Published: 21st February 2020
Forget Chandrayaan-3, all students wanted was a selfie with ISRO Chief K Sivan
Sivan was speaking at the 75th AGM of the Aeronautical Society of India where he also received the outstanding leader award
In any college event, it's the film stars and the celebrities that get the crowd roaring. All the other guests usually receive a forced, unenthusiastic clap at the most, but the star at the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science on a balmy Friday morning was not a film star or a celebrity. And when he got on stage, all the phone cameras were out and the applause was relentless.
And all ISRO chief Dr K Sivan, the man with whom Indian wept when Chandrayaan-2 went missing, did was smile in embarrassment as he humbly joined his hands and thanked the crowd. A full two minutes after, everyone went quiet but only because he was about to take the microphone and speak.
The Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization was speaking at the Aeronautical Society of India's 70th AGM and at the inauguration of their two day conference on recent developments in aerospace and defence technology. The conference was jointly conducted by Hindustan Institute. Sivan was conferred the 'Outstanding Leader in Aerospace and Defence' award by the Society.
In his acceptance speech he spoke about his journey so far, "I come from a small town in Kanyakumari, studied in a Tamil medium school and did all my education in government-run institutes. It was during my time as a young engineer that I began to wonder and dream about rocket science. And today three decades later, I'm the Chairman of ISRO, I dedicate this award to the thousands of employees at ISRO," he said.
The Chairman also spoke about upcoming projects, "Chandrayaan 3 will be ready in about a year's time. It will be the first time a humanoid will be sent in the unmanned mission," he said. He also said that four astronauts have been selected and are undergoing training in Russia for future missions. He also mentioned that a new launch pad is being planned in Tamil Nadu.
As the inauguration drew to a close, the crowd went crazy again trying to get a selfie with Sivan. Even as he was leaving the venue he was flooded by people wanting autographs and photos almost making it impossible to get in any questions, and yet, he paused, told us about Chandrayaan 3's expected launch time proudly and then smiled humbly as he was whisked away. Well, so it's safe to say, his popularity is only going to grow.
He also said that ISRO has had great challenges but also vibrant missions. Also at the event was TN Governor, Banwarilal Purohit who spoke about his time as an MP and his work with the DRDO and his long association with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, "He was such a humble man that when he was appointed the President, he entered the Rashtrapati Bhavan with just two suitcases, one of them had books, the other clothes. When he left after his term, he only left with those two bags," he recalled. He appreciated the work of the Society and encouraged them to keep up the good work.
"This is the first time that the AeSI AGM is happening in Chennai on such a large scale where more than 500 delegates are attending this AGM in which 150 delegates are from organisations like ISRO, DRDO, HAL, NAL, DGCA, IAF, Indian Navy, Airports Authority of India, airlines and aviation companies," Dr Anand Jacob Verghese, Vice President of AeSI said.
Along with Sivan, several other scientists were also honoured on the occasion including Dr Rajalakshmi Menon, DRDO for Outstanding woman scientist/ engineer technologist, S Somnath was given the National Aeronautical Prize, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam award for Sunita Devi Jena from DORP and the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr VK Saraswat, member of NITI Aayog.