Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Politics

Space Vs. Poverty Debate In India 315

Posted by samzenpus
from the will-launch-for-food dept.
MarkWhittington writes "Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was obliged recently to defend his country's space program, which involves the spending of billions of rupees when India still has a large number of people living in abject poverty. The debate raging in India parallels a similar one that has simmered in the United States for decades."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Space Vs. Poverty Debate In India

Comments Filter:
  • by James McGuigan (852772) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:16AM (#41287261) Homepage

    Bring home the moon cheese and there will be enough for everybody!

    • by Jeng (926980)

      I'm sorry, but even though the moon is made of cheese it would cost 100x as much to harvest the cheese from the moon vs producing cheese here on Earth.

  • Thoughts... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PortHaven (242123) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:17AM (#41287269) Homepage

    1) Humanity eliminates all poverty, is subsequently wiped out by asteroid....CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    2) Poverty, one aspect is that it's strongly tied to a lack of space. If we develop the means to expand our habitable environments. Poverty can be greatly reduced. We see this, with the discovery and colonization of America's, which in fact improved Europe by allowing many of the impoverished to migrate and become land owners.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:21AM (#41287303)

      2) Poverty, one aspect is that it's strongly tied to a lack of space. If we develop the means to expand our habitable environments. Poverty can be greatly reduced. We see this, with the discovery and colonization of America's, which in fact improved Europe by allowing many of the impoverished to migrate and become land owners.

      So India should put all its poor people on the moon?

      • by TheLink (130905)
        I think putting poor politicians on the moon would improve things a lot more ;).

        In the USA you could have one of those reality TV type shows that you all are so fond of - "Vote Them Off The Planet!". With one-way and two-way options. And even if it's all for laughs and not for real - the interviews with/calls to the winners and "winners" would be worth the cost of a vote. Might get enough to send people for real -it's about USD20-30 million per go (for various reasons you'd still let the one-ways come back
    • The Oregon Trail! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:25AM (#41287349)

      Yes, because driving West in a wagon with a gimpy wheel and grandma strapped to the roof to some new homestead next to a river and zap apple trees is perfectly comparable to development of the Moon- an airless, irradiated wasteland a quarter million miles up slope on a large gravity well.

      Ah well, at least they won't die of dysentery.

      • Ah well, at least they won't die of dysentery.

        I wonder if anybody has the mortality rate of Western settlers to compare with astronauts.

        • by Culture20 (968837)
          I don't know, I crashed more lunar landers than I killed pioneer families, but there's no log of how many astronauts were in the landers. Of course, I sold a lot of lemonade in the 'burbs too, and no one died there.
      • by tnk1 (899206)

        I think he was talking more about colonization of space in general, an important stepping stone which might be some sort of moon colonization or at least further efforts in that direction.

        As for whether that will help India's poor any time soon, that's definitely an open question.

      • and zap apple trees

        Apparently some of them can survive on the moon just fine.

    • Re:Thoughts... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:37AM (#41287495) Homepage

      2) Poverty, one aspect is that it's strongly tied to a lack of space. If we develop the means to expand our habitable environments. Poverty can be greatly reduced.

      The old argument "We need to explore space to have more room!" is doesn't hold water. In his trilogy beginning with Red Mars [amazon.com] , Kim Stanley Robinson makes the point that with the current world population, even with multiple space elevators you couldn't move more people off the planet than are being born on it at any given time.

      And if you had some way of lowering the population so drastically that you could move some significant amount of people away, you wouldn't need to anyway.

    • by Jeng (926980)

      One thing that will need to be developed if we are to have a future off this planet is a self contained living pod that you can set down anywhere and you'll be able to live there.

      It will be easier to build these for Earth first, and they are needed here on Earth first. Once that technology is widespread then it will be modified for other planets and that is what will allow us to get permanently off this rock.

      • by PortHaven (242123)

        Why set it down anywhere?

