Let me put facts on ground. Go and visit any ISRO campus in India. See the kind of offices they work in, they kind of food canteens they eat lunch at, they kind of buses they travel in and take a look at how much they are paid. I assure you will be shocked. In fact shocked will be a mild statement to make. These people work on ordinary steel tables, with fans over their heads. Eat the 15 rupee rice-curry meal and travel in 20 year old buses. Well forget all that. Take a look at pictures of ISRO available over the internet, they look like to be taken in some one's garage than a space research organization.
Your average MacOS/iOS app development start up has better working conditions and infrastructure than any ISRO office in India. I'm not talking just about the work place infrastructure. Even the working gear, stuff like computers etc.
For the salaries and the net compensation ISRO offers no ambitious well qualified youth in India would be willing to work there- I'm even surprised they have even gotten this far. Note, you are comparing a salary for something like 20K per month with a salary of something like 100K a month Google offers. You get peanuts for building the most important pieces of technology in the history of mankind, compared to building websites for sharing cat pictures.
This is working on shoe string budgets to its very extreme. I hope these people get better funding in the future.
And yeah for those people too worked up about spending some 100th decimal rounding error of India's budget on a mars project. That is doing far more benefit to India's reputation, than a yet-another-scam-infested scheme.
His payscale started at Rs.8000 per month (in 2001 that was less than $200usd). He was a production engineer. He would be up for next revision of payscale & promotion pending a review in 4 years! He knew that.
I used to wonder what keeps them motivated and I used to constantly question them. One common thread you find based on these conversations is that they are extremely satisfied with work - each of them used to say that what they are working on is UNIQUE that nobody else in ISRO is responsible for. And buck stops with them. They knew that.
That sense of ownership and the way the employees connect to a much larger cause is something unbelievable at ISRO, in my perspective. I used to be in awe of every conversation about his superiors, the work and their perspective of the organization in general.
I think it is an interesting case study in organizational behavior and what keeps you motivated with factors other than just money.
Teaching is another profession I think requires similar mindset. ISRO somehow hires the right kind of people, the employees within the organization are not so flamboyant setting examples for new hires and helps them connect in a way it makes people see contribution to a bigger cause.
Just my observation from what I have seen from close quarters.
BTW, it is also given that he knew they get pension after retirement, medical benefits & all such taken care of for his entire life because he is part of the organization.
Would love to read if there are any case studies on this.
Its truly sad that these people are paid so badly. Infrastructure and entire thing is so dismal, my heart aches that things of this importance are treated this way in our country.
I'm sure every Indian teenager wanting to do some meaningful job has faced this situation. I had a tough time convincing my parents I was about to leave a call center job in a big MNC to write embedded software at a small unknown firm. The situation deteriorated so badly my parents threatened they would fall very seriously ill if I didn't do as they say. Finally I had to relent to working at a big software giant.
People say fight the society. But you can only fight a few battles in life. Career is already a tough battle, fighting society to achieve to work something meaningful is waste of time and energy.
We still haven't changed. There are people who even have doubt's if projects like these are necessary. A safe job, a good pension to take care of, male children, jewellery, good deal of real estate and social pride is all we value in our society.
Mars project? Well who cares about that?
Not that it matters, but I pay more for my city commute per-km.
With a little lesser pay, you also get peace of mind. This might not be important at 22s or 25s. But at 30, as a husband and a father, I can surely tell you ISRO gives much better lifestyle. i.e you can work for 2 hours or 16 hours if you enjoy that. Average employee productivity there sucks - literally. But at that non-competitive pay, government should not expect more.
You also have a "safe-job" and lesser work pressure. There are certain projects that are high-pressure jobs - but those are rare.
