Two days ago, India had lost contact with its moon lander. While this (hopefully temporary) failure is unfortunate, the greater tragedy is that in the last few days, the mission has distracted the middle class away from India’s economic crisis. India’s Godi propaganda, I mean the news channels, grossly hyped up the mission to fill their news slots and make us forget about the distress in the economy. Usually, these space missions are relatively quieter simply because, with any space mission, the success rate is extremely low due to a large number of unknown variables that can screw up the mission.
But what are we achieving through this mission? It’s time the government comes clear on its long term objectives of the moon mission. Are we going to set up a settlement or military base on the moon in 50 years? Like the U.S., is our space mission a part of a cold war with some enemy? Or is the space mission meant to be a platform for developing technology that can be used in the real world? If it’s a pure research mission, why are we not collaborating with other countries to share the liabilities?
Space missions cannot, and must not, be used to inflate our egos. Any science experiment has more failures than successes. If the failures are made public, it will cause them to be disappointed, frustrated, resentful and eventually, they will object to their tax money being wasted in such programs. The public will always look for short term gains, whereas space missions take at least one whole generation to get any public benefit.
As citizens, we must trust our scientists by providing them with money and leaving them alone to do their experiments and missions. We should celebrate only when they are ready to reveal their results.
Instead, people should focus on how money is being spent on social programs and missions. India’s space mission will not improve the lives of the bottom 50% population, which includes even the Indian middle class. Missions like UN Sustainable Goals, MNREGA, Swacch Bharat, Water Conservation, Forestation are far more important. These are missions that will determine the very existence of humanity and life as we know it. Imagine the outcome of these missions if the news channels have to give these missions extensive coverage like they gave this Chandrayan Mission.