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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Reflections on Chandrayaan 3: Beyond the Celebrations

As the nation erupts in celebrations and cheer over the monumental launch of Chandrayaan 3, a bittersweet sentiment emerges. It compels us to take a closer look at the stark contradictions within our society. While the fervor surrounding the mission captures the nation's attention, it is vital to confront the disheartening truth that plagues our nation's core.

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How can one justify celebration and cheer when half of our children are malnourished, wasted, and/or stunted, as reported by the Global Hunger Index? In just one year (2021-2022), India’s ranking among the 121 surveyed countries has slipped from 101 to 107.

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Additionally, over 55% of India’s women suffer from anemia.

Furthermore, how can we celebrate while tens of millions of our young men and women remain unemployed? The ratio of job applicants to available government positions is astonishingly disproportionate, with highly qualified individuals, such as those holding M.Sc, M.A., M.B.A., and even Ph.D. degrees, competing for 100 class 4 government jobs.

We must also consider the lack of proper healthcare and quality education available to the masses. Private hospitals and clinics are unaffordable for most, and the condition of government healthcare facilities is deplorable, to say the least. Even the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi resembles a crowded railway station, where people wait endlessly for perfunctory if any, care.

The soaring prices of essential commodities and the mistreatment of minorities and Dalits add to the reasons for my reservations. The ever-widening gap between the rich and poor exacerbates the struggles faced by the impoverished, as they bear the brunt of escalating food prices.

Moreover, the political leaders of all parties seem to prioritize cultivating caste or communal vote banks and pursuing personal gain, rather than genuinely caring for the welfare of the people. Recent events, such as the violence witnessed during the West Bengal panchayat polls, exemplify this unfortunate reality.

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Celebrations of this nature remind me of the Roman Emperors who used to say, ‘If you cannot provide bread for the people, give them circuses.’ It brings to mind Queen Marie Antoinette’s infamous remark when informed that the people had no bread: ‘Let them eat cake.’

For me, the launch of Chandrayan 3 represents nothing more than a circus or an empty promise of cake that will never be fulfilled.

 

Markandey Katju is an Indian jurist and former Supreme Court judge of India who served as chairman of the Press Council of India. He has also worked as Standing Counsel for the Income Tax Department.

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.