Touching Lives – The little known triumphs of the Indian space programme by S.K.Das
When I first saw this book, and heard some good words about it, it somehow failed to generate interest in me. Perhaps, the name ISRO made me feel that this is not my sort of book..I don’t know. However, one fine day, I infact began reading it… and it not only amazed me… it made me think..it made me feel great about ISRO and taught me a lot of things on what technology can do to common man.
“Touching Lives” is an account of how ISRO’s technology reached far corners of India and how people benifited from it. I am still half-way through the book, but cannot resist writing a post on it now. Perhaps, I might end up writing another post too, once I complete reading it. Its written by S.K.Das, an ex-civil servant and associated with ISRO. The story begins with Dr Kasturirangan, the then ISRO head asking Das to go around and see how successfully ISRO’s programs are running in Indian villages. This was in response to an anonymous letter, which had some complaints. So, S.K.Das sets out on a mission to explore and check on ISRO’s activities…and the book begins to generate curiosity in you.
It begins by describing about ISRO’s activities in Alirajpur village in Madhya Pradesh.. the SITE project. Its a tribal dominated village and the aim of the project is to educate the people there about various things starting from agriculture to general hygeine. It is from this place that the complaining anonymous letter arrived. Here, we meet the villagers, who share their experiences with the project and talk about how they benifited by it. My admiration to ISRO’s work began here… and is still going on.
There are cases of ISRO helping Fishermen in being more productive in lesser time and by less investment (Lakshadweep), reaching remote villages and giving them access to some of the country’s best doctors by their Telemedicine program (Portblair,Lakshadweep, Tripura etc), helping people in Koraput finding water resources, providing Education in Chamaraja Nagar (EDUSAT) etc. Most of the beneficiaries were the Below Poverty Line people. Most of them are Tribals, who are illiterate and living in utter penury. After seeing all those pessimistic accounts in news papers regularly, I was surprised to read about these things. Perhaps, what Dr Kalam said was true after all! – we highlight only when theres something amiss and when its “BAD”. Our papers perhaps really do not care about the good things, that happen too. I am quite surprised that.. when ISRO is doing so many things, I remained blissfully unaware, despite trying to follow whats going on around me. Lucky that I found this book. Thanks to my brother, who told me about this. 🙂
Ofcourse, the book potrays only a positive side..and gives an impression that its a fool proof thing and there are absolutely no problems that they ever faced. But, then, I think they can be excused…as we see the reverse scenario in the news-journalism these days. To conclude, hopefully, I come up with another blogpost on this. But, before that… let me strongly recommend to whoever reads this post – that this is a must read book…
Penguin publishers, cost: Rs 250/-
Available on most of the online bookstores too.