Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Moon Shots and Monsoons: A Modest Proposal for Food Security

Welcome to the Green Light Dhaba. Today, we're talking about food security. It is widely accepted that climate change is likely to adversely affect our summer monsoon. In fact, it's probably happening already; even before this year's drought, scientists at IIT Delhi were warning that our summer monsoon has been weakening in recent years. And just last month, the director of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said the continued melting of Greenland's ice could lead to a drastic reduction in the power of our future monsoons.

We all know drought affects farmers and the food we eat. Fortunately, if you've been worried about the state of our nation's food supplies, you need worry no more: our illustrious PM recently declared, "We are in a very strong position to manage the consequence of drought. Our food stocks in particular are very high.”

I, for one, am relieved. But we cannot be too careful. As we move into a more uncertain future, we must ask whether these food stocks of ours are truly secure

Of course many environmentalists have been arguing for more responsible water use, more sustainable, diverse, drought-resistant farming practices, etc. That's all very well and good. But I want to propose a more exciting idea. What we need, I think, is a solution that will increase food security, while at the same time showing just how powerful this great country is. I've been thinking a lot about this, and I have just the thing!

We need a godown on the moon!

A godown on the moon would clearly demonstrate India's power to the world, while at the same time keeping our food safe from pests and terrorists. That's right, we can put our surplus-- our wheat, rice, and pulses-- up on the moon in an all-desi storage facility, where nobody can mess with it! The fact that it will be vacuum-sealed is just the frosting on the cake, as they say.

Now, to those of you who say this Hari Batti guy is obviously just a third-rate joker, I say, my proposal is completely reasonable in the context of the goals of our current space program! Some may raise the sad fate of our own moon probe,
Chandrayan I. Yes, stories propagated by the Chinese news agency Xinhua did suggest the mission was a "failure." Yet our own former President APJ Abdul Kalam joined the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in labeling the mission a "great success". If that's not enough proof, it has been widely reported that the American astronaut Edward Michael "Mike" Fincke, recently said the same thing!

Let the Chinese say what they will. I, for one, say we should move full speed ahead with our moon program. It was just this May that the Chairman of the IRSO, Dr. G. Madhavan Nair said that "the Indian space mission’s next dream is to set up a base station on the moon." A godown on the moon is obviously just "one small step" beyond that.

A few bleeding hearts among you will say that we should feed the poor and
address climate change before we go to the moon. In fact, Gil Scott-Heron said something like that forty years ago, in "Whitey on the Moon". He makes a point; in fact it is true that space programs all over the world take a HUGE amount of money that could be going to feed and house poor people. Our own space program already costs a billion US dollars a year, and that's to say nothing of what it would cost to build a base on the moon.

We have many problems: unstable and sometimes hostile neighbors, failing monsoons, hungry farmers, to name a few. But most of these problems could be lessened if we just stored our FOOD on the moon. In time, we might even be able to divert water from the Yamana (or the Himalayan glaciers, which are melting anyway) up to the moon and then we could save food transportation costs by GROWING the food on the moon. All we need is need is a little bit of faith in our technolgy and leadership!!

Thanks for stopping by the Green Light Dhaba. While you're here, tell us what you think about the Indian space program, the drought, and what can be done to make sure there's enough food to go around.

Here's he menu for the rest of the week:

Thursday: GDP, justice, and "the rate of living": economics explained to a nine year old.
Saturday: We're normally closed Saturday, but if we feel like working a long week, we may serve up some dirt on SRK.

Hope to see you soon. If you like what you see here, help spread the word.


  1. This is brilliant, Hari. Though I think my government (USA) already attempted this in the late 60's and early 70's. Since then, we have tried other solutions to this problem that are worth serious consideration.

    We have been looking at storing food in Afghanistan for the past several years. India should join us in this endeavor. This would be a great joint venture for your great country and mine. As long as we can safely guard it we should be OK. It certainly is more convenient than the moon for your India and just as noble as a space program.

    Glad I stopped by the dhaba.

  2. I think we should just bring moonchips back and feed the hungry. 'let them eat cheese'.

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  4. I for one am glad Brownies on the moon.

  5. Thanks for stopping by. Brownies and cheese moonchips--these have potential. And Mr. Graduate, as long as you Americans are in Afganistan storing food, why not do things the old fashioned way? You know, loot, pillage, etc. These are tried and true methods of food procurement. I'm sure if your president speaks with our PM we could work out some kind of "strategic" alliance.

    Several readers contacted me via email to say, why not spend the money from the space program on the search for a cure for cancer or AIDS. One asked, why not invest in basic research on solar cell technology. How silly! If we have technological problems we want to solve, why would we put money into trying to solve those problems? Surely we can learn far more about these things by happening upon solutions to them. That's what is called "spinoff" technology. Why, we might even solve an important problem we never knew we had. Like when the Americans went to the moon, the American people got a great new orange-flavored drink called TANG. Unlike our Rooh Afza (aahh!), TANG comes in a freeze-dried powder, which is great, except during the rainy season, when it gets all clumpy and disgusting. Still, another moon shot and that problem will be solved, I am sure.


What do you think?