        A much more likely long term strategy would be to land on the moon, construct a nuclear powered manufacturing zone. This region would essentially become the major manufacturing area. All those nasty high-falluting polluting factories poisoning our land and water to build our iPhones would instead destroy the natural environment of the moon. Yes, all those poor lunanimals would go extinct. All the moon rivers would become polluted...but earth would remain pretty.

        Then from there, yo

    • I don't think it matters how much space we have it is just a matter of time. As long as people think it is their god given right to have greater than replacement level children we'll gradually fill any space we have. That isn't even accounting for the fact that there is probably a billion+ people stuck living in apartments because that is all they can afford near a city where they can find work. If we have more land everything might just become the suburbs and people will use a huge amount more space and re

    • Re:Thoughts... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JDG1980 (2438906) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:55AM (#41288489)

      Poverty, one aspect is that it's strongly tied to a lack of space.

      What? No, it isn't. Sure, there are densely packed slums in the Third World, but most of the world's greatest cities have high population densities. People seem to deal with that just fine. A lot of people want to live in midtown Manhattan. And for those who don't, that's fine – we have no shortage of room right here on Earth. We can't find many people who want to live in Wyoming or South Dakota, and you think people want to live on the moon?

      And if you're worried about there being too many people in general, then prosperity is the solution, not the problem. Social science has known for a long time that people in prosperous societies tend to have smaller families. This isn't a recent thing, either; the pattern dates back at least to ancient Rome.

      If we develop the means to expand our habitable environments. Poverty can be greatly reduced. We see this, with the discovery and colonization of America's, which in fact improved Europe by allowing many of the impoverished to migrate and become land owners.

      Space-nuts always reach for that analogy, but it's so flawed that it is amazing anyone ever falls for it. It was obvious from the start that North and South America were clearly inhabitable – they were inhabited already by people. Millions of people, in fact, until imported Eurasian diseases killed about 90% of them. For the analogy to work, the Americas would have had to be an environment far more inhospitable than anywhere on earth, even the Antarctic – even there, you've got oxygen and you've got (frozen) water. If European settlers had instantly suffocated when they landed on the shores of Hispaniola or Jamestown, they probably wouldn't have tried to establish colonies there. Again, we don't have large-scale human habitations in Antarctica or on the sea floor, even though those would both be far, far easier than trying to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear of outer space.

  • but once they nuke pakistan from orbit they'll have enough wealth to spread to everyone!

    that's how nuking works, right?

  • by captainpanic (1173915) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:21AM (#41287301)

    You cannot eat research.

    Those early men who tried to make fire by rubbing some sticks together in vain were obviously wasting their time. They could have better spent that time chasing a mammoth, and humanity would have been far better off.

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:28AM (#41287393)

      The modern world is like a game of Civ III where everyone has the Great Library. Any important piece of research discovered somewhere will be usable by everyone at practically the same time. Oh, you might have to pay a little more for it than if you had discovered it yourself, or you might be 20 years behind everyone else, but you'll reap the benefits soon enough. Not everyone on the planet needs to be a creator for the system to work, I don't see why that shouldn't be true on a national level as well.

    • I don't think there were mammoths or people in India back then. ROFL!
      But anyway, fire was more immediately productive than space travel is. They could instantly use it to cook. Also, that wasn't how fire was invented. It's theorized that it was borrowed from forest fires and lightning strikes and stuff then after that, humans developed ways to light a fire manually.
      There is no reason for a country like India to go to space. Launching satellites is one thing but sending humans up there is pointless.
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        It's theorized that it was borrowed from forest fires and lightning strikes and stuff then after that, humans developed ways to light a fire manually.

        So rubbing sticks together was even more worthless. They already had fire, and they were wasting time trying to figure out how to make it from scratch. *shakes head*

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        GPP was more relevant than that. They were rubbing sticks together trying to find a better way to start fires. Not invent fire. Just like India is trying to find a better way to get to space (or get there at all) not get there for the first time.

