Standing at this ripe age, it gives me immense pleasure to note that finally we have achieved a major milestone in Space Science. As my year of birth, 1931, indicates - for all practical purposes I belong to the last century. But I have always loved to keep me updated. Precisely this is called the Scientific temperament; and this 'scientific temper' is something
India's first Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru used to lay emphasis upon. Therefore, the grand
Indian Journey and its culmination with the soft-landing on Moon on Aug 23, 2023 is a Red-Letter Day both in our personal and national life. This journey is a tribute to India's spirit of scientific quest and the ability for technological innovation. The achievement is sweeter because we have also become the first country to land on the southern pole of Moon. This is somewhere where no one else has gone. Nehru believed in the power of man because he believed in the power of science. My understanding of him was that Nehru saw life as an 'opportunity' to test his will and his worth. The achievements of 2023 also owe it to Nehru and his pioneering efforts in shaping up the Indian science journey. On this occasion, I also feel one ought to refer to the wisdom of ancient Indian science. That way the scientific foundation of Indian civilisation has been very strong. Politics and Law always excited me. I could not be a great fan of science as a student. However, young students of our generation in educational hubs like Allahabad were aware that the 'science and technology' in ancient India covered many major branches of human knowledge including mathematics, astronomy, physics, metallurgy and navigation. Of course, we can mention the discovery of Zero easily. Old scriptures say the earliest references to Astronomy are found in Rig-Veda dated around 4500 BC. The science of astronomy continued to develop. It is believed mathematician Aryabhata (476-550) developed his mathematical model in which the earth was taken to be spinning on its axis. He was also the first to discover that the light from the moon and the planets were reflected from the sun. I am not a man of science to speak more on these. But it is true the world has changed in many ways.
Human race is now on a race to establish more prominence on the moon. Experts estimate that the global space launch market is expected to grow from $9 bn to more than $20 bn in 2030.This is opening up of a new vista. I am more than happy that India is now sincerely being courted in this race especially for the smaller countries or Global South as the world calls them.
The writer is an Ex Chief Minister of Nagaland and also former Governor, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Odisha.