An important factor to keep you motivate might also be "working for your country". I have worked for large govt. projects for western countries and it give you ZERO sense of pride. It is "just another project". And I worked for a very small system for the transportation in my city. And just that feeling of watching that system being used in my country gives me a hell lot of sense of pride/achievement. I don't know if everybody feels the same way - but that is one of the biggest motivation factors for me (I don't work for ISRO / govt)
Coming to ...
>>As an organization, ISRO is political and bureaucratic.
All set ups in India, regardless of private or government owned are extremely political. I've seen dirtiest form of politics in private companies, hailing to be champions of meritocracy which can put government firms to shame.
In fact politics in the number one reason which drives nearly every once-a-great-firm to ground.
I don't know where you are getting the impression that ISRO engineers aren't paid well. Sure, they are not paid Google salaries but they are no way paid peanuts. A fresh engineering graduate will stand to get around 40K INR per month. Please not that if you are not landing up a software job, in India, it's a pretty shitty market out there for other disciplines. ISRO offers are great when you consider for example, what a mechanical engineer makes in other private companies.
Working environment is also comparable to any software facility. Please visit the ISRO facility in Bangalore on old airport road. They have some of the most green and spacious campuses. I don't have pictures because security is super tight and they don't even let you carry your cellphones inside.
For a long time, ISRO offered some of the best retirement benefits. My dad and mom don't have to worry about their healthcare costs for the rest of their lives and my dad gets a handsome pension to take care of his day to day living expenses. This has changed with the sixth pay commission.
ISRO also offers housing in some prime areas, near the office facilities so that you don't have to commute much. Of course, not everyone gets this benefit and it's based more on a lottery basis.
The schooling for your kids is almost free in the Kendriya Vidyala schools - and some of those schools offer top notch education.
While you are employed, you pay next to nothing for healthcare (including surgeries). There is the CGHS card that you flash in almost all major hospitals and you are taken care of.
As if this was not all enough, you get to work on some really state of the art stuff that others can't even imagine. There is absolutely no room for error. You just can't say 'oh crap I'll just fix that bug'. One bug might destroy a satellite or screw up the rocket launch. So, there is a lot of merit in building such mission critical systems and a ton of satisfaction. This satisfaction cannot be compared with money.
During launch days, my dad would work 3-4 days at a stretch without even a phone call in between. Such was the pressure.
So, working at ISRO has a ton of merits and satisfaction. It's not for everyone though. There is no glamour as such in the job. You don't have crazy parties or drunken revelries or annual outings to Hawaii. There is an enormous amount of bureaucracy and bull shit that you have to deal with. But for an engineer who loves to build mission critical applications - the place is a heaven.
- There is a common myth, one about how Indians used bullock carts to test the antennas on a satellite. This, for example, wasn't because they couldn't anechoic chambers, but simply because bullock carts have few metallic parts to interfere with the actual measurements. Image here: https://lh3.ggpht.com/_1UepX3L4zzs/S6Fd5jUwoJI/AAAAAAAAAjU/i...
- Regarding the budget, the predominant political philosophy in India is what Americans would call 'tax-and-spend'. ISRO has essentially a limitless budget to spend on their projects. My father used to travel first class on international trips to meet suppliers in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The reason for low-brow tables and ceiling fans is more to do with cultural aspects. In fact, there are many top universities, and old corporations (based on anecdata) in the US where working conditions are 'ghetto' by Apple-Google-Facebook standards. The reason simply is that renovating workplace infrastructure is a pretty significant expense.
I can also tell you that there are absolutely no problems with technology infrastructure (including internet speeds) in ISRO. Some of their offices were wired for internet as early as early as 1992.
The one downside of working at ISRO, as with any government establishment is the bureaucracy that one has to deal with, and the general reverence for seniority (vs. reverence for pure merit, etc.)
>>My father used to work for ISRO too, from '74 to '97.
This is comparing Apples to Oranges. 1974 India had such a dismal technology scene, ISRO would have looked like India's technology paradise back then. What were the opportunities for technology folks then? Trying settling down in Europe or US, if you can't the next best case scenario is work at BHEL, ITI, BEL and ISRO sort of companies. The next alternative was to work at a assembly line, and next is open a small time grocery shop.
