Sacred Cows EXPOSED!Ex-Isro chief, 3 others indicted for Antrix-Devas deal!Indian Holocaust My Father`s Life and
Time - SEVEN HUNDRED NINETY NINEPalash Biswas
We have been always pointing out that the Greatest Scams in India belong to Defence, science and Technology sectors which sohowcase the EMERGING SUPERPOWER INDIA and invoke the Aggressive Zionist Brahaminical nationalism. You may not question the Sanctity of the Sacred Cows, the departments of Defence, internal security, science and Technology. Billions of Dollars wasted to boost Black Money which come back as FDI on the name of National Unity, Integrity, security and development!The Antrix is the commercial arm of ISRO and Devas is a private firm.
A committee set up by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) indicted former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair and three other senior scientists who were barred from holding any government posts.
The report prepared by a committee headed by Pratyush Sinha, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner, said Antrix-Devas deal lacked transparency and recommended that action needs to be taken against Nair, A Bhaskaranarayana, K R Sridhara Murthi and K N Shankara all of whom have retired.
Minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy on Sunday accused former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair of misleading the nation by saying he was not given a chance to explain his case before the high level panel which indicted him and three other space scientists in the Antrix-Devas deal.
"The Committee's report clearly stated there was a personal hearing for Madhavan Nair. The principles of natural justice have been followed in his case. Nair has misled the nation by saying he was not given an opportunity to be heard," he told reporters in Puducherry.
He pointed out that the committee, constituted by the Prime Minister under former chief vigilance commissioner Pratyush Sinha to fix responsibility on officers who had signed the deal, had sent questionnaires to eight scientists about the deal, all of whom had given replies.
Following this, Nair had also met the head of the committee, and there was a personal hearing. The committee recommended that four scientists, including Nair should not be given any government assignment, he said.
Narayanasamy said he did not want to comment further.
Former Scientific Secretary at ISRO, A Bhaskaranarayana enjoyed the hospitality of Devas during one of his trips to the US, according to the five-member high level team chaired by Pratyush Sinha, which examined the controversial Antrix-Devas deal and identified acts of omission and commission by government officials.
"It has also been brought to the notice of the High Level Team that Shri Bhaskaranarayana on one of his visits to USA enjoyed the hospitality of the private company in this case," the conclusions and recommendations of the HLT report, made public by the Department of Space last night, said.
"I have to explain why it is and what it is; what actually happened," he told PTI when asked about it.
On the two reports, he said he is studying them with respect to "information given by us and see what they have projected.... what we have given....and any misunderstanding and misinterpretation".
"Each sentence should be analysed," said Bhasakararanarayana, who was among the four scientists barred from government jobs as a punitive action based on the two reports.
Asked about his future course of action, he said he does not have an exact idea. "I am just thinking of consulting my colleagues, friends and well-wishers".
The Pratyush Sinha committee, set up on May 31 last year to examine the deal and identify the acts of omission and commission by government officials, said choosing Devas for the deal "seems to be lacking in transparency and due diligence".
It said "the approval process (for the deal) was riddled with incomplete and inaccurate information given to the union cabinet and the Space Commission".
While the Antrix-Devas agreement was signed on January, 28, 2005, "this fact was not disclosed to the Space Commission or in the Cabinet note dated November 27, 2005, in which approval was sought for the launch of GSAT 6, one of the satellites to be build under the agreement".
The report said the terms of Antrix-Devas contract "were heavily loaded in favour of Devas".
Currently, some governments are selling tickets for tourism into space. Russia will even let tourists visit the International Space Station. Several companies throughout the world are rushing to make this affordable and profitable too. At first, these trips into space will be into low orbit for short periods of time. There are even prototypes that are already accomplishing this. But very soon, prolonged journeys in geosynchronous orbit will even allow hotels in space. With the affordability of space travel decreasing, it will soon be possible to open even more profitable businesses that have never existed before such as space tourism. And opening space to the public has enabled companies to create new and innovative business plans and even more high paying jobs.
Government blacklisted former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair and three other eminent space scientists from the government positions over the controversial Antrix-Devas deal. The decision made Former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair angry on current leadership of India's space research agency and Prime Minister's office.
