The chinks had started showing in Indian Space Research Organistion (ISRO) and its functioning when the Antrix-Devas scam had hit the headlines about 10 years ago. The news clipping below says a lot…..
After Pawan Kumar Goenka has taken over as Chairperson of In-SPACe, Dr. Raghunandan G Nadadur, who is a former Additional Secy & F A Department of Space ( 28 february 2011 and 5 January 2012)
and was earlier a Director with ISRO between 6 December 2010 and 28 February 2011, has published a post on his facebook wall with the heading “A request to Sri Pawan Kumar Goenka, Chairman, IN-SPACe”. It points to “Orders in respect of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) published in the Government Gazette.
Obviously Nadadur is addressing those in the knowledgeable circles and those who matter. Still, to drive home his point, while advising the IN-SPACe Chairperson how he should carry out his responsibilities, the ex-civil servant has chosen to be repetitive while rolling out point-wise the work of IN-SPACe as outlined in the website of ISRO, as follows:
1) IN-SPACe is to be established as a single window nodal agency, with its own cadre, which will permit and oversee the following activities of Non Government Private Entities (NGPEs).
2) Space activities including building of launch vehicles and satellites and providing space based services as per the definition of space activities.
3) Sharing of space infrastructure and premises under the control of ISRO with due consideration to on-going activities.
4) Establishment of temporary facilities within premises under ISRO control based on safety norms and feasibility assessment
5) Establishment of new space infrastructure and facilities, by NGPEs, in pursuance of space activities based on safety norms and other statutory guidelines and necessary clearances.
6) Initiation of launch campaign and launch, based on readiness of launch vehicle and spacecraft systems, ground and user segment.
7) Building, operation and control of spacecraft for registration as Indian Satellite by NGPEs and all the associated infrastructure for the same.
8) Usage of spacecraft data and rolling out of space based services and all the associated infrastructure for the same.
9) IN-SPACe will draw up an integrated launch manifest considering the requirements for ISRO, NSIL and NGPEs based on priorities and readiness level.
10) IN-SPACe will work out a suitable mechanism for promotion & hand holding, sharing of technology and expertise to encourage participation of NGPEs in space activities.
11) In order to carry out the space activities, capital-intensive, high technology facilities will be required by NGPEs. These facilities, spread across various ISRO Centres, shall be permitted for use by NGPEs.
12) IN-SPACe will work out a suitable mechanism to offer sharing of technology, expertise and facilities on free of cost wherever feasible or at reasonable cost basis to promote NGPEs.
13) IN-SPACe will act as an autonomous body, under DOS, as a single window nodal agency for enabling and regulating space activities and usage of ISRO facilities by NGPEs.
14) IN-SPACe will also permit establishment of facilities, within ISRO premises, based on safety norms and feasibility assessment.
15) The marketing, sharing and dissemination of remote sensing data shall be governed by Remote sensing policy. Each application requiring examination as per new policy will be examined and permitted by IN-SPACE factoring legal and security aspects.
16) The decision of IN-SPACe shall be final and binding on all stakeholders including ISRO. NGPEs will not be required to seek separate permission from ISRO.
17) A multi-disciplinary review and assessment mechanism comprising of four Directorates for Technical, Legal, Safety & Security, Monitoring & Promotion and will assist IN-SPACe in carrying out its functions.
Underscoring these points, Nadadur goes on to inform his audience that as a former civil service officer, has been conditioned to understand that Government takes decisions “in its infinite wisdom”.
Fruther, he says: “I am sure that a great deal of thought has gone into the decision to set up IN-SPACe. Hence, I will not venture to question the decision of Government in setting up IN-SPACe.”
“A study of the roles of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Antrix Corporation Limited (ACL) and the New Space India Limited (NSIL) shows that all the work that has been entrusted to IN-SPACe is now being performed by these three bodies.”
“I am sure that there are going to be situations in which IN-SPACe comes into conflict with ISRO or Antrix Corporation or NSIL. I wonder which authority will be the referee in such a case. Will it be Secretary, Department of Space (DOS) or Chairman, Space Commission or the PM himself? As of now, Chairman, ISRO is also Secretary DOS and Chairman, Space Commission. So, will all conflict situations be referred to the PM or will an independent person be appointed as Chairman, Space Commission too?”
“As a person who has spent many years serving in ISRO, I am familiar with the personnel who are still serving in that great organization. I have also been reading about the stellar accomplishments of Chairman, IN-SPACe. I must confess that I am quite apprehensive about the ability of the personnel in ISRO to face up to the challenges that may be posed by IN-SPACe and the team that will be assembled by its redoubtable Chairman.”
“I believe that ISRO is an organization that has served and is continuing to serve Bharatmata in a very dedicated manner. The activities of ISRO are not just commercial. There are activities that relate to the spheres of development and welfare, societal needs, national security and defence.
I am sure that many activities of ISRO will not be of interest to the partners of IN-SPACe. Indeed, those partners are not in the game for philanthropy. Such being the case, it is important that the level of morale and motivation of all the personnel in ISRO is always maintained at a very high level.”
“I know that we cannot ask Chairman, IN-SPACe to give anything less than his very best to the new organization that he now heads. He has entered upon his new assignment with the same energy and enthusiasm that he has displayed during his several decades of service. Indeed, I am also sure that there are great expectations from him from several authorities, including the PM himself.”
“I would only like to request Sri Pawan Kumar Goenka, Chairman, IN-SPACe to take every step in a measured manner and also only after thinking about its likely impact on ISRO and its personnel. It is in the interest of Bharatmata that ISRO and IN-SPACe work in tandem to bring greater glory to our dear country.”
In a no-holds barred response to this, distinguished scientist, former Advisor ISRO and Director Space Application Centre (SAC) Tapan Misra has commented on the former civil servant’s facebook post.
Misra’s post says a lot and we are publishing it in varbatim – “
Tapan Misra says:
“I see all the lamentations. Like Gandhari’s crying after Mahabharata war was over. Had Vidur and Bhishma exhibited their spines during disrobing of Draupadi, Gandhari need not have to see the day. I saw the ugly face of ISRO. Centre Director was poisoned in august presence of full ISRO council, all evidences were wiped out literally by water and fake enquiry was conducted. Then none of the seniors, some of whom are now lamenting, did any semblance of protest. Then there was litany of failures – RISAT-1 destruction, PSLV heat shield not opening, GSAT 6A Failure, ugly attempt to scuttle GSAT 11 launch, or recent GISAT launch failure. On top of it , Chandrayan 2 lander fiasco and brazen attempt to cover it up (sic) and many other criminal activities, which I do not want to recount. In space business, we should learn from mistakes. But repeated failures? How can you learn, when the failure analysis reports will even make donkeys laugh? ISRO was on a steady downhill. From Kiran Sir’s time and continuing. Government cannot just watch. They have to take corrective action. What will you do when malaise is no longer a disease but cancer? It can no longer be covered up by friendly press report. No point in crying. At the end of the day, we were being pampered by taxpayers, because they trusted us. We no longer could live upto the trust, reposed on us by the nation. Nation is above ISRO.