Friday, November 29, 2013

Mangalayan: The search of truth for me

Mangalayan or Mars Orbiter is right in it’s path of trajectory. In another days’ time, it will start its 300 day voyage towards the Red Planet, moving further away from earth. The tiny little thing is to cut loose from the apron strings of Mother Earth and will be setting sail towards a dark void, a nameless emptiness – a territory that is both mysterious and unknown. With life ascribed to both, this will be the usual parting moment between a mother and the child on a journey to a faraway land.

Getting emotional? Huh…. J

PSLV-25, spewing fire through its tail and with deafening sound, injected India’s Mars mission into space on 5th Nov to get toehold in Mars exploration.  Though there have been twenty four such launches in the history of Indian space Odyssey, this is the first time I took interest to be a witness to the event and it triggered a surge of tremendous emotion in my heart and goose bumps all over my body. I felt proud that day, being one of the tax payers, funding this historic project for my country.

At the D-moment of the D-day, the situation unfolded like this. The ISRO chairman turned the special key, auto control took over, countdown started, 57-56-55…..the heart started beating faster as the counts climbed down to a single digit and it was all unfolding on my television screen.  

According to subject matter experts and scientists, it could not get better than this and they were all hailing the first phase of the launch against the given criticality and the innovative way of putting the orbiter under the influence of Mars. 

Some nations and a few other wise men, criticized the 15 month, USD 73 Million project to be an unnecessary one, given the context of India, even one day before the launch day. They were all taking a bow and seeking the hand of co-operation the next day.

While it cannot be ignored that India still remains the land sheltering the largest set of people below poverty line, a frugally built space mission can’t be hijacked with the argument of feeding the entire populace. We, as a country, need to focus on all round development, where, on one hand, the scientific mind continues to query the unknown and on the other, there is a determined effort to improve the living conditions for people from all walks of life. 

I take this opportunity to convey my regards coupled with a deep sense of gratitude and pride, to all the scientists, technicians and employees of ISRO – not to forget their partners and all those souls who contributed to this mission some way or other, for once again helping us as a country, to raise our morals and head. 

Not knowing if the number of Indians praying for the success of the most complex operation (Trans Mars Injection) of this mission is more than who were praying for Tendulkar’s century, I am keeping my fingers crossed for next 36 hours.

--Jayanta Tewari

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Those agonizing moments

Just a few days ago, India woke up to the news of a massive fire disaster, a blazing inferno – a bus on Bangalore-Hyderabad route, in southern part of India, bursting into flames. Though the final number needs to be confirmed, around 40 people including 2 babies have been charred to death. It all occurred when mother earth was getting ready to welcome dawn and the bus was speeding at a high speed 110 kilometers before reaching the destination.

The central locking system of the bus shut itself down and the emergency exits- not the glass ones, could not be broken open. While the fire continue to engulf the bus inside,  inch after inch, foot after foot  propelled by the circulating neon gases through the AC ducts, the luckless passengers, barring a handful seven including the driver could do nothing but kept staring at the inevitable – the death. All their efforts to free themselves went in vain.

What was going through their mind during those horrific moments, dreadful minutes and the terrible hour?

Were all of them awake and conscious to what was approaching them?

They were getting burnt but could do nothing. How were they enduring the pain inflicted by the violent and turbulent flames?

The panic stricken babies were crying on top of their voices. What were the equally frightful mothers doing?

Did the young ones think about their loved ones or the old parents with whom they were planning to spend some time? Probably the mother is still waiting to hear the door knocking having prepared the choicest food the son or daughter liked during the childhood.

Did the old ones feel more helpless not able to get themselves out?

Did the girl by the window think about her would-be husband one last time?

Man and wife - some remained united in death and some others got separated for the life. The husband and the father, in the midst of the plume of black smoke got choked and asphyxiated while a glimpse of the sleeping faces of beloved daughter and wife crossed through if his brain was still alive.

So much of dreams were decimated, so much of possibilities were destroyed and that set of 40 people experienced the traumatic ordeal but not in a position to share.

Did the mother see the baby die before her? Was there a drop of water that trickled down from her eyes to the baby’s neck not being able to do anything to save the baby? How painful was that?

I hear seven lucky people survived from this tragic experience and will someday tell their stories how they returned from near-death situations while the others have lost their chances to the feet of Almighty.

Were they destined? Did they have only that much to live?

We don’t and won’t know the answers from those departed souls.

--Jayanta Tewari