Action against 4 ISRO scientists ridiculous: Prof. U R Rao

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Slamming the action against four space scientists over the Antrix-Devas deal without giving them a chance to defend themselves, former ISRO chief Prof U R Rao on Thursday described it as 'ridiculous' and indicated it might impact decision-making process at the space agency.

"It's ridiculous in a democracy. What kind of democracy are we running", he asked. "If there is something wrong, please go ahead and take action (against them). You don�t give them a chance to defend themselves? Under what circumstances they agreed (for the deal) and so on. What country are we running? On what basis they have taken action," he told PTI.

He welcomed ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan's statement on the intention of the space agency to make public two reports on the basis of which action was taken against former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair and three other scientists but wondered the need for two panels in the first place.

"Why two committees? Why two reports?," he asked, and pointed out that in the five-member team, only the names of Pratyush Sinha and Radhakrishnan are in the public domain. �Who are the other three?

In addition, did these two committees have 'right type of people?' he asked, noting that the technology in question is difficult and complex, and "space communication is totally different from land-line communications".

He indicated that the action of kind taken against the four scientists without giving them an opportunity would impact decision-making process at ISRO and the space programme itself.

"I am worried that if you do like this no body will take a decision. We don�t have money like China to spend. At one time, we were ahead of China and today, we are far behind China," Prof. Rao said.

"I am concerned. Give them an opportunity (to defend themselves). I don't know what they have done wrong," he said, adding. "Let the law take its course. But this is not even law. Not giving them a chance is not even a law".

Prof Rao said the ISRO row has certainly affected the morale of the space scientists.

"People are scared. They think why should we do anything," he said, adding, issues need to resolved quickly and ISRO scientists in general should be convinced that they need not worry about this.

"Decision-making is an important thing and (space) missions have their own time schedules. If don�t do that, you will have services going off," he warned.

"You can't simply go on dilly-dallying." Prof Rao admitted that politics has got into the ISRO row now. "The problem is you bring politics into it. That�s the problem. It's such a bad thing to happen".

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