September 20, 2023
Abir Ranjan Biswas’s speech during the discussion on “India’s glorious space journey marked by successful soft landing of Chandrayaan-3” in the Rajya Sabha
Sir, I thank you very much for giving me the opportunity. At the very outset, let me start by congratulating heartily our great scientists who successfully executed the Chandrayaan-3 Mission making India the first nation to land on the South Pole of the Moon. Our scientists worked hard for the success of Chandrayaan and just at the crucial moment when the Chardrayaan was about to land, the entire nation was deprived of the chance of seeing the landing or our scientists congratulating each other because the official TV feed got cut to a video showing the PM waving the National Flag. ..(Interruptions).. The camera was turned to the PM while the nation waited with bated breath to see the actual landing video and the celebration of our scientists. Sir, the scientists, I reiterate, were the real heroes because despite the Department of Space having a budgetary cut of more than eight per cent this year, compared to the last fiscal year 2022-23, which, in turn, had an expenditure cut of 32 per cent for the space science part notwithstanding the fact that Chandrayaan-III and Aditya L-I Missions were included in this. That is why I say that this is the very reason why I laud our heroes, our scientists, and Bengal has played a part in it.No, no; they could not see the landing.Sir, video is there. It is for all to see. What the truth is, let the nation decide.Mr. Vice-Chairman, Sir, I seek your protection. I am not yielding. Please let me have my chance to speak.Vice-Chairman, Sir, they were showing the team. The ISRO team was there. The Mission team was there. We were watching from one location. We were there. And that slot went to PM.Sir, much of my time has been eaten away. Please give me the due time. Firstly, I will say, it is in public domain and it is for all to see and decide. Okay. Sir, I would like to say, since I laud the scientists, 31 of them, we proudly say, have come from Bengal as part of the Mission. As you know, Anuj Nandi was from Islampur, West Bengal. He also played a very crucial role in this Mission, working as the Chief Designer of the cameras attached to the primary body of Chandrayaan-3. I would also like to say that after meeting the ISRO scientists in Bengaluru, the hon. Prime Minister landed in Delhi and made a bizarre statement. He said, “Use space technology for delivery of services.” This statement has not been clarified as yet. Then, we see, the Governor of Bengal writing to ISRO asking for “Help of space technology to curb ragging of students in colleges”. It is most astonishing and agonizing also to see the achievements of our scientists being mocked by such illogical statements, which seek to take away their success and seem to undermine them. Further, I would like to say that during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, our hon. Prime Minister was suddenly seen addressing the nation on the success of ‘Mission Shakti’. The sole purpose was to take credit for the success of our scientists for political and electoral gains. Again, from the speech of the Leader of the House today, it seems that the Government does not want the focus of today’s discussion to be celebrated as the success of one of our scientists and our space programme but as a personal credit festival for the PM and only the PM. Let us move past the self-congratulatory and chest-thumping postures and stand up as a nation to congratulate the real heroes, our scientists. In the end, all I have to say is, while we have our eyes on space, let our feet touch the ground reality, discussing nation-related harsh realities of price rise, unemployment, MSP for farmers, Manipur, recent CAG reports etc., which, seriously, concern the people at large. Let there be a celebration, but also along with that, an introspection if as a nation we want to move forward with much more such achievements and phenomenal successes. Thank you, Sir.