Glad my work finally recognised: Nambi Narayanan

Glad my work finally recognised: Nambi Narayanan

Former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan. PTI file photo

From being a celebrated ISRO scientist to being branded a 'spy' and finally awarded with the Padma Bhushan, Nambi Narayanan on Saturday said he was glad that his work in the Indian space arena was finally recognised.

"My name became famous because of 'spying' charges. Now I am glad that my contribution has been recognised by the government," he told PTI over phone.

Narayanan (77) was awarded the prestigious Padma award this Republic Day.

The former scientist had played a critical role in the development of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle and in the initial phase of making cryogenic engines.

He, however, was embroiled in an espionage case in 1994. The case pertained to allegations of transfer of certain confidential documents on India's space programme to foreign countries by two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women.

The case was first investigated by Kerala police and later handed over to the CBI, which found no espionage as was alleged to have taken place.

The case also had its political fallout with a section in the Congress targeting then chief minister late K Karunakaran over the issue, that eventually led to his resignation.

Narayanan, the then director of the cryogenic project at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), was arrested along with ISRO deputy director D Sasikumaran and the Indian representative of a Russian space agency, K Chandrasekhar. S K Sharma, a labour contractor and two Maldivian women-- Fousiya Hasan and Rasheeda-- were also arrested.

What followed was a long legal battle that ended last year with the Supreme Court clearing all charges against Narayanan and directing the Kerala government to give Rs 50 lakh compensation to the scientist.

The court also ordered a high-level probe into the action of the erring cops which had caused "tremendous harassment" and "immeasurable anguish" to Narayanan.

Looking back at the turn of events, the former scientist said they were "a part of life" and was glad that his contribution was finally recognised.

Praising the work of Narayanan, former ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair said, "He played a critical role in the development of PSLV, GSLV and is one of the pioneers in the Liquid Propulsion System (LPS)."

Nair said the scientist was subjected to "severe torture" unheard of by the Kerala police, but Narayanan's efforts have finally been recognised by the government.

A S Kiran Kumar, who served as the ISRO chairman from 2015-2018, said Narayanan was one of the pioneers in cryogenic engine technology in India.