Monday, September 3, 2007

A matter of Pride for ISRO or great shame for the Indian media.

Yesterday exactly at 6:10 PM India launched the INSAT 4CR, its most advanced satellite till date. The satellite is 2130 kg and is similar to the INSAT-4C which was lost 13 seconds after its launch in July 2006. The mission had its problems with the launch being aborted at 4:30 PM and rescheduled to 6:10 PM. But at the end it was a text book launch will the satellite being placed in a geo-stationary orbit 17 minutes after liftoff.

INSAT-4CR is the third satellite in INSAT-4 series. It carries 12 high-power Ku-band transponders designed to provide Direct-To-home (DTH) television services, Video Picture Transmission (VPT) and Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG).

The Real surprise however was the fact that none of the 24 hour news channels bothered to report the successful launch let alone cover it live or speak to the scientists who achieved this remarkable feat. CNN-IBN Live was covering a case where a Child was separated from his parents due to the dictate of the Panchayat. Barkha Dutt was busy conducting a Talk show discussing weather Prostitution should be made legal or not, NDTV showing a interview with Benazir Butto on her plans to return to Pakistan. The worst of the lot were the regional news channels which were giving minute by minute updates on Sanjay Dutt’s visit to Vaishanav Devi. One channel was claiming that the congress government has gone to the dogs as Sanjay Dutt visited the temple in a car meant for MP’s and MLA’s. And Of course all channels had tickers showing the latest score of the India England 5th One day international. The only saving grace, NDTV 24-7 did have a ticker which displayed the fact that the launch was a success.

One cannot help wondering what is wrong with the Indian Media? In other Asian countries the private broadcasters play a more active role in Democracy by reporting the failures of the government and by keeping a tab on all the politicians. The National Media is generally a puppet in the hands of the Government. I guess India is the only exception. The DD News channel does cover all events which are generally of national importance impartially which other Private news channels don’t even bother about. The Lok sabha proceedings are not even mentioned by them unless and until a small battle does not break out between the Government and the opposition.

But probably there is a silver lining to this. In a press statement ISRO Officials claimed that, “The successful launch of GSLV-F04 today has demonstrated the operational reliability of GSLV as well as reiterated the end-to-end capability of ISRO to not only build state-of-the-art communication satellites, but also to launch them using the indigenously” . They couldn’t have had a better vindication of their statement. Probably Satellite launches are no longer a matter of national pride as they have become common place these days in India. My only hope is that the news channels give more importance to ISRO when they Launch “Chandrayan”. India’s first unmanned mission to the moon scheduled takeoff in April 2008 as compared to Sanjay Dutt.



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