Did Gandhis Party in Style While ISRO Used Cycles, Bullock Carts?

Two posts claim that Rahul Gandhi’s birthday was being celebrated in style when ISRO’s scientists faced hardships. 

4 min read
Did Gandhis Party in Style While ISRO Used Cycles, Bullock Carts?
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Two posts are going viral on Facebook, claiming that the Nehru-Gandhi family was celebrating a birthday in a chartered plane while ISRO was facing hardships in carrying out work regarding their rockets and satellites.

Both posts combined two photographs and one photo is common to both posts — that of a family in a plane, celebrating a birthday.

In one of the posts, a photo shows two men carrying what looks like a part of a rocket on a cycle; in the other post, the photo shows a group of men surrounding a bullock cart, carrying a contraption on it.

The post with the cycle claims that while ISRO was carrying a part of a rocket on a cycle, the Nehru-Gandhi family was celebrating a birthday on a chartered plane. Shared by a Facebook page called Post Card Fans, the post has over 4.7K reactions and 6.8K shares.


The other post, shared by a Facebook page called PMO India: Report Card also says something similar — that while ISRO was carrying its satellite on a bullock cart, Rahul Gandhi's birthday was being celebrated on an airplane. The post has 4.5K reactions and 4.5K shares.

These posts come in the aftermath of PM Modi's announcement on Wednesday, 27 March, that India had successfully developed anti-satellite missiles, a big success for ISRO and DRDO. The announcement led to a tussle between the BJP and the Congress, with the latter claiming that the credit should go to the Manmohan Singh government, under whose rule the A-SAT had actually started.


Post 1:

Conducting a reverse image search, The Quint found that the photo of the people carrying the part of the rocket on the cycle dates back to 1966, according to this article by Livemint. The photo is courtesy of ISRO.

Did Gandhis Party in Style While ISRO Used Cycles, Bullock Carts?
(Photo: Screenshot)

The location of the photo is Thumba, a small fishing village in Kerala, where India's first sounding rocket was launched from, earlier in 1963. In the village, rocket parts and payloads were regularly carried by scientists on cycles from point to point.

On checking the photo showing Rahul Gandhi’s birthday celebration on a plane, it became evident that the photo was indeed from Rahul Gandhi's birthday, being celebrated by Indira Gandhi on a plane, along with Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi and other family members. However, according to Times Now, the year of the birthday is 1977. This means the photo of the ‘rocket part on the cycle’ was clicked 11 years later.

Did Gandhis Party in Style While ISRO Used Cycles, Bullock Carts?
(Photo Courtesy: Times Now)

Moreover, Rahul Gandhi was born on 19 June, 1970, which means that he was not even born at the time the ‘cycle’ photo was taken.

Post 2:

The photo of the bullock cart dates back to 1981, according to this Livemint article. The object in question is the APPLE satellite (Ariane Passenger PayLoad Experiment), which was being transported as shown in the photo.

Did Gandhis Party in Style While ISRO Used Cycles, Bullock Carts?
(Photo: Screenshot)

According to Hindustan Times, this was not because of lack of resources or funds, but was done on purpose, because India's space scientists were trying to find a metal-free transportable platform. Therefore, they decided to use the bullock cart.

This is corroborated by an article written by Padma Shri Dr RM Vasagam, former senior scientist at ISRO, who was also Project Director of APPLE. According to the article titled ‘APPLE in Retrospect', the APPLE was put on the bullock cart "to provide a non-magnetic environment and to conduct the antenna test in an open field." He goes on to add that this solution, which was found in about five hours and at a minimal cost of Rs 150, became a symbol of ISRO's innovative approach.

Therefore, once again, not only do the dates of the ‘birthday’ photo and the ‘bullock cart’ photo in question not match, they also have no relationship to each other, since the ISRO chose to use the bullock cart for their own reasons.

(Not convinced of a story you came across on social media and want it verified? Send us the details at and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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