As a 8 year old ,I have heard the name Nambi Narayanan and vaguely remember of my mom discussing something about the ISRO spy case. And recently she was sharing something about this man and urged me to read about him. That’s how I picked this book .
This book details on how the Intelligence Bureau and Kerala police framed scientists from ISRO as spies that not only broke them mentally but also delayed India’s progress in space research by a decade.
Nambi Narayanan is the author of this book and he runs 2 parallel narratives, where one details the chronology of events in the spy case and the other records how Nambi with other eminent personalities like Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dawan, Kalam and TN Seshan laid the foundation to our current space research organization.
The book begins with Nambi’s early life as a studious student of mathematics and his decision to join Thiyagarajar College of Engineering , how he lands in the job at ISRO , his advancement in career and how he is framed falsely in a spy case in the early 90s.
There are 2 parallel narratives detailing Nambi’s life at ISRO and his life after he was framed in the spy case. Both these narratives converge towards the end and makes it a well written, but a little lengthier book. The tone of the portion talking about the scandal is honest and gets going ,whereas, the one chronicling the early days of Nambi in ISRO with his colleagues gets a lot intricate .There are a lot of insightful conversations between the iconic people of ISRO, apart from rocketry and science. Being a straight forward man, he talks freely about the unfairness and disagreements at work with APJ, Kasturi Rangan and a few other scientists from ISRO. Too much detailing on rocketry jargons, names of people, places and years . It was difficult to grasp everything and only left me awe at the passion this man hold towards his work and the nation.
I gathered that how a scientist can not only play with equations of trajectory ,but also handle diplomatic issues for the nation’s interest. I’m aswell surprised as to why ISRO did not support it’s own employees? Was it for the political interference or were they tamed to remain tight lipped? I’m not pondering over this but this man deserved justice not so delayed after decades.
Overall a good read if you have the patience and interest to know about the history of ISRO along with the infamous spy case.
As a student and as a campus fresher in the corporate, anytime I failed to follow the instructions given in the handbook, I have had my seniors say “you are just doing a simple xyz task and not rocket science”. I felt it was an overly abused statement , not till I read Mr. Narayanan explaining his innocence to the IB officials quoting “you cannot make a rocket engine with the know how, but only with the know why” .