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Sunday, February 25 2024
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India aims for the moon, eyes boundless opportunities: UN envoy

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United Nations: “By aiming for the moon, India has not only reached it, but also set our sights on the limitless possibilities that lie ahead (and) as the saying goes, ‘To infinity and beyond’,” India’s Permanent Representative Ruchira Kamboj has said.

While the successful landing of the Chandrayan-3 on the moon “symbolises the aspirations of 1.4 billion Indians,” she added on Wednesday that “it’s a historic moment for humanity as we venture into uncharted territory near the moon’s South Pole”.

“What really stands out is that India is the first country to land on the South Pole of the moon, where many others have not succeeded so far,” she said.

Before her news conference here, India received congratulations from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and General Assembly President Csaba Korosi.

Conveying congratulations from Guterres, who is in Johannesburg for the BRICS meeting of the Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa group, his Associate Spokesperson Florencia Soto Nino said at the UN noon briefing, “This is a great achievement.”

“We wish India a greater success in its space exploration,” she added.

Korosi’s Spokesperson Pulina Kubiak said that he congratulated India and that within his office, “many of the Indian colleagues were celebrating that achievement.”

United States Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield congratulated India in a post on X (formerly Twitter) and said, “Look forward to further deepening US-India space cooperation — including our work together at the @UN and beyond — as new frontiers continue to be explored.”

Of India’s lunar mission contributing to various objectives to the UN, Kamboj singled out the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of gender equality.

“A very significant number of scientists who worked on India’s moon mission Chandrayaan-3 are women, very much in sync with India’s model of women-led growth and development and also linking beautifully with SDG 5, which is all about gender equity,” she said.

Globally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi “has emphasised that the success belongs to all of us and holds promise for future scientific achievements that will benefit humanity as a whole,” she added.

In a reference to India’s international space cooperation, Kamboj said, “For India, and mankind ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) has launched many rockets and satellites.”

“ISROS’s own lunar and interplanetary missions, including the latest Chandrayaan-3, along with other scientific projects, encourage and promote science education,” she added.

On the significance of the lunar landing for developing countries as whole, Kamboj quoted Modi: “I am confident that all countries in the world, including those from the Global South are capable of achieving such feats. We can all aspire to the moon and beyond.”

Speaking last year at a meeting of the General Assembly panel on peaceful uses of outer space, Nitish Birdi, the Minister in India’s permanent mission, outlined the scope of New Delhi’s global cooperation.

He said that India has signed more than 260 space cooperation documents covering aspects such as technology protection, ground station support, cooperation in aerosol monitoring, space situational awareness and peaceful uses of outer space.

A reporter asked Kamboj whether she intended to seek a resolution from the General Assembly or other organisations “to mark this significant milestone”.

She replied, “Thank you very much for putting that thought in our mind. I will come back to you on this.”

A Palestinian journalist asked Kamboj about Kashmir, as well about expanding BRICS membership and if the successful lunar mission enhanced India’s chances for becoming a permanent member of the Security Council.

She declined to answer the questions which she said were “valid”, but that “this is not the moment for these questions. Today’s the day of celebration, and we are focusing on India’s success and indeed, the success of the whole of humanity”.

She, however, offered to meet the journalist at India’s mission to discuss the questions.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in and followed at @arulouis)

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