It's okay to go crazy and fail: ISRO chief to students

It's okay to go crazy and fail, ISRO chief Sivan tells students

ISRO Chairman K Sivan presents gold medals to M Kavya (MA Kannada) at the BU convocation on Saturday. Vice-Chancellor K R Venugopal and Registrar (Evaluation) K R Venugopal are also seen. Credit: DH.

K Sivan, the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), had a clear message for graduating students at Bangalore University (BU): It’s okay to fail. 

In September 2019, Sivan was left distraught after the space agency lost contact with the moon lander Vikram during the Chandrayaan-2 mission. A video of Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugging an emotional Sivan and patting him on the back was widely shared at the time. 

Sivan’s exhortation to the students during his convocation address couldn’t have been better. “It’s okay to be crazy, to experience failures, to make interesting and amazing mistakes”. 

Recalling his association with Bengaluru, Sivan said he had spent the best years of his life in the city. When he graduated more than three decades ago, the job scenario was not as vibrant as today. 

“(The) area of specialisation limited the career options. Today, the options are many. As far as college and career goes, I was always denied my first choice. After high school, I wanted to study engineering but ended up studying BSc Mathematics. Later, I got into engineering and wanted to join (the) ISRO Satellite Centre at Bengaluru but ended up joining (the) Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. There also, I wanted to join the
aerodynamics group but ended up joining the PSLV project. At every stage of my life, I never got what I wanted as (the) first choice. Nevertheless, I learned a valuable lesson. Life and career are not about making the best choices in life, but are about making the best of the opportunity available to you.” 

Sivan announced that ISRO would launch the next Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in March and it would have satellites from start-up agencies as the first product of reforms in the space sector for greater participation of non-governmental entities.