CHANDRAYAN- 3 has successfully landed on the southern part of the Moon! A moment of pride to all Indians!
Van Marrison, the famous Irish singer in his captivating band sings “It’s marvelous night for a Moon dance.” One would feel like dancing to this romantic lyric to celebrate Chandrayan-3’s landing on the moon!
Robert Frost, the celebrated American poet wrote in his poem “going for water”:
“We ran as if to meet the moon.
That slowly dawned behind the trees.
The barren boughs without the leaves,
Without the birds, without the breeze.”
Yes, we ran to meet the moon and we have said “Namaste” to this celestial body for having been a close friend and buddy to the earth from time immemorial. She is known for her love, grace, beauty, modesty, silence, and peace. One cannot imagine how many nights she illuminated this blue planet with her grace and grandeur igniting curiosity in the minds of billions of lives! All our fables describing the old woman and the rabbits on the moon have become fancies of human imagination and no one would like to describe their fiancée any more as ‘chandramuki’ as our early poets did in all languages world over. The journey to the moon has not been easy. It has taught us several lessons which we need to keep in mind for eternity. They are lessons when reflected, could transform the entire Indian community to a new generation of aspirants and to a new world of achievers. But are we prepared to learn these lessons which can uplift every commoner, immaterial of his formal learning? It could infuse a spirit of curiosity in us, as Shriley MacLaine states “The moon is too close. I want to go farther.”
As for the ISRO scientists ‘it is a small step on the moon, but a big leap to the Indian ethos.’ They have proved through this endeavor their knowledge, skills, competencies, and effort. They have also sent a powerful message to the entire Indian community of what one can do as a country. Mark Twain remarked once “Everyone is a Moon and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody." But, by landing the chandrayan-3 on the darker side of the moon, the ISRO has shown how to convert the darker side of anyone’s life into a brighter side. What lessons should we learn from this Mission Moon?
1. FAILURE NEVER MATTERS
Though Chandrayan-2 cannot be called a failure because of its partial malfunctions inhibiting a safe and smooth landing, it did dishearten the people to some extent. There were people who questioned our own abilities and competencies. They were waiting to pick holes from the cost involved in the project and how it could have been spent otherwise. There were people who enjoyed the process of self-defeat as it comforted them for one reason or the other. But the chandrayan-3 mission has given the powerful message that no failure could deter us. Proverbially ‘life has no ends, but only bends.’ In tune with this, the scientist rose again like phoenix and showed the world that ‘True greatness lies not in never falling, but in raising every time we fall.’ This is a great lesson for the younger generation. Compromising with failure, getting depressed with failure, lending ourselves to suicidal tendencies even for infinitely small challenges is not the way forward to a purposeful life. The focus and attention of the ISRO scientists to understand the challenges, accept the mistakes, find solutions to problems and re-engineer themselves to seek excellence is a great lesson to the entire nation.
2. EFFORTS NEVER FAIL
The great Tamil Saint Thiruvalluvar remarks in one of his couplets “முயற்சி திருவினையாக்கும்” meaning ‘efforts never fail.’ The combined efforts of the ISRO units did prove this point. If one looks for a solution to a problem, it always exists. It is important to think outside the box. It is important to accept that there is a way out. It calls for optimism, a belief system. As Norman Cousins put “Drugs are always not necessary, but the belief in recovery is.” The Indian efforts does prove the point that if you believe you can, you will. Interestingly, nowhere did one find any complaint about the erstwhile failure as lack of infrastructure, lack of resources or lack of any support system. Hats off, the team did acknowledge the mistakes that were intrinsic in their approach and could intellectually reflect, analyze, and fix them. There was no visible blame game shifting responsibility to anyone else. This is a great lesson to every organization, institution – be it corporate or governmental that they should rise above the individual differences when it comes to any crisis management, when it concerns national commitment or for that matter any larger purposes relating to human welfare. People should learn to deal with issues and not with people who manage issues.
