During nascent stages of ISRO, Prof. Vikram Sarabhai had envisaged ISRO as total solution provider. That is why he recruited MBAs, social scientists, graduates from film institutes along with technical staff. When satellite applications took off in the country, many new institutions cropped up to cater to different facets of solutions and ISRO concentrated on providing technical backbone of solutions.
This was pointed out by eminent space scientist and Advisor ISRO Tapan Misra during a discussion with Bhaskar Joshi of All India Radio, Gujarat. The tete-a-tete, recorded on 5 December 2019, will be publicly broadcast on 16 December on AIR Gujarat.
The discussion concentrated on Misra’s professional trajectory and contribution in ISRO and how he perceived himself as part of the evolution of ISRO during his three and half decades long association with India’s premier space organisation.
Sharing his experiences, Misra said when he joined ISRO in 1984, the transition had started taking shape. It was quite painful and many people who were not fitting into this transition left for greener pastures. And those who could not fit but still stayed back, resigned to themselves.
Today, Misra observed, Indian space technology is transiting towards becoming industry from a research lab. Private participation in routine production and operation is inevitable, if space industry has to contribute significantly to GDP. But space industry is also innovation driven, if it wants to become relevant and competitive. But innovation and industrial production call for a different work culture and intellectual environments. Also separate types of leadership are the call of the day, Misra went on to point out.
The eminent scientist further said, industrial production requires professional management expertise. But innovation calls for inspirational leadership to enthuse scientists to think differently and take up the challenge of trekking in unknown territory, without any assurance of guaranteed success. Innovation needs different ecosystem and culture, he emphasised
Addressing the larger audience that looks up to ISRO as a symbol of national pride, Misra said sooner or later ISRO has to confront this evolutionary challenge by taking the bull by the horn. ISRO’s future success and relevance will depend on how it addresses this apparent dichotomy in next evolution.