On India’s Mission to Mars

     We live in a world of political tensions, economic crises, environmental degradation, and religious hate. In the midst of all this there are also billions of people who go about their routine chores and millions too who are also engaged in art and music, in sports, plays and science. Now and again their significant achievements also hit headlines all over the world.
     One such event of enormous import was the successful entry of a spacecraft into a Mars orbit on September 23, 2014. It was launched by India’s space-scientists on November 5, 2013.
This milestone in space science should be a matter of great pride for the people of India, reflecting as it does not only the sophisticated technology that is now within India’s reach, but also the advances in the worldview of the Indian people some of whom wondered publicly in 1969 if America’s man on the moon was perhaps no more than a Hollywood stunt. In less than half a century India has come a long way from regarding Mangal (Mars) as the God of War and as a planet of astrological significance endowing its beneficiaries with bravery and self-confidence to a planet out there that is to be explored through scientific means.

     A step from astrology to astronomy is a leap from ancient to modern science; and one from astronomy to rocket science is a leap from technology to space exploration.
     In the new era of human history where globalization is a buzz-word, it is not just in trade and commerce that nations interact. We do many things, good and bad together. In this matter India has been contributing significantly to the world at large: hundreds of thousands of her sons and daughters serve as doctors and engineers, scientists and advisers in every continent.

     This is matter, not for self-glorification (after all, other nations are also active this way) for Indians, but for rejoicing that their abilities and energies are channeled in constructive ways.
     What India has achieved in this Mars mission should be regarded as a matter of pride for the human spirit, as yet another step in humanity’s stride forward in our quest for understanding. Viewed thus, India deserves to be congratulated by all who stand for science and civilization.

Sept 24, 2014

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