Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

On India’s Moon Landing

The timing of the South African President’s congratulation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a BRICS plenary was no coincidence when he said: “In a few hours, India’s spacecraft Chandrayaan-3 will be landing on the moon. We congratulate you.”

India carefully chose the date and time of its moon landing to send a message to the world: We are a big country, in population and in capacities too.

Modi looked proud to put India on a fast path to global superiority. It’s the fourth country to ever land on the moon, and the first to reach its south pole.

It may seem like an irony that a country where half the population still has no access to sanitation can reach the moon with its own capacities. But India’s success story is unlike those of China, Russia, or the West.

The Indian administration could have focused on building sanitation facilities, improving its colonial-era railway system, or securing housing for tens of millions of homeless people.

Instead, it chose to take a holistic approach to development and focus on education and scientific advancement. Particular focus was placed on technology, capitalizing on the skills of its people, who led the modern technological revolution in the United States.

What made India’s star shine at the BRICS Summit and across the world that watched its spacecraft landing on the moon is that it chose to employ technology to build rockets that break through space and colonize the moon. In contrast, neighboring Iran spent its money building rockets that threaten the region and launching nuclear projects for military purposes.

India is simultaneously building a third-world country that enjoys the basic requirements of a decent life and that’s also one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

What was Modi celebrating two years ago? “The world is amazed that toilets have been provided to more than 600 million people in 60 months, building more than 110 million toilets.”

Today, the Indian Prime Minister is celebrating the competencies of India’s scientists who just sent a spacecraft to the moon after a failed attempt. India is the world’s sixth biggest economy, and its ambition is to become the third by 2050.

But India’s space efforts are different. When Russia and the United States entered the space race, each had up its sleeve a century’s worth of progressive civilization. India, on the other hand, was still deemed a poor country two decades ago.

One facet of the space race is the additional dose of national pride and the increased significance it gives a country. But more importantly, it reflects the scientific advancement taking place in the country and its ambitions for the future as humans increasingly look for solutions for the earth’s problems in the wide space.

The Americans decided to resume their moon conquests after a long hiatus, and two companies are currently in a heated race to make a new moon landing.

China and Russia are doing the same. Last April, Japan tried and failed, but a new attempt is currently in the making. Israel also tried and failed, despite its significant scientific superiority, but it has yet to try again.

So let us extend our respect and congratulations to India and Indian scientists for this great success.