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News & Press: Sep 2009

Former ISRO Chairman Dr K Kasturirangan delivers third Prof VLN Memorial Lecture at BITS Pilani

Tuesday, September 29, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tech Team (for Prof B R Natarajan)
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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 11, 2009.

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.

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