New Delhi: India is set to become the first nation in the world to witness the “waking up” of Chandrayaan-3 mission’s lander and rover after the end of a two-week long “sleep” due to sunset on the moon, as the sun is set to rise during the early hours of September 22, Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh informed Lok Sabha on Thursday.
“Tomorrow when the nation will be rejoicing the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, we may also hopefully become the first nation in the world to make our Chandrayaan-3 mission land on the moon’s South Pole (which happened last month) and then witness the resumption of navigational activities of both lander Vikram and rover Pragyan after a 14-day slumber (owing to a fortnight-long sunset on the moon),” Singh said while replying to a discussion on Chandrayaan-3 mission’s success in Lok Sabha.
In his more than an hour-long reply, the minister, while responding to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s comment earlier in the day that the BJP creates an impression that all scientific accomplishments occurred only after 2014, referred to the famous photograph of scientists carrying rocket parts on a cycle, said, “That miracle was of pre-2014 days. Unlike in the Nehruvian era when we were devoid of resources, we are now technologically advanced.”
To another Tharoor’s remark that unlike in Parliament, women don’t need reservation in scientific fields, Singh said that there are more women scientists in ISRO than ever before and informed that even the Aditya L-1 mission is headed by a woman scientist.
He also countered Tharoor’s another observation that the space department budget is minimal. “Between 2014 and now there has been a 142 per cent increase in the budget of science and technology as well as space departments,” Singh said.
The minister also highlighted “how the NDA government has brought space programmes and rocket launching activities out of the veil of secrecy”, to a time when thousands watched the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s launch live from Sriharikota on August 23.
“Yes, it was a fact that till 2020 many people didn’t know where ISRO was situated. But now due to the awareness created by the government by opening up such activities for people, it is known to all where ISRO is situated,” Singh said.
He further highlighted the opening up of the space sector to private collaboration and the multiple-fold increase in startups and unicorns in the sector. Singh pointed out how scientists visit Tirupati before the launch of every satellite. “This shows that science and spirituality co-exist, the minister said, referring to defence minister Rajnath Singh’s earlier statement that scientific thoughts are reflected in scriptures also.”
The minister claimed that due to the “deficiency in planning” television came to India only in the 1970s, 15 years after it had arrived in the US. Now the government has made India a leader in quantum technology, Singh said.
Later, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury countered Singh by highlighting how due to the vision of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, institutions like ISRO and the Department of Atomic Energy came up, which resulted in advancement in space research in later years.