Indian Space Research organization violated the rules and allotted scarce S band spectrum to Antrix Corporation and Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia.
The contract was signed when Nair served as the chairman of ISRO. ISRO official claimed that Department of space have given punishment to Nair, KR Sridharamurthi, former managing director of Antrix K Bhaskaranarayana, former scientific secretary at ISRO and KN Shankara, former director of the ISRO satellite centre over that controversial deal.
"If there is any such allegation, the proper thing to do is to give the accused person a charge-sheet and then follow that with an inquiry," said Nair.
Nair accused the current leadership of ISRO for presenting distorted facts. Even he stated that they didn't follow the due process of investigation.
"It looks like the (current) leadership of ISRO is eager to cancel the previous contract for some reason," he added.
After considering high--powered committee's report, government took the decision. Even the report was examined by another panel.
Last year, a high-level team was formed under the Central Vigilance Commissioner Pratyush Sinha for examining the Antrix-Devas agreement.
Briefing reporters, the law and justice minister, Dr M. Veerappa Moily, said the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) decided to annul the contract that Antrix had entered into with Devas. "The agreement for the lease of space segment capacity on Isro/Antrix S-Band spacecraft by Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd, entered into between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd on January 28, 2005, shall be annulled forthwith," Dr Moily said.
"When the question of strategic requirement arises, the government cannot give S-band spectrum even to Antrix for commercial use," the minister said, adding that the decision to annul the agreement was taken after careful examination of the matter.
On the alleged threat of Devas Multimedia to move court if the government took any unilateral decision to terminate the deal, Dr Moily said if the company went to court they are "unlikely to succeed".
Former Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chief Mr G Madhavan Nair and three other senior scientists, who were barred from holding any government posts, have been indicted by the country's top space body-appointed committee for acts of commission in the Antrix-Devas deal.However, Former Indian Space Research Organisation chief Madhavan Nair on Sunday said that the ISRO report on the Antrix-Devas deal is one-sided and claimed that the report does not bring out the facts. K R Sridhara Murthi, who headedAntrix when it signed the controversial deal withDevas, says the entire process, including the then policy and background to the agreement, should be made public and not just two key reports on the basis of which action has been taken against him and three others.
G. Madhavan Nair (Malayalam: ജി. മാധവന് നായര്) (born October 31, 1943) is the former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation and Secretary to the Department of Space, Government of India since September 2003. He is also the Chairman, Space Commission and acts as the Chairman of Governing Body of the Antrix Corporation, Bangalore. Madhavan Nair was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian honour, on January 26, 2009. He also served as the Chairman, Board of Governors, Indian Institute of Technology Patna until he stepped down voluntarily due to his alleged involvement in Antrix-Devas deal.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._Madhavan_Nair)
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO, /ˈɪəɛrɵ/; Hindi: भारतीय अंतरिक्ष अनुसंधान संगठन Bhāratīya Antarikṣa Anusandhāna Saṅgaṭhana) is the primary body for space research under the control of Government of India and one of the big six advanced space research organization that dominate space,others being NASA (U.S), RKA (Russia), CNSA (China), ESA (Europe) and JAXA (Japan). It was established in its modern form in 1969 as a result of coordinated efforts initiated earlier. Activities for the exploration of space within and outside of Earth's atmosphere. Headquartered in Bangalore (Bengaluru). ISRO's chief executive is a chairman, who is also chairman of the Indian government's Space Commission and the secretary of the Department of Space.
ISRO's first satellite, Aryabhata, was launched by the Soviet Union in 1975. Rohini, the first satellite to be placed in orbit by an Indian-made launch vehicle (the Satellite Launch Vehicle 3) was launched in 1980. ISRO subsequently developed two other rockets: the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle for putting satellites into polar orbit and the Geostationary Space Launch Vehicle for placing satellites into geostationary orbit. These rockets have launched communications satellites, Earth-observation satellites, and, in 2008, Chandrayaan-1, India's first mission to the Moon. ISRO plans to put two astronauts into orbit in 2015.
