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S. Nambi Narayanan: A Patriot Turned Into A Traitor By A Broken System

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We will explain one of India’s great scientists and great minds, Padma Bhushan S. Nambi Narayanan. We will discuss how they were trapped in a false spy scandal?

S. Nambi Naryan

Nambi Narayanan was one of India’s greatest rocket scientists.

Early Life And Work At ISRO

Firstly, starting with the early days of S. Nambi Narayanan, who was born in Nagercoil, Travancore, which is in the present-day Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu. He was born on 12th December 1941 into a middle-class Tamil Brahmin family. His mother stayed at home to look after the children, and his father was a businessman, trading in coconut kernel and fiber. He was the first boy in a middle-class family, after five girls.

Young Nambi was a good student and topped his senior class and completed his schooling at DVD Higher Secondary School.
He went to Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai, for a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. Later, he got a scholarship from ISRO to study for his MSE from Princeton University. He completed his program in a record time of 10 months in chemical rocket propulsion under professor Luigi Crocco. He got a job offer from the US, but he returned to India because he knew his country needed him and his expertise in Liquid propellants.

Before going for chemical rocket propulsion, he worked as an integrator of payload with the YS Rajan program. He also got an appreciation from the founder and the first president of ISRO, Satish Dhawan, and his successor U.R. Rao. His far-sighted vision on liquid fuel rocketed technology in the late ’70s when Kalam’s team was still working on solid motors.

Mr. Narayanan developed liquid propellant motors in the mid-1970s, first building a successful 600 kilograms (1,300 lb) thrust engine. After Working for two decades, his team developed the Vikas engine with French assistance. It was later used in many rockets of ISRO, including the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle ), which took Chandrayaan-1 to the moon in 2008. It was also used in the stages of GSLV( Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle).

1994, please remember the date. The day when the honesty and prestige of S. Nambi Narayanan doubted was the critical day in ISRO’s cryogenic rocket technology research. It all started two years before this in 1992.

(ISRO/PTI Photo) (PTI7_22_2019_000096B)

India’s Chandrayaan moon missions might not have been possible without Naryanan’s research decades earlier.

In 1992 India and Russia make a deal; Russia agreed to share technology for cryogenic fuel-based engines and the acquisition of two such engines for ₹ 235 crores. Simultaneously, France and the USA sold the same technology at very high prices, at₹ 650 and ₹ 950 crores respectively. Then-president George H. W. Bush wrote an intimidation letter to Russia for the cancellation of the deal. Then Russia was not assertive as today, and under the pressure of the USA, they canceled the agreement.

In Oct 1994, a Maldivian nationalist named Mariam Rasheeda was arrested in Thiruvananthapuram for trying to obtain secret drawings of ISRO rocket engines to sell to Pakistan.

In Nov 1994, Nambi Narayana, Director of the cryogenic project at ISRO, was arrested along with deputy Director of ISRO D.Sasikumaran and Indian Representative of a Russian space agency. K. Chandrasekhar, S.K. Sharma, a labor contractor, and Fousiya Hasan, a Maldivian friend of Rasheeda, were also arrested because Rasheeda took their names in interrogation.

Narayana’s Fight For Justice

He was arrested and lodged in jail for 50 days. Defense officials said the secrets pertained to highly confidential “flight test data” from experiments with rocket and satellite launches. However, his house had nothing out of the ordinary and did not show signs of the corrupt gains he was accused of. The interrogating officials tortured him until he collapsed and was admitted to the hospital because he refused to give a false statement against the top officials of  ISRO.

In 1996, CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) filed a report in front of Kerala court that there was no evidence to back the charges and said the case was false. The court accepted the report and discharged all accused. In 1998, the Supreme Court of India discharged the case and directed the state government to pay the compensation of rupees 1 Lakh.

The two scientists Sasikumar and Narayanan were given desk jobs and transferred out of Thiruvananthapuram after dismissing charges against them. In 1999, he approached the NHRC(National Human Rights Commission), claiming compensation for his damaged career in space research with the mental and physical torture he suffered and his family.

In 2001 he retired, and NHRC ordered Kerala Government to pay compensation of rupees 1 crore. In 2012, the government dropped charges against Siby Mathews and did not follow the Kerala High court order to compensate 10 Lakh rupees. In 2017, the Supreme Court of India started the hearing on Mr. Narayanan’s plea, seeking action against the people, including Kerala DGP and others who plotted the false spy case against him.

In 2018, Three judge benches comprising Chief Justice Deepak Mishra, Justice A.M Khanwilkar, and D.Y. Chandrachud awarded Mr. Narayana a compensation of 50 lakh rupees for his physical and mental torture and damage to his reputation. Kerala Government also compensated 1.3 crore rupees to him.

In 2019 he was awarded the Padma Bhushan award by the Government of India.

Questions Without Answers

After fighting a legal battle for almost 24 years, he has given justice by the court, but we have still left with many questions left.

Who has benefited from a false spy case?
How can we compensate somebody’s most valuable and precious time?
Did it affect India’s Space Program?
If yes, then how many critical years and how much it costs our economy?
How can an ordinary person get justice on time from the Indian laws?

Questions are multiple, but answers are nowhere.

I salute such a patriot and real heroes like Mr. Narayan. He did so much for our country in the field of research and development. Instead of giving gratitude for his work, we gave him disrespect and called him a traitor. We don’t deserve a great person like him.
He showed his character and fought against all odds. At last, he wins.

There is a need to recognize and support the real heroes of the country.

Jai Jawan Jai Kissan Jai Vigyan.

You must be to comment.
  1. R S

    Its the same story in all scientific organisations.
    Mediocres and Corrupt lead.

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