HomeEquality5 Reasons India's Mars Mission Is Actually Morally Wrong

5 Reasons India's Mars Mission Is Actually Morally Wrong

The media has been infatuated the past couple days over India’s recent Mars mission. Most domestic journalists are taking a very positive stance on the mission, and most foreign journalists are criticizing India for its space program. The FirstPost republished a piece they had published when the Mars mission was originally launched about how the “Western journalists are racist” for criticizing India’s space program. Here is a breakdown of those arguments are bad from a moral standpoint:

1. The Cost is Low

Many of these journalists cribbing about the cost seem disconnected from India. We spent 450 crores on this mission. Let me put that in context. One of the local cricket teams – Mumbai Indians – alone is worth 1000 crores. Ambani built a home in Mumbai for 5000 crores. Every single day, Indians buy gold jewelry worth 1500 crores. An upcoming Bollywood movie (made about space) is costing over 500 crores. And finally, the Indian central government budget is 17 lakh crores (I actually rounded off this figure and that round-off error alone could fund 130 such missions).

It doesn’t matter. This argument is terrible. it doesn’t matter if it was one dollar. The government of India has an obligation to provide for its people before investing in these projects. Most of those costs that the author isolated are private sector, and while it would obviously be most moral for people to work to eradicate poverty than produce Bollywood films, it isn’t a reason the Indian government is failing. However, this Mars mission is a huge indicator of the overall priorities of the Indian government. Pursuing nuclear weapons and space exploration to establish international dominance, rather than providing food and water to its people, is a problem. The real question is not how much money, but how is the money being spent.

2. Westerner’s Have Space Programs and Poverty

Apparently the other countries engaging in scientific research face no poverty. Apparently, space has something to do with poverty.

This doesn’t matter unless you can also disprove that they should also focus on poverty. I’d argue that any country that has people who are suffering from the lack of basic needs (food, water, shelter, sanitation, etc) should be focusing first on fulfilling those needs. This applies equally to the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, and India.

3. Other Problems

India doesn’t have more toilets, not because we don’t have extra 450 crores, but because of our poor execution of things. Don’t heap your blame on poor Isro for India’s social conditions (ironically, a non-trivial portion of this poverty & hunger is due to the colonization under a power from where you are writing these articles).

If India can launch a Mars missions, it is clearly not a problem with execution. Take the strategic planning that went into launching the mission to those sectors and maybe it would work. Hey, maybe those innovators can invent a cheaper way to solve these problems!

4. This Could Spillover

We need our Renaissance. We have to start breaking the chain of poverty by thinking outside the box. That would mean boldly assertive. People in other walks of life can surely draw inspiration from our scientists.

All those benefits will go directly to the elite. New ultra-fast battery? Tell someone who cannot defecate without risking their life how much that matters. This argument would apply to higher level problems, but when the majority of the problems plaguing the country require not new technology but more money and better planning, it’s hard to argue that this will lead to future help for people.

5. Hope

These journalists are like the rich bullies who enter a poor man’s house and mock at the books kept by the poor man – “You poor people can’t afford to eat rich food and you can afford to buy more books?”

Thinking this hope is worth something to those people is a position of privilege for sure. They don’t care about hope in the space program when they have lost hope for survival. This might be a reason the middle class supports the program, but certainly not why the bottom class does. The analogy holds true except it has added an unnecessary qualifier. Think about like a “bully” going into a poor man’s house and saying “Your children are starving, and you are investing in the stock market to maintain your reputation?”

Innovation can be good. Countries should work to innovate and pursue research. However, those actions should be taken in sectors that matter to a majority of the country’s population. It should take into account the benefits of the program versus the benefits of using that money for public goods services. This is not a problem with India or developing countries in general, it is a problem with all governments that don’t care for the most underprivileged.

[Image Attribute: Instant Vantage cc]
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