Prof Mrinal Chatterjee 

With Chandrayaan3 landing at the South Pole of the moon, with a shoe-string budget India has achieved a momentous success. India became the first nation in the world to achieve a lunar landing in the Moon’s enigmatic south polar region, and the fourth country to successfully land a rover on the Moon, after the United States, Russia, and China.

India’s success is more significant for two reasons, first: it could land Chandrayaan 3 at the moon’s south pole, a rugged region where deep craters lie in permanent shadow and where ice could provide water, oxygen and fuel for future missions. And second, Russia, with more experience in space exploration and resources failed to do it recently as Luna 25 crashed on the moon in mid-August 2023.

Chandraayan’s successful landing is being followed by jubilation across the country. Congratulatory messages are pouring in for the scientists of ISRO. The Prime Minister has already announced further programs for space exploration.

However, there are few disturbing trends, which needs to be discussed and contained. One, the debate between science and faith. Even before the Chandryaan3 was launched, and during its journey many people started doing elaborate jagynas for its success. Any scientific exploration is based on the spirit of enquiry. Praying for its success is one thing but organising ritualistic jagnyas!

The second point is increasing jingoism and chest thumping. The social media carried some posts lampooning Russia’s failed mission and in-numerous posts denigrating Pakistan.

Both are not good for India. We need to develop scientific temper, which is also a constitutional duty. We also need to get rid of the jingoism and arrogance. We must appreciate that in the present times no scientific advancements can be made in isolation.

In the journey of Chandrayaan, NASA, European Space Agency provided valuable help. Russian Space agency also helped us in our initial days of space exploration. Aryabhatta, our first tryst with space exploration was launched in 1975 with Russian (erstwhile USSR) help.

So let’s not denigrate any country. Let there be humility, not arrogance. Our space scientists and their fraternity after the success have expressed their humility. Jingoistic chest thumping, discrediting the achievements of other countries do not go with our image. Mature countries behave and act responsibly. As an Indian I feel embarrassed and at times ashamed to see those jingoistic posts denigrating other countries. As a country our avowed principle is BASUDHEIBA KUTUMBAKAM, the world is our family. Let’s abide by that principle.

(The author is Regional Director Indian Institute of Mass Communication, IIMC Dhenkanal. Views are personal)