India

Indian media: Calls for 'economic lift-off'

Indian media urge the government to invest more in science and education Image copyright AFP
Image caption Indian media urge the government to invest more in science and education

Indian media are using the success of the Mars programme to urge the government to spend more on science and education, and apply the space mission's template to achieve "economic lift-off".

"If India wants to be more than the IT back-office of the world it has to invest in science," argues the First Post website. It says the "cheapness" of the Mars project, which at 4.5bn rupees ($74m; £45m) is one of the most inexpensive interplanetary missions, has come "with a hidden cost". "Science is woefully underfunded in this country," the paper exclaims.

"The government must encourage science education by investing more in research and development in schools and universities," agrees the Hindustan Times.

According to The Indian Express, the country has a lot to gain from such an approach.

"Today, space science offers forex earnings and technological clout. The new imperative is to use space science to leverage a premium place for India in a rapidly technologising and intimately connected world," the daily explains in an editorial.

"Use India's successful Mars mission as a template for economic lift-off," The Times of India urges in a headline. "A similar scale of ambition and execution is also needed for the next stage of economic reforms, for clearing up investment bottlenecks for domestic and foreign investors and for sprucing up infrastructure and health delivery systems."

For The Pioneer, "investing in science and technology is one of the best poverty-alleviation programmes".

The daily adds that India's first Mars satellite "is proof that with optimal utilisation of resources, it is possible to deliver even cutting-edge space technology on a shoe-string budget". The paper sees this as "an important lesson" for the country's leaders "who use financial crunch as a convenient excuse for their inability to deliver public goods".

"Sure enough if ISRO [Indian Space Research Organisation] can design, develop and send an orbiter to Mars… Indian scientists can design low-cost toilets, develop cheap water purification technologies, execute plans to clean up our rivers in the same amount of time," Dinesh C Sharma points out in the DNA newspaper.

Cleaning the Ganges

The Supreme Court has asked the government to give a "commitment" that it will implement a plan to clean the Ganges, The Hindu reports. It says the 2,500km-long (1,553 mile) river is being "grossly" polluted by industries across the five states located in its basin.

The daily adds that the court will monitor the progress of the project and has given the authorities an October 2015 deadline to "come back and tell us specifically what you did".

The federal government, meanwhile, has said it will need the support of state governments to make the clean-up drive a success.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to clean the Ganges, a holy river for Hindus, after his party won the general elections earlier this year.

And finally, the Hindustan Times has noticed a change in the communication strategy of the government, which it says now relies more on state-owned media.

The prime minister is due to address the nation on All India Radio (AIR) at the beginning of next month.

According to the paper, this "may mark the beginning of a new trend" that would see Mr Modi "frequently turning to state broadcasters for communicating with the public on key issues".

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