Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Thursday said the watershed moment of India landing a spacecraft on the Moon was the culmination of the efforts put in by all governments over the past six decades, starting from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru.
Twenty per cent of the key personnel in ISRO are women and they did not need reservation to be in the field of science and technology, he said, referring to the women's reservation bill passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
His comments in the Lok Sabha evoked a sharp reaction from Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Anupriya Patel who said that even the Congress supported the women's reservation bill.
Tharoor sought to calm the minister, saying that he did not mean any disrespect to any woman. "I just said that in science and technology, we already have 20 per cent women and the number is going up," he said.
Minister of State for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh said, "I trust my friend Shashi ji, we have never been anti-women."
Participating in a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, Tharoor said that today some in the government seek to make this rare moment to bask in glory and "polarise" the country by speaking as if all space endeavours only began in 2014.
"The truth is, our space success are consequence of continuity in national governance and what has been achieved today stands on the shoulders of many past achievements... This is the achievement of successive years of making the right governance choices," the Congress MP said.
He said that grooming brilliant scientists, developing infrastructure, research and development, and global synergies and technologies cannot be achieved unilaterally by any one government.
The Chandrayaan-3 triumph is that of across the political divide and it does not belong to any one person or one party, he said, adding, "Who can deny India owes its remarkable progress in space exploration in large part to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's dedication to developing a scientific temper among Indian people."
The Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram further said Nehru had an understanding of the role of technology in national development and had faith in Indian scientists.
"When India was indeed besieged by poverty, illiteracy, food insecurity and disease, Nehru knew that he must and could aim for the stars. We did not have much money and we relied on ourselves," Tharoor added.