Celebrating the ‘ISRO Spirit’

The challenge, my young friends, is that you have to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can ever imagine to fight; and never stop fighting until you arrive at your destined place, that is, a UNIQUE YOU! Friends what will be your tools to fight this battle. There are four criteria for building a unique personality, what are they: have an aim in life, continuously acquire the knowledge, work hard and persevere to realise the great life” – Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Third lecture to the students at ISRO, Bangalore on June 1, 2011

Chandrayaan-2 was a space mission of an organisation called Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Till date, ISRO already has more than 100 Spacecraft Missions to its credit; it has also launched 297 satellites of 33 foreign countries. Then why did the millions of people were curiously watching the landing of Vikram Lander on the Lunar surface, why did they take the five per cent failure of the mission as their failure and still, they celebrated the success of our scientists and named it the ‘ISRO Spirit’? As usual, there was a usual gang of naysayers, some from Pakistan and some supporting Pakistan narrative seating in Bharat to push their political agenda forward. What they did not realise is the success or failure of ISRO was not limited to the Mission but something beyond that, which the New Bharat was celebrating. What was that?
With a vision of harnessing ‘space technology for national development, while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration’, ISRO is a fifty-year long journey that symbolises the importance of high aim. Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the founder Chairman of ISRO and whose memory the Lander Vikram was named after, was convinced that the resources in space have the potential to address the real problems of man and society and therefore, evolved a unique work-culture together of able and brilliant scientists, anthropologists, communicators and social scientists from all parts of the country. UR Rao, APJ Abdul Kalam, K Kasturirangan etc. are the names we remember and celebrate, but there are many invisible people, both men and women, who cherished that vision and tried their best to realise the same in action. Bharat that always strived to fly high and do its best not just for itself but for the entire humanity is being celebrated in the form of Chandrayaan-2. The collective desire of working for the higher national objective got reflected through this mission.
For realising the highest goal, perseverance and hard work are the key ingredients, and resource crunch will never be made an excuse is the core value that many photos of ISRO scientists right from the days of Mission Aryabhatta depict. Such an ambitious project with a mere Rs 978 crore budget, which is nothing compared to the other Space Missions undertaken by the major powers, was itself shocking for many in the world. Overcoming the constraints and still moving forward is another lesson that ISRO has given to us.
Not mere hard work but proving the worth of indigenous excellence to ourselves and the world is also an important aspect of this space mission. Bharat was the first country to take up this complicated mission of landing on the South Pole of the Moon and that also with recording a whopping 90-95% success rate in each stage of the Chandrayaan-2 project. The present state of the project is no mean feat in terms of space science, and this has been recognised by space scientists and technological experts from the world over since September 7. These encouraging reactions are not just words but a recognition of the indigenous excellence that our scientists have achieved. It turned out to be the source of inspiration for every Bharatiya who wants to strive for excellence, not just in science but in any field.
As Dr APJ Abdul Kalam said, “If you fail, never give up because FAIL means, First Attempt In Learning”, and ISRO scientists must have registered their learning and must be continuing their efforts to re-establish contact with the Lander. The success and failure of such experiments are to be judged on the learning and give us confidence for the future missions of Chandrayaan-3 and Aditya-1. We, as a nation, also have a lot to learn from the TEAM ISRO. Whether we are learning our lessons of positivity and perseverance to attain excellence like ISRO or get carried away by the eternal pessimists is going to decide our future as a nation and true meaning of celebrating the ISRO spirit.