Roddam Narasimha to PM: Don’t damn Madhavan Nair

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One of the country’s top aerospace scientists, Prof. Roddam Narasimha, who along with former cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi, probed the Antrix-Devas contract, has written to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, expressing his distress over “unjustified” orders against the ‘Moonman’ and others as the row over the government’s action against former chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (Isro), G. Madhavan Nair, and three other technocrats, escalates.

Prof. Narasimha’s letter against “public humiliation” of retired technocrats comes at a time when Prof C.N.R. Rao, Chairman, Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (SAC-PM), has taken up the issue with Dr Singh, saying such “punitive procedures” would make scientists think twice before taking calculated risks in research & development (R&D) laboratories.

Prof. Narasimha, member of SAC-PM and the Space Commission, says the technocrats have been punished despite lack of “fraud or personal gain.”

If the government continues to humiliate space scientists, morale would touch rock-bottom, the culture of calculated risk-taking — a hallmark of Isro — would be killed, sources in Isro quoted him as telling the PM.

Prof. Rao meanwhile said it was ironic that the Department of Space (DOS) had chosen to make public the reports of the B.K. Chaturvedi committee and Pratyush Sinha committee after “public hanging” and “humiliation” of these technocrats.

“Dr Shankara (former director of Isro’s Satellite Centre in Bengaluru) is the best man in satellite communications and has done a lot for the country, but he has been punished and his position (Satish Dhawan Chair) has been taken away. It’s the moral issue that bothers me,” he said.

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