Pune: "Astronomy has interested cultures all over the world for thousands of years. It has a strong cultural history and can connect people and excite them to create a sense of wonder and oneness. It gives one a cosmic perspective," said Ramasamy Venugopal of the Astronomy for Development programme.
He was speaking at a public talk organised by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics and the Astronomical Society of India. The Astronomy Development programme is a joint initiative of the South African government and the International Astronomical Union, under which funding is made available to promote astronomy as a tool for social change and development.
Venugopal said that astronomy can be very useful in broadening scope of development and can give tangible as well as intangible results in various areas. He said, "Astronomy projects are looked at as vanity projects. But that is not correct.
Astronomical research and investment put into it has given many by-products in the form of inventions that we use on a day to day basis."
Venugopal further said Astronomy can help in eliminating social ills. He said, "In South Africa, there were many universities which were stigmatised as 'Black Universities' during the apartheid era. One such university was the Zululand University.
Recently, an astronomy observatory was constructed in the university premises and many people started visiting the university. In the times of increasing superstition and unscientific beliefs, astronomy can become an agent of rationality and scientific vision and this will definitely help India in the long term in reaping fruits in the form of overall development."