I see this tone repeatedly mentioned how some one's dad had so much from ISRO at a time when India was in deep clutches of socialism. Technology imports are tightly regulated by license raj system. Any comparison between Government firms and private firms from those times is totally meaningless. Because the very concept of a good career in a non-government firm was non-existent. So its not at all strange that people working in ISRO had a good career, because frankly what exactly was there apart from the government firms.
We are talking of times when the Ambassador was the only car in India, a telephone connection used to take years to get, and getting a current account in a bank required police verification. And the term private firm was synonymous with a TATA owned company.
By these standards, ISRO is the best career option you could have in those days.
There is no way you can compare that with IT companies today. Not with the kind of technology infrastructure, or even working conditions, or the compensation and benefits.
The scenario today is the very exact opposite of 1970's.
No one's comparing ISRO to Google or NASA or SpaceX or whatever. You simply started off with this unnecessary, unwanted posts that aren't even remotely true; hopping from one topic to another without any relevance.
Since you don't have any firsthand experience, please stop it since your posts are just a noise around here in this thread. You've difficulty in accepting it and you simply keep hopping from one thing to another.
Why are you not trying to get a job at Google and relocate to USA, or buy one of those 80 lakh flats at Bangalore.
Don't worry about ISRO. They'll be fine.
Here? You created your account 19 hours back, just for this thread. What do you know about things 'here'?
I didn't even reply to you. I am not sure why a Karma 15 account like yours created 19 hours back(Which is a classic troll account sign, which trolls create to work on a specific thread on a particular day) should be even taken seriously.
According to the Googlez, this is 650 USD/mo. This does not seem like much to me, but I live in Seattle.
Any one who is on VP/Director/Senior engineering managers levels is buying 2.5 Crore+ villas. Expensive cars, having vacations in foreign countries and crazy lifestyle spending's.
The definition of well paid just became a whole lot different. And there is no way anyone can live that kind of a lifestyle working for a government firm.
Again, you can be happy with what you get. But that thought doesn't work always. Peer pressure does amazing things to you. Even if you don't get into it yourself, you will get into it eventually once you start a family.
Also note, that the public retirement investment vehicles today are strong enough and sometimes even better than the government ones. We are no longer in 1980's India. If you are well paid, you can buy your own food, pay your own bills, have your own home, car etc.
>Again, you can be happy with what you get. But that thought doesn't work always. Peer pressure does amazing things to you. Even if you don't get into it yourself, you will get into it eventually once you start a family.
Can you please stop swaying away from the topic at hand just to support yourself?
I take no sides, just that your ignorant arguments are making these places a little messier (and possibly irritating). I just called one of my friends from ISRO to confirm what deepGem said and they seem to be right.
I understand you need to earn Karma here, but this is really the wrong way to earn it - By spreading mis-information about something you don't have first hand experience with.
If I had the tone of the others, I would have probably finished it off with just a single line by saying GTFO, but for the sake of HN etiquette, can I kindly ask you to stop this nonsensical Karma-whorish misinformation spreading?
And since you have already 'understood' I'm here for karma and you are for the larger good of the humanity. What can I say further? Especially when you have taken so much pain of calling your friends and verifying the information to debate a stranger over the internet.
>>I would have probably finished it off with just a single line by saying GTFO
You already have, haven't you?
>>can I kindly ask you to stop this nonsensical Karma-whorish misinformation spreading?
You definitely have a unique knack of 'kindly' offending and abusing people.
Since you're taking so much pain to spread false info, others are taking some pain to correct a stranger over Internet.
Well, it's much better than spreading false rumours about you just because I don't like you. (Which is what you've been doing about subjects you don't know about)
Also, you don't seem to have any idea about ISRO. So, please control your assumptions about their salary, working conditions, transport etc. I'd rather trust GP's post about ISRO as he has first hand experience.