Over the years, ISRO has conducted a variety of operations for both Indian and foreign clients. ISRO's satellite launch capability is mostly provided by indigenous launch vehicles and launch sites. In 2008, ISRO successfully launched its first lunar probe, Chandrayaan-1, while future plans include indigenous development of GSLV, manned space missions, further lunar exploration, and interplanetary probes. ISRO has several field installations as assets, and cooperates with the international community as a part of several bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Meanwhile,Questioning the silence of the Prime Minister on the Antrix-Devas deal issue, BJP on Sunday demanded that he must come clean and give a detailed explanation on various aspects including the action against four scientists.
"I think the government has a lot of explaining to do. We would definitely demand that Prime Minister come clean on it. He has to say what was the process adopted in the decision making, who were in-charge when the deal was struck. The Prime Minister remains silent on this issue. He has to give a detailed answer...,"BJP spokesperson Nirmala Seetharaman told reporters in Chennai.
The Congress Sunday said former Indian space agency chief G. Madhavan Nair was free to criticise the twin probe reports on the multi-billion dollar Antrix-Devas spectrum deal indicting him and three others, but "nobody has the right to dictate to the government".
"Mr. Nair is free to disagree and criticise. But nobody has the right to dictate to the government," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters in Kolkata.
"It's not for a political party to comment on largely legal matters. It is between the government and Mr. Nair. It is not that it is a knee-jerk reaction of the government. The government had set up a very high power committee and its report is in the public domain," he added.
A five-member team that probed the controversial Antrix-Devas deal has indicted former Indian Space Research Organisation ( ISRO) chairman G. Madhavan Nair and three other scientists for the controversial contract that resulted in an estimated loss of Rs.2 lakh crore, while another panel has disputed the Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) estimation of the loss amount.
However, Nair slammed the twin probe reports, saying they were "one-sided and without all facts".
The scientific community is up in arms against the Manmohan Singh government's decision to ban G. Madhavan Nair and three other former officials of Indian Space Research Organisation from holding any posts in central or state governments. Nair, who was considered to be a lucky mascot, as he had the best record for successful launch of satellites, is terribly upset and so are the big names in scientific community like C.N.R. Rao, who heads the prime minister's scientific advisory committee, and planning commission member K. Kasturirangan, who was Nair's predecessor. Nair has lashed out at the present chairman K.Radhakrishnan for harbouring a grudge against him.
There are also reactions that the IAS officials, who were jealous of the high pedestal offered by governments to scientists in space, atomic energy and defence research, have influenced Manmohan Singh into meting out punishment to Madhavan Nair, K.Bhaskaranarayana, former scientific secretary of ISRO, K.R. Sreedharamurthy, former managing director of Antrix Corporation and K N Shankara, who headed the satellite programme. Interestingly the inquiry committee was headed by B.K.Chaturvedi, an IAS officer who was cabinet secretary and is now a member of the planning commission. Chaturvedi was intimately associated with the space programme as he was a member of the space commission when he was cabinet secretary. that is why eyebrows were raised when Chaturvedi was asked to inquire into the matter. Another ex-IAS officer against whom accusing finger is pointed is Pratyush Sinha, who was the chief vigilance commissioner, and who advised that punishment should be meted out to Nair and three officials.
The inappropriate remark of V.Narayananswamy, minister of state in Prime Minister's Office that the action was a "warning" to the scientists working in governments created further furore. Narayanaswamy wears different hats. He is the minister of state incharge of personnel, which decides on promotions and punishments to government officials, and which is dominated by IAS officials. He also answers questions on space department in parliament on behalf of prime minister, who is the minister for space. Interestingly in the prime minister's office, the space and atomic energy departments are handled by national security adviser - first it was M K Narayanan and now it is Shiv Shankar Menon.
But officials in department of personnel explain that the Antrix-Devas agreement was found to be wrong as it gave away the rights of the spectrum owned by ISRO to Devas, which was promoted by a former ISRO official. They said Chaturvedi has found that Madhavan Nair had not kept the cabinet informed about the leasing of transponders in S Band while he sought cabinet approval for building two new satellites, whose full capacity will go to Devas. Thus when Radhakrishnan took over from Nair, he raised objections and appointed an internal committee.
