“If we put our mind to it, we can work together as a nation and compete with the best in the world. The achievements of G. Madhavan Nair and his team are ample proof of it,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said after presenting the Panampilly Prathibha Puraskaram to the space scientist here on Sunday.

“We should think big about our future and what we are capable of. If we can harness all the latent talent that exists in the country, there is no problem we cannot tackle and no barrier that we cannot overcome.”

The Prime Minister said Dr. Nair left a deep imprint on India’s space programme during his long and able stewardship of the space establishment.

It was because of scientists’ dedicated and sincere efforts and sense of patriotism and service that India’s space programme now ranked among the most advanced in the world. “Today our products and services, including commercial satellite launches, have found a ready market in developed countries such as Italy, Korea and Germany. In honouring Dr. Nair, we pay tribute to the work of all the engineers and scientists who have been part of this important national endeavour.”

The award named after Panampilly Govinda Menon, instituted by the Samskara Sahithi, the art and cultural forum of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, carries a cash prize of Rs.50,000, a plaque and a citation. Dr. Nair has been chosen for the award for his contribution to develop multistage satellite launch vehicles that helped the country achieve self-reliance in space programmes.

Dr. Nair said the award would encourage scientists to reach great heights. Delivering the Panampilly memorial lecture, Defence Minister A.K. Antony recalled the contributions of the great leader.

PCC president Ramesh Chennithala presided. Senior Congress leader K. Karunakaran, Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, Ministers of State Prithviraj Chavan and Shashi Tharoor, poet Sugathakumari; and actors Mohanlal and Sarath Kumar were present. The Prime Minister honoured Mr. Sarath Kumar.