Work hard so quietly that success makes noise… NYT mocked India after Mangalyaan, now praising Chandrayaan 3

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India was considered a laughing stock after the success of another space mission. What was the cartoon about? Why is it in the headlines again? How has the New York Times covered the significant success of India’s third moon mission? Let’s take a closer look at it.

There is an atmosphere of celebration among Indians after the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft successfully landed on the lunar surface on the evening of 23 August. India is now the first country to make a soft landing on the Moon’s South Pole and only the fourth country to make a safe landing on the lunar surface. As the country is applauding the achievement of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), some users on Twitter have shared an old cartoon from the New York Times (NYT). Which was considered a mockery of India after the success of another space mission. What was the cartoon about? Why is it in the headlines again? How has the New York Times covered the significant success of India’s third moon mission? Let’s take a closer look at it.

India’s Mission Mangal

In 2014, the New York Times newspaper published a cartoon on India’s Mars mission, showing a man wearing a shirt, dhoti and turban, standing with a cow and knocking on the door of a room marked ‘Elite Space Club’, where Two bespectacled men in western clothes were reading a book. The cartoon was accompanied by an article titled ‘India’s Budget Mission to Mars’. The cartoon, created by Singapore-based artist Heng Kim Song, was widely condemned, with some calling it racist and accusing it of mocking India. On 24 September 2014, India became the first country to successfully place the Mangalyaan robotic probe into Mars orbit in its first attempt. With this, ISRO joined the elite club of NASA, the European Space Agency and the erstwhile Soviet Union to have successfully carried out missions to the Red Planet.

New York Times Apology

According to a BBC report in October 2014, Andrew Rosenthal, then NYT editorial page editor, apologized for the offensive cartoon on Facebook, saying that a large number of readers had complained about it. He wrote in the post that the cartoonist’s intent was to highlight how space exploration is no longer the exclusive domain of wealthy, Western nations. Heng, who lives in Singapore, often uses images and text in a provocative way to make comments about international affairs. We apologize to readers who have been offended by the selection of images in this cartoon.

How has NYT covered the success of Chandrayaan-3?

The NYT noted in its story “‘India is on the Moon’: Lander success propels country to next space chapter” that the Indian public takes great pride in the achievements of the country’s space program. It added that Chandrayaan-3’s achievement could be even sweeter, as it comes at a particularly important moment in the South Asian giant’s emerging diplomatic endeavor as an aspiring power.

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