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Updated: February 7, 2012 10:41 IST

Ban order on Nair, three others to stay

Smita Gupta
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G. Madhavan Nair, former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation. File Photo: K. Murali Kumar
The Hindu
G. Madhavan Nair, former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation. File Photo: K. Murali Kumar

But Centre will not leap into a probe

The United Progressive Alliance government, while ruling out withdrawal of its order debarring four space scientists from holding any government post or being on any official committees for their role in the Antrix-Devas Multimedia deal, is in no hurry to investigate any possible illegitimate financial gain by these or any other officials, government sources indicated.

This, despite the Pratyush Sinha committee, which went into the controversial deal, recommending not only debarring the four but also investigating whether any of them obtained any pecuniary advantage.

The logic for this, government sources said, was: in the shadow of the 2G scam, the Prime Minister's Office did not want to be seen as disregarding the report which had recommended debarring the former ISRO chairman, G. Madhavan Nair; the former scientific secretary at ISRO, A. Bhaskaranarayana; the former executive director of Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO, K.R. Sridharamurthi; and the former director of the ISRO satellite centre, K.N. Shankara, from holding any government post.

On the other hand, the government did not want to leap into an investigation without a thorough examination of the Sinha Report, especially by the Union Law Ministry, “to ensure that the scientific community does not get demoralised,” the sources said.

The case of the battle between Army Chief V.K. Singh and the government over his date of birth was being cited: bad blood has already been created between the government and the Army: now the government did not want a repeat with the scientific community, they said.

But there were those within the Congress who felt that not only was the analogy with the case of the army misplaced, what was being questioned in the Antrix-Devas deal was not a scientific decision, but a commercial one.

“If there is any charge of financial impropriety, as indicated in the Sinha Report, the case should be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation without delay,” a senior Congress source told The Hindu, adding, “let's not make the mistake made in the 2G case. It's nonsense to say someone will be demoralised. If it turns out that there are no benami holdings, no irregularities, then we will know that it was just an error of judgment.”

These sources pointed out that it was imperative for the government to act before someone decided to file a Public Interest Litigation petition in the case.

Indeed, the Sinha report said: “In order to get a clear picture of the changing pattern of Devas, the non-legitimate financial/pecuniary interest, if any, of various individuals and officials concerned, the extent to which the increase in share value has been encashed by individuals, the share holding of the company and of the Mauritius-based entities and any possible illegitimate financial gain by officials concerned need to be looked into by an appropriate investigative agency.”

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All national resource like petrol,coal,iron ores, spectrum etc is
public property whose owner is every Indian citizen. The monetary
value of scare spectrum particularly the one involved in devas-
antrix deal is enormous which the scientific community understand
better. Not auctioning/tendering such national asset and causing
huge loss to exchequer is egregious and betrayal of 1.2 bn people.
All commercial decisions having huge economic potential should
always follow the path of transparent auctioning. If any confusion
exist then practices of developed countries should be adopted.
Govt. however should thoroughly investigate before taking action
against scientific community. The govt. approach should be first
gaining back the rare spectrum and realizing its full economic
potential before supreme court comes with 2G like verdict.

from:  Abhishek Kumar Sharma
Posted on: Feb 9, 2012 at 22:30 IST

Government has done the right thing by going slow on the
investigation, because even though the nature of allegation is
financial and administrative, but the people involved are scientists
of great repute, who are hero for their future generations. For a
hero-starved nation, where ISRO finds it tough to find qualified young
scientists to drive India's space programme, the allegation on a
scientist needs a serious review. What is interesting is that the
Chaturvedi report, which Madhavan Nair has himself endorsed, has been
sidelined and only the Sinha report is being analysed, even though the
details revealed in the previous one is more. This seems an ideal case
of being swayed with what seems more scandalous. Let us not make a
scapegoat of our heroes for the sake of spicy news.

from:  BPaul
Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 21:27 IST

I was surprised to read the report that government fears demoralization amongst the scientists if it hastens to investigate on the issue. As a scientist and teacher myself, I would suggest the government to study the report immediately and punish the people involved. On the other hand, it would be demoralizing the scientists if the government drags its feet in taking quick action. Unfortunately similar kind of deals have plagued the scientific and academic atmosphere, where the company that supplies the product lures the scientist of hefty commissions to recommend its product. If the scientist falls trap to it, substandard equipment will be delivered at the cost of government funds, affecting the quality of science. Devas-Antrix deals is just a tip of the iceberg, and quick action by the government will only be sending a positive signal to the scientific community.

from:  K Balakrishna
Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 15:50 IST