Whenever there was crisis in the scientific programmes of the government, the prime ministers from Jawaharlal Nehru have stepped in. Now it is time for Manmohan Singh, to give up his arms length approach, and get actively involved to sort out the crisis of confidence in the scientific community. Former President A P J Abdul Kalam, himself a distinguished aerospace expert, has said institution is more important than individuals. But Manmohan Singh should ensure that there is no witch hunt of individuals, whichever camp they belong to, as individuals make up the institution.
Tailpiece: Despite the latest complaints about IAS versus scientists, both space and atomic energy departments have given post retirement assignments to several IAS and foreign service officials, who had worked in these organisations, especially in areas of administrative reforms, public affairs and education.
On the other hand,President Obama's plan to put space exploration in the hands of commercial organizations is a threatening prospect for NASA, but has potential to create booming progress in an area that has been stilted by funding issues and political conflicts. As Indian ruling Hegemony is strategically aligned with the US ISRAEL led Nuclear alliance, it is bound to defend the interests of these Companies. simply Devas deal seems to be the Beginning!
Space entrepreneurs and private sector firms have already made significant innovations in space travel. They have plans for future tourism in space and safer shuttles. In the book, The Privatization of Space Exploration, Lewis D. Solomon details current US and international laws dealing with space use, settlement, and exploration. He then offers policy recommendations to facilitate privatization.
Texas-based National Instruments (NI) sees huge business opportunity coming from the Indian defence and space research establishments with the removal of export restrictions on four subsidiaries each of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) by the US government.
"We see 100 per cent opportunity when everything opens up," Solaikutty Dhanabal, academic director of NI Systems (India) Private Limited, told Business Standard on the sidelines of a road show on aerospace and defence sectors organised here by the company.
NI manufactures hardware and software products used in industrial automation, automated test equipment, embedded systems, and test and measurement applications. Its sales revenues from India predominantly come from energy, infrastructure and automotive sectors.
The company is currently working with some wings of DRDO and Isro, such as National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad, which are out of the purview of trade restrictions, apart from working closely with Council of Scientific and Indian Research (CSIR) labs among others, according to Solaikutty.
Like many other US companies, NI also could not sell its products that are of dual use to the organisations on the entity list, he said.
The four DRDO subsidiaries are Armament Research and Development Establishment, Defence Research and Development Lab (DRDL), Missile Research and Development Complex and Solid State Physics Laboratory. Isro subsidiaries are Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Solid Propellant Space Booster Plant, Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota (SHAR), and Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre apart from Bharat Dynamics Limited, which produces missiles and munitions for the country's defence forces.
While NI is growing 100 per cent in India, a significant part of it will now come from defence and aerospace sectors, Solaikutty said.
The report prepared by a committee headed by Mr Pratyush Sinha, former chief vigilance commissioner, said Antrix-Devas deal lacked transparency and recommended that action needs to be taken against Mr Nair, Mr A Bhaskaranarayana, Mr KR Sridhara Murthi and Mr KN Shankara all of whom have retired.
Antrix is the commercial arm of Isro and Devas is a private firm. The five-member high level team, which was set up to examine the deal and identify the acts of omission and commission by government officials, said in its report made public last night that "...there have not only been serious administrative and procedural lapses but also suggestion of collusive behaviour on the part of certain individuals and accordingly, responsibilities have to be fixed for taking action".
The Pratyush Sinha committee, set up on 31 May last year to examine the deal and identify the acts of omission and commission by government officials, said choosing Devas for the deal "seems to be lacking in transparency and due diligence".
It said "the approval process (for the deal) was riddled with incomplete and inaccurate information given to the Union Cabinet and the space commission".
While the Antrix-Devas agreement was signed on 28 January, 2005, "this fact was not disclosed to the space commission or in the Cabinet note dated 27 November, 2005, in which approval was sought for the launch of GSAT 6, one of the satellites to be build under the agreement".
