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About this book

This book discusses the journey of Dr. K Kasturirangan, who shares his experience during his long tenure at ISRO including the Chairmanship of ISRO, subsequently membership of the Rajya Sabha, the Planning Commission and many other responsibilities. Over the past five decades of public and professional service to the nation, Dr. Kasturirangan has graduated from a young researcher in astrophysics working under Vikram Sarabhai to leading India’s space program (ISRO), being entrusted by five successive Prime Ministers, besides dealing with several other domains of responsibilities beyond space, all of which have significantly impacted India’s development.

This book centers around select 12 public invited lectures, Dr. Kasturirangan delivered ranging from developing hi-tech space systems, to managing an organization as intricate as ISRO which was guided by the wisdom of mentors, including Vikram Sarabhai, M G K Menon, Satish Dhawan and U. R. Rao, to tackling multi-faceted socio-economic issues, including India’s nuclear deal, report headed by him on the Western Ghats ecosystem, and the new National Education Policy 2020.

Scientists, historians, policy makers, management strategists, journalists, or anyone with a keen interest in understanding the processes behind such large-scale science, technology and socio-economic endeavors – right from planning, creating appropriate institutional mechanisms, working with multiple stakeholders to ensure that these programs deliver tangible benefits to society, articulating these benefits with clarity to political leaders to assure public support – will find this book deeply instructive and illuminating. It will be of interest to the scientific, education and management community as well as to policy makers and researchers affiliated with multifaceted developmental issues.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Reflections of a Long Journey

Abstract
The past few decades have been marked by major social and political upheavals, disruptive technological progress, and transformative economic developments. India’s complex society has also evolved from an intensely hierarchical system—where positions of prominence were largely reserved for individuals with key familial connections—to a more egalitarian setup that increasingly facilitates the rise of people like Dr K. Kasturirangan from humble backgrounds to positions of prominence.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 2. Forays into the World of Astronomy, Technology, and Space

Abstract
My fascination with astronomy can be traced to my childhood in the small township of Ernakulam in the southern Indian state of Kerala in the early 1940s. With practically no background effects from city lights, the nights in those years were virtually lit up by the star-studded sky in its fullest grandeur, creating in my mind, a sense of awe and wonder. I still fervently recall the beautiful sight of the Milky Way that strung like a necklace across the night skies of Ernakulam. This spectacle is difficult to experience these days in any urban site.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 3. Space—An Innovative Route to Development

Abstract
In my younger days, I had the good fortune of working closely with the space pioneer Vikram Sarabhai. I was always struck by the professional and personal rapport between J.R.D. Tata and Vikram Sarabhai. About Vikram, J.R.D. fondly mentioned, “Few men that I have known call for more admiration and affection than Vikram Sarabhai.”
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 4. India’s Space Enterprise: Strategic Thinking and Planning

Abstract
Modern space science had its beginnings around 1946 when scientists started the deployment of instruments to the outer fringes of the Earth’s atmosphere using balloons and rockets to study radiation from outer space as well as geophysical phenomena. In spite of the professed scientific goals for the first earth satellite missions, the launch of SPUTNIK on October 4, 1957 by the then Soviet Union added a new dimension (Logsdon in Exploring the unknown. In: Selected Documents in the History of US Civil Space Program Vol. V: Exploring the Cosmos, NASA History Series, 2001) to the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. The early scientific satellite missions of the United States also had implicit goals of pursuing their interest by establishing the international legal principle that national sovereignty did not extend to the altitudes at which satellites would orbit. Thus, there was no obstacle in international law to the flight of a reconnaissance satellite over Soviet territory. Against this back drop, it is significant to note that the early inspiration for the Indian space programme came not from any military objectives but from the interests of a large scientific community who had been actively engaged in research programmes related to geophysics and astrophysics. When Vikram Sarabhai and Homi Bhabha suggested national support for space science and technology with possible applications to Indian problems in 1962, the Sputnik era was just five years old. Pandit Nehru’s approval for the application of space technology in India was an act of extraordinary foresight and courage. This decision in the absence of experience with operational systems, the newness and complexity of the technology, and the high risks involved only could have been based on a vision of the future and an abiding faith and confidence in Indian scientists and people.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 5. Space—The Next 50 Years

