…changing paradigm for women – High CommissionerAll eyes will be on India as it creates history by landing its second lunar mission on the moon this Friday.Chandrayaan-2 launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, in Sriharikota, India, on July 22, 2019The “Chandrayaan-2” mission was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on July 22, leaving the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in southern Andhra Pradesh. It weighs 3.8 tonnes and has three elements: lunar orbiter, lander and rover.According to the ISRO, the touchdown is scheduled for late Friday afternoon, which would be early Saturday morning India time. The mission will be studying previously discovered water deposits.If all goes well then India will become the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the moon and the first to land towards the lunar South Pole.Thus far, only the United States, Russia and China have put landing crafts on the moon. Israel had attempted to join the elite club but failed in April.Speaking with Guyana Times on Wednesday, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr K J Srinivasa explained that this mission is the second phase and an upgraded version of Chandrayaan-1, which successfully landed on the moon in 2008.“This mission will be used to explore the topography of the lunar surface, the middle content and mostly important, the presence of water on the moon,” he explained, adding that it is “intended to be sort of a technology demonstrator for future planning, management, development and also the organisation of inter-planet remissions and also to see how we can use the moon as a preparatory platform for using India’s technology in future missions”.According to the diplomat, Chandrayaan-2, which he said means “mission to moon”, displays a lot of confidence in India’s technological prowess. He pointed out that India’s steady growth of 7 per cent GDP is not only because of one particular sector but an amalgamation of all. This, he noted, is part of India’s aim of becoming the fifth largest economy in the world and having successes such as the Chandrayaan-2 mission will propel these efforts, especially on the technological education front.“Success breeds interests and for us, we are seeing this as a trailer for bigger things to come,” he posited.Dr Srinivasa reminded that Indian ancestors had vast knowledge of space and this serves as an additional impetus for the country to work on new technologies and also promoting science in India.“Science has help mankind to develop and the sudden explosion of development, science had everything to do with that…” he contended.Currently, he noted that Indian students, especially researchers, have helped the country develop great interests in the science field and these people have evolved into experts who are flourishing abroad. In fact, he highlighted a recent study which shows that more than half of NASA’s scientists are Indians.“So when such missions happen, it helps promote science at a micro level,” he stated, noting that India’s education sector is geared at encouraging more people to go into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas.Dr Srinivasa noted that the country’s previous space missions – lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and its mission to Mars in 2014 – garnered tremendous interests and scientific developments. One of which, he explained, is cost.According to the diplomat, the general notion of space missions is that it is a very costly exercise. But he noted that India has been able to develop a low budget mission despite being a developing country. This, he noted, is depicted in the Hindi-cinema movie “Mission Mangal”, which portrays the country’s journey to Mars using a low-cost model to become the first country in the world to reach Mars in its first attempt.Furthermore, Dr Srinivasa asserted that Chandrayaan-2 is blazing the trail for future generations having brought young scientists, especially women scientists, to the fore.The Project Director of Chandrayaan-2 is Muthayya Vanitha while the Mission Director is Ritu Karidhal – both engineers at the ISRO. However, the Indian High Commissioner noted that the way was paved for females since the Chandrayaan-1 mission.“That changed the paradigm of how space exploration and women’s [involvement] were being looked at. The proverbial glass ceiling has been broken…,” he noted.Recognising that encouragement for women had been previously lacking both at home and in the professional environment for varying reasons, this is now becoming a thing of the past.“But in this modern era, I think [women] are being given a safer involvement, a secure involvement in the laboratories and working fields. It has helped them to get their talents to be exposed to the fullest,” he said.The Indian diplomat added, “This is the new India, brave India or, I would say, bold India which we are seeing now. Women especially have had a very important role in India and this will actually help them to get into more scientific streams, get into space explorations, and also at the same time contribute meaningfully to the development of the country”.