Chandrayaan-1 Lifts Off

Last night (Tuesday Oct 21, 9.52pm US Eastern time) I watched with awe when the giant PSLV rocket blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space center in Shriharikota, India, carrying with it India’s pride – the Chadrayaan-1 unmanned lunar mission. Largely ignored by the US media, the Chandrayaan-1 mission may not be of much interest to the US population but it is a giant step for India to prove to the world that India can do whatever it puts its mind to. With the success of this mission, India will join the select group of countries who have made lunar missions. Many are asking for the economic justification of such an expensive adventure. When the majority of Indians are lacking the basic necessities of life, scientific extravaganza like a “Lunar mission” is seen as nothing but sheer luxury. The nuclear exercise at least had some tangible benefits in the defense and energy sector. What benefits are we expecting by sending a box full of instruments to the moon? Are we sending a space craft to the moon only because “it is there”? Or is it because we want to stake a claim on a new frontier by planting the tri-color just as we did in Antartica? Continue reading

Neel Kashkari to Oversee $700bn Bailout

Neel KashkariNeel Kashkari, a 35 year old son of immigrant parents Chaman and Sheila Kashkari from Jammu and Kashmir, has been appointed by the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to oversee and manage the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. This brings Neel directly under the global spotlight as to how he manages this huge and controversial issue that affects millions of people not only in USA, but also all around the globe. The other day, when an NPR radio commentator mentioned that “a rocket scientist” has been invited to rescue the Wall Street, he was not joking. Neel did work as an R&D engineer at TRW in California where he helped in the development of space technology for NASA, like the James Webb Space Telescope scheduled to be launched in 2013 to replace the aging Hubble Telescope. Neel received his engineering training from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, and later an MBA in finance from Wharton School of Univ. of Pennsylvania.
The media is now buzz with this new comer and his name has already been a source of many puns and wise cracks – “Cash Carry” to handle the cash debacle? Isn’t he too young and inexperienced to handle such a grave economic situation?
But many are pinning their hopes on this bright young Indian American. His youth, his creative and out of the box thinking, as well as his engineering background to craft innovative solutions to tough problems, can prove to be an asset in resolving this crisis. We all look forward to Neel to get us out of this black hole.