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Fact Check – Was ISRO founded by Jawaharlal Nehru as Congress claimed?

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This month has been phenomenal for Indian Space research, as India became the first nation in the World, which has successfully landed on the South Pole of Moon. However, the moment Chandrayaan-3 touched down on the Moon, the Congress has started its habitual attempt to claim credit for ISRO’s achievements.

Congress said it is a collective success of every Indian and ISRO’s achievement reflects a saga of continuity and is truly fantastic. Congress general secretary (communications) Jairam Ramesh said that “unable to digest the contribution” of Jawaharlal Nehru that led to the setting up of ISRO and asserted that the India’s first prime minister used to encourage the scientific approach.

He further said, “Nehru used to promote scientific approach. Those who are unable to digest his contribution in the setting up of ISRO should listen to his speech on the foundation day of TIFR (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research).”

The Congress has said India’s space journey began in 1962 with the formation of INCOSPAR which was the result of the farsightedness of Homi Bhabha and Vikram Sarabhai, along with enthusiastic support from the country’s first prime minister.

Fact Check – Was it Nehru who founded ISRO?

We must admit that it is indeed a big fake news implanted by Congress that Nehru started ISRO. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was set up by Dr. Vikram Sarabhai to create an indigenous space program.

This committee was, at that time, part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. TIFR was founded on the insistence of Dr. Homi Bhabha, who wrote to Sir Dorabji Tata Trust asking for financial assistance. JRD Tata supported Dr. Homi Bhabha’s idea & TIFR was set up on 1 June 1945, well before independence, when Nehru was NOT making any decisions for India. The institute was initially within the campus of the Tata (later Indian) Institute of Science, Bangalore.

One may be reminded that the origin of Indian Institute of Science can be traced .to the conversation b/w Swami Vivekananda & Jamshedji Tata on board the ship they took to US in 1893, where Swamiji made this proposal for starting a research institute for fundamental science research in India.

So coming back to Nehru & Space, it so happened that Nehru explicitly rejected the request of TIFR founder Homi Bhabha for funding research in the Five Year Plan. Nehru did not want to fund the space program at all. The progress & the funding of this work was via Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) & not the govt of India.

Initially, Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) in Trivandrum was set up 4 upper atmospheric research. INCOSPAR became ISRO in 1969. Nehru died in 1964 So Nehru didn’t start INCOSPAR or ISRO. He had very little input into the overall Indian Institute of Science Operations.

Hence, we can say that it is indeed an injustice to credit Nehru for foundation of ISRO.

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