But! Stop complaining at this one moment. And take a look at the achievements of this country's people. They don't have world's best food, world-class infrastructure and not enough money to hire world class talent either. Probably they have world-class corruption in the country.
How many countries achieve this after having these many "core" problems. Salute to the people who achieved this feat.
Strongly disagree. We really do. But yeah I generally agree with your post.
Hat's off to those who stay back in this crazy country and strive hard to lift this sunken ship, and for sure the ISRO folks are among them.
It is a great feat! It's confusing to me how India can plan something like this, but cannot fix the problem of buying train tickets. I've heard that the queues can be quite long.
But it is exciting to see India sending things into space.
Believe me the website works and is used by millions..
Queues still remain long due to lack of computer literacy and reach of internet..
I don't think their political corruption is much worse than what the US has, we just have laws that permit too much of it. Fortunately the scientist of most countries want to succeed because of their interest in the unknown, in doing things, rather than worrying about politics.
I used to be one of those guys (I am from Bangladesh), then I looked at the actual cost of this space program and realized that its not a lot of money (~$70 Million) even by India's standard. For example, in india's domestic cricket tournament (IPL) one of their franchise was sold for $370 million.
I also don't buy the wholesale "you shouldn't do x, unless y is achieved/fixed" argument. It might apply to some instances, for example india defense budget is about $46 billion, a big portion of it could have been certainly spent to alleviate the living condition of poor Indians in general. But most of the problem in India and other south-east asian countries are corruption and inefficiencies, not (always) lack of funds.
And think about the proof of Indian engineering and manufacturing that this sort of mission provides. How much more likely are people to buy satellites or launch services from India? Or Indian made aircraft? Or even just consumer goods?
R&D spending often has a multi-fold positive impact on the economy, and I think that is likely to apply for this mission.
Corruption often comes hand-in-hand with poverty.
Speaking from experience as someone that has already traveled quite a bit around the world.
"Since 2007 India has been the world's largest recipient of recorded remittances from abroad. In 2010 these inflows were worth $54bn (£35bn). UK foreign direct investment in India is considerable, reaching £1.8bn in the same year."
You can't really on the one hand claim your country is terribly poor, and needs handouts from other nations, and on the other play at being spacemen.
Thankfully the UK will stop sending foreign aid to India in 2015.
... and you can't really post on HN without showing some basic common sense.
FYI: "International remittances" is NOT foreign aid. It is money sent to India by Indians working abroad.
Foreign direct investment is NOT foreign aid. It is non-Indians buying Indian stocks.
Please read up on these before you criticize. Your bigotry is too obvious.
BTW: India has asked UK to stop the aid. Plus, any aid that UK does send should be considered a payment for all the stuff they looted from India (and the Indian lives lost fighting for UK in WW2).
Many countries including Britain seem to me to get their priorities wrong. India certainly does when one sees the wretched and disgusting (not strong enough!) way in which so many people are forced to live by being deprived of services which have perforce to be supplied by the state.
My problem is with the assumption that this miniscule amount of "aid" is somehow significant.
Do realize that when countries give "aid", it is often more for domestic reasons. This "aid" comes with all sorts of strings attached, and benefits the donor country more than the recipient.
Case in point: US military aid to Israel comes right back to the US in the form of weapons purchases from Lockheed, Grumman, Boeing, etc. In other countries, donor countries stipulate that the aid be used to purchase things from the donor country only; or expensive "consultants" are hired to manage the aid, depriving any benefit to the recipient.
Where are you quoting that from? It is not good form to give a quote without a link. And you make a quote and come to a conclusion about aid. Btw, the UK aid to India is £280m.
Edit - Probably this one - http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/feb/18/uk-aid-india
Read the article again properly.
The point stands though. Whether it's billions or millions, it's still a ton of money which we shouldn't be giving them in aid.