An enquiry into possible non-legitimate financial/pecuniary interest of individuals should be welcomed by the scientists as it would once and for all clear their names. Otherwise their reputation will be tarnished for ever due to the cloud of suspicion hanging over their names. Enquiries on corrupt practices should not upset anybody who is honest let alone scientists who are supposed to be embodiments of rationality. The rather specious argument put forward by the government to justify indecision with respect to an enquiry as recommended raises the suspicion whether there are any political skeletons in the cupboard.

from:  B. Baburajan
Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 13:26 IST

Something is rotten in the Antrix -Devas deal.An institution like ISRO should also be beyond doubt.It plays a pivotal role in the development our nation.As the investment made in th space research is very huge ,the responsibility of scientific community working in ISRO is also very high. The scientific accuracy which they kept in the research field for attaining better result should also be maintained in the deal that they entered into.The ultimate beneficiary of the ISRO findings must be the public not the private.That is what the common man expects from ISRO.By allocating S band spectrum in a disproportionate manner to Devas multimedia ,ISRO forgets its social responsibility.

from:  Sreenivasan.O.T. Moilothara
Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 13:14 IST

The fact that a contract was signed with an overseas agency is an important event and must have been reported in the note for Cabinet sent periodically. If it is not reported and is also the administrative ministry, the ministry of Law is not kept in the picture and the Financial advisor not consulted there is a clear cut omission. Whether the inspiration is financial gain is in the realm of speculation andif undue and significant advantage is given to Antrix and procedures ignored then there is bound to be suspicion.
When there is suspicion Governement is within its right to avoid giving a sensitive posting to such officers till their name is cleared in an inquiry -often quasijudicial in nature- unless security of the nation is involved -where full opportunity is given to the Officer concerned. One thinks Mr. Nair protests too much.

from:  raman
Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 11:37 IST

The Chaturvedi committee has clearly mentioned there was no "Scam"
as reported, and if anything is worth mentioning its some procedural changes. These changes have been suggested and ISRO claims to have implemented it also.So now the question is why the matter is being pursued? Is it to cover up a bad recommendation given to Govt which annulled the deal? To justify a wrong, is another wrong ok? As citizens and being responsible media of this great nation, Hindu should question these acts, instead of pursuing these poor scientist who spent their whole life serving the nation without even looking at their personal well being.Hope the Prime Minister himself will look into this matter and set things right.

from:  Engineer
Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 11:32 IST

It has become so difficult to know what is right and what is wrong - because everyone is making their own conclusions in India. The UPA govt has its own, the media has their own; and then some citizen will come and give his own intrepretation in public life... Anyways, the report of the committee is already available on ISRO website, and going thru the full report in PDF format, i beleive that there is nothing that points a direct finger on Madhavan Nair and ex ISRO employees. Its just that they wanted to expedite the process without much beauracracy getting involved and that exactly what the IAS babus didnt like and went against Madhavan and Co. There is nothing to show that Madhavan Nair and Co did something against national interest.

from:  hari kurup
Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 11:08 IST

What is at stake is the credibility of the Government vis-a-vis the integrity of the four individuals indicted in this episode. In order to bring the truth out, the case needs a thorough investigation by an agency enjoying the confidence of the public and whose findings can stand the scrutiny of the apex Court. No politicking please!

from:  G Narayanasamy
Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 11:02 IST

It is only logical for a good governance to investigate further by appropriate authority as suggested by the Sinha committee. Also till such time Shri.Madhavan Nair is exonerated, the ISRO web site should not show his photograph.

Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 10:39 IST

The recent developments are certainly not for the good of scientific community of this country. Remember the ISRO espionage case ! All the scientists were proved innocent yet they and their families went through a terrible time. People pelted stones at their house ! They were treated as traitors ! All for the political millage of some crooks ! Let there not be any recurrence of such incidents. Therefore the ISRO people, the media and the public should refrain from making irresponsible comments please..

from:  Viswanath C Pillai
Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 10:17 IST

Seems like some lessons have been learnt by he UPA . Its again thanks to the historic Supreme court judgement in the 2 G case and the lone battle being fought out by Dr Subramaniam Swamy to undo the injustice to national interests by elected Govts . The fear of someone deciding to file a Public Interest Litigation petition in the Antrix-Devas case, like in the case of 2G , looms large in the minds of all in power now .A great development for India and all patriotic INDIANS . More such vigilant public like Dr Subramaniam Swamy must step forward to actively monitor Govt policy decisions . Actually the media should have been doing this role and pursuing such wrong policy decisions till the Govt give in , but unfortunately the Indian media has lost its independence or lack the spine due to corporate and political interests .Even THE HINDU has been only exposing scams but not focussing on same like a laser to mobilise public opinion until right action is being taken .

Posted on: Feb 7, 2012 at 09:46 IST
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