Arshid Malik

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance – Confucius.

Humankind’s quest for knowledge is like a bottomless pit – there is simply no end to it. For centuries altogether people all over the world have been attempting the near impossible to fathom the secrets of the universe and many of these endeavors have led to delightful discoveries, some of which have made our lives easier on this planet while others have placed us in an orbit of destruction; some have brought the truth closer to us while others have led only to our utter bewilderment. Whatever the case be there is essentially great need to understand how the universe works outside the framework of “traditional religion” and till date only a miniscule of the universal framework has been “deciphered” while a lot stands to amuse and sometimes confuse us. But while we as the people of the world under the banners of different nations exert our best to come nearer to the truths that are very far away from us and to some extent do not directly influence or concern us in our present stage of existence, I believe that it is more necessary to fathom the truths that surround you all the time. While celestial perspectives remain our concern, what actually is going on around us and how we can improve our own state of being or that of people who are around us is practically more important.

India as a country, a nation, being one of the upcoming superpowers of the world, is gradually focusing harder on the scientific and technological quest of humankind. And as a part of this quest India recently and successfully delivered a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, the “Mangalyaan”, outside the Earth. The “Mangalyaan” is out on mission to probe “signs of life” and other phenomenon on the Red Planet Mars which means covering a distance of 400 million kilometers which will by all standards take quite some time. The “Mangalyaan” is the outcome of a very ambitious project of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to join hands with world superpowers to understand the mysteries of the universe and search for clues of life on other planets. This space programme has been vastly appreciated by the national and the international community and it should be since it involves a “disclosed” budget of Rs. 450 crores and great technological acumen achieved by the Indian community of scientists. Rs. 450 crores is a very big figure and it leaves me thinking “what if these 450 crores were utilized for feeding the starving millions of people in this country and providing shelter for an equally great number of shelter-less people in India.

The successful launch of the “Mangalyaan” has earned India a distinction in the international community of developed nations but rather than jumping into a race which is already saturated by great technological advancements which have led to great achievements in understanding the constitution of the elements of Mars and signs of possible sustainability of life on the Red Planet. Did India really need to indulge into such a “macroscopic” space venture when other superpowers are already doing their best to find out all there is to find about the planet Mars and other planets for that matter? I think India needed to invest these Rs. 450 crores on a “microscopic” model that would probe life in all its forms in our own country first. Well, by all standards India as such has not focused on the life that actually exists in the country and it is ambitious to find life on other planets. Development here earns an altogether different definition where you are allowed to jump and leap without even looking at the ground. The “Mangalyaan” is one such leap and it certainly defies all rules of human gravity and metamorphoses the actual definition of development to something which basically does not concern humans but the impractical and ambiguous might that India aims to achieve.

450 crores in Indian rupees mean a lot, at least for the impoverished masses of the country. They could really have benefitted from such spending. But the country, rather the elite of the country chose to parallel international ambitions. Anyways, the question that remains is that if the Indian scientific community is so advanced that it has managed to build a spacecraft that is so technologically advanced that it beats the other superpowers at what they do best then there is sure possibility that this probe may actually find some signs of life on Mars and maybe perhaps they will find aliens up there who could have been starving up there since the beginning of time and that might possibly entail India sending another mission to Mars ending up being called “Bookhmitaooyaan” laden with all kinds of alien grade food packets and that would mean better standing for India in the international arena for there has never been a nation that sent a probe to any planet which actually found life there and then supplied food to its people as aid. I am not saying that is going to happen, but this is an eventuality that can take place. So India would be sending food to the starving Millions in Mars while down here its own people, the life forms that stand discovered, named and on the voter’s list would be left starving and that is some kind of a feat.

Keeping its eyes on the stars the Indian political and scientific elite (which actually happen to be devious synonyms for policy makers) are leading the country towards a bottomless pit (this one does not concern knowledge even in the remotest sense) and that is called development in this part of the world. It is senseless, I say. How can you be so people-blind?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here