Wednesday, 6 November 2013

MARS MISSION: Scientific Accomplishment or Socio-Economic Indifference??

We live in a country which is still developing, progressing both, socially and economically, where even today a significant portion of the population is below poverty line who have yet not received access to the basic amenities of food, clothing and shelter. In the very contrast, scientific progress in making us a prominent name across the globe.  India is, for sure, a diverse nation where around 230 million people sleep hungry each night and organisations like ISRO and the government are spending Rs 450-500 crore on the Mars Mission. Some say it is a total waste of money and time when we already know through various expeditions by NASA, that Mars has no traces of life. Social Activists and  former member of Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, Harsh Mander, termed the mission as a "remarkable indifference to the dignity" of the poor. 
The Mars Mission is being hailed as a Milestone in the development of the nation by various national leaders including President, Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, which would cost the nation somewhere around Rs 450-500 crore. Whereas even the former chairman of ISRO Madhavan Nair has termed the Mars Mission as "utter non-sense". He also said that when NASA had already revealed the lack of any form of life on Mars, even then if somebody is making such statements of appreciation for this mission, then it is surely a way of fooling the nation. Even though the mission took off well and no problems were encountered, yet we are sure to return empty handed.  Development economist Jean Drze has termed the project as "part of the Indian elites delusional quest for superpower status".
Amitabha Ghosh, India-born NASA scientist, has also criticised this mission in one of his articles where he mentioned that ISRO should focus on the development and Launching of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rather than the mars mission which is not a novel achievement, since lot of work has already been done.
On the other hand, Senior Scientists like U.R. Rao counter these arguments by saying, “Why are Indians shouting about Rs 450-500 crore spent on this? It certainly is the biggest day for India and can be proud of. Indians do not have difficulty in spending Rs 5000 crore in Diwali crackers in one day which don't get up more than 10 feet but for going all the way to Mars, just one-tenth of the cost, whey are they shouting

The debate over the benefits of this mission is an endless one. The mission has been launched with an aim to study the Martian surface, atmosphere and environment. It is surely a great scientific accomplishment but at the same point, we as a developing nation, cannot be indifferent towards our social and economic shortcomings which need to be taken care off before anything else.