On Wednesday the 22nd inst. India successfully launched an unmanned orbiter to the moon. The New York Times lauded it and reported that India’s scientists are confident of sending men into space in the very near future.
India has certainly been doing some very nice things in the recent past. It’s GDP has quadrupled to $1.1 trillion from $290 billion in 1992. Thus in 16 years, implying average 8% annual growth rate. Incidence of poverty has declined and from almost half of its population living below the poverty line, today it has come down to about twenty percent. As this post is being written, the most pessimistic estimate for the current rate of growth from our authorities is 6.5%. Considering the global situation, this is not something to be sneezed at.
While progress has certainly been made, there is a lot to be done in terms of reaching the benefits of growth to the less privileged. Rural India is a world apart from the Urban one. While there are full states where below the poverty line population has been more or less wiped out in the South and parts of West, there are still areas so backward, that they have been named BIMARU, Hindustani for the sick ones, also an acronym for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajastan and Uttar Pradesh,all known as the cow belt. While Bengal has achieved a great deal of rural prosperity, their lost days of industrial glory seem to elude them due to politics, peculiar to them.
While great institutions of learning exist, such as the IITs, IIMs, Institutes of Economics, Science, etc, primary education lags way behind and the quality of what is provided, particularly in the rural parts, leaves much to be desired. Similarly, great medical establishments, like world class hospitals and institutions of medical education exist, primary health care does not reach the vast majority of Indians.
Potable water, modern sanitation and hygiene are all yet to reach vast numbers of rural Indians.
Under the circumstances, should India be frittering away its resources on missions to the moon?