The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ran a news bulletin when the Chandrayaan-3 was launched into space with the objective of landing on the south pole of the Lunar surface.
However, the news anchor only focused on criticising India for spending so much money on a space mission when the country itself is struggling for basic necessities such as public toilets among other things.
The video surfaced on X after Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander touched down on the Moon, making India the first country to land on the South Pole of the Lunar surface.
“Some people will be thinking about this. India, a country that lacks a lot of infrastructure, a country that has extreme poverty… I think more than 700 million Indians don’t have access to a toilet, should they really be spending this much money on a space mission?” the anchor asked his panellist.
The recent commentary by the BBC anchor, cynically questioning India’s commitment to space exploration amidst its socio-economic challenges, not only reeks of condescension but also reflects a myopic understanding of the country’s development trajectory and the multifaceted benefits of its space missions.
First and foremost, the anchor’s assertion that the funds devoted to space exploration could alleviate the poverty and lack of basic facilities experienced by a substantial portion of India’s population demonstrates an alarming ignorance of economics. The dynamics of resource allocation are far more complex than simply redistributing funds from one sector to another. The resources allocated to space missions are often invested in research, development, and technological innovation, which in turn fuel job creation, skills development, and economic growth – each of which contributes to the nation’s progress.
Furthermore, this critique conveniently ignores the transformative impact that space technology has had on various aspects of everyday life. From weather forecasting to telecommunications and disaster management, space-related advancements have directly improved the lives of millions. By disregarding these tangible benefits, the anchor diminishes the positive effects of India’s space endeavours on its own citizens.
The anchor’s insinuation that space exploration is a luxury that India can ill-afford is an oversimplification that belies the strategic importance of such endeavours. The world today is interconnected through technology, and a country’s capability to innovate and explore space is intertwined with its global reputation and national security. The successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the Moon’s South Pole isn’t just a scientific triumph; it solidifies India’s position as a technological player on the world stage, inviting collaboration, boosting diplomatic relationships, and fostering inspiration.
Beyond its economic and strategic implications, the critique also underscores a patronising attitude that developing nations often endure from their Western counterparts. It perpetuates the stereotype that countries grappling with poverty should confine their ambitions to addressing immediate needs. This patronage denies nations the agency to pursue long-term aspirations and sidelines their contributions to science and human progress.
The BBC anchor’s criticism of India’s space pursuits following the success of Chandrayaan-3 may be indicative of a deeper problem – failing to recognise the nuanced interplay between science, technology, economics, and social progress. By fixating on a narrow perspective, this critique undermines the years of hard work and dedication by the scientists, engineers, and visionaries who drive India’s space program forward. As a global society, such misguided anchors should be celebrating the strides that countries like India make in expanding the boundaries of human knowledge, rather than reducing their achievements to polarising debates.