Nambi Narayanan , a 77 year old Indian space scientist and aerospace engineer has been covering the news headlines all over the nation lately. The white-bearded gentleman is the subject of R. Madhavan’s upcoming movie-‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect.’
At the teaser launch of the movie, recently, the actor spoke about how deeply he felt about the story of Narayanan; a story that a very few people in the nation know about and that too for all the wrong reasons.
Anant Mahadevan, the co-director of the film and a national award recipient says,” This is an opportunity that was given to us by a genius called Nambi Narayanan.
It’s an absolute shame that we do not know that a brilliant mind exists amongst us and who was on the verge of putting India on top of the global satellite map.
It is also a pity that we came to know about him because of a huge controversy.”(source theindianexpress)
Who is Nambi Narayanan? (His Story)
Narayanan joined the Indian Space Research Organization in the year 1966. After a few years of work, in the early 1970s, he introduced the liquid fuel rocket technology for the upcoming ISRO’s civilian space programmes. With the support of his successor U.R. Rao and the then ISRO Chairman, Satish Dhawan, Narayanan built the 600-kg thrust engine and hence, led the development of liquid propellant motors.
A senior official at ISRO, Nambi Narayanan was in-charge of the cryogenics division (behavior and production of materials at low temperature) and a part of a group of top scientists working on taking ISRO’s space programme and cryogenic technology to even greater heights. Nambi was 50 then. (via thehindu)
He has worked with a number of prominent scientists of the country including Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan, etc. and served the ISRO dedicatedly for a period of 35 years.
Nambi Narayanan Bio | Wiki
Born – 12 December 1941 ( age 78 as of Today)
Place of birth- Kerala, India
Hometown- Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu
School – DVD Higher Secondary School
Education – Princeton University (MSE) College of Engineering, Trivandrum (MTech)
Wife – Meena Nambi
Children:-Sankara Kumar Narayanan(son, occupation-businessman)
Geetha Arunan (daughter, occupation- Montessori teacher in Bangalore)
Nambi Narayanan Book : Ready To Fire: How India and I Survived the ISRO Spy Case
The ISRO Spy Case And Narayanan (THE CONTROVERSY)
On November 30, 1994, Mr. Nambi Narayanan was brought in front of the magistrate court by a Special Investigation Team(SIT) of the Kerala Police in Thiruvananthapuram.
He was charged with having traded India’s vital space secrets to two alleged foreign agents, Mariam Rasheeda and Fauzia Hassan in exchange of millions and other enticements.
Along with him were arrested Dr. Sasikumaran, another ISRO scientist, Russian space agency official K. Chandrasekhar, ISRO’s contractor S.K. Sharma and two Maldivian women.
Narayanan spent a total of 50 days in jail where he was asked to implicate his boss, A. E. Muthunayagam, the then Director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) by two IB officials (allegedly).
He refused to comply and was tortured and subjected to repeated third degree interrogation until he collapsed and then had to be admitted into the hospital.
He recalls later how the inquisitors had made him stand for hours at stretch, deprived him of sleep and refused him even a glass of water.
They even threatened to involve his family into the case if he did not confess to the charges on him being true.
Even ISRO refused to support him at the time stating that it could not interfere in a legal matter.
While on one side he suffered in the jail, his family went through a nightmare of constant public humiliation and shaming for having been associated with a spy.
Nambi’s Resolution To Fight For His Family
The CBI took over the case soon after and the charges against Nambi were ultimately dismissed on lack of evidence. The Supreme Court too dismissed the charges in April 1998 and awarded a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to Narayanan and the others who were discharged.
But the case didn’t end there for him. He had been through enough torture and mental agony to push him to the boundaries of not wanting to live anymore.
In an interview he recalls,” When this started, I was sure they have fixed me. The crime was established and evidence was arranged after that. There were times when I did not even want to live, because how would you fight a case that was fabricated but still being propelled.”
“My children sensed my thoughts then. They told me if I die, they will forever be known as children of a spy. They told me I was the only person who can prevent such a disgrace on my family. It was then that living to fight this became a necessity for me.” (source economictimes)
People would come to his house and burn his effigy, call him names, shout slogans. His children tried to fight back. But his wife fell into depression and stopped talking.
The Fight For REDEMPTION | A 24 Year long battle
In April 1999, Narayanan decided to approach the NHRC to claim compensation for all the unnecessary torture, mental as well as physical, and shaming he and his family were put through because of the false charges.
The NHRC then asked the state government to pay him an interim compensation of 10 lakhs, which the state government refused to pay and in turn challenged the award. Narayanan then moved on with his plea to the High Court on March 2015.
HC ordered the government to carry out actions against the 3 officers involved in the false accusation case and to complete the proceeding within 3 months.
However, this order too is challenged again and Nambi Narayan finally moves to Supreme Court in the year 2015. SC declares it’s intentions of awarding Narayanan a compensation of Rs. 75 lakhs and restoring his reputation.
On September 14th,2018, finally, SC awards a sum of 50 lakh rupees as compensation to him and forms a three member panel with former judge DK Jain as head to probe further into the case.
When asked about how he felt about the SC verdict, Narayanan tells a news portal that he was happy that the judiciary didn’t let him down.
While justice has been partially delivered, the second half of the struggle is still not over for him. He also adds in that clarifications with respect to the time line of the committee and further investigations should be made clear as he recently turned 77 and was not interested in pursuing the case any further.
He says he wants the enquiry to get over at the earliest so that his tormentors could be punished and justice could be served.
“I have been only working and fighting, forgetting completely that there was a family that stood like a rock behind me. Whatever little more of life I have, it is for my family.”(source economictimes)
Nambi Narayanan Auto Biography
His autobiography was released on 23rd 0ctober 2017 and is titled as (Ready To Fire: How India and I Survived the ISRO Spy Case). It talks about all his struggles throughout the case and the brutal treatment he suffered in the hands of police in those 50 days in jail.
Rocketry: The Nambi Effect Biopic | Film
In 2018, R. Madhavan was signed in to play the role of Nambi in his Biopic named Rocketry: The Nambi Effect.
After a saga of endless trauma, broken careers, tarnished reputation and his battle for justice in the face of a maze of politics, S. Nambi Narayanan’s story is an inspiration to every person believing in the triumph of truth over everything.