Poor India spent crores on Mars Mission

Poor India spent crores on Mars Mission
Highlights

Poor India spent crores on Mars Mission, India ahead of China in space race?, Social activist Harsh Mander, former member of Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, termed the mission as a “remarkable indifference to the dignity” of the poor

While the Mars mission got wide praise, there were voices which questioned the need for spending Rs 450-500 crore on it when the country is facing hunger and poverty.

Social activist Harsh Mander, former member of Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, termed the mission as a “remarkable indifference to the dignity” of the poor. “I believe that in an India in which 230 million people sleep hungry each night, in which many million lack even basic health care, decent housing, clean water and sanitation, it reflects a remarkable indifference to the dignity of the poor to spend on a Mars Mission,” he said.

The Mars Mission, which was hailed by the leaders, including President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as a milestone, would cost somewhere between rs 450-500 crore to the exchequer.
India-born scientist with Nasa Amitabha Ghosh has also made some critical remarks about the Mars Mission. He has written in an article that Isro’s priority should have been development of GSLV (Geos­yn­chronous Sate­llite Launch Vehicle) rather than this Mission.
“It will hardly be a novel accomplishment in the world of technology. Isro need not recreate what has already been done,” Ghosh wrote.
Senior scientist U.R. Rao countered the questions over the cost of the Mars Mission. “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,” said Rao, Chairman of Governing Council of Physical Research Laboratory.
The 1350kg MOM spacecraft was launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) from Sriharikota on Tuesday. The satellite will carry out compact science experiments, totalling a mass of 15 kg — five instruments to study Martian surface, atmosphere and mineralogy.
Ghosh, chair of the Science Operations Working Group at Nasa Mars Exploration Rover Mission, later said that ISRO should have focused on building infrastructure capabilities before undertaking the mission.
He said Isro should have focused on building “infrastructure capabilities” of which GSLV is a vital part. “The GSLV project started in mid-90s, but the project is still not complete. Once you have a GSLV, which is much more powerful than a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), you can launch astronauts and satellites in the space and this would no doubt help in projects like Mars Orbiter Mission and take you on a different platform,” he said.
He also pointed out that agencies like Nasa and Eu­ropean Space Agency (ESA) usually took 3-4 years to prepare for Mars Mission; and more importantly, these agencies had the experience of sending missions to Mars. But in case of MoM by Isro the period to prepare for the mission was just 15 months.
"In such challenging and complicated projects, 15 months is too short a time considering the challenges that lie," Ghosh said. He added that instead of MoM, India could have embarked on Cha­ndrayaan 2 and finished the work it sta­rted with Chandrayaan 1 as a lot still needs to be done in that area.
India ahead of China in space race?
As India on Tuesday stole the march over China by launching a mission to Mars, the state-run Global Times daily of China criticised India’s space programme, saying it sent a probe to Mars despite having millions of poor people to gain an advantage over China. “India has an ambitious goal of leading Asia in this area, especially having an advantage over China,” it said in an editorial titled India’s space ambition offers clue to China.
“So far, only the US, Russia and EU have succeeded in Mars exploration. Other attempts to reach Mars, including China’s Yinghuo-1 mission and Japan’s Nozomi mission, have failed.
“As poor as India is, New Delhi managed to carry out its Mars exploration program with a budget of only $73 million, much less than the spending of China and Japan.”
India is confronted with a complicated public opinion environment on space development, similar to that which China has to face, it said. “India is poor, so is China when compared with its Western counterparts. New Delhi has set China as its target, while China views the advanced level of the US and Russia as a reference,” it said.
“China has achieved a leap forward in the development of manned space flight and space station technology. It has already been in advance of India,” it added. Besides sending probes to the Moon, China is currently building a space station to rival Russia’s Mir, the international space station also used by the US.
“China is building its strategic power as well as developing its livelihood. Becoming a great power is required to manage all-round development. That’s why India won’t give up developing space, aircraft carrier and nuclear submarines in spite of its poor conditions,” the editorial said.
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