The Economist points out that India's space program, of which the Mars mission is a small part, costs about $1 billion a year. It claims that spending on things like public health in that country is "abysmally low."
On the other hand, most of India's space program is directed toward communications and other satellites that have a direct benefit to its people.
The BBC adds that the inspirational and national prestige aspects of the Mars mission are not to be sneezed at. India has a growing middle class, technically trained, and a good space program is part of a mix of policies that encouraged that development."
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