3. PATIENCE PAYS
It is important to note that the entire team played a very dignified game in designing and implementing the project. No ordinary person or any institution could observe a sense of impatience, hurry or stress exhibited in playing the game. Yes, to say that they had no stress at all would be foolish. Probably the eustress in ensuring the quality and success of the project was inevitable. But they did exhibit to the country a high degree of emotional intelligence, by not overstating anything about the project, not over-stepping anywhere in their communication, not over-projecting their efforts or goals. The exhibition of professionalism in communication is worthy of a commendation. Even when the Russian efforts narrated through Luna-25 was on show, there were no unwarranted comments relating to their inadequacies or strategies, though there were a set of people who could compare notes. Indeed, it is a lesson for other governmental and non-governmental agencies that they should hold to their professional ethos and engage less with branding and advertising before the eggs are hatched.
4. IT IS THE TEAM THAT WINS
One could easily understand the agony and pain of the erstwhile chairperson of the ISRO when the Chandrayan-2 crash-landed on the moon. His emotions reflected those of the entire organization. Nevertheless, one understands that this kind of project which is being watched and witnessed by the entire world needs a support system in its several dimensions. Collaboration and cooperation are the two key words that would define success in such attempts. Every single subsystem must work accurately, precisely, and perfectly. It means that the entire team has a shared vision, a commitment to think synergistically and as one single unit. With its several of the functional units positioned in various places, it appears they breathed together, and they served the cause. The nation needs to be proud of such kind of a team effort. It is a significant lesson and message to other functional arms of the government which displays chaos because of ego issues and defeating others to score a point over them. “Ask for the moon: you will be surprised how often you get it,” said Paulo Coelho. We engage with some priceless actions not too often and the only way we can ensure success is through team effort. It is indeed a lesson for several organizations.
5. COMPETITION IS NOT THE GATEWAY TO EXCELLENCE
I had the occasion to go through a cartoon published by a foreign agency belittling the Indian decision to put a spacecraft on the moon. That was indeed a show of fiscal arrogance and intellectual poverty. The Indian scientists have proved to the entire world that subjective and biased views have nothing to do with their adventurous minds. The cost of Chandrayan-3 is ridiculously low as compared to the cost of such robust rockets of other countries carrying tons of fuel. The ability of the Indian mind to maneuver the strategies, design and hold on to their elliptical and circular orbits by periodic interventions to minimize the fuel usage is a feather on their cap. I recall the famous words of George Bernard Shaw who said “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are they who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.” Even the urgency with which Luna 25 was put in orbit projected to the world a sense of competition to show one upmanship. Whether that was true or not, ISRO stood to their ground of being who they were and thus disengaged from any competitive spirit in their pursuit to demonstrate their excellence. “We are going to the moon that is not extremely far. Man has so much farther to go within himself,” said Anais Nin, the French essayist and novelist.
6. ATTENTION TO DETAILS MATTERS
Many activities in the country are conducted in a superficial manner. This indeed leads to challenges in defining quality. Compromises on quality causes immense problems both on short-term and long-term designs, products, processes and contribute to fiscal wastage draining the national wealth. Edward Deming, the father of Total quality management said, “It's not enough to do your best; you must know what to do and then do your best.” The way the entire procedure appears to have been laid out seems mesmerizing. Attention to data and details show a deep learning of the entire process. The precautionary steps taken to meet any eventuality show the level of planning and sensitivity to every single move of the spacecraft and its relationship with the ecosystem in which it is positioned. I think the younger generation should learn from this entire experiment how they should investigate details, navigate through procedures, and focus on perfection. Though a ‘zero-defect system’ is indeed wishful thinking, it can never be called an impossibility.
7. SCIENCE IS CURIOSITY UNLIMITED
“The moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to” said carl Sandburg. The Chandrayan-3 ‘s visit was celebrated with a welcome by a buddy, an elder one, Chandrayan-2. That ensures that neither the moon nor its eco-system is going to be lonely any further. The curiosity of the Pragyan-the rover, its researching mind inhabited with AI will help in unravelling the curiosity of the humankind and especially India. Though the active life of the mission will be one solar day of the moon, with its corresponding 15-day time schedule of its homeland will put the nation on a learning curve unknown so far. It will reinforce our understanding of science as curiosity unlimited articulated through a set of logistic approaches that make sense to unravel the truth. "God put the moon in the sky to remind us that our darkest moments lead to our brightest” says Lynne Ewing, the author of the book “Goddess of the Moon.” With the launch of Chandrayan-3, the brightest moment in human history is yet to unfold to us. Let us be ready to see the wonders that will follow. But each wonder that we would encounter is going to take us towards a greater purpose. As Mahatma Gandhi puts it “When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.”