India Celebrates Chandrayaan-3 Achievement: As India basks in the glory of the historic success of the Chandrayaan-3 moon mission’s landing at the lunar south pole, a momentary lapse by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has taken center stage, drawing light-hearted mockery.
Addressing an event in Kolkata just before the Chandrayaan-3 lander’s lunar touchdown, Chief Minister Banerjee inadvertently mixed up astronaut Rakesh Sharma with Bollywood actor-filmmaker Rakesh Roshan.
“On behalf of the people of West Bengal, I extend my advanced congratulations to ISRO. Credit must be given to the scientists, and the nation deserves recognition. When Rakesh Roshan [sic] touched down on the moon, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked him about India’s appearance from there,” Ms. Banerjee stated.
India Celebrates Chandrayaan-3 Achievement
In reality, Rakesh Sharma, an Indian Air Force pilot, became the first Indian to venture into space in 1984 as part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition. During a live televised news conference, the astronaut spoke to then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from space. She inquired, “Upar se Bharat kaisa dikhta hai aapko?” (How does India appear from space?). Sharma’s poetic response was, “Saare jahaan se achcha” (Better than the entire world).
The West Bengal Chief Minister’s mix-up swiftly went viral on social media, triggering a cascade of playful memes at her expense.
Interestingly, Ms. Banerjee wasn’t the sole politician caught in a Chandrayaan-3-related gaffe. In another corner of the country, a Rajasthan minister praised the “passengers” of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, despite the mission being unmanned.
“If we achieve success and execute a safe landing, I salute the passengers. Our nation has progressed in science and space exploration. I extend my congratulations to all citizens for this achievement,” remarked Rajasthan Sports Minister Ashok Chandna, as reported by news agency PTI.
India etched history by being the first country to land a spacecraft near the moon’s southern pole, a region believed to hold water ice deposits. The touchdown occurred at 6:04 pm on Wednesday, igniting jubilant cheers and celebrations at the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru.
Over the upcoming 14 days, or one lunar day, the rover Pragyan will traverse the lunar surface, transmitting images and data to Earth-bound scientists, an exciting phase in India’s cosmic journey.”