The first Director of BITS Pilani, Prof V Lakshminarayanan (VLN) was a
legendary leader. Born in 1906, he came to Pilani in 1946, served the
Institute in various capacities till 1970 and left for his heavenly
abode in 1984. Whatever part Prof VLN played for a quarter of century
at Pilani, he will always be remembered as part of a legacy - of
sharing dreams, shaping and changing the Institution for the better.
In 1964, Prof VLN played a stellar role in integrating the
erstwhile Birla College of Science, Commerce and Pharmacy, Birla
College of Arts and Birla College of Engineering to evolve the Deemed
University Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. During
the early years of its inception i.e. 1964 to 1970, the Institute with
the help of Ford Foundation Grant had the advantage of having
collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. By
his devoted and dedicated leadership and services during the difficult years in India yesterday,
Prof V Laksminarayanan has undoubtedly laid the foundation in building
what is Brand BITS Pilani in India today.
For the year 2007, Eminent Agricultural Scientist Dr M S
Swaminathan and for the year 2008 Dr Thirumalachari Ramasami Secretary
to the Government of India, Department of Science and Technology (DST)
had delivered the Prof VLN Memorial lecture.
For this year, eminent space scientist and former Chairman ISRO DR
K Kasturirangan who is presently Member Planning Commission Government
of India was invited to deliver the VLN memorial lecture on September
If Dr Vikram Sarabhai brought the vision and Prof Satish Dhawan the
mission, Kasturirangan brought the Passion to Indian Space Research.
The success of Chandrayaan Project and finding water on moon etc are
achievments built on the passionate research culture laid by Dr
Kasturirangan during his tenure as Chairman ISRO.
Dr. Kasturirangan has the reputation of having steered the Indian
Space programme gloriously for over nine years as Chairman of the
Indian Space Research Organisation – ISRO. He was earlier the Director
of ISRO Satellite Centre, where he oversaw the activities related to
the development of new generation spacecraft, Indian National Satellite
(INSAT-2) and Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS-1A & 1B) as
well as scientific satellites.
He was also the Project Director for India's first two experimental
earth observation satellites, BHASKARA-I & II and subsequently was
responsible for overall direction of the first operational Indian
Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-1A.
Dr. Kasturirangan took his Bachelor of Science with Honours and
Master of Science degrees in Physics from Bombay University and
received his Doctorate Degree in Experimental High Energy Astronomy in
1971 working at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.
Under his leadership, as Chairman, ISRO, the space programme had
witnessed several major milestones including the successful launching
and operationalisation of the India's prestigious launch vehicle, the
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and more recently, the first
successful flight testing of the all important Geosynchronous Satellite
Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
Further, he has also overseen the design, development and launching
of the world's best civilian satellites, IRS-1C and 1D, realization of
the second generation and initiation of third generation INSAT
satellites, besides launching ocean observation satellites IRS-P3/P4.
These efforts have put India as a pre-eminent space-faring nation among
the handful of six countries that have major space programmes.
He has won several awards including Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award
in Engineering, Shri Hari Om Ashram Dr.Vikram Sarabhai Prerit Award in
Aerospace, M.P.Birla Memorial Award in Astronomy, Shri M.M.Chugani
Memorial Award in Applied Science, H.K.Firodia Award in Science
Technology, Rathindra Puraskar by Visvabharati Santiniketan,
Dr.M.N.Saha Birth Centenary Medal for outstanding contributions in the
field of Space.
He has been conferred Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma
Vibhushan. He has published more than 200 papers, both in international
and national journals in the areas of astronomy, space science, space
applications and has edited 6 books.
Proud Alumnus of BITS Pilani Padma Shri Prof D Balasubramanian
Director of Research at the prestigious LV Prasad Eye Institute at
Hyderabad who has played a stellar role in Popularization of Science
introduced Dr Kasturirangan to the audience and described him as the
scientist who gave space research in India a world class status.
Dr Kasturirangan’s inspiration packed lecture “My Forays into Space – Some Interesting Experiences”
received a standing ovation from the students and faculty members of
BITS Pilani at the Lecture Theatre Complex of BITS Pilani.
At the end of the lecture, Prof LK Maheshwari, Vice Chancellor BITS
Pilani honored Dr K Kasturirangan by giving the glittering emblem of
the Institute with the motto 'Knowledge is Power Supreme' which is the
driving force for Brand BITS Pilani.