In 2013 when Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched the rocket to Mars, it did seem incredible to the many ‘western’ assumptions. The reputed news media The New York Times ran a stereotype cartoon depicting an Indian man with a cow knocking on the doors of the ‘elite’ space club. After protests, NY Times later gave an unrepentant apology for the cartoon.

Sarcasm is fuel to the egoistic. But the humble has the power of action. And karma has the last smile.

Within a few years, ISRO has created record after record. Today in 2017, it has gifted the world a way to launch 104 satellites, full-sized and nanos. After India, any country that comes close in Russia with 37 satellites. As if it is not ironical enough, out of the 104 satellites launched by ISRO, 96 satellites are from the USA.

Being called a rocket scientist is a title many lust for. In India, ISRO scientists are probably the most humble and nonchalant people working in any space agency. These brilliant men and women live like the common people of India – without any ego or arrogance – and the greatest example is the Honorable APJ Abdul Kalam himself.

Here we can see from the left a young Abdul Kalam with the ISRO spearhead, Shri Vikram Sarabhai.

ISRO Sarabhai kalam

It is very common to see ISRO scientists working like garage mechanics while building their rockets and satellites. You can see ABJ Abdul Kalam making a rocket. In his honour Switzerland will celebrate its National Science Day on May 26.

ISRO kalam scientists

The first rocket launched by ISRO. As they like to do things their own unassuming way, they used an old jeep and a crane (which was also faulty) to bring the rocket.

ISRO first rocket

Cows and bullock carts are true friends to India’s growth, no matter what ‘modern civilization’ may think! This is the APPLE Satellite, India’s first telecommunication satellite. The reason a bullock cart was used was that an antenna-range test was going to be carried out. It could not be done on a truck because the metal would interfere in the experiment. Instead of building a special locomotive by spending lakhs of rupees, ISRO simply used a bullock cart. Simple and genius, isn’t it?

ISRO India holy cow

A bicycle is one of the most useful machines ever invented and is a helping hand for many Indians. Here an ISRO scientist carries the rocket parts in his bicycle to be assembled in the launchpad.

ISRO India bicycle rocket

Why does ISRO launch foreign satellites? ISRO has a high success rate and low cost rate.

ISRO India bicycle rocket

Clients from all over world approach ISRO to launch their satellites – Google, Facebook and universities. The commercial division of ISRO is Antrix which collects the money from these clients and put the profit for further research in ISRO. Ratan Tata is among the Board Members of Antrix.

Indians have their own satellite imagery like Google Earth. ISRO has given to us Bhuvan, the online 3D satellite imagery tool.

Also see: Indian landmarks as seen from the satellites

ISRO’s achievements are probably too many to tell. But one needs special mention as it shows that they are strongly connected to their roots.

When Karnataka was severely affected by droughts in 2016, ISRO’s Antrix came to help. To stop farmer suicides, they adopted the Brahmasandra village in Tumakuru district.

They have given around Rs. 4 crore to help the farmers, sustain the village and build water saving systems. Today the 356 farming households have truly a helping hand beside them. No more are the poor farmers cutting their lives short.

As above, so below!

ISRO adopts drought village Brahmasandra

Image credits: Pinterest,, Quora, The Better India, The Logical Indian, The Financial Express