Abstract
This chapter illustrates some of the features about the way the past 60 years of space exploration have evolved and also looks at the future of space applications that will affect humanity and society in a major way. History changed on October 4, 1957 when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I, which was the first artificial satellite. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic launch of Sputnik, a one-day programme was organised jointly in Paris by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), United Nations-Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN-COPUOS), the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), and the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 6. Space Odyssey—A Down-to-Earth Perspective

Abstract
Science fiction brings science and technology closer to the common people without the complications of theory and complex concepts. This genre of fiction can be where man’s technological imagination is based on scientific facts and incidents that may happen in the future. Science fiction, as written by those great writers like Sir Arthur C. Clarke, were really helpful in determining the progress of science and technology. Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s visions of space travel and communication sparked the imagination of readers and scientists alike all over the world. Sir Patrick Moore, in his obituary, paid his tribute by rightly describing Sir Arthur as “a great science fiction writer, a very good scientist, a great prophet, and a very dear friend.”
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 7. Evolution of Earth Observation Capabilities in India

Abstract
Earth Observation (EO) is one of the core segments in the domain of space technology applications. It utilizes the behaviour of the electromagnetic spectrum while interacting with the atmosphere, geosphere, biosphere, or hydrosphere to deduct quantitative or qualitative information about targets. The operational era of EO started with launch of Earth Resource Technology Satellites (ERTS, rechristened later as Landsat) on July 23, 1972. Advancements in EO capabilities over the past (nearly) 50 years have helped to improve our understanding of the Earth—its resources and internal and external processes.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 8. Science and Technology of Imaging from Space

Abstract
Imaging techniques from space systems started mainly as a military reconnaissance tool and have come a long way from the early concepts to provide the present day needs with a precise measurement of the Earth’s processes and features. The first part of this chapter deals with the basic concepts of imaging from space. Initially, the available energy source and the effect of atmosphere on the radiation are elaborated. Also, the signatures of objects for identification and their characteristics in spatial and spectral domains are briefly touched upon.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 9. Satellite Navigation

Abstract
Navigation is the science of charting one’s own route from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ with respect to known references both in spatial as well as in temporal domain. Identifying and remembering objects and landmarks like rocks, trees, and rivers; markings on trees; leaving stones or flags; or looking at stars, sun, and moon as points of reference were techniques and navigational aids that early man used to find his way in jungles, deserts, mountains, etc. Further, the time reference was day, night, or even seasons. Navigation is perhaps the only science that has steadily progressed over millions of years—from prehistoric times to the modern age. Birds, animals, and aquatic species also use some sort of navigation technique.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 10. Space Science in India: Two Initiatives

Abstract
The author delivered J.C. Bose Memorial Lecture at Royal Society London. It outlines many unique evolutionary aspects of the Indian space endeavour that have influenced space science, especially high-energy astronomy and planetary exploration. J.C. Bose was one of the most distinguished scientists and one of the earliest from India to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society. His pioneering investigations in the area of wireless communications are well known The two missions chosen for this discussion are the multi-wavelength space observatory called Astrosat and Chandrayaan-1, which was the first Indian mission to the moon; both illustrate the character of this interesting evolution.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 11. Weather and Climate Perspectives from Space

Abstract
The Earth’s geosphere—inclusive of land, oceans, atmosphere, and cryosphere—has evolved in a way that has made it hospitable for the present forms of life in the biosphere. The biosphere, in turn, plays a key role in the geosphere in terms of helping develop the composition of the atmosphere.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 12. Environment from the Vantage Point of Space

Abstract
Scientific understanding of the Earth and its environment has seen a profound transformation and is spurred by the quest for knowledge about our planet and by an urge to make it a better place for future generations. The Earth is a dynamic planet where the processes operating inside it and on its surface have been changing continuously during its 4.6 billion years of existence. The geographic distribution of continents and the ocean basins also have been changing over time—as have the atmosphere and biota. While some of the processes that have shaped the earth are related to the relentless geophysical forces acting over millions of years, others processes reflect more rapid actions of water, wind, biota, and—more recently—human society.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 13. Evolution of India’s Space Transportation Systems

