Monday, December 31, 2018

Ready to Fire by Nambi Narayanan

Nambi Narayanan is an ISRO scientist who got accused of sharing few blueprints to Pakistan at1990s. He was one of the victims of the famous ISRO Spy case. 

This book gave out a lot on how ISRO works and how indifferent it is from other organisations where jealousy, passion, leadership and everything is seen.  

Being a mechanical engineer helped me to enjoy this book to an extent. Nambi's life was more of a battle for the work he wanted to do throughout his term at ISRO. He was passionate about "Liquid Propulsion Systems" all the time. ( Don't ask me to explain it now)


Alternating between the spy case and his life journey, the book is a page-turner.

 Nambi, son of a businessman finished Engineering from a college at Coimbatore. Worked as Engineer at Sugar Cane Industry and due to his mother's ailments, he couldn't pursue higher studies and had to quit the job as well. By chance, he found the ISRO's advertisement for mechanical engineers. And he landed there through an interview by APJ Abdul Kalam. 


Nambi then shared his journey at ISRO. How they were testing a lot on the rocketry field. His anecdote on Dart rocket was adventurous as well as funny. Got to know a little bit more about Vikram Sarabhai, APJ Abdul Kalam and Satish Dhawan. 

He also shared a few bloopers where his people's forgetfulness caused heavy failures. His journey to France was a quite a turning point to him as well as the nation.  He shared how he bent rules to get few shipments. He had his tactics to make things done. He wrote how bureaucracy worked during his times. 

Anecdotes relating to his decisions at few instances in France were quite nerving wracking. Can't judge anyone except to empathise for the concerned. Balakrishna's son's death and Solomon Raj's job offer.

Nambi is the pioneer in making the Viking- Vikas engine which is used to launch PSLV. His journey at ISRO is inspiring. He discussed how few played an important role to bring India into the limelight in Space field. Kanwal Grover is one unsung hero who's the reason to pull out the deal with France.

It's clear that the US tried a lot to halt India's progress in space exploration. It created a lot of troubles when Russia agreed to sell their cryogenic engines. The US offered their deal at a higher price and when Russia offered the same at a reasonable amount, US comes up with Missile Technology Control Regime pressurising Russia to cancel the deal. 

Nambi once went rebel & collected the shipments which the US embargoed after shipping it to India.


Nambi had his success at making Liquid propulsion engine and was dreaming to venture into cryogenics and that's when he got arrested. 


The Spy Case

Nambi narrated his arrest, Kerala's political drama & IB's torture. His experiences with IB officials were gruesome. They used 3rd-degree torture to fix him in a false case. The motives were better known to all the heads who had their own motives.  His ISRO experiences and his learnings were good enough to understand how silly IB & other Malayalam Newspapers were churning out rumours. They claimed that Nambi carried out drawings and sold to Pakistan.  It's silly to conclude that through drawings one can build a rocket. Nambi tried his best explaining this to everyone then but, in vain. I'm glad he explained it well in the book. He narrated how organisations collaborate to learn. 


Ready to Fire by Nambi Narayanan
The whole drama started with an Inspector's fault and all the right things fell in place at the wrong time. Soon after, the ISRO name was dragged the (US)masters got into the dirty game and played cheap tricks. 


It's astonishing how countries play at this level. The government of India suspended Sehgal after discovering his unconventional meets with CIA during this period. When confronted, both the countries played safe excusing themselves by saying, "In the National Interest, we take a back step."


Nambi fought this journey alone. He was supported by his family and a lot of friends. I'm glad I found this book. Got to know ISRO's story as well as Nambi's.









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