Ever since the early 1960s when the first manned space mission was successfully accomplished, space exploration has become easier nowadays. Even though much has been achieved in space exploration since then, humans’ desire for further outer space experimentation has never ceased. Currently, a visit on Mars is the central focus of modern space exploration, and this would come after a couple of successful space explorations that would see man step on the moon a few decades ago. So far, several countries such as Russia, the US, and the European Union have successfully managed to send people to Mars (Burke, 2013).
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Despite the scientific and technological achievements associated with space exploration, this experience has brought a lot of national pride and fame for the three nations. India is likely to be the next country to join in this glory, following the launch of their first spacecraft to Mars on November 13, 2013. Even though the success of this exploration will earn India a lot of fame, the mission can never be justified, considering the diverse issues surrounding the country’s population that should have come first.
Space exploration has become a key area of concern for modern scientists and this is evident from the many attempts being undertaken in the world today to explore every bit of the outer space. The history of space exploration dates backs over 70 years when several experimental rocket launches were conducted time after time by the Soviet Union (Siddiqi, 2003). This came as a result of man’s big desire to travel to space and get to explore the outer space environment. This riddle, however, appeared to get an answer when the Soviet Union successfully managed to send two satellites into space in 1957.
This achievement resulted into the space race and this would, in turn help to facilitate the revolution in space exploration. With the rampant advancement in modern technology, space exploration is becoming easier and safer nowadays. This explains the reason why it is possible for any country to assume that it can easily embark on outer space explorations. However, such space explorations are usually costly and are only fit for developed nations, but not for a country like India which is struggling to feed its population.
India is a country with a long history of poverty. According to recent reports, even though poverty levels in the country have significantly declined over the years, there are still hundreds of millions of Indians who are languishing in adept poverty today. These high levels of poverty have continued to impose an oppressive weight on the citizens, especially in the rural India where over 70 percent of the country’s poor live. India is said to have the highest concentration of poor people living below the poverty line in the world (Gupta, 2008). This however, has been a major barrier to economic opportunities in the country.
This clearly explains why India has lagged behind other Asian countries in matters involving economic development. Even though India has tried to apply some effective interventions that have helped to improve its ailing economy, there is still an opportunity for the country to reexamine its approach to deal with poverty. In this regard, I believe it would have made much sense if the $72 million allocated for the space program was used to improve the living standards of the Indians, rather than being used for a pride-seeking experiment that will never help the citizens in any way.
Apart from the issues of poverty and hunger in India where over 40 percent of children are said to be malnourished, the country is also associated with a failing infrastructure in almost all sectors. Some key buildings in major urban centres are dilapidated and most roads are in bad shape, thus making it difficulty for people to drive on them. It is also very clear that half of the country’s population lack toilets, among other significant facilities such as proper shelter and health care services.
Moreover, India is a place where people are used to ruining public property, especially when they are demonstrating. In fact, this has over the time contributed to poor management of solid waste and sewerage in most parts of the country. As a result of this, dirty places that are characterized by garbage on the roads and uncovered drains have become more common in most parts of India. As a matter of fact, one can never stop wondering how a country with so many basic needs can afford to undertake such a costly space program.
As Kingdon (2007) observes, recent demographic statistics have shown about 40 percent of the Indian population to be illiterate and unemployed. Obviously, high population growth rates such as the ones witnessed in India usually come with a lot of effects on people. For instance, there would be a high competition for available facilities and resources. In this regard, only a little percentage of the population is likely to have full access of the resources. This scenario can be used to explain the case of India where the number of learning facilities is far less than the level needed to adequately cater for the educational needs of every child in the country. Based on these observations, there is no doubt that there is need for more schools in India to ensure that more children can access education. In that case, the money intended for the Mars space program would have had a better use in such facilities that are likely to bring positive impacts on the country’s future economic development.
Based on the observations made on this paper, India’s space program cannot be anything else but a space race between the country and its rivals from Asia, particularly China. There can never be any doubt about this conclusion, considering the fact that India is focused on showcasing its technology more than it is concerned about the welfare of its population. It is unimaginable that the Indian government can even think of investing in a space program that would cost the taxpayers over $70m while the same taxpayers are suffering due to lack of common basic needs (Lele, 2013).
Even though the space mission can be a big milestone in India’s space exploration affairs, it could have waited until India reaches the status of a fully-developed economy like China, which is their main regional rival in such plans. In my opinion, I strongly believe that India would have achieved much national pride if it focused more on things that mattered for its citizens rather than going for costly programs such as the Mars mission that would only succeed in slowing down the country’s economic progress.
Burke, J. (2013, November 5). ISRO to launch India’s first spacecraft to Mars. The Guardian, p. 17. Web.
Gupta, K. (2008). Poverty in India. United Kingdom: Atlantic Books. Web.
Kingdon, G. (2007). The progress of school education in India. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 23(2), 168-195. Web.
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Lele, A. (2013). Mission Mars: India’s Quest for the Red Planet. New York: Springer. Web.
Siddiqi, A. (2003). The Soviet space race with Apollo. Florida: University Press of Florida. Web.