did not probably know of the economic benefits India can have in future Collaborative space research. It was just absurd asking the vendor for views in a subject he was ignorant of !!

  12. #12 Oyun
    March 28, 2009

    How about we send all of our politicians as the payload… and dump them in the fashion of the probe that’s gonna slam into the lunar surface. It will be worth every rupee spent. ;)

  13. #13 vaibhav
    July 26, 2009

    good decision as the tecnological back ardness would be lessened
    this can give a good push to our countrys development
    but not to the poor families . also an utter waste of money

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