Nitpicking – Oppn’s favourite fad

Nitpicking – Oppn’s favourite fad

Instead of appreciating the advancement in the country’s space technology, the INDIA group started indulging in credit war. Unable to bear sight of Modi hogging limelight, they started picking holes - quite unfairly. It shows their cheap and narrow political considerations

Chandrayaan-3 has created history by landing on the southern polar side of the moon and made India immensely proud. But at a time when the country is rejoicing the achievement, some of the partners of INDIA including the Congress party gave an impression that they were suffering from some kind of serious ‘indigestion.’

The appreciation about the event from former AICC president Sonia Gandhi came a day after the soft landing. The AICC leaders were more upset that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi hogged the limelight. Though the party leaders in their initial reaction congratulated the team of scientists of ISRO for their achievement, they could not resist coming out with unwarranted comments that the Modi government has not been paying the salaries of engineers and scientists, forcing them to cut corners and, anyhow, accomplish the mission even at low cost. It’s a random and unfair potshot. In fact, the scientists came in for tremendous praise for the success of such a historic mission at so low cost.

Instead of appreciating the advancement in the country’s space technology, the INDIA group started indulging in credit war. The Congress posted a photo of the Moon and recalled Chandrayaan-1, the first lunar mission. It said the mission was successfully launched on October 22, 2008, from Sriharikota under the leadership of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. There is nothing wrong in giving credit to Manmohan Singh. The head of political executive should get the credit for such an achievement. Neither is he to be blamed for the orbiter experiencing several technical issues including failure of the star tracker and poor thermal shielding. Chandrayaan-1 stopped communicating at about 2000 UTC on 28 August 2009, about 10 months after it was launched and shortly after that the ISRO officially declared that the mission was over.

If the Congress has no objection to give credit to Manmohan Singh for the achievement of the first lunar mission, why should it be unhappy when Modi hogs limelight for the stellar success of Chandrayaan-3.

The opposition leaders, whether it be the Congress or Mamata Banerjee or the leaders belonging to the INDIA bloc, should have waited to see as to what kind of data the scientists are going to show to the world. This reminds me of what the then President of India Abdul Kalam asked Madhavan Nair, who was the Chairman of ISRO during 2003-2009. Kalam asked Nair, “What evidence are you going to show before the world that we reached the Moon? We carried out missions to Everest and Antarctica. We placed our flag there. In the case of moon mission, we should do something more?” he said. That is the difference between a top scientist and a politician who is more concerned about which individual has hogged the limelight.

It is unfortunate that our leaders tend to bring down the importance of even such missions to the level of cheap and narrow political considerations. Comments like Modi hogging limelight have not come from ordinary party leaders or workers of Congress party. It is from those are said to be intellectuals in the party. Congress general secretary K C Venugopal said the excitement and pride of the Chandrayaan-3 landing will, “stay with us for a long time.” “ISRO Chairman Dr Somanath’s leadership truly created history and we extend our hearty congratulations to him and his team,” Venugopal said on X, formerly Twitter. “However, the PM must answer some for his hypocrisy,” he added. Hitting out at Modi, Venugopal said, “You were quick to come on screen and take credit after the landing, but why has your government failed so terribly in supporting the scientists and the ISRO?” It is these very leaders who questioned Modi about his silence on Manipur. They seem to be having a problem if Modi speaks or if he remains silent.

The Congress leader also asked why the Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC) engineers, who worked on Chandrayaan-3, have not received their salaries for the last 17 months. “Why did you cut the budget for such crucial missions by 32 per cent? These are the heroes of our country, they run a world-class space research program, but you have no regard for their talent and hard work. To add insult to injury, you hogged the limelight when that moment was about the scientists’ achievements,” he wrote on X.

What would have made more sense was to wait for the results achieved by Chandrayaan-3 and discuss them in a proper manner with proper understanding of the subject in Parliament. While hailing the success of Chandrayaan, bringing in issues such as non-payment of salaries for some engineers or ISRO scientists not getting very high salaries at this point of time only shows how narrow minded the leaders could be. Congress party’s statements are ill-timed and should have been avoided. They should note that despite the chill in bilateral ties, Pakistan media on Thursday gave front-page coverage to India’s historic moon landing while a former minister even called it a “great moment” for India’s space agency, ISRO. “India becomes first nation to land near Moon’s south pole” was the headline in most of the Pakistani newspapers and websites. This was India’s second attempt to land a spacecraft on the Moon and comes less than a week after Russia’s Luna-25 mission failed, he noted. The Geo News carried a story by its Web Desk about the landing, saying India’s Chandrayaan-3 has finally landed on the moon after a 40-day journey starting from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota and a history of space crashing. The News International, the Dawn newspaper, the Business Recorder, Dunya News and others carried stories by various international news agencies.

Fawad Chaudhry, who was Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting in the Imran Khan-led government, called it a great moment for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). “What a great moment for #ISRO as #Chandrayaan3 lands on the Moon, I can see lots of young scientists celebrating this moment with Somanath Chairman ISRO; only the Younger generation with dreams can change the world…good luck,” Chaudhry, a former senior member of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, said on X.

On the other hand, the lack of basic knowledge of Chandrayaan-3 among some of our lawmakers came to the fore when a legislator of RJD party, Shakti Yadav, said, “Chandrayan ki safal landing ki liye NASA ko badhaai dete hain.” (Congratulations to NASA for successful landing of Chandrayan). Another MLA Om Prakash Rajbahar of Bharatiya Samaj Party said, “Kal jab Chandrayan wapas aayega uska bhavya swagat hona chahiye.” (Chandrayan should be accorded grand welcome when it comes back).

This clearly indicates that no political party has any system of holding discussions among members even on important issues. All that happens is knee-jerk reactions, shouting and blocking the proceedings of the Parliament or Assembly. If this is the situation, how can new and intelligent leaders emerge in political parties?

We have seen a great downfall in the quality of debates in last three decades. I am reminded of what William Shakespeare had said, “O, what a fall was there, my countrymen! Then I, and you, and all of us fell down.” There were leaders like Somnath Chatterjee of CPI(M) and former speaker of Lok Sabha, Indrajit Gupta (CPI), former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee, V P Singh, Chandrasekhar, P V Narasimha Rao and leaders like L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and many others who were heard with rapt attention by their opponents.

These leaders used to spend a considerable time in libraries as it was not a digital era, gather necessary background information and deliver a power-packed speech in Parliament and, hence, their speeches are heard even today with great interest. Every word of theirs used to be measured.

The worst phase seems to have come now where the leaders do not know whether the moon vehicle was sent by NASA or ISRO and whether it is an unmanned vehicle or not and that whether it will return or not.

Elections are around. It is time for the political parties to select at least 10 per cent of the candidates who have some scientific temper and those who are good orators and have the habit of updating themselves with latest information. It is high time the political parties reduce their old style of giving tickets only on basis of caste and community equations, and those who have money and muscle power.

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