There is a saying, "A Winner is not the one who never fails, but the one who never quits."
I had the opportunity of attending 8th Convocation of IIT Bhubaneswar on 21st September, 2019. Dr K Sivan, the chairman of ISRO was the chief guest. He was the star attraction during the convocation. The students requested for a special session with Dr Sivan in the evening. I also attended that special interactive session. I was impressed to see the simplicity, intellect and the clear thought process of this great scientist son of India who is heading the complete space program of our country. The whole nation was awake on the night of 6-7th September watching landing of The Lander, Vikram. The PM Modi himself was with the scientists at ISRO Control Center to convey a message to the whole nation and to the world. And when Lander reached within about 2.1 kilometres from surface of moon, there was a sudden silence. There was no message from Vikram Lander. There was gloom all around at the Space Centre as well as through out the country. 130 crores Indians were praying that it could be just a minor temporary hitch. But Vikram Lander had lost contact with ISRO Space Centre. Obviously something wrong had happened which was definitely not planned by the ISRO scientists. The Vikram Lander had crash landed instead of executing a soft landing. There was total gloom all around.
These are the difficult times when great leaders maintain their cool composure. They inject a fresh injection of energy and enthusiasm in the minds of people and encourage them not to lose heart. And our Prime Minister Mr Modi did a remarkable great job. He told the nation that the basis of science and technology is experiments and experiments. And every experiment need not be successful first time and every time. You observe the results and analyse them after every successful or partially successful or even a totally failed experiment and then continue your experiments tell success is achieved. Chandrayaan 2 has been a partially successful mission which was attempted for the first time by india and landing was also attempted in that part of the moon where no other country had tried so far. The Orbiter of Chandrayaan 2 continues to revolve around moon and shall continue to send data from moon for next seven years. Only Vikram Lander failed. But then also our scientists will not give up. They will continue to research and analyse the causes of this failure and shall make attempt again to make Chandrayaan 3 fully successful.
The Prime Minister left the venue at about 2’o clock in the early hours but he sensed clouds of gloom, failure and declining morale and therefore decided to meet the scientists and speak to them again at 8:00 a.m. The Indians around the world also wanted to listen to the prime minister once again about what he had to say about failure of Chandrayaan 2. He emphasized that it was not a failure. It was just another experiment. His full message at ISRO control centre is reproduced below:
"Sisters and brothers of India, my scientist friends, for the last few hours the entire nation was awake. We were awake in solidarity. In solidarity with our scientists who had embarked on one of the most ambitious missions of our space programs.
We came very close, but we will need to cover more ground in the times to come. Every Indian is filled with a spirit of pride as well as confidence. We are proud of our space program and scientists, their hard work and determination. [they] ensure a better life, not only for our citizens, but also for other nations.
It is the outcome of their innovative dream that several people have got access to a better quality of life, including better healthcare and education facilities. India is certain that there will be many more opportunities to be proud and rejoice. Thanks.
At the same time, we are full of confidence that when it comes to our space program, the best is yet to come. There are new frontiers to discover and new places to go. We will rise to the occasion and scale newer heights of success.
To our scientists I want to say, India is with you. You are exceptional professionals who have made an incredible contribution to national progress. You have given your best always, and will give us several more opportunities to smile. True to your nature, you entered into a place where no one has ever been before. You came, as close as you could. Stay steady and look ahead.
I'll also tell you, the families of our space scientists. Their silent but valuable support remains a major asset.
"Sisters and brothers of India, resilience and tenacity are central to India's ethos. In our glorious history of thousands of years we have faced moments that may have slowed us, but they have never crushed our spirit. We have bounced back again, and gone on to do spectacular things. This is the reason our civilization stands tall.
My dear friends, as important as the final result is the journey and the effort. I can proudly say that the effort was worth it, and so was the journey.
Our team worked hard, traveled far and those teachings will always remain with us. We will look back at the journey and effort with great satisfaction. The learnings from today will make us stronger and better. There will be a new dawn and a brighter tomorrow very soon."
And there was loud applause from the scientists and all Indians watching his message to the scientific community and the nation. The smiles returned on the faces of all Indians. Their resolve to get on the job with double the enthusiasm, energy and excitement was back again.
Victory and Defeat are part of life. One should accept both with equal humbleness. This reminds me the story of Thomas Alva Edison. When he invented the light bulb after about 2000 experiments, a young reporter asked him, “Sir, how it felt to fail so many times.” His reply: “I never failed; even once. It just happened to be a 2000 step process.” Wow! A recent Hindi movie Chhichhore also beautifully highlights the importance of teaching our young generation as to how to cope up with a failure too in this highly competitive world.
In deed, every failure should be considered as a stepping stone to success.