        Either way spending money in society helps all, and provides incentives for others to become more productive.

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      It's unjust to paint people with different priorities as generally anti-science. There could be many research on the topics on how to achieve greater crop yields, fight diseases, improve hygiene, build up infrastructure cheaply. Research only improves life when followed by a subsequent development and deployment of the discoveries.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      You cannot eat space money either. It is worth asking where the "saved" money would be spent. I remember more than ten years ago, China was planning to send a man in space. "There will be a Chinese in space soon" was the promise. I walked in Chinatown at that time, and saw the children's drawings. Space, space, rockets.

      A space program is not much about science, but a lot about education and the dreams that fuel it.

      India can use more education. Not everyone will end up in space, science has a lot of oth
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...Tell them to fuck off.

    I'm sure you'll be able to phrase it more diplomatically, but that's the answer you need to give detractors.

    Sacking a space program is not going to solve poverty. It's not even going to help in any way.

    Keeping a space program isn't going to magically cure poverty, but your country will see a rather nice return on investment, to say nothing of the return mankind itself will be rewarded with.

  • by doug141 (863552) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:25AM (#41287351)
    they hire workers with it.
  • by MasaMuneCyrus (779918) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:25AM (#41287361)

    Does a country have to eliminate poverty to become great? Or does greatness help to eliminate poverty? Or is there a balance of the two?

    Ultimately, that's probably the question I'd be asking if I was the Indian prime minister.

    • Yes. No (Well, OK. Sometimes). Yes (but the equilibrium is situated near the "no poverty" point). Any other questions?
    • by Hentes (2461350)

      The Soviet Union had an amazing space program yet many Russians still live in poverty.

      • You are using the wrong adverb. Not "still", but "again". Soviet people weren't rich, but by the time the space program was working, this kind of poverty did not exist anymore.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      I think the key thing to understand here is that poverty is likely to always exist in situations where resources are limited. And sometimes, that poverty has less to do with what you have, and more to do with what you do with it.

      At this point, the question is, does throwing a billion dollars at the poverty issue actually help, or is it like throwing water on a grease fire? Is the problem the lack of funds or what is being done with the funds that are already being allocated?

      If you put more money into feed

  • Even Jesus Said (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:26AM (#41287371) Journal

    "The poor you will always have with you"
    http://bible.cc/matthew/26-11.htm [bible.cc]

    We will always have poor, and we will always have the responsibility to care for those who cannot help themselves, and help those who can help themselves to begin helping themselves (you have my welfare policy in a nutshell). But, we cannot allow it to be an all consuming policy that detracts from allowing those who do earn from progressing and from mankind as a whole from advancing.

    Spave vs Poverty debate is a false dichotomy and I encourage Slashdotters to not fall into this trap.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Why would a third hand quote from some tradesman from 2000 years ago matter in the slightest? You don't think some technological and scientific advances in the meantime might have changed the game a little? That advances in philopsophy and economic theory and ethics might make a difference?

      Now they mightn't have of course, but surely you can find a quote from someone a little more recent with at least some credentials (or better still published studies) to back up their claims?

      Sure if you are refering to r

      • A second ad hominem attack out of four replies.

        • bring religion to a debate where people don't need wivestales anymore and this is what you get.

          not sure why you are surprised. this isn't a faux news forum; were think thinking it was and that your religion quotes would be welcomed here?

        • by cupantae (1304123)

          Don't act so smug. You don't understand what "ad hominem" means. An ad hominem attack would be attacking you instead of your argument ("to the man").

          These replies just pointed out that quoting a mostly-fictional tradesman who lived 2,000 years ago is absolutely useless as an argument. And right they are. Going back to your original post, I would point out a few other things:
          1. Saying, "we will always have poor" is either misleading or wrong. If you take "poor" to mean "poor compared to the population" then

          • "Don't act so smug. You don't understand what "ad hominem" means. "

            I do. Your response was not an ad hominem. The poster who replied to my OP was. I may not agree with your arguments, but those arguments are reasoned and not just a "I don't like Jesus" respose.

