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Book Review - Mars Beckons India

Book Review

" Mars Beckons India "
by
Srinivas Laxman

 

Man has often wondered about the stars in the skies for ages. He has worshipped them, lauded them in poetry and fiction and offered to bring them down to his beloved. But it was only in the 20th century that man was able to reach out and touch them.
In the last few years, there has been a tremendous effort towards reaching for a planet---Mars. From USA, Russia and the European Union, attempts (successful and unsuccessful) have been made to study this "red planet". Now India attempts to reach Mars and study it from an orbiting satellite. Mars Beckons India is a book that describes this attempt.

 

Mars Beckons India is a slim volume that succinctly but beautifully captures the enormous undertaking that should result in interplanetary travel. Although not formally structured so, the book is divided into three parts. In the first part, the book describes and elucidates all the different people, organizations and technical components that are participating in this Indian endeavour. The second part of the book details the attempts (past, present and future) of different countries towards reaching Mars. The third and last part of the book provides a lesson history---discovery of Mars, various scientific theories and some trivia.


book_cover
Book cover

 

The first part of the book takes the approach of introducing the different participants (individuals and organizations) in order of their importance. Starting from the visionaries and ending with the technicians whose instruments will be on board the Mangalayan-1 (unoffical name of this mission), the book does not miss anyone of import. The authors tone conveys awe for these pioneers and boyish enthusiasm for the mission. It is not without merit. A subtle but laudable effort on the part of the author is to show the juxtaposition of science and religion deeply embedded in the Indian culture. An even more subtle observation of the author is how people from all across India, despite all their differences, work towards a common goal with complete amiability, cooperation and a spirit of can-do-this.

 

The second and third parts of the book hint at the enormity of the task of interplanetary travel but the necessity of doing so if we are to answer that question--Are we alone in the universe? These pages are filled with tit-bits that may make you run to the computer for getting more details on information that appeals to your personal interests.

 

A noticeable artifact in the book is the use of lower quality images in some instances. This distracts the reader from the otherwise polished and high quality nature of the pages and the layout in the book. Although I was quite satisfied by the in-depth coverage of the different parties working on the Mangalayan-1, I was a little overwhelmed when trying to follow the hierarchy of different organizations and their affiliates. A diagram explaining their interactions would have been helpful. In a similar vein, a timeline type of graph showing the different pieces of work being completed and their interdependencies would have revealed to the reader in one glance the complexity of the entire project. The writing is in simple English and quite easy to read that should be followed by any high school student with a fair competency in English. The technical terms do not become a hurdle in the story despite a liberal sprinkling. In some cases they are explained well but for some others Google search can come to your rescue.

 

The book has a few typos and some grammatical mistakes but these hardly detract from the reading experience. Since the book is meant for an Indian audience, certain words (for example, NRI) may not be understood by the international community but these references are far and few. All in all, Mars Beckons India is an excellent read for all those interested in space missions and Mangalayan-1.



Summary

  1. Print quality: Good
  2. Accessibility: High school students and above
  3. Content: Excellent
  4. Category: Non-fiction/Journalism
  5. Overall: Good

Author

Azeem Khan

 

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Our evaluations are rated as follows:

Poor: Shoddy work. Not to be entertained.
Average: Nothing exceptional about it.
Above Average: Some points of note.
Good: A high standard exhibited throughout the book.
Excellent: Outstanding piece of work and a must-read.

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