Abstract
The launch of Sputnik on October 4, 1957, by the Soviet Union and closely followed by a similar feat by the United States in 1958 heralded the entry of humankind into a new domain of exploration—that of outerspace. Dr Vikram Sarabhai—one of the foremost visionaries of the 20th century—realised that, for a country like India, one has to address the problems of education, communication, healthcare, optimal management of natural resources, and provide timely predictions of meteorology and weather phenomenon for the benefit of farmers.
K. Kasturiranagn

Chapter 14. Economics and Cost Benefit Analysis of Indian Space Programme

Abstract
Space programmes all over the globe bring in the scientific, technological, industrial, and security capabilities and have been conceived as important tools used to enhance the socioeconomic development through their use of applications in the civilian domain.
K. Kasturirangan, C. S. Shaijumon

Chapter 15. Space Cooperation—Some Interesting Dimensions

Abstract
International cooperation is a hallmark of space programmes around the globe that has deeper roots in the new culture that space activities have unfolded on humanity. This culture has enabled human minds to transcend their exclusive earthly image and engage in the expansive visions of space travel, living in outerspace, and emerging as a multi-planetary species.
K. Kasturirangan, K. R. Sridhara Murthy

Chapter 16. Nuclear Deal – Rajya Sabha Address on 123 Agreement

Abstract
Considering the nation’s large electricity needs, India has decided that nuclear energy has to be an essential part of its electricity ‘mix’ and has been working to set up nuclear power plants. Based on international collaboration at the beginning of the atomic energy programme, indigenous research, and efforts for development and increased industrial capability, India has acquired the potential to construct Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) and associated fuel cycle facilities.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 17. Western Ghats—Broad Contours of the Study and Outcomes

Abstract
The Western Ghats, also known as Sahyadri, are the majestic mountain range that fringes the west coast of India. This magnificent mountain range has been known for several millennia and mentioned in ancient epics, such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the Puranas.
K. Kasturirangan, C. R. Babu

Chapter 18. Giving Leadership to Two Innovative Institutions

Abstract
After retiring from ISRO in 2003, while serving as member Rajyasabha, Dr Kasturirangan took on the responsibility of leading the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), which gave him an opportunity to nurture and promote multidisciplinary research and to bring about a greater awareness and recognition of this institution.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 19. Working with My Predecessor ISRO Chairmen

Abstract
As you may recall, one of my most vivid memories of growing up in Ernakulam, which is in the southern Indian state of Kerala, is of the spectacular Milky Way decorating the night sky—unchallenged by electric lights.
K. Kasturirsangan

Chapter 20. Associations with Prime Ministers

Abstract
The account that I give here is about my association with five successive Prime Ministers (PMs) of India. This will help to explain the unique role that PMs have in the context of heading the executive branch of the Indian government.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 21. Scientific and Technological Challenges for Youth

Abstract
Formally created on May 27, 1909, the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has since celebrated the passage of a century. The IISc has had many interesting events and memorable moments during its long and extraordinary odyssey.
K. Kasturirangan

Chapter 22. Leadership of Diversity in Service of a National Cause: The Art of Multiplying Strengths

Abstract
In the winter of 2014, I was preparing mentally for a discussion on the role of technology in education. This was a matter that I was familiar with. And I was also familiar with the misplaced enthusiasm that fills many people on the use of technology in education. This enthusiasm is directly proportional to their distance from the ground reality of education, that is, greater the distance the higher the enthusiasm. And then this enthusiasm has a multiplicative factor, which is directly proportional to the individuals’ proximity to technology in their professional capacity. The word ‘technology’ here refers to information-communication-technology (ICT) and closely related other ‘new age’ technologies, and not to the expansive, and, comprehensive notion of technology which would include things like agriculture, materials, chemicals, etc. In other words, many of those who work with (or in) the technology sectors, are rarely connected to education, and thus, they start thinking of ICT as a panacea for most issues in education. The reality is anything but that. ICT clearly has its uses in education, but both of limited nature and effect. This is not a piece on this particular matter, but is leading up to something else, so we will move on.
Anurag Behar

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