ISRO Scientists Share Candid Thoughts on an Unofficial Reddit AMA; Including “Kitna Deti Hai”

ISRO scientists took to Reddit to answer questions about ISRO, the debate around India reverse engineering the Russian cryogenic technology to most important question, kitna deti hai, i.e. salary of scientists.

Here are a few interesting questions and answers from the unofficial Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything).

How can a private citizen give money directly to the indian space program? What should be the name on the cheque and what should be the address on the envelope? I am not looking for any tax deductions, or even an receipt.

Pay your taxes. That’s the only way.

I was wondering what you guys think of foreign and often domestic criticism of the space program as being less useful to the development of the country when compared to other things which need more immediate attention and funds? This is not an opinion I hold, but I have read a lot of racist bullshit on reddit against the Indian space program. What do you think?

The other things which need the said attention and funds are more of an operations problem than of finance. Our Mars mission cost a fifth of what a planned ‘Statue of Unity’ is going to cost. NASA’s projected budget for 2013 is about $ 18 Billion, which will approximately be 0.5% of the total US budget. ISRO’s allotted budget for fiscal year 2013-14 is $ 950 Million, almost 19 times less, and is about 0.33% of the total Indian budget. So, no, ISRO is not taking a bite out of the poor and hungry Indian’s pie. In fact, through its remote sensing and communication programs (IRS and INSAT), we are only helping build an essential infrastructure for the country. Then, there is disaster management: we saved millions (of lives and dollars, both) by being well prepared for the cyclone Phailin. That is where maintaining cutting edge technological capability through R & D pays! Remote sensing helps our farmers and fishermen: the beloved poor-hungry-Indians and enables them to buy food. Giving them food, is not the answer. And our communication satellites are well, apart from connecting the remotest parts of a diverse and large country (telemedicine and edusat), are enabling me to answer this question in real time.

Where do you get food from while at work, and does dominoes deliver? What do rocket scientists eat when working? (Levity)

We have our internal canteen, and no, Dominos doesn’t deliver because our security stops them. You can get them to deliver if you can go to the main security check point at the entrance and take the delivery (in urban centres). For most centres in southern India, rice, curries, chapatis, and various veggies are the usual lunch. There is sweetmeat every now and then and special food on some occasions, but mostly traditional Indian food. Also, no ISRO meal is complete without a bowl of yoghurt.

Kitna deti hai?

At joining, for the youngest engineer in ISRO without taxes, currently 6.4 lakh per annum without deductions, at Bangalore. Add 48k to that when we get PRIS. Add another 30k if the DA becomes 100% next month. So, about 7.2 lakh per annum without any deductions (Starting salary)

Cool, eh?

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