Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — AFP Photo
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — AFP Photo

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday defended spending millions of dollars on space exploration despite many people in the country living in grinding poverty.

India plans to launch a probe to orbit Mars next year at an estimated cost of four to five billion rupees ($70-90 million), and hopes to send its first manned mission to space in 2016.

“Questions are sometimes asked about whether a poor country like India can afford a space programme and whether the funds spent on space exploration, albeit modest, could be better utilised elsewhere,” Singh said in a speech.

“This misses the point that a nation's state of development is finally a product of its technological prowess.”

India comes 134th among 187 countries in the United Nations' overall development rankings, while a survey earlier this year revealed that 42 per cent of Indian children aged under five are underweight due to malnutrition.

Singh made his remarks in Andhra Pradesh state after witnessing the launch of India's 100th space mission when a rocket carrying two foreign commercial satellites was fired into orbit.

“India is justly proud of its space scientists, who have overcome immense odds to set up world-class facilities and develop advanced technologies,” he said.

In September 2009, India's Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe discovered water on the moon, boosting the country's credibility among more experienced space-faring nations.

But the space programme suffered a setback in December 2010 when a satellite launch vehicle blew up and fell into the Bay of Bengal after veering from its intended flight path.

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Comments (22)

September 10, 2012 10:47 pm
If India is prosperous enough to give $ 5 Bln to Afghanistan, about $ 1 Bin to Bangladesh, as wella s about half a billion dollars each to Nepal and Bhutan, as development aid to friendly neighborhood countries recently, then spending a very small fraction of that amount for our own Space technology development should not be a problem.The benefits of space technology spill into hundreds of fields which benefit all strata of Indians.
September 10, 2012 10:11 pm
what do u tell to millions who die in ur country coz of violence and hunger and disease and some more violence and violence and and science is passion of most of indians......
September 11, 2012 11:10 am
I thought india was going to be using the EU GPS system?
September 10, 2012 9:21 pm
Dont be jelus we are know our goal and future pln this our tecnologi and i proud of this.
September 9, 2012 10:51 pm
Space programme spending is not a reason for poverty in India. $ 70 million being spent on Mars mission is not a wastage of time. Those who criticize India, or for that matter othre developing countries are basically jealous of other countries making advances in Space. I wonder how many of those who are shedding tears for India`s poor, are willing to share their savings with these poor !!!
September 10, 2012 4:50 pm
It is crazy to believe that if you dont spend money in one side then you will move those people out of poverty. Only thing that is going to bring them out of poverty is them working and getting knowledge. I would suggest government spend money on schools to ensure that there is enough education instead of going out and providing food and employment and making our government inefficient.
September 11, 2012 5:46 am
Space program is no doubt very expensive but still it is very important for a country's development. Both Pakistan and India should learn and acquire state of the art space technology from ESA and NASA. China is doing great job for its national development. China's Beidou satellite navigation system, a homegrown alternative to the U.S.-operated GPS network, is up and running. Govt. of Pakistan should also give great attention to its space exploration program if it wants to be among the developed nation in near future.
September 11, 2012 8:43 am
it is due to the space program of launching satellites that today we indians are reaping the benefits of cheap telephone services , TV channels, money transfer,anywhere money withdrawal.
September 10, 2012 9:39 am
Tell this to the millions who go to bed, with a hungry stomach. Did you ever experience the medicine, you are suggesting to the others?
rising moon
September 9, 2012 12:41 pm
no comment! :)
September 10, 2012 1:37 am
India does not need a probe to mars. Our children starve, our roads crumble and we have power cuts. We are following a USSR model of ignoring problems on the ground and spending on space program.
September 10, 2012 7:09 am
If $32bn 2G scam can take place... then what is $70-80mn... at least we making technological advancement
swapnil patel
September 11, 2012 9:37 am
No. We are not. Compare Isro's mars mission bill with every year's MNREGA and Mid Day meal program and you will come to know what isro spends is peanuts compare to other programs run by gov. of india. So your allegation is headless.
September 10, 2012 10:03 am
Last time we missed technology(industrial) revolution, East India Company happened.... We should not miss the space race this time...
September 10, 2012 10:54 am
Some time I have doubts if they also test long range ICBMs in the name of space program (so as to not freak out the common man in the west) in addition to deploying satellites.It is the satellites that has done better for the country.
September 12, 2012 3:29 pm
Oh God. Does India have enemies over 5k km away?
September 9, 2012 8:21 pm
100 successful launches. Millions connected by telephony and internet. Tele health services to reach the rural india. Why in the world should we apologetic? Rather we should be proud to be leaders of the developing world, countries who were born without the silverspoon of colonialism, crude etc in their mouths. We are proud Space faring Indians.
September 10, 2012 3:32 pm
Why dawn has all this Indian readership I can't understand ,haven't seen much Pakistanis having keen interest in indian news?
swapnil patel
September 11, 2012 9:33 am
in compare to China's Beidu and USA's GPS india is also going to release GAGAN by next year. And just for your knowledge Except GPS technology and EU noother system is up and running.
September 10, 2012 3:29 am
100 successful space missions. 100 space centers and learning centers created all over India. Active programs on in Telemedicine and tele education to reach the rural and urban poor. Self reliance in broadcasting. Are these minor achievements for any country 60 years old? The West is simply jealous and wants to keep its hegemony over Asia. All the time it expects us to beg them of giving us the technology. The shamefulness of West's behaviour is apparant in the denial of green technologies to develpoing world.
kamaljit Singh
September 10, 2012 4:16 am
Though The Dawn is supposed to give balanced view on every happenig but when it comes to technology failures or any thing else that is not good for India it carries that in the main section and if the Indian scientists put into the orbit ,at 655 km above the earth,one satellite each for Japan and France it is carried out with negative innuendos .For that I have to give a thumbs down, otherwise a good paper.
September 11, 2012 7:41 pm
You should read often....
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