On the same day that the Lok Sabha lauded the success of Chandrayaan-3, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated that it was not only a success for ISRO but also a sign of the scientific eco-system. He also advocated for a cultural renaissance and declared that a new era of cultural greatness had begun in the nation.
As the discussion continued, Union Minister Jitendra Singh stated that ISRO scientists are avidly awaiting the 14-day lunar night awakening of the Vikram lander and the Pragyan rover.
“As we sleep tonight on Earth, Vikram and Pragyan may awaken on the moon,” Singh said.
Following Jitendra Singh, Lok Sabha Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury stated that science and superstition should not be confused. He stated that the government attributes all achievements to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor criticised the Government for making the Chandrayaan success “their moment to bask in the glory and polarise the country by speaking as if all space endeavours only began in 2014, first in the Vedic era and then in 2014.” The Member of Parliament for Thiruvananthapuram also argued that the defining moment of India landing a spacecraft on the Moon was the result of successive years of making the correct governance decisions over the past six decades and that the achievement was a testament to India’s commitment to democracy.
“The Chandrayaan victory is truly pan-Indian and transcends the political divide; it does not belong to any one individual or political party,” he stated.
A Raja of the DMK agreed with Tharoor, stating, “When Chandrayaan was sent to the Moon, your intellect and heart must have expanded. However, I have the sincere impression that, on the one hand, you are launching Chandrayaan into space while, on the other, your heart and intellect are deteriorating.”
The Defence Minister began the discussion on Chandrayaan-3 and other achievements in the space sector by stating that of the 424 foreign satellites launched by India to date, 389 have been launched in the last nine years.
However, he strongly disagreed with those who assert that culture is opposed to science. “If someone in India says our culture is against science, then I sense that they do not know anything about our culture or science… If our peers who believe that science originated in the West read history, they would be aware of numerous instances in which scientists who opposed the Church were poisoned or burned to death. They were required to conceal their scientific ideas. Did anyone object when Aryabhat stated that the Earth rotated on its axis two thousand years ago? Was anyone offended when Varahmir stated that the Earth’s gravitational influence attracts everything to it? In India, scientific theorists are known as ‘rishis’.”
No nation has made economic, social, political, or scientific advancements without a cultural renaissance, he added.
The defence minister congratulated the ISRO scientists and the broader Indian scientific community on their achievements and noted that India’s position among the world’s leading scientific nations is due to the intellectual capacity of ISRO scientists and their commitment to the nation’s development.
Taking a jab at Singh, stating that he “treated us to a lecture on a slightly different subject,” Tharoor stated that no single government can produce outstanding scientists and develop infrastructure, research and development, and global synergies and technologies. He recalled how the Christian community in Thumba, Thiruvananthapuram, made a patriotic choice for development by donating the land on which their St Mary Magdalene Church and the residence of their bishop stood to India’s national space programme in the early 1960s and the small educational institutions like TKM College of Engineering in Kollam – which was founded by a successful Muslim cashew merchant, Thangal Kunju Musaliaabbreviated – and the College of Ecumenical Studies.