Several former technocrats of government agencies, especially the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), are associated with Devas Multimedia, which is now at the centre of a controversy over its 2005 agreement with the country's space agency.
A look at the profile of officials in the top management of Devas, its board of directors and its panel of advisors shows that the Bangalore-based company has brought together communications engineers and other experts formerly employed by ISRO, the Department of Telecommunications and formerly state-run Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL).
Besides its Chairman M.G. Chandrasekhar, who joined ISRO in 1973 and later became its Scientific Secretary and member, Apex Management Council, the company's Chief Technology Officer D. Venugopal and Associate President, Business Development and Marketing, Mukund Rao, had been in ISRO in different capacities.
Its Board includes Kiran Karnik, former president of NASSCOM, who has served ISRO in various positions for 20 years, according to Devas Multimedia's website.
Two of the company's Senior Advisors — Jai Singh and K. Narayanan — had also held senior positions in ISRO in the past. B.K. Synghal, a Senior Advisor, is a former Managing Director of VSNL, while another, R.N. Agarwal, was a Wireless Advisor in the Department of Telecommunications.
Mr. Chandrasekhar, according to the website, “joined ISRO in 1973 and held various techno-managerial positions and played a key role in developing IRS (Indian Remote Sensing satellite series) and INSAT (Indian National Satellite) programmes and operating its fleet of satellites.” He was also Managing Director of WorldSpace India, a pioneer in digital satellite radio services.
Mr. Venugopal, it says, was Deputy Director, Satellite Communication Programme, in ISRO headquarters from 1989 to 1998. He had earlier been a System Engineer in ISRO's Space Application Centre. Still earlier, he was Deputy Engineer-in-charge at VSNL.
Mr. Rao was associated with the National Natural Resources Management System, an inter-agency programme aimed at optimising use of natural resources based on remote sensing data. Its secretariat is in ISRO headquarters.
Among the Devas advisors, both Mr. Jai Singh and Mr. Narayanan were directors of ISRO's satellite communications programme. Mr. Singh was the first programme director for INSAT and had also been Director, Spectrum Management. Mr. Narayanan was “closely associated with INSAT since its inception,” according to the website.
Besides Mr. Chandrasekhar and Mr. Venugopal, other Directors on the Devas Multimedia board are its president and CEO Ramachandran Viswanathan, who had been Managing Director of Forge Advisers, a strategic consultancy, and a senior official with WorldSpace and broadband internet company Cidera; Rajendra Singh, Chairman and CEO of Telcom Ventures; Arun Gupta of Columbia Capital; Kevin Copp of Deutsche Telekom AG; Mr. Karnik, A. Murugappan, an investment banking consultant; and Gary Parsons and Larry Babbio, both associated with telecom companies abroad.
V.R. Katti, ISRO's Geosat Programme Director, is the nominee of ISRO and Antrix Corporation, its commercial arm, on the Devas Board, which also includes Shyam Tandon, an educationist, and Sameer Karwa, an industrialist.