WASHINGTON, December 9, 2014 — India is poised to test its latest and most advanced rocket in the next few weeks. The rocket, GSLV Mark III (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) will send satellites and possibly humans to space. This latest effort comes after the successful launch in September to put an orbiter around Mars.
Silicon India, a news site about the Indian technology sector, quotes the director of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Dr Prasad, as saying “The main purpose of the mission is to test the atmospheric characteristics and stability of the rocket on its way up. We also decided to use this opportunity to test one component of the crew module – a human space mission that India may embark on at a later date.”
India has shown a clear respect for knowledge, and is using that knowledge to carry itself into the space age. Most of India’s technology is home-grown, although it has had help from outsiders such as Russia. The BBC reports that for the Mars mission, “Home-grown components and technologies have also been prioritised over expensive imports.”
The country appears to have made a specific decision to rely on its own resources rather than building on foreign technology. After the West refused to share nuclear weapons technology with India in 1998, the country focused its effort and developed the technology internally.
Despite its advances, India remains an outsider in the rush for technology. A recent cartoon in the New York Times shows members of “the elite space club” sitting in a room with plush couches while a poor India peasant is knocking on the door while pulling his cow.
India is not knocking on the door. They are in space. It is incredible that the Western world continues to act like intellectual cops and place a choke hold on those they believe should not be thinkers and contribute and higher levels to human society. It is sad indeed.
India feels this stigma. Many believe institutional racism was behind the failure of the great Indian scientist Satyendra Bose to win a Nobel prize. However, this has not stunted India’s effort. Instead, it has forged ahead. If it had listened to detractors, it never would have launched a space probe around Mars.
The hypothesis of clash of civilizations has no place when it comes to knowledge. No matter how much it pains those who see themselves as elite civilizations, any mind with focus and effort can make discoveries and move human society forward. India has had a lot of help from Russia, and prior to Russia, the former USSR, in many technology endeavors including military and space. If India believed in a clash of civilizations that technology transfer would never have taken place, those who believe in a clash of civilizations believe in exclusivity.
As with many other cultures, India’s culture has been influenced by its dominant religion. A good read is the Bhagavad Gita. There is a point in this cultural classic when Krishna says that there are many ways to enlightenment, but his way is the best. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all exclusive religions. The cultures that are built around those religions are, therefore, also exclusive, and these are the cultures that refuse to give a Bose a Nobel Prize. A follower of Krishna, on the other hand believes there are many ways to enlightenment, and is open to learn from others.
The fact that India is culturally inclusive means that many Indians have an open mindset. Krishna has already told them that their way is not the only way. They will accept a correct principle with concrete proof. They are not interested in a clash of civilizations which would require denying truths put forth by tose outside their civilization. It is this trait that will make India the center of knowledge in the next thirty years as China becomes an economic superpower.
To take this inclusion further, India will have to add more principles concerning liberty and individual rights to its legal system. It has already built the foundation for creating the largest scientific community in the world. India will also continue to welcome foreigners who make discoveries, as their desire for inclusion allows new ideas.
To truely move forward, however, India must find a way to incorporate the principles of liberty and equality. It must embrace the free market and recognize that all members of its own society are truely equal, regardless of the caste of their birth. It must learn that every Indian has the right to be a Bose, even if they were born an untouchable.