This episode is an absolute gem.
We, as hosts were looking for interesting stories and we bounced upon this wonderful podcast called Mission ISRO on Spotify. We were mesmerized by the plotline and the story telling that we had to get Gaurav Vaz and the lead researcher, Archana Nathan on the show.
Gaurav quickly responded to Arun's contact and we had a date scheduled. While we do not reveal any plotlines from the podcast, we were absolutely transfixed at knowing the stories behind the creation of this podcast and how stereotypes and unconscious bias were broken for real in a quest to launch a space program in India.
Why would an Indian Space Program gather so much attention you would ask? This was the 1950s and the start of the cold-war era. In a divided world, when everything was black and white and/or capitalist vs. socialist, a country with a very different view of political and strategic non-alignment had a progressive vision. It was the vision of how science and rationality will improve the quality of lives for its citizens - a concept that was and is almost taken for granted in the western world with its luxuries and amenities at the time.
Here was a country that saw skilled labour, educating and improving its scientific capabilities was seen as the best way to get rid of hunger, starvation, create access and more importantly, streamline the country and pave the way for what will become the IT revolution.
Collaboration and the lack of "Not Invented Here (NIH) Syndrome:
Another key differentiator and probably a fact that people in a divided world like today don't appreciate is that science and scientific innovations is best done collaboratively. Here is a story of a fledgling country building its capability while offering key capacity in return for a WIN-WIN collaboration with NASA, Russians, French and many others. If you need proof, India is the leading outsourced land for launching satellites that is used by many countries in the western world.
Other Interesting Facts:
While doing all this, there were some amazing historical links like how modern day rocketry was not really that the western world invented but was a chinese concept that was innovated on by an 18th century Indian ruler called Tipu Sultan. He held the East India Company at bay in four wars and this technology made it way to USA via the Congreve rockets which had its roots in Tipu's rockets. This shelling led to the red glare that is glorified in the poem that became the American National Anthem.
If you want to view science as a collaborative effort and using science for betterment of human kind, this episode is for you. Take a listen and you will not be disappointed.
We also spoke about more interesting efforts of All Things Small who do some amazing journalistic pieces like this one.