"They have looked only at the papers and the answers to the questions. If they had seen some omissions, they should have sought clarifications. I will ask for the full report," he said while speaking exclusively to CNN-IBN.
"Speaking is not inquiry. The committee has not met many times to make the report. The report does not bring out the facts. The people who have made the report seems have not understood the issues and mechanism. Sad that bits and pieces of report are being put out like this and not the whole report," he added.
A committee set up by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Saturday night indicted former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair and three other senior scientists, who were barred from holding any government posts, for acts of commission in Antrix-Devas deal.
"We have to make inquires and see what are the options in front of us before we plan the future course of action. These are the findings of the committee, they are their own conclusion. I have not read the complete report, have to look at it. We were given only a questionaire to reply to, which we did," A Bhaskarnarayana, Ex-ISRO Scientific Secretary, said.
The report prepared by a committee headed by Pratyush Sinha, former Chief Vigilance Commissioner, said Antrix-Devas deal lacked transparency and recommended that action needs to be taken against Nair, A Bhaskaranarayana, KR Sridhara Murthi and K N Shankara all of whom have retired.
Nair said, "The committee does not understand space business. I'll wait and then decide what needs to be done. The statements in public domain are highly distortrd. The full reports should be out to make any conclusion. what is in public domain shows the report is one sided. There is no such statement that speaks of specific violations."
The former ISRO chief also said that the deal was not to profit Devas.
"The return to government was a respectable business. Our responsibility was to get a new technology in the country. We were in the regime of embargo at the time of the deal. At that time this was the only group left to move forward on the agreement. It was a declared policy of the government to go out and expand in the field of space," he added.
The Antrix is the commercial arm of ISRO and Devas is a private firm. The five-member high level team, which was set up to examine the deal and identify the acts of omission and commission by government officials, said in its report made that "...there have not only been serious administrative and procedural lapses but also suggestion of collusive behaviour on the part of certain individuals and accordingly, responsibilities have to be fixed for taking action".
The Pratyush Sinha committee, set up on May 31 last year to examine the deal and identify the acts of omission and commission by government officials, said choosing Devas for the deal "seems to be lacking in transparency and due diligence".
It said "the approval process (for the deal) was riddled with incomplete and inaccurate information given to the union cabinet and the Space Commission". While the Antrix-Devas agreement was signed on January, 28, 2005, "this fact was not disclosed to the Space Commission or in the Cabinet note dated November 27, 2005, in which approval was sought for the launch of GSAT 6, one of the satellites to be build under the agreement".
The report said the terms of Antrix-Devas contract "were heavily loaded in favour of Devas". It pointed out that terms of the agreement entail that while in the case of the failure of the satellite, the risk was entirely that of Department of Space, the success of of the satellite would commit the latter to substantial expenditure".
Secondly, it said "it is surprising that for the purpose of arbitration Devas has been considered an international customer even though its registered address in the contract is shown as in Bangalore".
The report also noted that no clearance was obtained from the legal cells of the Department of Space and the Finance Ministry for Antrix-Devas deal, as is mandatory for any international agreement by any department of Indian government. The report also said GSAT capacity was earmarked for Devas without consulting INSAT Corporation Committee (ICC), which recommends use of satellite capacities by non-government users authorized to provide telecom services, which is a "clear violation of the government policy".
The committee report said "there is evidence to suggest that the Antrix-Devas agreement was not disclosed to Technical Advisory Group (TAG) at the time of considering the experimental trials".
There is no indication of any attempt to identify other possible partners for providing the same service even though similar services were available in some other countries, said the report.
"Although SATCOM policy and ICC guidelines allow leasing of satellite capacity on first-come-first-served basis, this did not prevent Antrix-ISRO from following a transparent process of adequately publicising its intent of supporting such services..." it said.
"In the absence of such a declaration of intent, choosing Devas seems to be lacking in transparency and due diligence", added the report.
The Antrix controversy has scared off risk-taking entrepreneurs from entering India's space industry. Who'll now bring hi-tech chutzpah to what can be an Indian success story? Reports JOSY JOSEPH for Economic Times!
The Antrix controversy has scared off risk-taking entrepreneurs from entering India's space industry. Who'll now bring hi-tech chutzpah to what can be an Indian success story?
