September 24, 2014 will be marked as one of the most important days in Indian scientific history, because India launched its Mars Orbiter Mission and is the only country to do so in its maiden attempt. The Indian Space Research Organisation – India’s NASA has been instrumental in achieving this feat. India spent Rs.7/ km to reach Mars ( $0.12 cents per 0.67 mile).
Just 3 days after Asia’s first and the world’s least expensive mars mission went to Mars, an Indian startup Smartur has developed a mobile application to take pictures with the MOM (Mars Orbital Mission). Since it’s built in 3D, it gives the user an almost “real” experience of seeing Mangalayan.
A timeline of the whole mission has been explained interactively here. You could also see these short videos which give a glimpse of what the mission really is and how important it is for ISRO – Indian Space Research Organisation.
So why is India still lagging behind in the manufacturing sector, which clearly isn’t rocket science. What does this mission mean for India, a country whose global presence you can’t ignore.
As Sandip Roy said in his article the thumbs up of the women scientists in the Mangalayan team is priceless. I couldn’t agree less. Unfortunately, practices like female foeticide and neglect of girl education continues to be a problem in India. Where 65% of the Indian population is under the age of 35 , of which almost half are women, India can do wonders by promoting on female education and empowerment. Thus, the recognition of women in such an important mission will set forth a domino effect. A more productive work-force will certainly contribute to economic growth. And this mission will only act as impetus for more women to break glass ceilings at their workplaces. As the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi recently mentioned in his speech in US – India can export services of teachers and nurses to the world – a predominantly female occupation in India, will increase purchasing power of the female population in India.
Research capabilities, technogical prowess and cost competitiveness
India joins the group of US, Russia and Europe to successfully launch space missions. It is the only Asian country to do so. Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) took three years and Rs 450 crores to complete its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). The US Maven, which went into orbit on Monday, took six years and cost $679 million (Rs 4,100 crores) – as stated in a leading financial newspaper in India.
This alone for me talks about the potential cost competitiveness that India has. This was a highly technical mission – but if the national resources are used well, manufacturing high-end automobiles or machines for use in most industries is not a difficult task. India’s economic history is unique because it went from an agro-based economy to a service based economy rather quickly. The manufacturing sector today is still under-developed and the new leaders are taking note of that. India lost 3 points in the ease of doing business raking of the World Bank. But the new Prime Minister Mr. Modi set to change all that. He changed the fortunes of one state by helping businesses alone. Only time will tell if he can replicate that for the whole country but all indicators are positive. His focus is on export promotion and better public-private relationships. Use of technology and ‘Make in India’ is his motto. For this to happen, he needs to look at structural reforms – constant supply of electricity and water for industries, better storage capabilities for food that India can produces and exports, better hire and fire laws or even tax reforms.
On another note, I believe this will reverse the brain drain that has been plaguing India for the last 40 years. I am sure it will encourage businesses and schools to set up better research capabilities contributing to indigenous research in India. Another article written on this subject a year back when this mission started touches upon more issues related to India’s involvement.
The results of this mission and the election of the Modi government are seen immediately; an upgrade of the country grading by S&P and an appreciation of the rupee. The investors in India and overseas alike, as well as the general population is regaining confidence in the country . India can’t afford to let this pass.