Sunday, October 26, 2008

Chandrayaan: the opportunity cost for India's poor

Chandrayaan has just been launched. News articles, stories and much more have spoken that India is sending a satellite to moon, on a shoe-string budget. The budget may be less in comparison to global projects, but $80 million on a project that does nothing to alleviate poverty, reduce deaths, and improve living conditions of destitutes in our streets in India???

But then I'm reminded that if India has to become advanced and developed, it must achieve technological superiority in addition to other financial strenghts, so such a spacecraft mission will bring in immense research, and insight into outer life. We'll be free to analyse our own data, and should expect to benefit from this space launch.

But with inequality on the rise, poverty is becoming wide-spread, and who should not know more about it than India, which houses the most number of poor people in the world(among countries).

The graph on your left shows the income distribution among the population of the earth.

I'm still confused. What do you say?

Can we afford to spend $80 million (Rs. 3.86 billion) on improving technology, when the majority of us suffer from immense hardships?

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  1. Sure, Chandrayaan - or any space mission for that matter - doesn't have any immediate results; but the draw it has in inspiring kids to take up science or in unifying a fragmented system to get together and get work done is indispensable. India has such a sorry record of research that we NEED stuff like this to inspire kids to take up SCIENCE research; not dumb engineers who don't care about anything beyond their salary. Moreover, it allows ISRO to grab the limelight and showcase it workhorse PSLV engine - which can be a lucrative revenue stream when it starts doing paid-for launches. (I believe it has already done one - this is handled by Antrix Corporation).

  2. @Can we afford to spend $80 million (Rs. 3.86 billion) on improving technology, when the majority of us suffer from immense hardships?

    Chirag I agree ~4B Rs for a spaceship program is not justifiable in a smaller run, in long run hope it makes sense. Yes we are in hardship but 2 points here.
    1) Better it went into a future program and most of the technological dev comes from these
    2) We also need to be diverse in out development.

    We can hope this is for all right reasons.

  3. @ ankur and chirax : I believe chandrayaan mission too has 2 sides, but the side weighing against it is heavier. The timing couldn't be better to shift everyone's attention to India's latest development, but this doesn't alter our lives.....something we would have been expecting after the global meltdown.

    But since its a 2 yr mission, and the ISRO may have been preparing for it for the last couple of years or even more, maybe their timing was a bit unlucky.

  4. @timing was a bit unlucky LOL, Indian have a lot of that.

  5. Hi Chirag,

    I agree to wat you say...but one thing which puzzles me is your opinion.......that we need somthing which can alter our lives

    Do you think if all the poor are benefitted, our life will be effected? how many people actually think of raising the standard or livving condition of even a single poor person around them??? And we as a community cant change the life of even a single poor, why do we always play the blame game when developments happen in India?

  6. Finally an article that deserves reading! This is something that has been 'been there, done that' nearly half a century ago. The US has also rested it's programs as nothing of concrete value has come out of previous missions. This is nothing but political grand standing by the Indian Govt. in the international arena using valuable tax payers money. Maybe the PM can write his memoir as to what was achieved in his era as a leader! I view this achievement as an embarrasment really. I am baffled as to how low the expectations of the Indian public of the Government and also the ignorance coupled it with makes it even sadder. YES, a more properous population is what makes economies stronger and exponentially adds to it growth. This money should have addressed the grave issues surrounding us and the public should the Govt. to task on such frivolous grand standing.

  7. the real thing is that they wasted money
    build the country,make the base steady and we can make experiments.
    if it works it may be plus but till that what will india do to maintain the financial status.

    i thing they are aimed to borrow again from world bank

  8. You are right.It is more important for India to fight poverty and illiteracy
    on a war footing.The Commonwealth Games is another example of misplaced priorities.

  9. How come people complain about scientific spending of Rs. 3.86 billion, and no one has a problem with India's 1.5 trillion rupee defense budget!
    (I would say the same about comments on the NASA budget, with the US' defense budget being 30 times bigger than India's)