April 16, 2010

We Shall Overcome!

Well, I think it's time for ISRO scientists to sing that song to keep themselves motivated. Or, the Hindi version of that song.

ISRO has achieved many feats in the past. This failure of the first flight of the indigenous cryogenic stage is a failure. But, ISRO will do the necessary post-portem and learn the required lessons. A rocket going into the Bay of Bengal rather than into space can teach many important lessons.

ISRO is essentially a success story to be proud of — I don't know what the internal work culture there might be. I don't know if it's like a typical Government of India operation. It clearly operates within a great many constraints.

Some of these constraints are:
  • Technically gifted youngsters in India do not necessarily wish to join organizations such as ISRO or any of the others. They look forward to migrating to the United States. That is of course an understandable decision. Perhaps, I would have chosen to do the same as well if I had the choice. So, ISRO probably gets personnel that is only second-best.
  • India being a perenially 'developing' nation puts financial constraints on ISRO's endeavors. The Govt. probably can't grant every ISRO wish. The wily politicians in Parliament have to approve of the budget after all. Politicians can be smart. Sometimes they are honest. They might come from the marrow and soil of this country and realize the enormity of the problem of poverty that still exists. These politicians would not want to fritter resources away in trivial pursuits such as space exploration. Then there are the corrupt politicians who do not have the faintest idea of what space exploration is. Well, one can't expect much from these.
  • So, considering the fact that ISRO gets only limited resources and has only second-best scientific/technological brains, ISRO's achievements have been nothing less than stellar.

So, to ISRO: Keep up the good work.

And sing if you want ... 'We shall overcome ...'

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