India’s Mars space probe is to be celebrated

If all goes well, will become only the fourth space agency after Russia, the US and Europe to conduct a successful mission to the Red Planet.

Share

Critics have found no shortage of reasons to be down on India’s launch of a space probe destined for Mars yesterday.

For them, there is no glorying in the achievement  of the Indian Space Research Organisation, which, if all goes well, will become only the fourth space agency after Russia, the US and Europe to conduct a successful mission to the Red Planet. Instead, naysayers talk gloomily of hundreds of millions of Indians barely scratching a living.

It is true that India labours under crippling poverty. More than a third of the world’s poorest people live there, and not far off half the country’s children are  undernourished. While big cities fizz with all that the 21st century has to offer, much of the rural hinterland lacks even the most basic infrastructure. Meanwhile, distortions of economic growth are making Indian society ever more unequal, corruption is rife and healthcare too often shamefully poor. Against such a troubled backdrop, a space programme can, indeed, look uncomfortably like a clumsy attempt at distraction.

And yet yesterday’s blast-off should be welcomed, not disparaged. First, the cost. The $72m budget of the Mangalyaan probe (“Mars craft” in Hindi) is not sufficient, even if channelled elsewhere, to solve India’s many and complex problems.

Then the immediate benefits for India must be evaluated. Not only does the programme command much support and interest across the country, with all that  implies for future education and skills. The benefits that trickle down from such high-end scientific research are also far from negligible.

Finally, of course, there is the sum total of human knowledge to consider. If the ISRO mission is a success, it will relay back to Earth new information about the Martian environment. How is that something not to be celebrated?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
In this handout provided by NASA from the the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, weather system Arthur travels up the east coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida in space. The robotic arm of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 is seen at upper right. According to reports, Arthur has begun moving steadily northward at around 5 kt. and the tropical storm is expected to strike the North Carolina Outer Banks  

Thanks to government investment, commercial space travel is becoming a reality

Richard Branson
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week