Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his last 'Mann Ki Baat' radio address of 2019 on Sunday, encouraged educational institutions across India to organise 'astronomy clubs' to encourage interest in astronomy and science. The PM highlighted the marvellous solar eclipse of December 26. He said India has prowess in space science since ancient times. In the 60th edition of PM Modi's monthly radio programme, he also touched on topics related to the millennial generation, tourism, a social empowerment programme in Kashmir, and many more.
PM Modi said, "The planetariums in our country, in addition to increasing the understanding of the night sky, also motivate people to develop star gazing as a hobby. Many people install amateur telescopes on their balconies or terrace. Stargazing can also encourage rural camps and rural picnics. And there are many such schools and colleges that form astronomy clubs, and such steps must be encouraged."
PM Modi shared a person's request on the MyGov portal to speak on the solar eclipse and said, "Like my countrymen, especially the youth among them, I too was eager to watch the solar eclipse on the 26th of December... The eclipse reminds us that we are travelling in space while residing on the earth. Sun, moon, and other planets and celestial bodies are orbiting in space."
He added, "India has an ancient and glorious history of astronomy. Our connection with the twinkling stars in the sky is as old as our civilisation. Many of you might be aware that at various places in India, there are magnificent observatories (Jantar Mantars) – which are worth seeing. And these observatories have a deep bond with astronomy. Who doesn't know about the prodigious talent of the great Aryabhatta?"
Speaking about Aryabhatta, PM Modi said the great ancient astronomer explained eclipses both from a philosophical as well as a mathematical standpoint. He also brought up a book called 'Pre-modern Kutchi Navigation Techniques and Voyages' and noted it describes ancient navigation technology that helped in determining directions in sea voyages with the help of stars. He expressed pride in Indian knowledge of the universe.
PM Modi also highlighted the advancement India achieved in the field of astronomy and the stationing of remarkable telescopes across cities. He also informed the listeners of a new mission space agency ISRO.
"ISRO is planning to launch a satellite called Aditya, to study the sun. Whether it be our ancient knowledge in astronomy, or modern achievements in this field, we should strive to understand them and feel proud of them. Today, our young scientists not only display a great desire to know their scientific history but also are resolute in fashioning astronomy's future," the Prime Minister said.