They aspire for the moon but it continues to elude them. A slowdown in the economy and government apathy has cast doubts on three of the five teams of Delhi students participating in the annual moonbuggy race organised by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA. In all, there are 12 teams from India participating in the competition.
While the government is crying hoarse about the falling interest in science education, a team from Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology in Dwarka — Delhi government’s flagship engineering college —is struggling to get enough finances for participation in the race.
“We are racing against time, if we don’t get the money we would not be able to participate,” said Animesh Garg, a third year student at NSIT.
Despite being invited for the competition, the six-member team is running from pillar to post to finance its dreams. It has also approached the Knowledge Development Fund of Delhi Government for help but has not heard anything so far. Their total expenses would be Rs 11 lakh, said Garg.
“The college has decided to fund Rs 1 lakh of the total expenses. They also have their hands tied. We are now dependent on the government for help,” said Garg.
G. Narendra Kumar, director of Delhi Knowledge Development Fund could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
At Delhi College of Engineering (DCE), which won the ‘Most Original Design’ award in 2008, the team is finding it tough to convince corporate firms to sponsor its project. “Companies that usually gave up to Rs 2 lakh are giving just Rs 50,000,” said Bharat Singh, team leader. “We have estimated the budget at Rs 10 lakh but are finding it difficult to find the funds,” said Singh.
Singh said he preferred not to approach the government agencies because of the red tape and long process it entailed. “This time we might just have to ask the college to help us. Otherwise we will not be able to go to NASA,” said Singh.
The silver lining
The good news is that Delhi University has already sanctioned Rs 6 lakh to sponsor its two students - Kamal Arora and Khayati Vardan from Kirori Mal College. However, the third member of the team — Gurpreet Singh from Guru Tegh Bahadur Institute of Technology under IP University — has not managed to get any sponsorship yet.
“We approached the Department of Science and Technology (DST) but they told us that we should have gone to them before making the machine,” said Arora.