It's been a rough fortnight for the folks associated with India's space industry. Allegations flew faster than rockets. When the Department of Space barred former chief Madhavan Nair and three other scientists from any future re-employment in any government-related work, battle lines were drawn within India's space research community.
Even as Nair described the January 13 order of the government as a "witch hunt" and squarely blamed current Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chief K Radhakrishnan for misleading the government in the much-maligned Antrix-Devas deal, the real question is whether this controversy will hamstring India's efforts in getting private-sector involvement in the fast-growing space industry.
After all, according to the Space Report 2011, the space economy continued to grow for the fifth year in a row, unaffected by the global economic turmoil. The space economy increased by 7.7% in 2010, registering a robust growth rate compared with the average of 5% per annum registered in the previous two years.
The space economy itself increased by about $20 billion to reach an estimated total of $276.52 billion, the report said. Pertinently, the report said, "Some of this growth came from increases in government spending, but the vast majority occurred in the commercial sector."
While sectors such as telecom may be driving some of this, many of the noticeable activities in the sector are coming from private individuals and corporations. From space tourism to next-generation launch vehicles, almost in every sphere private investments are fast emerging.
So, India can't afford to scare off entrepreneurs. But that's what the Antrix-Devas deal has done.
ANTRIX AND DEVAS
Antrix (a variation of the Hindi word for space, antariksh) Corporation was set up as the marketing arm of Isro in 1992. The company hoped to promote commercial exploitation of space products, technical consultancy services and transfer of technologies developed by Isro. And most importantly, as Isro said about the Devas deal: "A major objective is to facilitate development of space-related industrial capabilities in India."
Enter Forge Advisors, a US-based strategic consultancy. In March 2003, Antrix inked a memorandum of understanding with Forge for exploring opportunities in digital multimedia services. Forge later established an Indian company called Devas Multimedia, with some former Isro scientists on board.
On December 24, 2004, Antrix's board approved the draft agreement between the two sides, and the agreement was signed on January 28, 2005. The agreement provided leasing of 90% of the space segment capacity on two satellites for 12 years to Devas.
Global Space Activity
Worldwide, space business is booming. State labs & private players expect to make the most of new opportunities that include setting up of new space stations, space tourism and exploration beyond Mars
Nair met probe panel head, answered queries on deal: Isro
Nair says meeting with Pratyush Sinha wasn't a real opportunity for defence; SC to hear petition later this week
Jacob P. KoshyNew Delhi: Contradicting former Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chief G. Madhavan Nair's assertions that he wasn't given a fair chance to defend allegations of impropriety in the nixed deal between Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd and Antrix Corp. Ltd, India's space establishment has said Nair had met investigating panel head Pratyush Sinha and responded to questions on the deal.
G. Madhavan Nair. (File Photo)
Sinha headed a five-member committee that recommended action against Nair and seven other Isro officials for spearheading a deal between Devas and Antrix to lease satellite spectrum from the space agency in lieu of providing multimedia services. Antrix is the commercial arm of the state-run space agency.
While Isro's incumbent-chairman K.S. Radhakrishnan hasn't yet reacted to Nair's assertions that he was being "victimized", this is the first time Isro has taken on Nair. The development is significant, coming ahead of a Supreme Court verdict later this week on the future course of action on the Antrix deal.
Isro said in a statement on late Saturday that Nair met Sinha for a hearing in Delhi on 8 August and followed this up with a letter to the investigating committee head on 10 August with "detailed remarks".
Devas didn't respond to an email seeking comment.
Also See | Contours of a controversy (PDF)
Isro's statement accompanied a report by former cabinet secretary B.K. Chaturvedi and Space Commission member Roddam Narasimha that point to procedural lapses in how the deal was engineered, but it doesn't indict the Isro officials for malfeasance.
The space agency also released portions of the Sinha committee report that recommend action against the Isro officials involved under "the relevant portions of the Pension Rules and any other provisions of the law".
