Ever since the Modi government came to power at the Centre, there has been a great thrust on giving Padma awards to unsung heroes and people who are far away from the vicinity of corridors of power. This year’s list has also included such personalities. Apart from the names of people from social service sector, this year’s list also included a name from the scientific community – ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan who has been awarded Padma Vibhushan. Honoring Nambi Narayanan, in a way, can be seen as restoring the morale of scientific community. The same scientist Nambi Narayanan was framed in a fake espionage charge some 20 years back. When examined closely, nothing but political high-handedness comes through in this whole episode. In this background, the Padma honor under the Modi government drives home the message that while there are political forces at play who do not think twice before ‘fixing’ a scientist in a false case jeopardizing country’s interests, the current administration has redressed this great injustice by honoring Mr Nambi Narayanan.
How the Congress Undermined Nation’s Interests
In 1994, the then Kerala state government headed by the Congress party had arrested a scientist Nambi Narayanan along with two Maldivian women. It framed a charge against him of trading India’s space secrets to foreign agents. As a result, the scientist Nambi Narayanan had to spend months in jail. After 24 years of legal battle, Supreme Court dismissed the allegations against the scientist. Importantly the apex court in its judgement noted that the ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan was the victim of a criminal frame-up based on “some kind of fancy or notion.”
The Supreme court not only asked Kerala Government to pay Rs 50 lakh compensation to Mr Nambi Narayanan but also ordered a probe into the role of the Kerala police in the case.
Mr Narayanan has even alleged that he had been tortured during his 50-day custody and was pressured to give false statements. Considering the fact that the scientist at that time was involved in the initial phase of making cryogenic engine and in the development of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, there is a clear room for doubt whether some international lobbies had wanted to scuttle such programmes by embroiling the scientist in a manufactured controversy.
How ‘Spy’ Case Used for Political Gains
Both AK Antony and Oommen Chandy of Congress had used the Nambi Narayanan case to score political points against their rival Karunakaran, who was then heading United Democratic Front government as the Chief Minister. They succeeded in getting the resignation of Karunakaran as chief minister in the wake of this case which subsequently had paved way for AK Antony to become the Chief Minister.
PM Modi’s Moral Support to Scientist
Since the Kerala High court which earlier dismissed the case against scientist had said that there is no enquiry needed against the police officers involved in this case, Mr Nambi Narayanan had challenged this in the Supreme Court. In 2014, as a Chief Minister, Narendra Modi had expressed his solidarity with the scientist. In fact, he paid visit to the scientist during 2014 campaign trail.
Now, by honouring Nambi Narayanan with Padma award, the current government at the Centre has made it clear that honest and patriotic work always gets recognised. The scientific community can now work freely for the nation’s interests not bothering about any political conspiracies.