Thinking of Jono's xprize but somthing completely different.(india)

I was going to throw this comment in Jono’s xprize post. But it sort of went off on a tangent so I am separating it…just wondering what people thought.

In the above mentioned topic the discussion is around education in poor countries, which then leads to hunger, quality of life and so forth.
Then I wonder, how one of the poorest countries. With the highest level of poverty in the world, could justify spending 74 million dollars sending a satellite to mars.

Now I understand most of us may be geeks and the idea of hanging on mars may be pretty cool. But in the reality of it. It’s a dead planet, with not much going on for us. Best bet, it’s a goldmine for scientists and maybe a place for new minerals and the growth of mankind’s greed.
But as I see it, the people of India really needed that money spent elsewhere. The focus put into making that great accomplishment(I don’t deny) happen, if redirected with it’s resources could of possibly solved so many issues here on earth. Heck, 74 million could very well feed the hungry of india for quite some time if managed well.
Sometimes I just wonder about our priorities. Again, i’ll be the first to buy a condo on mars when they are available. But I really think we need to use our science, tech and $ to solve the things we have going on down here.

Was wondering what you guys thought.?

India’s GDP this year is expected to be around 2.3 trillion US dollars so in comparison 74 million dollars is a tiny amount. As of 2010 almost 70% of the population were in poverty (earning less than $2 a day correcting for inflation, based on the 2005 value of the dollar) though this has reduced from almost 90% in 1978. For the well educated middle classes however they have similar life styles to those we share in the US and Western Europe so it’s not surprising that they should want to get involved in big science - It’s more sexy.

Would it be better for India to spend this money on water, sanitation and education? I think so but its a personal decision. I argued that @jeremy should spend his money on charity: water because I see it has the most efficient use of our money (most benefit per dollar) but that does not mean we should ignore other causes. If you have a loved one with cancer you will probably want to give your money to Roswell Park instead people have different priories and when it comes to research and big science we don’t know the benefits until do the experiments. Many people back in the 1960’s thought the space race was a waste of time and money but with the benefit of hind sight we have gained a lot more than just having a few people stand on the moon.

The OPs post is well taken, but I would argue a different perspective. And that is the possibility that technology created by this mission, would benefit the causes you have in mind.

In going to Mars, consider the range of different materials that need to be invented, the engergy harnessing, storage and useage problems that need to be overcome, the water usage and recycling schemes that will be investigated, the food useage issuses, the protection from sun radiation challenge. Science seldom, if ever, is linear. Meaning you don’t know what outcomes your work will have. In fact the only thing you can be sure of, is the logical certainty that if you restrict the directions of research, you restrict the possible outcomes.

Hence, while the lack of a clear path to benefit of the more worthy causes is frustrating, I don’t think it follows that the funding should be diverted.

A caveat to that would be if this was the only pot of funds available to the causes, or was significant in proportion to the the funding available to those causes, then of course, it should be diverted. But this is $74million, in an $xtrillion (pun not intended) ocean. So I don’t think it’s out of place.

A second caveat is that it’s a good question that bears regular re-evaluation.

Good Points

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