Chandrayaan-3 landed on Moon last evening, sparking celebrations across the country
As the country celebrated Chandrayaan-3's Moon landing, a nine-year-old cartoon by New York Times on India's space programme made a return to social media timelines.
The US-based newspaper had published the cartoon following the success of Mangalyaan mission in 2014. The mission to put a robotic probe into the orbit around Mars was completed at just Rs 450 crore, making it one of the cheapest interplanetary missions ever. Earlier, the US, Russia and Europe had sent missions to Mars.
The NYT cartoon had showed a man, dressed as an Indian villager with a cow, knocking on the door of "Elite Space Club" where two men in western clothes sat.
The cartoon had triggered strong protests, with many accusing the renowned newspaper of being racist and mocking India after its stellar space achievement.
The outrage was followed by an apology. According to a BBC report, Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of New York Times, had then said in a Facebook post that a "large number of readers" had complained about the cartoon.
"The intent of the cartoonist, Heng Kim Song, was to highlight how space exploration is no longer the exclusive domain of rich, Western countries. Mr Heng, who is based in Singapore, uses images and text - often in a provocative way - to make observations about international affairs. We apologise to readers who were offended by the choice of images in this cartoon," he had said.
Mr Rosenthal had said Mr Heng "was in no way trying to impugn India, its government or its citizens".
As Chandrayaan touched down near the southern pole of the Moon, making India the first country to do so, Twitter users dug out the old cartoon, tagged NYT and said it is time for a new cartoon.
Among them was Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader Y Sathish Reddy. "You chuckled, questioning our capabilities. Today, we silence you with our triumph! Now, go ahead & sketch a fresh cartoon," he posted on X, sharing the old cartoon.
Some Twitter users even shared an altered version of the NYT cartoon, based on a reply by Times of India three years back.
The TOI cartoon, published in 2017 when India put a record-breaking 104 satellites in space with a single rocket, had flipped the NYT cartoon -- the Indian man and his cow were inside the space club and two men seen seated inside in NYT's cartoon were knocking on the door of "Elite Space Club", eager to get in.
Yesterday, many altered the TOI cartoon to show that developed countries are now seeking India's advice on how to land a spacecraft near the Moon's south pole.