Saturday, September 27, 2014

What is Consequential for India?

India celebrated enthusiastically the success of India's maiden satellite mission to Mars. Taking pride in this achievement is understandable and ISRO clearly deserves this praise. It also means globally as how SW outsourcing started to change global Computer Industry around year 2000, this is a shot by India in Space Industry also. India is brandishing her potential to bring down costs of Space Engineering in demonstrable manner. Any Space Mission where substantial Engineering is involved, those Engineering hours can be bought at much substantial lower price from India. What 'outsourcing' did to Global SW Engineering, we are looking at similar potential in Space Engineering. 

Having cheap and capable engineering talent is one thing but translating that advantage and capabilities into a successful industry is another issue. Component manufacturing, network of whole sleuth of private sector enterprises providing necessary products & services and stronger capabilities in rocket technology; all these things will need to happen before Indian Space Industry can take off on its own. In general, liberalized trade will be overall prerequisite for all this to happen (contrary to what Indian government stalled at WTO)

It might be easy to compare ISRO costs with NASA costs; but within USA itself, there are companies like SpaceX which have been making tremendous headway in rocket technology and space exploration. Company like SpaceX has built rocket technology on backs of less than 4000 engineers within a decade what armies of engineers for decades  can barely come up with in many countries, India included. NASA has taken notice of these private sector abilities and is actively vacating areas for private enterprise. Obama Administration and American Congress both are actively looking to lower costs and increase the participation of private enterprises. In some sense, NASA being the global pioneering organization, it always had to share the burden of costs in paving ways for new technologies (even though clearly American engineering hours cost way more to NASA than ISRO).

Given all this, though Mangalyaan is a nice breakthrough for Indian Space Technology and Engineering abilities; the overall journey is a long way. Indian's are likely to overrate this achievement while ignoring the stupendous achievement what it's Legal System attained this week - convicting Tamil Nadu Supremo Jayalalitha on corruption charges. In my mind, neither Mangalyaan, nor Modi's proposed rock star like performance tomorrow at Madison Square Garden would have as much long term impact as what this conviction of a political boss after around 2 decades of legal fight portends for India. 

It shows a nation which is finally summoning 'the will' to correct what has been fundamentally ailing India all along - her Politicians without accountability and not subjected to rule of law. 

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