A difficulty celebrating Chandrayaan 3

I’m grateful to Avijit Pathak for his article in Indian Express on August 29. After the Chandrayaan 3 mission achieved its primary objective, to soft-land a robotic lander on the moon’s south polar region, there was widespread jubilation, but I couldn’t celebrate. I felt guilty and distressed, actually, with the thought that my well-rewarded scepticism … Read more

Checking the validity of a ‘valid’ ISRO question

The question of whether resources directed to space programmes are a diversion from pressing development needs, however, is a valid one. As an answer, one can uphold the importance of these programmes in material and scientific terms. The knowledge gleaned from these missions will contribute to human progress, and ISRO’s demonstration of its ability to … Read more

NYT’s ISRO coverage continues assault on sense

The New York Times refuses to learn, perpetuating views of ISRO that are equal parts blurry and illiterate, and often missing points that become clearer with just a little bit of closer reading. The launch and subsequent success of Chandrayaan 3 brought its annoying gaze the way of India and its space programme, about which … Read more

Looking (only) for Nehru

I have a habit of watching one old Tamil film a day. Yesterday evening, I was watching a film released in 1987, called Ivargal Indiyargal (‘They Are Indians’). In a scene in the film, an office manager distributes sweets to his colleagues. One of them takes a look at the item and asks the manager … Read more

Land on the moon, feet on the earth

Yesterday was fantastic. India made a few kinds of history, when one is great enough, by autonomously landing a robotic instrument in the moon’s south polar region. Some seven hours later, it deployed a rover, bringing the Chandrayaan-3 mission’s toughest phase to a resounding close and beginning its scientific mission, significant in its own right … Read more

Making sense of Luna 25

At the outset, let’s hope the unfortunate demise of Russia’s Luna 25 mission to the moon will finally silence the social media brigade that’s been calling it a competitor to India’s Chandrayaan 3 – although I wouldn’t put it past some to thump their chests over the latter succeeding where the former couldn’t. To understand … Read more

A lotus for Modi, with love from Manipur

pink waterlily flower in full bloom

This bit of news is so chock full of metaphors that I’m almost laughing out loud. Annotated excerpts from ‘CSIR’s new lotus variety ‘Namoh 108’ a ‘grand gift’ to PM Modi: Science Minister‘, The Hindu, August 19, 2023: It’s a triviality today that the Indian government ministers’ relentless exaltation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is … Read more

The shadows of Chandrayaan 2

When in September 2019 the surface component of the Chandrayaan 2 mission failed, with the ‘Vikram’ lander crashing on the moon’s surface instead of gently touching down, there was a sense in all public spaces and conversations that the nation as a whole was in some grief. Until Wednesday, I couldn’t remember the excitement, anticipation, … Read more

Is Dias bringing the bus back?

timelapse photo of bus stop

So Physical Review Letters formally retracted that paper about manganese sulphide, in the limelight for having been coauthored by Ranga P. Dias, yesterday. The retraction notice states: “Of the authors on the original paper, R. Dias stands by the data in Fig. 1(b) and does not agree to retract the Letter.” Figure 1(b) is reproduced … Read more