The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States of America created quite a storm on social media recently after they shared photographs of interns from all over the world who had received an opportunity to pursue an internship in the space research agency.
While inviting applications for the internship, NASA shared the photograph of an Indian American: Pratima Roy with murtis of Hindu deities on her table and the wall plastered with photographs of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, a Shiva Linga could also be seen. A laptop is placed near the statue in which the NASA logo is visible. While many people are questioning NASA’s scientific thinking on this picture, there are a large number of people who are calling it the freedom to follow their religion.
Today's the day: applications for fall NASA internships are due!
— NASA (@NASA) July 9, 2021
Following this tweet by NASA, a large number of people tweeted supporting the intern’s right to follow the religion. More than three thousand people have retweeted this post of NASA and about 16 thousand people have liked it. There have been more than a thousand comments regarding the same.
This incident divided Twitter into two factions. Some people are praising it fiercely, while some have even called it to be the destruction of science. Quoting NASA’s tweet, a Twitter handle named ‘Mission Ambedkar’ wrote, ‘After seeing this, we said, NASA has destroyed science. ‘Science ka Naash kar diya NASA ne.’
After seeing this we said;
Science ka Naash kar diya NASA ne. https://t.co/Wx0fy7D1BC
— Mission Ambedkar (@MissionAmbedkar) July 11, 2021
Another Twitter handle named ‘Patrick Brauckmaan’ tweeted
“I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’m pretty confident you just hate Hindus? Maybe’s she took the photo with her Murtis because she derives amazing strengths & powers or they give her access to the higher knowledge of the Vedas like other Hindus who were the 1st scientists?”
I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’m pretty confident you just hate Hindus? Maybe’s she took the photo with her Murtis because she derives amazing strengths & powers or they give her access to the higher knowledge of the Vedas like other Hindus who were the 1st scientists? pic.twitter.com/Lz8aaxnQOI
— Patrick Brauckmann (@vonbrauckmann) July 11, 2021
Indian-origin sisters Pratima and Pooja Rai are software engineer co-op interns at NASA Glenn Research Center. Both are studying at New York City College of Technology. In a blog, NASA asked some questions to both of them about their experiences. Pratima said that she completely believes in God. She said that ‘whatever we do, God is watching and dreams can really come true’.
Pooja has been doing a remote internship at the research centre since the beginning of 2020. She is working on a project that is related to NASA’s “Moon to Mars mission” and its Artemis program. She said that he got to learn a lot from his mentors. Pratima is majoring in Computer Engineering Technology. She is learning about Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Biomimicry. Not only her but there are examples of many top Indian scientists who are Hindu devotees such as K Sivan, the head of The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Pseudo ‘intellectuals’ resorted to questioning Roy’s ‘scientific temperament’, which some would assume is more than competent but the argument about ‘rationality’ and ‘scientific temperament’ has no practical relevance here since we are speaking of NASA, and she has to possess the required scientific skills to earn the opportunity to intern at NASA.
There has been ongoing discussion regarding Hinduphobia and its implication in institutions. Although there are numerous comments with regards to Roy that makes Hinduphobic attacks abundantly evident. Some have denied this phenomenon even exists, but it is pretty obvious that if a photograph of a Christian woman or a Muslim had been shared by NASA with the religious symbolism of their personal faith, then it would not have attracted similar reactions.