The more things change, the more they stay the same

I don’t really talk much about what I do at my job. But one of the things that I do is find images that can be featured along side the text. As a feature image.

Tomorrow, an article will be published about the Indian Space Research Organisation’s successful launch of the Reusable Launch Vehicle and when I came across the image below, I just couldn’t help but select it as the image we would use (all with due credit to the original publishers).


Why was this image perfect? Why not something like the RLV being launched or something ‘cool’ like that?

The answer comes from another image:

This image is supposedly the first Indian rocket, which is being transported by bicycle.

What I love, is the contextual symmetry between these two images.

In the past, you have the rocket being transported by bicycle, the driver wearing a simple outfit which has since become ubiquitous among Indian civil servants. In the present, you have the RLV parked, and rather than it remaining a sterile site, with oodles of military troops guarding this device, you instead have a group of guys (not even in any kind of distinguishing uniform) standing around and even sitting next to the RLV.

To me it has a beauty to it. The whole thing just screams India!

But don’t take it the wrong way; this isn’t a bad thing. This doesn’t mean that India’s doing something wrong, on the contrary…


In 2014, the New York Times published this cartoon after India successfully launched a ‘low cost’ satellite to Mars. It was revolutionary because it was done for a fraction of the cost that any other nation had managed. The cartoon caused public outroar, and even in my own family there was a disgust at how the New York Times had been completely discriminatory towards India.

My thoughts then were different:

Devil's advocate

But now, when I look at all of this together. It’s not even a rich vs. poor argument anymore. It’s just that as Indian’s we do things differently!

The above images are used very often to show that India is a ‘backwards’ nation, a nation of poor and less fortunate souls. I’m sure that image of the RLV will also be used to remind us that we’re not worthy to be a space faring nation.

But the truth is, India has already proven itself, more than enough. It belongs in that club, whether it’s in a 3-piece suit or a dhoti and slippers (A dhoti is a national dress after all). The quirkiness that we have a space program that has a legacy like this, and that that legacy is unintentionally but so magnificently continued as a gigantic middle finger to the rest of the developed nations space programs is exactly why we should be even more proud of ISRO’s achievements and when a western publication publishes a cartoon like the one above, we should laugh it off and go about our business, for it makes no difference to us.

(All images belong to their respective copyright holders.)

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