            "An ad hominem attack would be attacking you instead of your argument"

            Not true. Don't believe me, you can go to wikipedia and look at their example arguments. The original replier attacked the man not the argument.

            "3. Then we have your trendy "false d

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        Once the original philosopher's statement has been proven wrong then maybe it could be re-evaluated but there is 2000 years of history proving his statement. Your knee jerk reaction of anti religion unfortunately blinds you to even the true parts of the philosophy. Being an atheist I may not believe in god or that some supposed carpenter stand up philosopher from 2000 years ago was his son, but I can still identify the wisdom in the statement.

        • Thanks. As a former atheist myself, I am amazed at how folks from both viewpoints immediately turn off their brains in these matters. I've found it interesting to read about men like Thomas Jefferson who denied the deity of Jesus, but viewed his teachings as worthy of building a moral framework on. Regardless of one's viewpoints on who Jesus is, I don't know how you can argue with his viewpoint on the poor.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        Why would a third hand quote from some tradesman from 2000 years ago matter in the slightest? You don't think some technological and scientific advances in the meantime might have changed the game a little? That advances in philopsophy and economic theory and ethics might make a difference?

        Nope. I just posted this to another comment, but it seems to fit even better here:

        Even in America today, where people with air conditioning, Xboxes, and cell phones are considered poor, we still have actual poor people who don't have homes. It's usually because they're mentally ill or don't want to take advantage of private and public assistance, but they are around, and they're what anyone except early hunter-gatherers would consider poor (today's actual-poor are essentially hunter-gatherers with compar

    • I think youre taking that grossly out of context. I dont think he was saying "forget the poor, theres no reason to care about them."

      • Did you stop reading after you saw it was a Bible quote? The next sentence says "We will always have poor, and we will always have the responsibility to care for those who cannot help themselves, and help those who can help themselves to begin helping themselves (you have my welfare policy in a nutshell). "

        • But that's not what the original Bible quote means. Jesus was in fact arguing that they should give *him* stuff instead of the poor, because the poor would always be there. The full story, Matthew 26, verses 6 through 13 (English Standard Version):

          6: Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,
          7: a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table.
          8: And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying,

          • Correct. This is one incident out of a (short) lifetime. You will find dozens of examples of Jesus or his disciples helping the poor. It is all about balance.

      • by Endo13 (1000782)

        No, but he WAS saying that sometimes there's things that are more important than helping the poor.

    • Jesus also said the meek will inherit the earth.... because the AWESOME are going to fly away in ROCKET SHIPS! (Although Jesus may not have explicitly said that second bit.)
  • It's a weird coincidence that all these stories are coming up now.

    One of the main plot points in the new Doctor Who episode (which occurred in the future) was that the Indian Space Authority was involved in making sure that a huge out of control spacecraft did not hit earth. It was obvious that the Indians were major powers in space at the time of this story... to the point that they were taking the initiative to protect the entire earth.

    Now there is a lot you can read into this story, but at least on some

    • "U.S." should of been "world."

      Us USAsians are arrogant.

    • by tomhath (637240)

      It's a weird coincidence that all these stories are coming up now.

      Not a coincidence at all. This is an election year in the US and the sitting President is trying to cut space spending and shift the money to social programs.

      • social programs (uhm, like ROADS and BRIDGES and INFRASTRUCTURE) has been ignored - totally - by the repubs the last several terms.

        halliburton has been making a pretty penny; but our infra is rotting away.

        I'd LOVE to see investment back in our own country. we once used to think that was needed and a Good Idea(tm). wonder why we stopped wanting to invest in ourselves.

        oh right, greed and the 'got mine, fark you!' mentality. the old codgers who run things aren't going to be alive decades from now, and they

  • Space vs. Poverty? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:29AM (#41287399)

    Right. Because the space program's goal is to load tons of rupees into a launch vehicle and launch them into orbit. And that's not counting the rupees stuffed into the launch platform to muffle the rocket exhaust or the solid fuel boosters whose fuel consists primarily of shredded rupees.

