Book Reviews

Life Review – Ready to Fire


I read the news item about Dr. Nambi Narayanan being awarded Rs. 50 Lakhs as compensation for being falsely implicated in the ISRO Spy case 24 years back, in Munich… Coincidentally, just the night before, I completed reading his book, “Ready to Fire”.

Its not a book – its the trauma of a genius and a patriot whose life was brutally wrecked for nations and petty politicians to settle scores. Its about the collateral damage that the noxiously powerful politicians leave behind as they gain more power and create obnoxious wealth for themselves. Our great country has been besieged by such politicians for a very long time. As I read the harrowing account of how Dr. Nambi was falsely implicated, tortured by the Kerala police and the IB bumbled its way through I had two strong emotional reactions – one, I was scared that politicians wield so much power that they can almost destroy an innocent man and two, I was deeply moved by Dr. Nambi’s misfortune. I cried through portions of the book because its unreal to think that someone as celebrated a scientist as him can be treated so shabbily :(.

The 50 Lakh compensation given to him is insulting his contributions and the torture he suffered for no fault of his. I hope the government does something that celebrates his life and helps him and his family recoup a little of their lost prestige.

The book also disturbed me tremendously because the characters involved in falsely framing Dr. Nambi, seem to have honed their skills in falsely implicating people and have done it again with our current Prime Minister Mr. Modi. DGP Sreekumar from Gujarat police played a role in the ISRO spy case and the same man again surfaces in the 2002 Gujarat riots. There are a few others like A. K Antony, the former defence minister who also features in the ISRO spy case and then we know what he didn’t do as the defence minister of India.

Some excerpts from the book that show how the whole case was fabricated –

“….Later I realised that the IB had prepared stock names of ISI agents and they wanted similar sounding names to be linked to me. Now blows showered on me. Enduring a sense of disorientation after the first few hits, I resolved to stand my ground, and challenged my tormentors to do whatever, but I would not endorse their fabricated story of spying.”

“…‘I don’t know any Mohammed Aslam. But I want to know why Pakistan would send a nuclear scientist to get rocket technology. What’s the connection here?”

The following excerpt spells out the price Dr. Nambi and his family paid for a crime he never committed… actually a crime that wasn’t real.

“…The first one to visit me was my son. I inquired about my wife. My son was silent for a moment, then he spoke: ‘She doesn’t know what’s happening.’ I didn’t understand the gravity of that statement then; only later would I know that she, after witnessing my arrest, had gone silent and was sinking deeper into depression that would soon leave her deranged.”

In the last few pages of the book Dr. Nambi speaks of (late) M K Dhar, the IB chief – “….. I was still exploring options to unravel the conspiracy behind the ISRO spy case when M K Dhar’s book Open Secrets: India’s Intelligence Unveiled was published in 2005. Once I read the book I realised there was no point in meeting this man who knew more than me about the conspiracy against India, but continued to be loyal to his foreign masters by clinging on to the theory of espionage. I found Dhar’s book a big bundle of 519 pages, to be precise, of self-righteousness, lies and bravado.”

Please do read the book – its a treasure house of anecdotes related to ISRO and Dr. Nambi’s fascination for Liquid Propulsion besides the horror of the fabricated case. I am hoping the movie that’s being made does justice to his life and celebrates his contributions. Respects, Dr. Nambi and may your name be written in golden letters in the annals of India’s space history. It would be a tiny act of gratitude from an ungrateful nation towards one of its finest scientists.

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