The inspirational value of ISRO's Mars mission

India's researchers need to find quickest and cheapest possible solutions to problems in the country; technology dearth no longer an acceptable excuse

 
By Vibha Varshney
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

India's researchers need to find quickest and cheapest possible solutions to problems in the country; technology dearth no longer an acceptable excuse

What does the success of Mars Orbiter Mission mean for the science in India? For one, the mission that "cost one tenth of NASA's Maven" and "took one fourth of time to develop", shows the Indian researcher that we have the capability to do what others cannot. The average researchers would now be under a lot of pressure as excuses are no longer be acceptable.

It is time to buckle up and produce results - be it in the realm of medicine or renewable energy or industrial manufacturing or disaster forecasting. It is no longer acceptable for anyone to say that we do not have the technical know how to save India. It feels good to imagine scenarios where the lobby of a polluting industry says they cannot keep the environment clean or when the Meteorological department says it cannot predict floods in time to save people, we say to them "if ISRO could do it, so can you".

The Mars mission has also proved that success is more probable when we do not imitate. With NASA's MAVEN mission working alongside India's mission, the pressure on ISRO would have been tremendous. We too could have poured in more money into the project, we too could have sent up more instruments - we could have competed. But MOM has proved that the jugaad method seems to work better for India. It works even for rocket science.

It is time to rethink the way we practice science, the backbone of our mundane life. ISRO's learnings from the MARS mission has helped them test their capabilities. Similarly, we need to have mission in other fields of science. Maybe GM crop are not the answer to food security; solar energy is more feasible than nuclear energy; preventive health is easier to practice that believed and that factories need not be nightmares to work in.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessed the orbit insertion from the control room. Unlike the last time, schools too were advised to watch the event. This gives hope for the future.

We know the problems and we know what we want. India's researchers need to now buckle up and find the quickest and the cheapest solutions to these problems. This time round, let us do it without excuses.

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