Page 45 - Science India August 2022
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        years before we celebrate the Azadi ka Shatak Mahotsav in 2047.
When the Narendra Modi administra- tion took charge in 2014, the first sig- nificant policy change it undertook was to rejig and rename the Planning Com- mission of India to National Institute for Transforming India Aayog, better known as NITI Aayog. The renaming demonstrated the willingness to break the low-ceiling created by short-dura- tion five-year planning and widen it; although, NITI never informed what planning durations it was looking at. Executing any project requires meticu- lous planning, monitoring, and attain- ing of targets. Often, such marks are to be achieved at regular intervals, and 5-year planning makes sense if micro- scopic execution is to be undertaken. However, Indian policymakers could not execute targets set within the 5-year plans efficiently. They somehow did not realise the significance of planning over longer durations which is necessary to make those microscopic achievements in 5-year durations. India desperately needed to plan big and over longer time horizons — quarter or half-a-century at least — and ensure that several micro- scopic executions eventually led to the larger plan.
A 25-year plan and execution ho- rizon attributed to Amrit Kaal (2022- 2047) is an auspicious event for India. Firstly, it augurs very well for projects that have long gestation periods. Cut- ting-edge science is one of them. From Deep Ocean Mission to Indian Human Space Flight Programme; from Interna- tional Thermonuclear Energy Reactor to LIGO-India (an advanced gravita- tional-wave observatory to be located in India); from International Solar Al- liance to Earth BioGenome Project; from achieving Net Zero Emissions, Circular Economy, the execution of the 10-trillion-dollar economy mark will all depend on how India dreams, plans, ex- ecutes and attains its targets during the Amrit Kaal. Twenty-five years down the line, the habit of looking at longer time horizons will get so entrenched in the
Image Couurtesy: Adolfo Cj / Pixabay
comet. The spacecraft had begun its journey seven years earlier, in 2004. The instruments that flew on Rosetta had been designed roughly since 1995, whereas ESA began conceptualising the mission around 1986. The end-of- mission happened in 2016. So, what did I, and many like me who learned from the mission, experience? We experienced long-range planning and execution in the real world. The mission lasted — from concept to final closure — precisely for 30 years. The beauty of Rosetta was that three generations worked on them diligently, tirelessly, and with utmost ef- ficiency. Landing on a 4-km wide comet with technology from the 1990s was no mean feat. It asked for 20 years of prepa- ration, and it got it.
There’s a difference between projects that get delayed excruciatingly and proj- ects that demand excruciating diligence and commitments. To avoid delays in any project and to tirelessly work on long-gestation projects require me- ticulous short-duration planning. And therefore, this article does not look down upon short-duration planning. But imag- ine, what if those conceptualising Ro- setta gave themselves only five-years? The mission certainly would not have flown at all.
 The success of cutting-edge science missions like the International Solar Alliance will depend on how India executes its targets during Amrit Kaal
minds of our executives, scientists, and planners that India will not return to the socialist era of short-sightedness. Indeed, Indians would never denigrate short- term achievements but would develop a penchant for accumulating short-term achievements to attain bigger ambitions.
I must give here an example from my own professional life. I was 22 when I got selected to do my Ph.D. at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Re- search in Germany. My PhD project, which eventually was also the title of my thesis, was titled “The Organic Compo- sition of a Cometary Nucleus, the CO- SAC Experiment on Philae.” The project was quite remarkable. I was to work on a ground-reference model, a laboratory- based prototype of the COSAC payload, flying on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Rosetta spacecraft to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. When I joined in 2011, the spacecraft was three years away from reaching the target
Twenty-five years on, the habit of looking at longer time horizons will get so entrenched in the minds of our planners that India will not return to the socialist era of short-sightedness

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