CS Sharada Prasad | What should India’s priorities be?
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What should India’s priorities be?

When India succeeded in its Mars mission, I had mixed feelings in my heart. Where are our real priorities? Yes, it is important to focus on understanding what happened on Mars. But how important is that? The reason I am questioning the magnitude of importance is that I am confused about the priorities of India, a nation with limited financial resources at its disposal. When India needs to focus on basic things such as building toilets, providing safe water, and making health and education more accessible, spending money on space research looks not so rational to me. Yes, it makes sense to launch satellites that help our farmers with better weather prediction, our civilians with better navigation, and the country with robust communication systems. But Mars mission is not what India should have focused on.

Yes, India succeeded in sending a probe to mars at a fraction ($74 million USD) of the money spent by USA ($617 million USD). It does say a lot about how good India is at creating and reusing indigenous technologies. It will make any Indian proud. But the effort and resource could have been used to focus and fix problems that are haunting our country. The money could have been spent at understanding how fast our Himalayan glaciers are melting, how to avert disasters that occurred in Uttarkhand last year and Jammu and Kashmir this year. With the money spent on Mars mission, India could have built half a million toilets, supported the annual education of at least 1 million children, constructed several hundred schools or a good number of hospitals in the rural areas of India.

Initiatives like Mars mission are a reflection of the priorities of the society that clearly ignores the needs of the majority of its people – poor, illiterate, malnourished.

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