Eye Beyond the Blue in Tribute to Green

An interview with Mr. A.S. Kiran Kumar, Former Chairman, ISRO.

You have been a scientist of high accomplishments. Can a common man benefit from the technological revolution India is rising high in the field of space technology? Technology should not be confined, it should pervade to the downstream of society with tangible benefits. The objective of technology development is the upliftment of society and improving the quality of life. ISRO is one such example where space technology has not only helped India rise in the global space technology map but has also brought visible, perceivable, and tangible benefits to the common man — be it weather forecast, treasures of the earth, water management, oil and gas, oceanography or even a simple case of fishermen being able to optimize their catch, thanks to the useful information provided by ISRO channels.
India has a tremendous opportunity in frontier tech, whether it is biotechnology, aerospace technology, or nanotechnology. For these technologies to fructify, it is necessary that appropriate infrastructure and hardware systems are established. Equally important is technical and scientific human capital has organizational culture in ISRO is strong and symbiotic to bring out the best in people. Right from the beginning, ISRO has great visionary leaders like Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, Prof. Satish Dhawan, Dr. Kasturirangan, and others. All of them made sure that the people working in the organization look at the end product reaching out to the society. Whether it is technology deployed for navigation for fishermen or information to the government, agencies for monitoring and planning in all these areas, there is a direct link from the technology to the usage. As long as you can

bring in the linkage, the people working in the organization are ready to take up any of these challenges. What are the challenges you think a leader faces right now across organizations?

When organizations face challenges, it is up to the leaders to make sure that his/her entire team is ready to deliver, and for that to happen, they need to ensure that they have an adequate talent pool available. So that is one of the difficulties that they have.AnothdrchaIIenge leaders face is how to deliver with the available talent pool. What skills and traits are in demand today? As we know, the previous generation had the advantage of a slowly changing world. Today the world is changing at such a pace that the process of learning is more important than what you learn itself. That’S why we are talking about learning, unlearning, and relearning. This is an essential and a lifelong äCt ÏVity.  However,  the whole process is shrinking fast and you need to act faster and faster; that is the prime requirement.

Who   is your role model?

Dr. H. Narasimhaiah, the principal at the National College was the first person who made a great influence on me directly. His simplicity and his commitment to sharing his knowledge for the good of society are what actually influenced me. In terms of reading, it was Swami Vivekananda’s teachings and readings.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of India’s contribution to space technology and societal benefit. Though we may be the Sth or 6th country in the world in terms of technological advancement, today the world has recognized that India has made the best use of space technology to make our lives better. I am part of it and I am proud of it.

What are your thoughts on ISBR?
Today, students need to have actual exposure to the work culture and that is possible only when there is a good linkage with the industry and they get to know what’s happening in the industry. Converting that knowledge into
skills, ensuring how the information you have acquired can be practically applied is very important and that is where institutions like ISBR have made a mark and it’s a good thing to see. For example the ’Gems of ISBR’ where they are trying to capture some of the students who have done well and recognizing those students is a good gesture.

What is your message to the young generation?

“What you learn, pass it on society and add value.” Primarily what the students of today” have to appreciate is, India is poised for a great leap in the world. You need to commit the knowledge you have acquired to solve a specific problem we are facing in the society. Then you can make a difference. How to Make use of this knowledge is a huge responsibility. We want students to take that responsibiIity because they have had a great privilege of participating or getting this knowledge from such an institution. It should be actually brought into effective use