Should India invest millions in space exploration while much of its population fights poverty on a daily basis?

Such arguments always pop up. But poverty vs space exploration is a false choice. India’s space program has actually helped the country’s prime concerns in many ways.

Some of India’s poorest districts owe their primary schools to ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation). Some tribal villages are simply too remote to have education establishments in. India’s EDUSAT program (educational satellites) has enabled beaming of the government’s UGC education channel to the children of these villages. The school has a TV set. That does it.

Also, satellites have been put in geostationary orbits that scan India’s geography for mineral deposits. These deposits when mined, provide employment to entire villages for years.

Similarly, weather monitoring satellites have helped streamline agricultural endeavours and government agencies advise farmers regarding crop seasons based on the estimated dates for the arrival of monsoons. These satellites are also a big help when it comes to storm warnings in coastal regions.

India’s defence of course is deeply dependent on satellite imagery. I don’t think this point needs elaboration.

There are plenty of ways ISRO helps make India work. I would suggest picking up a book called Touching Lives: The Little Known Triumphs of the Indian Space Program by S K Das.