DRDO’s Mission Shakti : When Modi boasts about such successes he eventually praises Nehru’s Brainchild

Representational Image (Image Courtesy: DRDO Site)

-Mohammad Mansoor Alam

Narendra Modi announced on Wednesday, 27 March successful target of a live satellite on a low orbit by DRDO’s anti-satellite weapon A-SAT. A-SAT successfully targeted a live satellite on a low earth orbit. The target destroyed by A-SAT missile was an out of service Indian satellite flying at an altitude of 300km in space.

“Today is 27th March. A while ago, India achieved a historic feat. India today registered itself as a space power. Till now, three countries of the world- the US, Russia, and China had this achievement. India is the fourth country to have achieved this feat,” he announced.

“’Mission Shakti’ operation was a difficult target to achieve which was completed successfully within three minutes of launch,” Modi said.

“In the journey of every nation there are moments that bring utmost pride and have a historic impact on generations to come. One such moment is today,” he said in a broadcast to the nation on television, radio and social media. “India has successfully tested the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Missile. Congratulations to everyone on the success of #MissionShakti,” the prime minister tweeted later.

In fact, when he was addressing the nation about this successful operation by DRDO on all TV channels for about half an hour, everybody was thanking Jawahrlal Nehru silently for his vision of Modern India. It was Jawaharlal Nehru’s farsighted vision and admirable leadership that is responsible for developing modern science in India. He played a major role in establishing a modern scientific and technological infrastructure and strove to promote scientific temper.

Pandit Nehru laid the brick and mortar of science in newly independent India. Nehru’s enormous contributions to the establishment of the IITs, of the large network of research laboratories of the CSIR and DRDO and of the atomic energy establishment are all well known. To accomplish his dream of making these institutions world class centres of research and learning, Pandit Nehru invited and encouraged a number of renowned scientists and acade-micians like Homi Bhaba, J.B.S. Haldane, Sir C.V. Raman, Satish Dhavan, Nalini Ranjan Sarkar, J.C. Ghosh, Humayun Kabir and many others. It was Nehru’s sustained and spontaneous political support that translated the idea into a reality. Over 45 Central laboratories in different fields of science were launched during his time. He was also responsible for initiating the first steps to launch India into the electronics and space era.

But more than the brick and mortar—the hardware or establishment of physical facilities as it were—Nehru was preoccupied with what he at different times called the “scientific method”, the “scientific approach”, the “scientific outlook” and the “scientific temper”—the software.

Inaugurating the 34th session of the Indian Science Congress, which met in Delhi in January 1947, Pandit Nehru expressed the hope that as “India was on the verge of independence and science in India too was coming of age, it would try to solve the problems of new India by rapid planned development in all sectors and try to make her more and more scientific minded”.

He said: ”Science was not merely an individual’s search for truth; It was something infinitely more than that if it worked for the community.” He explained: “For a hungry man or hungry woman, truth has little meaning. He wants food. For a hungry man God has no meaning. And India is starving and to talk of truth and God and many of the finer things is mockery. We have to find food for them, clothing, housing, education and health are absolute necessities that every person should possess. When we have done that we can philosophise and think of God. So, science must think in those terms and work along those lines on the wider scale of coordinated planning.”

If Prime Minister boasts about success of DRDO, he actually credits Nehru for all this directly or indirectly.

DRDO’s official website says “The great visionary person and architecture of modern India Lt Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru the first Hon’ble Prime Minister of India took a note of existing diplomatic strategic situations prevailing in strategically bordering high altitude parts of our country nearer to International boundary regarding logistic problems to be faced in case of backing out of any unforeseen war eventualities. He discussed the problem with late Professor Bosi Sen during his visit to Almora in June 1960 about the situation of entire Himalayan belt and suggested to take the work of improving agro-animal situation in the area for improving the productivity. The brain child of the vision of late Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru Hon’ble First Prime Minister of India emerged as Agriculture Research Unit (ARU) now DIBER.”

(Mohammad Mansoor Alam works in the field of technology. His views are personal.)

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