Tirupati and Mars mission: Rationalists cry foul over Isro chief's temple visit

Isro chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan may heave a sigh of relief at the successful launch of the Mars mission but his troubles are far from over.

The rationalists are up in arms against him for offering special prayers and performing pooja with the replica of Mars Orbiter Mission at the Lord Venkateshwara temple in Tirupati, a day before the successful launch of the spacecraft from Sriharikota.

Is Isro chief right in going to Tirupati with Mars mission replica? AFP.

Is Isro chief right in going to Tirupati with Mars mission replica? AFP.

According to IBNLive, Narendra Nayak, President of Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA), said in a statement, "We strongly condemn the attitude of the Chairman of ISRO K Radhakrishnan who has insulted the Constitution of India by placing the replica of the satellite meant for the Mars mission at the feet of a deity at Tirupati. He is unfit to occupy the position of the head of the space mission and should be immediately sacked."

The Deccan Herald report also said that his actions are also in violation of Article 51AH of the Indian constitution which states that it is the duty of every citizen of the country to develop scientific temper and the spirit of inquiry and humanism.

Narendra Nayak also said that worshipping a particular deity in matters of state is not just against the constitutional but against the spirit of our secular country.

"I don’t know which principle of science is applicable to the act of placing a replica of the satellite at the feet of a statue at a temple. How can a person like him in a responsible position in a government organisation be foolish enough to believe that prayers to particular god can ensure the proper launch of a satellite! I don’t know who is responsible for the failures in such a scenario," he was quoted by Deccan Herald.

Dr K Radhakrishnan is however not the only scientist from Isro who went to seek divine blessings from Tirupati. Former Isro chief G Madhavan Nair had also sought divine blessings before Chadrayaan mission.

Strictly speaking, seeking divine blessings or visiting a religious place to practise one's faith is a personal business. Both Radhakrishnan and Nair, even if they are scaling the heights of science, are allowed that liberty. But to take the replica of the Mars mission to the temple is hardly a personal business.

Both the scientists have brushed aside this controversy by saying that this is a very minor thing and there has been a tradition of visiting the temple before every mission. But still, does that make it right? The jury is out on that.


Published Date: Nov 07, 2013 04:16 pm | Updated Date: Nov 07, 2013 04:16 pm