There’s been some talk about how unseemly it is for the prime minister and the ruling party to hog the headlines around the moon-landing. It has been whispered that the ISRO scientists (both ladies and gents) have been pushed to the sidelines, with the optics seeming to suggest that Modiji only landed the Chandrayaan-3 on the dark side of the moon in a spiffy orange spacesuit. What about the fact that the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was set up in 1962 by Jawaharlal Nehru on the suggestion of Vikram Sarabhai, demand these whisperers. What about the fact that Nehruji set up the IITs as well, which, everybody agrees, are today the cradle of so much global engineering ingenuity? What about the story of how the villagers of Thumba gave up their church, located at the most ideal spot for a space research station, because it was almost exactly on the wavy magnetic equator (different from the geographical equator), where the earth’s magnetic field was weakest? Also, why is Nehru always remembered when there is blame to be parcelled out, be it on foreign or economic policy, but never when there’s credit to be given? Shouldn’t we acknowledge all these contributions at all? Bhai, I toh think that dredging up hoary old origin stories and trying to give them a share of the credit is simply a mixture of sour grapes and poor taste.
The fact of the matter is that Chandrayaan-3 soft-landed on the lunar surface during Modiji’s term as PM. Yes, he is not in any way directly responsible. But he is the current chosen representative of the party elected by the people. Nothing can happen without his blessing, go-ahead and support, so naturally some of the responsibility was his, and he should have no qualms or hesitancy in accepting the credit with his usual gracious alacrity. But, then, by the same token, should some responsibility also not accrue to Modiji for the other major incident that grabbed headlines this week? Where an eight-year-old student was thrashed by his fellow classmates, at the command of their own teacher simply because he was a Muslim? Yes, Modiji is not in anyway directly responsible, but he is the current chosen representative of the party elected by the people. Nothing can happen without his blessing, go-ahead and support, so naturally some of the responsibility is his! So where is the statement from the PM and his chief minister condemning the nightmarish incident? Where are the optics of Modiji sternly reprimanding this monstrous Tripti Tyagi person for spewing the seeds of religious hate among innocent children? Where is the video of the eight-year-old Muslim boy sitting smilingly in Modiji’s lap while Modiji pats his head paternally and tells him that India has just landed on the moon and that the little boy’s future is therefore limitless?
The government of India should realise that it can’t have it both ways. Indians are large-hearted creatures. Nobody grudges you a share of the happiness, the success, and the credit when the nation wins an Olympic medal, a Nobel prize or lands a rocket on the moon. But, equally, in times of shame, we expect you to show up and shoulder some of the blame.