Dogfight In ISRO
THINGS HAVE changed at ISRO since 13 January,” says a veteran scientist who wishes to remain anonymous. That was the day G Madhavan Nair and three other senior scientists were tainted with the brush of suspicion for their roles in the Antrix-Devas deal. “All this media hype has had an adverse impact on us. We are not used to such things. Now I don’t know whom to believe and whom to curse,” says the senior scientist, due to retire within a year.
“His appointment was almost certain four months before he became chairman of ISRO. He was elevated to the post of Secretary to Department of Space before taking charge of ISRO. But we thought Nair had endorsed his elevation and that the two had good relations. Now people close to Radhakrishnan say this is not the story and that Nair tried to block his elevation to the prime post,” says a top Bengaluru scientist. But the present chairman has the right connections in New Delhi, it is said.
Interview with Dr Nair-
There are allegations against you and fellow scientists that you sold S-band spectrum for a throwaway price.
You can blame me for selling cheap to Devas only if I had another offer for a better price. In this case, there was no such bidder or proposal.
Was national security compromised in any way?
You can blame me for anything but not on this account. Devas had to get all clearances for operating the system on the ground. The control was with us and not with them.
Do you think that some vested interests played a key role in trapping you in the Devas-Antrix deal?
‘Trapping’ is a light expression to use for the whole affair. I was butchered and hanged. Now I realise it was pre-planned and scripted. They have won for now
Bhaskaranarayana Former Scientific Secretary
How do you feel after the Union government blacklisted you along with fellow scientists in the Antrix-Devas deal?
I feel humiliated, cheated; depressed and slightly demotivated. I lived my whole life with dignity, concentrating on my missions. I was only worried about failing as a scientist. I never had time to enjoy life, to mingle with the outside world. But now I find I was treated like a secondclass citizen. All kinds of stories are floating, painting me a villain who ditched the country.
Did anybody put pressure on you to clear the project in favour of Devas?
There was no pressure and no arm-twisting. Like many other proposals that came for our consideration, I objectively analysed it and found a great opportunity for India. In 2004, there was no 2G scam or spectrum auction.
Are you going to fight to restore your reputation?
At 67, I don’t have many more miles to go before I sleep. But the way in which I was dumped hurts me. I don’t deserve such treatment
we are losing good men in the process due to age old enimity among humans.