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Nambi Narayanan: Behind the history of Indian Rocketry

Latest News - Gotabaya Rajapaksa

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In the last few months on the various social media platform, you may have read or heard the name, Nambi Narayanan. Let's know who is Nambi Narayanan and why his name is frequently coming up.

Who is Nambi Narayanan?

Nambi Narayanan is an Indian aerospace engineer who worked at ISRO – an Indian Space Research Organisation.

Nambi Narayanan was born on 12th December 1941 in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu, India. Born in a middle-class Brahmin family, he was a very good student. He went to Thiagarajar College of Engineering and later took admission in Materials Science and Engineering from Princeton University at United States. He got a degree, and joined a sugar factory for a while before joining the Indian Space Research Organization.

Young Nambi Narayanan had a fascination with flying objects and aircraft.

Nambi Narayanan had almost given 35 years of his life to Indian Space Research Organisation. To honor his service, on 26th January 2019, the Government of India awarded him the third-highest civilian award of I dia – Padma Bhushan.

Nambi Narayanan had met Vikram Sarabhai, who is the founder and then chairman of ISRO, and he had also met APJ Abdul Kalam, who is India’s 11th President and the Missile man of India.

Nambi Narayanan was one of the enormous scientists who worked on various listed projects and diligently as a scientist until his life turned upside down in 1994.

What happened in Nambi Narayanan's life in 1994.

In the early 90’s India had signed an agreement with India’s all-time well-wisher Russia to transfer technology in order to develop Cryogenic fuel-based engines. However, this deal couldn't saw the light of the day due to the intervens of USA. The United States of America created pressure on Russia via various channels so that Russia's agreement  with India can be cancelled. But India really wanted to make this deal for the betterment of Indian Space Research Organisation, so India signed a new agreement with Russia.

The new agreement was to fabricate four cryogenic engines with two mockups via floating a global tender. The Kerala Hitech Industries Limited was selected to provide the cheapest tender for fabricating engines. ISRO was happy with this deal. Everything was going smoothly until 1994. Some unknown powers didn’t want India to create Liquid fuel-based Cryogenic Engines.

Because if India creates a liquid fuel based cryogenic engine, the country will reach a step ahead in Rocket Technology and could have earned billions of dollars as well. Inorder to stop India from achieving its goal, a fake narrative was set against Nambi Narayanan. The opponent of India felt, If Nambi Narayanan is removed from this project then India would definitely lag behind in the race of making liquid fuel based cryogenic engines. So, espionage charges pressed against Nambi Narayanan and due to this ISRO had to remove him from the project.

Meanwhile Nambi Narayanan was arrested in 1994. India wanted to become one of the few countries that have Cryogenic engine technology but the arrest of S. Nambi has shattered the dream of ISRO and India at that time. He was charged that he leaked the confidential Flight Test Data to unknown Maldivian intelligence Officers named Mariam Rasheeda and Fauzia Hasan.

S. Nambi Narayanan along with D. Sasikumaran was accused of selling the defence secretes for the millions of Rupees to Maldivians Intelligent Officers. S. Nambi had spent 48 days in jail and was tortured brutally.

As per S. Nambi, he was tortured again and again to give false statement against the top officials of ISRO and this was done by two Intelligence Burau Officers, but S. Nambi refused to do this.

So, he was tortured like a terrorist until he collapsed and hospitalized. When Nambi asked his tormentors why he was being tortured, one of the men said: “You sold our motherland to the enemy. If one day we are proved wrong, you can slap us.” Nambi says he has kept his slippers ready.

Meanwhile S. Nambi Narayanan was really upset with ISRO because the ISRO didn’t support him in his worst time. Later Nambi Narayanan and D. Sasikumaran were freed from all the charges against them by CBI in May 1996, and charges were dismissed by Honorable Supreme Court too in April 1998. Meanwhile people used to burn his effigy in front of his house, used to curse him. People also abused his family members and threaten them. In short, their life was nothing short then of hell. But S. Nambi and his family stayed strong and together and fight out of this situation strongly.

In 1999 National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) condemned the Kerala State Government for damaging the career of two scientist. The criticism carried along with how he was mentally and physically tortured by the Kerala police. Nambi Narayanan told the police that rocket secrets could not be transferred through papers and he was brought framed in all of this.

The NHRC, in 2001, ordered the Kerala government to pay Nambi Narayanan a compensation of Rs. 1 crore. Gradually Nambi Narayanan retired from ISRO in 2001. In 2018, the Supreme court awarded Nambi Narayanan a compensation of 50 lakhs for all the harassment and manipulation he faced.


In the same year, a film titled ROCKETRY: THE NAMBI EFFECT was launched.

This movie is written, directed and produced by the talented and versatile actor R. Madhavan, who plays the title role Nambi Narayanan. This upcoming Indian biographical drama film focuses on an incredible journey of rocket scientist S. Nambi Narayanan, and how strong he overcame his humiliating times.

The movie is releasing in theatres worldwide on July 1, 2022. It created a buzz among the audience as it has been shot simultaneously in multiple languages including Hindi, Tamil, and English, and will also be released in Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada.

With his film, Madhavan stepped into the shoes of Nambi Narayanan to share his story with the world. Apart from directing and acting, he has also written the story, lyrics and also bankrolled the film.

As Madhavan says Yes it is ofcourse a 'national disservice' to not know about the genius Nambi Narayan. So all of you guys be ready to eyewitness the hidden truth behind the scandalism that blew up the career of a great scientist and a true patriot Nambi Narayan.

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