Doyen of radar technology NS Pillai speaks volumes about Tapan Misra


My dear Tapan,

I feel it was only yesterday you met me along with Mr Sundararaman for placement in our Microwave Sensors development activities. I talked to you both about your academic backgrounds and interests and I opted for you to work with me in the Systems division and sent Mr Sundararaman to the Digital division. Within a short time, you became the pillar of the systems division and brought a great insight into the complex Synthetic Aperture Radar technology and helped Space Applications Centre, ISRO to become a pioneer in this advanced technology. Starting with the development of the first C band Airborne SAR in the country, we progressed quickly up and built the world class Radar Imaging Satellite RISAT 1 carrying a high resolution multimode Synthetic Aperture Radar. Though many contributed to this project, I don’t think without you we could have built this sophisticated state of the art radar successfully overcoming so many unknowns boldly and innovatively. You are not the one to go on the beaten track. You never looked for any precedence and you boldly tried out new ideas. You had introduced new concepts in the building and checking out the large active array antenna. You also came out with the stretched spotlight SAR concepts to achieve ten times larger spot size with extremely fine resolution. You went on to guide the group as Deputy Director to build world class Radiometers, Scatterometers, high resolution SARS, Altimeters etc.

In fact, you can derive a great sense of satisfaction today when ISRO is jointly developing a dual-frequency multimode SAR satellite NISAR with JPL/NASA who launched the first SAR satellite SEASAT in 1978. This credit goes to you largely.

Then, as Director Space Applications Centre you guided the centre to build world class communication and remote sensing payloads and processing systems. Your intelligence, wide knowledge base, innovative thinking, extreme dedication and integrity made you a great leader of the Centre in particular and the organisation in general. In spite of your serious personal health issues and problems related to your special child, your first priority was always work. For you, organisation came first. I still remember with admiration your presence in the office the very next day after getting discharged from the hospital after a life saving critical operation. I also very much admired your sense of humour and friendly dealings with all levels of colleagues.

I feel proud that I had the privilege to have you as my colleague.

Today, you are superannuating as per the Government rules as you have turned 60. But, you have enormous potential to serve the Nation and the World in the domain of Science and Technology, Innovation, Institution building etc. I am sure you will have plenty of opportunities to do that in the coming days and years and make outstanding contributions.

I wish you a greater second innings in your professional career and a very happy family life.

With best wishes,

N S Pillai