Do you want to guess what number 8 is? Germany. Are these poor countries? Are remittances "international aid"? No, not necessarily. They're just an example of extended families spread out across different countries sending different parts of the family money. Should we begrudge France or Germany their remittances? Or their space programs?
"More Indian investment comes to the UK than to the rest of the EU combined. There are over 900 Indian companies in the UK, with Tata being the largest manufacturing employer across the whole country."
Tata Motors also owns Jaguar and Land Rover...
Even if India needed/wanted international aid (see other comments) we are talking about investing 1/1000 of that money into giving jobs to skilled engineers and scientists (and others). Helping poor countries doesn't mean just feeding poor people, it means to give the possibility for development.
I find very offensive treating international aids as if recipients are helpless beggars that deserve that should be grateful and stay put.
I believe this is the bigger question about international aid.
It should enable development, not increase assistentialism.
There are similar parallels with internal welfare systems in many countries. Help shouldn't be cut off as soon as someone reaches the limit of poverty, because there is little incentive to cross that barrier.
On the other hand, I think the stopping of state aid to a country should be celebrated as a positive thing - a "graduation", if you like.
I wish India the best in its effort to the future and a better life to all of their people. It by their own big dreams and achievements they will create a great and shining civilization (they already has)
Let your light shine through the world, and dont listen to the bullies; it's pure envy
Personally, I don't think people should pay for other peoples mistakes, even if they happen to be born in the same country.
When any side feels the dominant emotion of 'loss', it makes it do selfish things to avoid future losses. But that extracts more losses from the other side and so the cycle can continue.
In the light of all that history, which current Indians being on the receiving side remember more than the British, any help the British give to India is at least perceived by India in a positive way.
As to the extent of the monetary help - its effect is limited by the ability of the recipient to absorb it. For analogy, YC reduced the investment into each startup down from $150k as it made things worse, not better.
Besides, I suspect that except in cases of natural disasters, most aid in general is a not-so-subtle bribe to buy influence. We can see front-pages demonstration of these facts quite often, all you have to do is follow the itinerary of John Kerry.....
As for remittance, I think you have misunderstood the meaning of the word. So let's ignore that part of your outburst.
The UK does certainly see sending millions of pounds overseas in foreign aid, as a bad idea.
And sorry again for my original copy&paste gone wrong. I copied the wrong part of the article which mentioned remittances rather than foreign aid.
When JFK pledged to put a man on the moon in 1961, the US did not even have the Civil Rights Act. Millions of blacks lived in poverty, and were denied basic rights. Schools were segregated. In large areas of the South, blacks were denied the right to vote. There were lynchings. People were being killed just for demanding the right to vote. And Vietnam War was picking up steam.
And you know what? The US still said that getting a man on the moon amidst all this was a worthwhile goal.
The original argument would be "don't do Space, solve povery/hunger/education...".
You point out that "poverty/hunger/education..." have improved despite Space.
This does only partly contradict the original argument, since there are plenty of severe and urgent problems today, including some of those from the 1961.
Additionally, can you explain the usage of the word "bigot"? Seems harsh.
I did no such thing.
I'm saying that you can't wait to solve all problems before you take on space exploration. They are not mutually exclusive. One can do space exploration while simultaneously working to alleviate poverty/hunger/illiteracy/etc. The example of the US in 1961 was meant to illustrate that: the US was fighting a war in Vietnam, a massive Civil Rights movement at home, and still managed to put a man on the moon.
All nations have budgets for a multitude of programs and can work simultaneously on different goals.
Obviously, they all draw from a single ressource, money, and therefore priorties have to be weighted carefully.
Overall I'm not getting many good arguments on how to handle this except "Why, things have improved, haven't they? Give me Star Trek" and "Bigots!".
