Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Hindu: ISRO to send astronaut to space and bring "him" back (quotes are mine)

An article in today's The Hindu newspaper has the following to say about India's manned space mission prospects in the wake of the successful recovery of the space capsule from sea:
The accomplishment is a boost to the Indian Space Reaserach Organisation's (ISRO)'s plans to send an astronaut into space in 10 years from now and bring him back.
That statement was not only in the body of the news item, but was also its subheading.

Someone - either at the editorial staff at The Hindu, the story's reporter, T.S. Subramanian, or at ISRO - has decided that whoever that astronaut is going to be, at least 10 years from now, it will be a male.

From a couple of other news sources it appears that ISRO's statements were gender neutral.

The same story on Gulf News's website:
"This mission is a stepping stone to design and build our very own reusable spacecraft, and eventually carry out manned missions into space, too," A. Subramaniam, head of the team that designed the capsule said.
DNA made a mention of future "manned missions" as well, while the Hindustan Times said:
The success also takes the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) a step closer to its goal of putting an Indian in space some years from now.
Perhaps The Hindu's reporter took the ISRO officials' use of the term "manned" literally.

One of my friends mentioned yesterday that India lived in a few different centuries at once, some parts in the 21st century, some in the 16th (meaning the cities have advanced facilities while certain rural areas remain untouched by any sort of development).

My response was that it's not just parts of India that are living in different centuries than the rest, it is the people themselves that live in a few different centuries at once in terms of their attitudes - some of their attitudes and ideas are certifiably space age, but at the same time they are unable or unwilling to countenance women not being confined to certain roles in society.



Vikrum said...

The gaffe is especially ironic considering that Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian American to fly in space! Additionally, Sunita Williams who is currently in space in the International Space Station, is half Indian!

I agree about your quote about different attitudes in different centuries. But seeing the state of rural India (re: infant mortality, malnutrition, etc.) I would agree with your friend that people are not getting the benefits of modern-day technology, food innovations, literacy... certainly not something to be proud of in the 21st century.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Hi Vikrum,

Thanks for your comment. I was in the post revising some stuff and I saw your comment right after. I agreed with my friend as well (and so I added a "just" in the first sentence of my response).

It is certainly ironic, as you say.

On another level, that statement was also unnecessary. If you send people up to space it goes without saying that you have the intention and the means to bring them back.