S Nambi Narayanan: No Monetary Compensation For the Injusticeby Opinion Express September 17, 2018 0 comments
The harassment and brutality undergone by ISRO scientist Narayanan cannot be dissolved with no monetary compensation.
No amount of monetary compensation is enough for any kind of injustice and for one that was intentionally meted out to former ISRO scientist S Nambi Narayanan, it cannot be a substitute for honour. So though the Supreme Court awarded Rs 50 lakh as reparation to one of India’s best scientific brains for wrongful arrest in 1994 on espionage charges, of which he was exonerated but was still panned as the police file was kept open, it is not enough to restore his eroded worth. Remember he was one of the brains behind our cryogenic engine development programme, one that has made GSLV a reality today and made us a cost-competitive player in the space launch market for deploying heavy communication satellites. But a conspiracy theory has it that the West, led by the US, didn’t want India to profit from a market that it dominated and thereby decelerated our growth for about 20 years by foisting a false case through an IB sleuth, who was later found to be a CIA operative and expelled. Although the technology transfer for a cryogenic engine was denied to India by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a cartel formed by US-led space-faring nations, Narayanan never gave up. With not much help coming from Russia, too, compromised by its post-Glasnost erosion in global polity, he had nevertheless perfected a cryogenic model that would have given us a headstart in the space economy and an indigenous muscle.
Whatever the data leak, he was the scapegoat and the decadal retrospective cost of that sabotage amounts to millions of dollars. Other theories as reported by this paper alluded personal rivalries in the Kerala police hierarchy to the arrest of Maldivian women, who were allegedly overstaying on their visa, and were, therefore, framed as being ISI honey traps who had got to the ISRO scientist. The good cop vs bad cop debate escalated to their respective patronage by rival Congress factions in the state and Narayanan became an innocent victim of a disgusting cocktail of power and point-scoring where his genius, instead of being a matter of national pride, was reduced to a national shame. He had to retire 10 years earlier, foregoing salary and benefits besides unmentionable loss of respect and mental trauma. In one stroke, he became unemployable. What compensation could restore his economic plight of years? Compare that to the investigating officers, who have not been booked for their wrongdoings and instead have gone on to claim higher positions, and the ex-IB official who is now settled in the US. Even if booked in their sunset years now, as the court has asked, they have had 24 years of official grace. Would they be asked to return their pension with retrospective effect? Narayanan was exonerated in four years by the CBI and courts but still subjected to stigma courtesy the case files which were never closed. Also, no Government or political party stood by him as he waged a solo battle to reclaim his credibility. Who would pay for that insult despite his proven innocence? India’s scientific community is a talent pool that can incubate our indigenous worth and define our global relevance. So we need to protect it with utmost care. Given their capacity to develop cutting edge technologies, scientists form a human resource that deserves the highest national security. We need to curate the most sincere and honest among them as modern examples of national will.
Writer and Courtesy: The Pioneer