Worlds obsession with Indian poverty and the Mangalyaan project

  On November 5th this year India took a giant leap into space exploration by launching the PSLV C 25 to inject Mangalyaan Orbiter (Mars orbiter). Officially, this is supposed to scan for presence of methane to detect the possibility of life on mars.

The successful launch of this project has sparked a debate around the world: “How could India, with all its poverty support a $75m project”, being the gist of the debate. Here in this post I share my thoughts on this.

Firstly, I should agree with the topic. Though 75m$ is a very small amount compared to the poverty levels in India it still is a very significant amount in alleviating the poverty problem. However, one cannot view this project as a waste of resources. India is an emerging country, poverty is just one of the problems faced by the country. There are many other problems that can be addressed by/through a project of this big a magnitude.

My economics is bad, but I do know that a successful projects like this results in attracting investors to the country. With more people investing there is a drastic improvement in opportunities. Resulting in creating job requirement; doesn’t this directly tackle the poverty problem?

According to me the root cause of poverty is lack of education. Yes, education and poverty are very closely coupled in a country like India; where education has become a form of business, a business that promises returns only in the form of money. But projects like this attract young minds towards science; they fuel their imagination, make them aim to achieve goals in life. This inspiration can be all one needs to fulfill ones dreams. A project such as this, the Mangalyaan, has the ability to transform young minds for the greater good. I recommend watching October Sky, a true story based on similar lines.

Another important aspect of this project is the people who worked on this project. They should be proud of themselves, I’m sure they are, and also we must appreciate their work. If it hadn’t been for this project most of them would not earn sufficient to educate their young ones and would not encourage  others to take up a scientific job. Many would end-up in a mundane IT job. A number of these brilliant minds would fly to other countries. But when they, in another country would achieve something amazing the same news papers, that talk of poverty today, would boast about his/her association with India and boost up public egos. The common man would blame him for using Indian benefits, for education, and then flying away to make money. But, here is a bunch of people who stayed back and achieved something many others in this field spend their lifetimes working towards.

In a world where every other country is competing for superior power, scientific superiority is much better than one gained at the war field. Every country has numerous projects to compete with each other. Recently, China failed in its space exploration mission, and if Mangalyaan proves to be a success it definitely puts India above China in many domains. With its low cost project compared to NASA or ESA projects it could start a new race within these foreign agencies, with India in the spotlight.

So $75m in a project, many of us Indians can assume that about $10m or more has gone into scams. Now if this same amount were to be used for the poor, I’m sure half of it would go into scams at the various levels of subcontracting and the rest half would be used by political parties to win votes of the poor. Its upto you to decide which is better!

In conclusion, I believe this project is an achievement by the Indian organization. That said, a project which has direct impact on the people would be preferred in my view. But nevertheless it is something the team needs to be proud about. Just FYI if you want a project that wasted the Indian tax payers money its the UID project, which is now being scrapped. Additionally all the money being spent by political parties for fake election campaigns and other such ridiculous things is what needs to be used to help the poor.