India is a poor country. Should India invest in space research? We have been having this debate ever since our independence. Critics would argue that instead of wasting money on esoteric scientific pursuit, India should spend the money on measures to improve human welfare. India must build schools, build hospitals, spend money on healthcare, distribution of free or subsidised food grains and similar things that will help poor people of India. We have been doing just that for last sixty years or more. Despite all our pro people measures, the world knows us by our poverty, our illiteracy, our corruption our lack of sanitary practices. Welfare politics have not improved our lot and have not helped us to hold our head high.
In this context it is important to talk about recent entry of Indian Mars probe, Mangalyaan, into martian orbit. This is a great feat because scientists from Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have been successful in their first attempt. In the world, only USA, erstwhile USSR and European Union were able to successfully launch a mission to Mars. However, out of 51 missions, only 21 have so far met with success. This success by scientists of ISRO indicate our scientific and technological prowess.
The cost of Indian Mars mission was around 75 million dollars. Compared to a program launched by NASA of USA, Indian mission costed nearly one tenth of the American program. On rupee spent per km basis, 660 million km travel to Mars at USD 75 million (Rupee 450 crore), comes to approximately Rs. 11 per km. A taxi or auto ride in Delhi costs more than this. At USD 100 million, cost of producing Gravity, a Holywood movie, was higher than the cost of Indian Mars mission. Again this feat demonstrates innovative spirit of Indian scientists and engineers. This success also opens up business opportunity for ISRO and India, making Indian space research more self sustaining.
By the way, critics, who complain about money being wasted on space program, must remember that Indian welfare programs are leaky and reaches not necessarily the needy. Also, India lost more money through different scams compared to money spent in space research. Space research eventually yields dividend because it helps improve lives of Indian poor without discrimination.
Tags: Engineer, Healthcare, ISRO, Mangalyaan, Mars Mission, NASA, Science, Poverty, Scientist, Tecnlology, Welfare