    The money spent developing these capabilities is spent on Indians working on jobs. Developing a technological industrial base will help far more people over the long term than just dumping truckloads of rupees on the streets in Calcutta would.

  • Means that you also have technology to improve the situation on the ground - satellite monitoring is useful for planning and development.

    And you also develop technology that has spin-off use on the ground.

  • so these goals don't seem mutually exclusive to me
  • Spending money on ambitious projects in space will make India richer in more than the monetary sense of the word. How much do you value the pride of a nation? Or the pride of individual engineers working on a space program?

    Not everything is measured in GDP. You need big ideas to unite people and to create (at least an illusion of) movement towards the better life.

    • space-race won't make things better for working indians.

      its all about ego and I'm not sure its a good use of funds, to be honest.

      to the world, indians have proven themselves as capable doers and thinkers. 'we get it'. you don't have to prove things to the world (and yourselves) with this expensive waste of funds.

      TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN PEOPLE!

      first things first. seriously. your people are some of the poorest in the world. its shameful.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtBy_ppG4hY [youtube.com]

    Whitey on the Moon, by Gil Scott-Heron

    A rat done bit my sister Nell.
    (with Whitey on the moon)
    Her face and arms began to swell.
    (and Whitey's on the moon)
    I can't pay no doctor bill.
    (but Whitey's on the moon)
    Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
    (while Whitey's on the moon)
    The man jus' upped my rent las' night.
    ('cause Whitey's on the moon)
    No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
    (but Whitey's on the moon)
    I wonder why he's uppi' me?
    ('cause Whitey's on the moon?)
    I wuz alrea

  • Red Herring??? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dpilot (134227) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:49AM (#41287639) Homepage Journal

    Space exploration vs poverty relief always comes up, but IMHO it's a red herring. As big as space budgets sound, at the national scale they're generally a pittance - much smaller than is already spent on poverty assistance or any of a great range of things. Heck, in the US we spend less on the space program than we spend on oil exploration subsidies to highly profitable businesses.

    Personally, I wonder if it's "convenient misdirection," holding up the space exploration budget as "potentially wasteful" in order to keep the general populace from looking in more wasteful places. In addition there doesn't tend to be a wealthy, powerful champion for the space program these days. The contractors who get rich on the space program also get rich on defense programs - one of those possibly more wasteful places - defense programs are easier to defend.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Space exploration vs poverty relief always comes up, but IMHO it's a red herring. As big as space budgets sound, at the national scale they're generally a pittance - much smaller than is already spent on poverty assistance or any of a great range of things. Heck, in the US we spend less on the space program than we spend on oil exploration subsidies to highly profitable businesses.
      If India's space budget were instead spent on the poor, then each poor person could receive the equivalent of $6 USD. Accordin
  • by magarity (164372) on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:50AM (#41287673)

    Item 1: The poor in India aren't poor due to overtaxation.
    Item 2: India's government is in better shape than most in Asia but there's still a fair level of corruption.
    Item 3: If the corruption were cleaned up and civil institutions were impartial then the working poor could improve their situations in just a generation or two.
    Item 4: The amount of money spent on the space program is pretty negligible in the big scheme of things. At least it gives the country a boost in the international ranking of such things and showcases the smart people in India which can have a lot of intangible benefit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2012 @09:52AM (#41287697)

    As the U.S. have resolved the dilemma by slashing both the space program and the poor!!

  • Jobs program? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:06AM (#41287849)

    Space programs may require a lot of high-tech work, but all high-tech work requires low-tech work. Ie. someone's got to dig the ditch to run the cables, someone's got to build the giant silos and buildings, someone's got to run the steel mill.

    Money is like energy - it is not created or destroyed, simply transferred (at least, for ordinary economic activity - there are exceptions). Their space program is funding things on Earth, not shooting barrels of money into space.

