What follows is my comment on the article in ‘Financial Times’ on the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launching 100+ satellites in a single day.
Predictably disappointing is the way I would characterise this article. Predictable because it fits the pattern in FT. Its breathless reporting and commentary on alleged mistakes and blunders and eccentricities of the new President in the United States set up commentary such as this. Depending on the person and the topic, the editorial judgement is arrived at without inconveniencing oneself with facts, data, etc.
The authors of the article do not even bother to cover themselves with a fig leaf of objectivity by sourcing quotes from those who are positive about the launch except official sources.
The report has made sure that whatever positive comments there are, they are laced with qualifications. Critical quotes are sourced from those who have never had a positive word to say about this government and good things happening in India when this government is in office. Such are the open minds that the so-called ‘Liberals’ are blessed with.
Under the advice of Mr. Jean Dreze and his friends and mentors, the previous government had run the Indian economy aground from which it is still struggling to come out of.
Now, let us examine the positive factors and other imperatives that undergird this launch and the one that makes this launch yet another significant milestone for those Indian institutions that strive to better themselves each time.
First, a large country with inimical forces lined up on the borders on either side – Northwest and Northeast – cannot afford to be complacent about its security obligations. There is no development without security.
Second, allocations are made to all departments including social and human development priorities. After the Fourteenth Finance Commmission report in India, bulk of the developmental responsibilities and resources now devolve on States. Therefore, there is no contradiction in the entitites such as the ISRO, belonging to the entire Union, pursuing missions such as the above.
Third, in a situation where public institutions are, more often than not, held up for failing to live up to objective standards and expectations, organisations like ISRO set an example and serve as an inspiration. Bad ideas and practices spread fast and globally. Good ideas and practices take time to diffuse and one needs to be persistent. That is what ISRO has done time and again. ISRO sets an example with its accountability to the highest standards of execution.
The multiplier effects on other public institutions around the country and on individuals in those institutions will be tremendous and long lasting. This is a virtuous infection. Its impact on public service delivery to citizens is hard to estimate. Again, it is disappointing but not surprising that neither the journalists who wrote this article nor the commentators who have been specifically selected (for their bias) to comment on this article, display any awareness or grasp of these multiple dimensions.