Keep On Moving, Keep On Moving

Newsroom24x7 Network

Today we celebrate the Engineers’ Day in India – it is the day to honour and cherish the memory of Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, who was popular as Sir MV. He was a civil engineer and Diwan of the erstwhile Mysore State from 1912 to 1919. He received India’s highest honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1955. Newsroom24x7 is marking this day by saluting Tapan Misra, the renowned distinguished scientist who has contributed immensely to India’s space programme. He would have been a huge asset for the nation and coming generations if he had headed the country’s space administration but destiny has something else in store for him, he loves his status as guru for the young minds and future scientists. Tapan is a great motivator, leader of men, innovator, inventor, scientist par excellence, visionary and an ideal teacher. We are reproducing below a piece from his facebook wall.

“चरैवेति चरैवेति”

“Charaiveti, Charaiveti” – Keep On Moving, Keep On Moving

Tapan Misra

Tapan Misra with Sunita Williams, Indian born Space Shuttle astronaut in a reception by Indian Ambassador in US in July 2012

I reached a point in scientific career, where feathers on our hats, do not mean much. However, I am delighted to share my recent patent which makes me feel proud. All my other patents concern microwave and sensor system technology and related signal processing methods and algorithms. But this patent is on hyperspectral data compression and representation, quite alien to my expertise.

Tapan Misra with NASA Administrator, acclaimed astronaut and former Space Shuttle Commander, Charles Bolden, who visited SAC in 2013 to specifically visit the lab where RISAT could be built at so much economical cost under leadership of Tapan Misra

Of late, I realised the biggest bottleneck in utilising hyperspectral imaging data is the data cube representation in X, Y and wavelength axes. For common users, the very sight of cube is enough to kill any interest. Our algorithm has two variants. The first one concerns significant data compression which can be implemented on board with little loss in data. This make high resolution, wide swath imaging quite feasible, from data transmission point of view. Other variant is more attractive to me, which allows single pixel classification, enabling representation of the potential of hyperspectral data in 2D format, a more understandable representation. My co inventor Litu did lot of analysis of performance of the algorithm over large datasets, enabling refinement with maturity of our understanding.

This algorithm can be tweaked for various applications with data series, like stock market variation over time, time series of weather data and many more things.

What mattered was that this work I indulged in at a particular low point of my career where management decisions were at variance with my technical contributions and merit.

Still, being seasoned administrator, I knew that emotional pain of any unfortunate decision is immediate, but merit of decision can only be understood with passage of time. My apprehension about rightness of the said decision came out correct with passage of time.

When many youngsters used to confront me about undesirability of the said situation, I used to console them that my experience says that technical contributions should not be held prisoner to certain unfortunate decisions or happenings, born out of certain misgivings either personal or professional or ignorance or jealousy or mix of any combination of all these factors. In those situations I get satisfaction that I must have done something really good to the people or organisation to deserve this in return.

Unfortunately in our scientific institutions, mortality of brain hits quite early, in late forties or early fifties. In the same period, gravitational attraction to chairs, cushioned or not, increases in same proportion. More brain deficient you are, more is your craving for chair. This craving turns many big men in science to behave ludicrously and some times viciously. As they cease to contribute intellectually, only achievement they long, is to occupy a chair at any cost. At the end of the day you are respected for your contributions rather than the number of chairs you warmed. The only way out of this vicious circle, to be alive mentally, is to keep contributing intellectually, as exemplified in the great aphorism of Aitareya Brahmana :

“चरैवेति चरैवेति” (“Charaiveti, Charaiveti” – Keep On Moving, Keep On Moving)

Tapan Misra is a distinguished scientist with Department of Space and a trailblazer, who is respected globally for his immense contribution to India’s space programme.

One comment

  1. Had business association with Dr. Tapan Mishra for over 20 years and have learnt a lot from him. His contribution to Indian Remote Sensing satellites is very well known: RISAT, Chandrayan are a few examples. He had contributed a lot in the field of communication satellites. Use of MMIC technologies in the space programs with development of local design expertise is another great contribution. His recent patent is remarkable diversification. Very open and happy person, we all have extremely high regards for his contribution to Indian Space Programs.

    Dayal S Duggal


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