Over the last few days I have read a number of comments about the Indian ‘Mission to Mars’. Many people argue that India should take its gaze from the stars and focus on the dirt beneath its feet. Comments such as:
India is a poor country and should not be wasting money.
Other countries give aid to India which obviously isn’t needed if it can send a rocket to Mars.
India obviously doesn’t care about its poor.
So, what are the facts of the matter? Here is a little perspective:
The cost of the Mars mission is approximately £50 million.
There are approximately 1.27 billion people in India. If you divide the cost of the mission between them all they would be paying just £0.39 per person.
Statistics show that around 70% of the population earn or live on about £1.25 per day. How much would they get each if India had not launched this space project? Approximately £0.40 per person; put another way, approx. 1/3 of a day’s wage for the poorest in India.
India considers its space programme to be important for a number of reasons, including the development of new technologies and the ability to put their own weather and communication satellites into space (at a much lower cost than having another country do it for them). The continued development of this programme could see India becoming the preferred country for other Third World nations to put their satellites into space and therefor bring more income to India.
Justin Rowlett of the BBC reports on the role of India’s Mission to Mars and the positive influence it can have on Indians, both rich and poor. It is worth a read.
And my view? There is a great deal of poverty in India which needs to be addressed. The question is – how do you move so many people forward to a better way of life? Just giving hand-outs isn’t enough, you need to empower and inspire people, provide hope and jobs. Maybe India’s space programme is just one small cog in a very large wheel which is striving to achieve this.