The prime minister of India, Manmohan Singh, is aiming for the moon, in what some are calling an untimely ambition.

Prime Minister Singh announced his plan to commission a high-tech space mission to Mars, saying, “This spaceship to Mars will be a huge step for us in the area of science and technology,” in his Independence Day speech. With the massive blackout and corruption controversies in their midst, Indians criticized the government and urged them to “focus instead on basic infrastructure and sanitation”.

Mr. Singh pledged to provide electricity to every household in the next five years and improve the supply. India was recently hit by a widespread power cut affecting almost 700 million people after three power grids collapsed, rousing public anger over the government’s mismanagement of energy. The Prime Minister also said that he would provide banking services to millions of illiterate farmers to curb corruption in India’s welfare system.

The recent anti-corruption protests pose a great challenge to Mr. Singh’s government after he admitted that the country experienced a “disappointing” annual economic growth of 6.5% in the last fiscal year.