Kasturirangan makes emotional appeal to end ISRO row

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Veteran space scientist K. Kasturirangan on Wednesday made an emotional appeal for an amicable end to the ISRO row so that the agency is 'back on track', drawing a parallel between the current episode and mid-90s' 'espionage case' to stress the gravity of the situation now.

"I hope that this gets defused as early as possible so that we are back on track on which we are supposed to be travelling," Kasturirangan, who headed ISRO for more than nine years till G. Madhavan Nair succeeded him in 2003, told PTI.

"I am very keen that this entire matter blows over and defuses", Kasturirangan, a Planning Commission member, said.

His voice choking at times, he said: "Like any other member of the country's scientific community, more importantly of ISRO, I would very much wish this happens."

Kasturirangan's passionate appeal comes amid the full-blown row over government's action to debar Nair and three other top scientists from holding any government posts over the controversial Antrix-Devas deal.

The action which has outraged the scientific community has seen a bitter Nair persistently attacking the decision for which he has blamed ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan.

Kasturirangan said there there was a parallel (to the present imbroglio) in the 'spy case' when he was the agency chief. "And we took a resolve in the organisation (at the time) that a programme (space mission) which was supposed to be launched in August, we will try to do it in July (to show) that we mean business and we did it", Kasturirangan said.

Kasturirangan, who had served the space agency for 40 years, said he wants ISRO to continue its progress and projects properly and maintain its pre-eminent position.

"Afterall, we have built it (ISRO) up over four decades with lot of efforts. Lot of handicaps we had to face. But we have built it up. That's the feeling I have", he said.

He said he would like the issues to be resolved "as amicably as possible, and ISRO gets on with the task of continuing its ambitious programme and succeeds."

Kasturirangan, however, refused to comment on the merits or otherwise of the Antrix-Devas deal as well as the action against the scientists.

"First of all I should admit that my own knowledge of the entire episode in the context on which it's being discussed in the country is extremely poor because I was not a party in this entire thing at any point of time," Kasturirangan said.

On Radhakrishnan's statement yesterday revealing intentions to make public the two key reports based on which the action was taken against the scientists, he said: "It again relates to the totality of the circumstances. How do you comment on a part of it when I don't know the whole of it".

Asked if he would contribute towards ending the row, he said: "Whatever little I can do, without being obvious to the country, I will continue to try to do".

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