Canada Honours Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Space research Organization (ISRO)
Toronto, Canada, October 1, 2014: A standing-room only group of more than 200 Indo-Canadians enthusiastically applauded the leaders and scientists behind India’s successful Mars mission (“Mangalyaan”), at a reception hosted jointly by Canada India Foundation (CIF) and The Consulate General of India in honour of Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Space research Organization (ISRO) and his team. The event was held at the Community Centre of Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation in Toronto. The distinguished audience included the High Commissioner of India, His Excellency Nirmal Verma, as well as India’s Consul General in Toronto, Mr. Akhilesh Mishra and the Executives of CIF.
Welcoming Dr. Radhakrishnan and the ISRO team, Dr. Lakshmanan said that, it was not just the citizens and residents of India, but also the entire Indian diaspora, who felt very proud of India’s success in sending an orbiter around the planet, Mars, that too in its very first attempt,. Representing the Government of India, High Commissioner India, AdmiralVerma said that Dr. Radhakrishnan, who was in Toronto to participate in the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), was really the rock star at the Congress and a recipient of one of the most prestigious awards at the Congress. In May, 2014, well before the success of the Mars Mission, Dr. Radhakrishnan had been chosen by the International Astronautical Federation to receive the Allan D. Emil Memorial Award. The Allan D. Emil Memorial Award is one of the most prestigious IAF awards, and since 1977 has been presented annually for an outstanding contribution to space science, space technology, space medicine or space law. The successful insertion of the Mars Orbiter into the orbit of Mars just a few days before the IAC, provided a timely reinforcement of Dr. Radhakrishnan’s accomplishments. Consul General Mishra, while formally introducing Dr. Radhakrishnan to the eager audience, said that the nation and the people of India were grateful to the ISRO scientists for bringing India to the forefront in space science and technology. He referred to their common educational heritage, the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology, several of whose alumni (IITAC) were present among the audience.
Dr. Radhakrishnan, who received a standing ovation from the audience, described the journey of India’s space research program, starting at Thumba in 1962 and reaching its greatest achievement in 2014 with the Mars Orbiter. He said that the success of the Mars mission was due to the entire ISRO team of engineers, scientists and technicians, and paid special tribute to the members of the delegation who had accompanied him in Toronto. The cost of the mission was $70 million dollars, just over one-tenth of what it cost the USA to send its own orbiter to Mars around the same time. Dr. Radhakrishnan said that they achieved their low cost implementation through use of indigenous resources, both manpower and manufacturing, and also through clever and frugal engineering. He underscored the ISRO team’s tremendous achievement, by highlighting the fact the spacecraft had travelled more than 650 million kilometers, from Earth around the Sun to Mars, to reach its destination less than 500 kms from the target.
Dr. Radhakrishnan’s enlightening presentation was followed by a question and answer session with the audience, ranging in age from 8 to 80. Several members of the audience were disappointed when time ran out for the Q&A session. However, Dr. Radhakrishnan stayed back to meet the eager audience who wanted to shake his hands and congratulate him on doing India and Indians everywhere proud. All members of the delegation received a bouquet and a copy of the book, “Prosperity and Peace for the 21st Century” written by Dr. Kalam and published by Canada India Foundation. Giving the Vote of Thanks, Mr. Laj Prasher, National Convenor, CIF, thanked Dr. Radhakrishnan and the ISRO team as well the High Commissioner, the Consul General, CIF executives (Mr. Ramesh Chotai, Dr. Atul Tolia, Dr. Terry Papneja, Dr. AnanthSeshan, Mr. Ravi Subramanian and Mr. Pankaj Dave, along with the Chair and National Convenor), members of the IIT Alumni Canada, and representatives from numerous other Indo-Canadian organizations and community groups. Some of the key members of the ISRO team who accompanied Dr. Radhakrishnan were: Dr. M.S.Y. Prasad, Mr. V. Koteswara Rao, Mr. Badri Narayana Murthy, Dr. V. Narayanan and Shri V. Arunan (Project Director of the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft).
Earlier in the evening, the multi-talented Dr. Radhakrishnan demonstrated his vocal skills as he rendered a number of compositions in Carnatic Music at the SVBF Temple. He also said his prayers to the presiding deity there, Goddess Sharada, as well as Radha and Krishna, the deities after whom he is named.
Canada India Foundation (CIF) is a national, non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization (NGO) established in 2007 to foster support for stronger bi-lateral relations between Canada and India; to educate Canadians on India; and to increase the participation by Indo-Canadians in political process in Canada. CIF’s founding members include industrialists, senior Canadian business executives and top tier professionals.