I suspect that this is because Space fans are on average less affected by the above mentioned acute problems, more likely to benefit professionally from investment in space programs, and generally appreciate the nature of space missions: A difficult task, but with a clear solution through engineering.
T+260 secs. PS-2 separated. PS-3 lit.
PS-3 burn out. PSLV enters a long coasting of 28 minutes, after which 4th stage will be triggered.
T + 32 minutes. Coasting almost done. Stage 4 ignition in few moments. Altitude is a bit higher due to over-performance.
PS-4 started. 4th stage performance normal. Yay!!
T+44 minutes. PS-4 cutoff. Spacecraft separation success :) Spacecraft successfully placed in elliptical orbit around Earth. 300 day long journey begins now.
Forget Mars, for India the problems are too great at home.
But social problems are a different breed. It would be remarkable if India could do what China is doing infrastructure wise at least. My knowledge is limited and I am still an outsider looking in at both countries.
Edit: The link you provided mentioned corruption as a big problem in India. Engineers cant solve that problem.
JD, I see that you are using wordpress. If you haven't already installed any caching plugin, please do: http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Optimization/Caching
For example, NASA developed different forms/methods of long distance communications which allow the spacecraft to communicate with the ground. That 63 million for development of the ISROs Mars Mission takes advantage of that. Saving cost.
Further, because some to many of the parts have been produced for decades and NASA retired their rockets, there are parts "on the cheap."
US govt. throws money at it.
Some of the willingness to do that tech transfer is basically boosting India as a counterweight to China's space ambitions.
Also, remember that Chandrayaan-1 failed early. It's a steep learning curve.
Good launch and good start. All 3 stages complete. It's in space in a matter of seconds. Need another 45 mins to declare launch success and 10 months to reach mars!
Former Isro chairman G Madhavan Nair on Monday said, “This has been a tradition. I had also gone to Tirupati before the Chandrayaan mission.”
But more than religious beliefs, he said these temple visits helped des-stress the mind and offer clarity.
But beyond this, do superstitions and other beliefs have a hold on the scientists?
“Not really,” said Mylswamy Annadurai, the project director of moon missions Chandrayaan 1 and Chandrayaan 2. “I read a page of Bhagawad Gita daily and will do so on Tuesday.”
He added, “But yes I have just got a jar of peanuts and a good luck card from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory-Nasa. This is a very nice gesture. I will distribute these peanuts in my office on Tuesday morning.”
Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) consider circulation of peanuts auspicious.
Why so ? How does a religious ritual makes more sense than good luck superstitions ?
For e.g., I perform a religious ritual called Sandhyavandanam . This ritual comprises of many components. I see merit in many components of this daily ritual. Some components, I have not been able to appreciate their rationale. But I trust the seers who would have formulated such rituals. I do not have the time to go into every detail of every ritual and understand the underlying motivation(s) and perform the ritual as is. Same with science. I do not question every theory/law/hypothesis. I just trust the scientists and researchers. If and when "I" perceive an inconsistency in a ritual or a scientific law/theory/hypothesis I question it or try to understand more about it.
 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandhyavandanam
Science doesn't mean you have to be an emotion-less robot.
For example, Mars is considered as a malicious planet in their astrology and people fear its effects next to Saturn. It is hard for one to find a matching person to marry if he/she is are afflicted by Mars, because one of the belief is that such afflicted person's in-laws will face untimely death. This belief causes so much grief for the parents looking for alliance (ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangal_Dosha).
Hopefully scientific missions such as this will help the people to shed their unfounded fear and live better life.
Could you provide some citation here? As far as CV Raman's religious inclinations were concerned, my understanding is that he was an agnostic .
Being a scientist himself, I don't think it would have been in his nature to stifle the spirit of scientific inquiry in the name of religion.
 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._V._Raman
I dug up the following for your reference:
By the way, ISRO has Antrix:
Except maybe for the patriots that are unable to distinguish between government and people. Stupid money spending is nothing to be proud of.