Thursday, 16 August 2012


When news of the country's progress on a count or two hits the headlines - and not in a good way - you know that either people are thinking, protesting, or both. Dunno which is scarier, but I guess it depends on whether you're the powers that be, or a lay person. If the latter, your opinion doesn't count anyway.

That's the case with India proposing to send an expedition to Mars in the coming year. There are, of course, two ways to look at this, as is the case with those age-old glasses that are either half-full or otherwise. So while it sounds like the coolest idea possibly, unsure whether it really is. The reason is, here we are, with people gasping for basics like food/ water/ homes/ education/ jobs/ infrastructure/ generally a better standard of living - and not necessarily in that order - and then we go and spend millions that we don't have to go stick a flag on Mars. Exploring a little closer to home, say in the interiors of smaller towns and villages, would also turn up a fair amount of (possibly nasty) surprises - and at a fraction of the cost. Money that will be saved as a result can then be used towards providing those basics we just talked about a couple of sentences ago. Not that I'm one to say that scientific progress is a route best not taken. It is, but then it's also a matter of picking the right time, among other things. Also possibly the teeny inconsequential factor of working on what the immediate requirement is. Really, at this point, what will we do heading to Mars? Send those same starving people there for a free meal and board? Put up schools there, or build highways? Nope, however much I try, I'm unable to see how that's gonna reduce my ridiculously long commute to work. Or how the daily wage labourer - because labour is cheap here - is gonna up his earning from the current little over two dollars a day.

Was speaking with a friend just yesterday, whose house is currently under renovation. It's running behind schedule, because there's just so much that someone can work from ten a.m. until five p.m., all manual labour under the scorching sun. Even if you do add on more workers, isn't it inhuman to expect them to work endlessly? That was the friend's take on things, and well, it's not incorrect.

Then there's the other headlines, probably more bizarre than any other - that of providing a mobile phone to each citizen in the country. Free talk time included. So where will these people in remote villages charge their phones? From electricity they don't have, or get maybe for a couple hours a week at best?

Maybe we'd be better off on Mars after all.

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