    Now, maybe it's not the most efficient way to create jobs for the poor, in the short-term, but think long-term. You cannot deny that the space program is a good thing in the long run. So when you look at it that way, it isn't a bad idea to spend some money "inefficiently" now, in order to improve things in the long run.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Monday September 10, 2012 @10:10AM (#41287905) Homepage

    Yup, this was said aroudn 2,000 years ago and while the overall standard of living of the poor has improved, there are still people considered to be living in poverty. Now poverty in rural India is a lot different than poverty in the US or EU - my understanding of poverty in rural India is that it is nearly a foraging existance, subsisting on whatever is handed out or can be found lying around. Money? Not only is there none at all, but there wouldn't really be anything to spend it on either. So it is not a lot different from poverty 2,000 years ago.

    The problem is poverty is caused by a number of things and "lack of opportunity" isn't a big one. From what I have seen, in most cases it is a matter of bad choices and uninformed choices. An abject failure to learn is also part of the scenario, in a big way.

    In the US it is easy to see people spending $20 on lottery tickets rather than food for the baby when it is pretty clear to them that food for the baby is what is really needed. The result is often begging, borrowing or stealing trying to get the $20 for food for the baby. A few weeks later, the same thing happens again. Sooner or later the friends and relatives figure out it is just a really good idea to become really scarce when their friend or relative is looking for money.

    Just making bad choices - partying instead of studying, for example, is enough to screw up people's lives in ways they can't imagine when they are young. Having made some bad choices some folks are able to pull it together and with a lot of drive, determination and ambition actually get somewhere but this is pretty rare. Mostly, the bad choices end up leading to more bad choices and not learning from them instead.

    Absolutely, there are rich people that inherited the money and had someone to rescue them every time they screwed up or made a bad choice. But these people are the exception. For the most part they are the end of the line and their children will not be leading privileged lives. There are people that happened to fall into an opportunity and have managed to not screw things up, but again this is rare. Most people with more money and resources than their neighbors simply made better choices, planned for the future and have more determination and ambition.

    What all of this means is there is no "solution" to poverty. Right now the US could rearrange things so as to give every single citizen a million dollars. Not counting what this would do to inflation and the economy as a whole, this would in effect eliminate poverty. Right? Except it is pretty much a dead certainty that within ten years there would be people who would have blown through the money and be "poor" again. Maybe as little as five years there would be significant numbers of these people. This would mean the entire exercise - and whatever side effects it would have - would be a waste of time. Which is why nobody seriously proposes doing something like this, at least not anyone with any sense of history and how these things work.

    So there is no decision between space and poverty - there isn't anything to be done for "poverty" in a real sense. Oh, I suppose slavery is a solution - you take all the poor people and make them relatively pampered slaves and don't make catching escapees a priority. I am sure this would result in anyone with much ambition escaping but those that did and didn't like it would just come back to be taken care of. It would be a solution, but I don't think it is one that the West has much stomache for. At least not yet. Keep pushing the "fight against poverty" and that is where we will end up in some form or another because it is the only real "solution".

    • by cfulton (543949) on Monday September 10, 2012 @11:03AM (#41288599)
      You are so full of s*$t it comes out of your fingers when you type. I have lived in India and you cannot compare the poor (rich by Indian standards) in America with the poor in India. As you point out in America you can make yourself better off. Even if not everyone does, it is possible through hard work to get out of poverty in America. This is simply not true in India. Social systems that have existed for thousands of years continue to keep the vast majority of Indians poor. If you are born to the wrong caste in the wrong part of the country then no matter how smart or hard working you are you will not rise above. God help you if you are an orphan or single woman. Those parts of society are simply beggars with no other prospects. Please keep your work hard and make good ideas limited to places where that is in fact true.
  • A rat done bit my sister Neelu
    With goras on the moon

You're already carrying the sphere!

Working...