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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 38 September 16, 2023

Learnings from Chandrayaan-3: Addressing the Governance Deficits in India | K Gireesan & Jos Chathukulam

Saturday 16 September 2023, by Jos Chathukulam


India has been making remarkable strides in space exploration over the past few decades. One of the crowning jewels in India’s space endeavors is the Chandrayaan series of missions, which has been instrumental in advancing our understanding of the Moon. Among these missions, Chandrayaan-3 stands out as a unique endeavor that holds immense significance for the overall development of the country and beyond.

On 23 August 2023, India became the fourth country to land on the moon after the United States, Russia, and China and the first country to land on the South pole of the Moon. This article analyses the uniqueness of the Chandrayaan-3 Mission in India’s development and the learnings from it to address the governance deficits in the country.

Uniqueness of Chandrayyan-3 Mission in India’s Development

Chandrayaan-3 underscores India’s technological advancements in the field of space exploration. The expertise gained through Chandrayaan-2, coupled with new insights and improvement, resulted in the operationalization of the perfect landing of Chandrayaan-3. The advancements in space technology could have applications in areas such as rural telecommunications, remote sensing, rural development, agriculture, disaster management, health care, education, etc. which could have far-reaching impacts on India’s overall development.

Chandrayaan missions have a profound impact on the field of education. These missions ignite curiosity, stimulate interest in science and technology, and encourage students to pursue careers in this field more aggressively. The space program becomes a source of national pride and aspiration, motivating young minds to dream big and aim for the stars.

Chandrayaan-3’s journey, from development to launch and beyond, has been closely followed by students, educators, and space enthusiasts. The insights gained from the mission’s success as well as challenges can be integrated into the curriculum, enriching the learning experience, enhancing the scientific temper, and nurturing a future generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators.

Chandrayaan-3 mission also holds economic significance. As India continues to refine and redefine its space capabilities, it opens doors for commercial opportunities in the space sector. From satellite launches to space tourism, the possibilities are vast. This enhances India’s technological landscape and positions the nation as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Chandrayaan-3 is not just a journey of a developing nation to the space and moon. It is a journey that carries with it the hopes and aspirations of a nation poised for continued growth and success on both the terrestrial and celestial fronts.

Chandrayaan-3 provides a platform for international collaboration. The world has increasingly recognized India’s capabilities in space technology, and collaborations with other countries can accelerate progress. By participating in joint missions, sharing expertise, and contributing resources, India can position itself as a global player in space exploration.

Lessons from Chandrayaan-3 to address broader Governance issues in India
India’s space endeavors have not only pushed the boundaries of scientific exploration but have also offered valuable insights to address broader governance issues. As Chandrayaan-3, a mission of recovery and resilience, embarks on its journey, several lessons can be drawn from its spirit and approach to addressing governance deficits in the country.

a) Learning from failure:

Chandrayaan-3’s significance lies in its response to the setback faced by its predecessor, Chandrayaan-2. Similarly, the governance landscape in India can benefit from embracing failure as a learning opportunity. Just as Chandrayaan-3 built upon the lessons from Chandrayaan-2, effective governance shall involve evaluating failures, identifying their root causes, and implementing corrective measures.

b) Resilience and Adaptability:

Chandrayaan-3 mission exemplifies resilience in the face of adversity. Governance in India can draw several lessons from this by building a system that is adaptable and responsive to challenges. A resilient governance approach ensures that the system can bounce back, learn, and grow stronger, even amid unexpected setbacks and disruptions.

c) Expertise and Collaboration:

Chandrayaan-3 is a collaborative effort that leverages expertise from various domains and actors which includes private companies. Collaborative governance can foster innovation, efficient problem-solving, and well-informed policies.

d) International Engagement:

The international collaboration aspect of Chandrayaan-3 highlights the importance of global partnerships. Engaging with other countries can bring fresh perspectives, best practices, and shared solutions to common challenges. International cooperation can lead to effective policy exchange, technology transfer, and mutual learning that can drive the development agenda forward.

 e) Transparency and Accountability:

Chandrayaan-3’s success hinges on transparent communication and clear accountability. These principles are equally important in governance. Transparent decision-making processes build public trust and ensure that the government remains accountable to its citizens. Open dialogue and clear channels of communication can help bridge the gap between the government and the governed.

f) Learning for Education:

Chandrayaan-3 is set to inspire and educate the youth. Similarly, governance in India shall focus on fostering an educated and informed citizenry. Education is a powerful tool that empowers citizens to engage actively in the democratic process, holds leaders accountable, and contributes meaningfully to the nation’s progress.

g) Economic Viability:

The commercial potential of Chandrayaan-3 emphasizes the economic benefits of space exploration. Similarly, governance decisions shall consider economic viability and sustainability. Policies that encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, and investment can lead to job creation, economic growth, and overall prosperity.

h) Long-Term vision:

Chandrayaan-3 is a testament to India’s long-term vision in space exploration. Governance in India can learn from this approach by prioritizing sustainable development goals over short-term gains. Policies and initiatives shall be assigned with a holistic vision that considers the well-being of current and future generations.

i) Inclusivity and Diversity:

The diverse team behind Chandrayaan-3 showcases the power of inclusivity. In governance, promoting diversity and inclusivity ensures that a wide range of perspectives are considered when shaping policies. This can lead to more equitable and comprehensive solutions that address the needs of all segments of society.

j) Constant Progress:

Chandrayaan-3 symbolizes India’s commitment to progress. Governance in India shall aim similarly for continuous improvement. By constantly evaluating policies, assessing outcomes, and adapting strategies, the government can ensure that it remains, effective, relevant, and responsive to the evolving needs of its citizens.

End note

Chandrayaan-3 offers a range of lessons that can be applied to address governance deficits in India. From embracing failure as a learning opportunity to fostering transparency, collaboration, and inclusivity, the mission’s spirit reflects the qualities needed for effective and forward-looking governance. It is very significant to realize how best the qualities such as a precision approach, commitment to work culture, passion to reach goals, professionalism, and excellent teamwork manifested by the ISRO and other key stakeholders in the Chandrayaan series of missions could be emulated by others to address governance deficits in India. Internalizing these attributes becomes very important as many flagship programs like ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ are miles away from reaching their targets even after making all resources available at full throttle. While India continues its journey of exploration and development, it can draw inspiration from the Chandrayaan-3 mission to create a governance framework that is accountable, focused, precise, target-oriented, and resilient.

(Authors: Dr. K Gireesan, Director, MIT School of Government, MIT World Peace University, Kothrud, Pune; Dr. Jos Chathukulam, Director, Centre for Rural Management, Kottayam, Kerala)

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