Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on February 22, 2011 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.
Madhavan Nair has recently been on a commenting and interviewing spree. The bulk of his effort seems to be deflect blame from ISRO on two recent events – the failure of the GSLV and the ISRO/DEVAS deal. His comments on the failure of the GSLV seem a little out of line. His comments on the ISRO/DEVAS deal could be considered as an effort to deflect blame from himself. Whatever the case, his media interactions since the GSLV failure has been interesting to follow.
I have never seen a chair of any failure analysis committee commenting on the progress of the committee as the analysis was on-going. Madhavan Nair seems to be repeating the same statement since the first meeting held in January. He’d begun pointing to the Russian cryogenic engine for the failure of the GSLV in December. This changed from the “German connectors” blamed initially for the failure. The interesting point about this repeated statement is that while Russia is willing to “studying the data provided to them”, Madhavan Nair seems to be stressing on this point. Also, ISRO seems to be conducting experiments and we’re running dangerously close to the last date for the submission of the report of the GSLV Failure Analysis Committee under the chairmanship of Madhavan Nair. I would think a meeting would be needed to get the results, analyse them and create a cohesive report. Madhavan Nair’s various comments [see here and here] to the media vis-a-vis the GSLV seems to be beyond the control of ISRO.
His other interesting comment comes on ISRO/DEVAS issue. I have refrained from commenting on the issue here since my understanding of the same has been very poor. Madhavan Nair did an interview with the Times of India on the issue. His version of the story matches more closely with the version put out by DEVAS than by ISRO. This has now pushed the Opposition to demand that the Prime Minister (who’s in-charge of the Department of Space) to make a statement in Parliament on the issue. Madhavan Nair’s comments carry weight because he was the man in-charge in ISRO when the deal was operationalised. It seems like Nair is trying to protect himself. It even seems to have worked partially since the Opposition has turned its attention again from him.
While on the topic of ISRO/DEVAS, I’d also like to point out the different approaches that ISRO and DEVAS have taken to put out their statements. ISRO has put out a 5 page PDF (now removed!!) that is a bit confusing and leaves a few questions un-answered and DEVAS has posted a video in a FAQ format that lasts about 4 minutes.