A vast majority of Indians still do not have access to potable water. Many do not have the luxury of two square meals a day. Healthcare in a large number of villages across the country is a shambles. Malnourishment is one of the worst in the world, if not comparable to some of the African countries.
Basic infrastructure such as good roads and shelter is still a dream for many villagers.
It is in this context that India has decided to spend Rs.124 billion ($2.76 billion) to send Indians into space. The country's first manned mission is scheduled for 2016 with two astronauts for a week-long odyssey in space.
We needed satellite in space for a variety of reasons including security. But missions such as Chandrayaan and manned flights are nothing but reinventing the wheel, to say the least.
Of course, our scientiests' capabilities have to be proved. Why else did we have to conduct the nuclear explosions? We have to prove again and again we are the best or even better. But not when it comes to providing the basic necessities of life.
Have we not being crying hoarse about the exploding population? Do we plan for that?
Has Australia, Sweden or Switzerland or Saudi Arabia ever attempted space missions? Do they not have the means? They have got their priorities right. It is more important to provide food and healthcare to your people than sending an Indian to space.
Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia had said more funds would be allocated in two phases during the Eleventh Plan (2007-12) and Twelfth Plan (2012-17).
Boy, who cares about those children in the villages and the JJ colonies in the cities dying of diseases such as cholera?