Nair, who has retired and been barred from future government consultations on the back of this order, maintains that he hasn't been given a fair chance. "I literally gate crashed Pratyush Sinha's office and all we had was a friendly chat. It wasn't a real opportunity for defence," he said. Nair added that he responded to a written questionnaire by the panel, explaining his role in the controversial deal.
The 60-page Chaturvedi-Narasimha report says that while there was "no basis" to allegations that Isro had given away spectrum cheaply, Devas' shareholding and subsequent changes in it were "a serious cause of concern".
They have significantly said that too many unusual favours were granted to Devas, when it wasn't even clear that the company had the requisite patents or the experience to roll out the promised technology, which globally was at an extremely nascent stage.
Devas had agreed to provide multimedia services via satellite that could be accessed on regular cellphones. For this, Isro would have had to lease out an overwhelming 90% of the capacity on two of its satellites—GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A— develop a specialized antenna for these satellites, and pay hefty penalties ranging up to $5 million in case the satellites weren't commissioned.
In return, Devas was to get almost exclusive access to a portion of S-band satellite spectrum (2-2.5GHz) that in the recent half of the last decade was of lucrative interest to several commercial entities offering mobile services.
Previously, too, Isro has leased out its satellite transponders to private companies for direct-to-home satellite services, and, as per the existing satellite spectrum policy, didn't require permission from the cabinet to do so.
Nair and Devas' management have argued that this was why details of the agreement weren't laid out to the cabinet.
The Chaturvedi committee says the Devas deal wasn't a simple lease of transponders, and given that the technology being tested was innovative, it had a high chance of failure and, therefore, merited closer scrutiny by the Space Commission—a group of technocrats involving scientists and senior government officials—before it was approved.
Independent analysts say the government should have publicized the reports sooner. "In light of the current climate of negativity against the government, it should have moved faster," said S. Veera Raghavan, an independent defence analyst. "This is a complex case without clear rights and wrongs. It's too late for the government to appear transparent."
Graphic by Sandeep Bhatnagar/Mint
Isro to join project for passenger plane
The plane project is yet to get government sanction but is listed in the science and technology plan in the 11th Plan that ends in 2012
K. RaghuBangalore: India's space agency will be made a partner in the country's Rs2,500 crore passenger plane project so it can share its technology expertise, infrastructure and programme management skills and help avoid the mistakes and delays seen in previous projects.
Ambitious attempt: An artist's impression of RTA-70, India's new generation plane being designed by National Aerospace Laboratories.
The so-called regional transport aircraft, or RTA-70, being designed to carry 70-90 passengers on short-haul routes, is India's ambitious attempt to build a civilian plane and bridge the gap in aeronautical expertise with countries such as China and Brazil.
The Indian Space Research Organisation, or Isro, "will be part of a consortium," said G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the research council of National Aerospace Laboratories, or NAL, a public-funded agency focused on civil aerospace technologies. "NAL will lead the project."
Nair, a former head of Isro, said the plane project would be run by an independent commercial body, with public and private partners, including an overseas aerospace firm. He did not name the private firms.
The plane project is yet to get government sanction but is listed in the science and technology plan in the 11th Plan that ends in 2012.
Once approved, the plane project will take around six years to build and be certified for operations, said C.G. Krishnadas Nair, president of the Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies and Industries, or Siati, a body that promotes home-grown enterprises in the aerospace and defence sectors.
So far, India's attempts to build civilian planes has had little success. NAL has built two civilian planes so far: Hansa, a two-seater trainer, is being flown in some flying clubs but is not a commercial success yet. Saras, a 14-seater plane project in the works for nearly two decades, has been suspended till an inquiry is completed into the crash of a prototype in March that killed two pilots.
In the late 1990s, military plane maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, or HAL, and Franco-Italian manufacturer ATR dropped a plan to make turboprop planes jointly in Kanpur, citing limited market opportunity.
But economic growth since then and the boom in India's civil aviation sector has presented a fresh opportunity to build planes locally. NAL officials say the sweet spot would be planes that can carry 70-90 passengers over the short haul (up to 1,000km, say, Bangalore to Mumbai) and does not compete with planes of large firms such as Boeing Co. or Airbus SAS.
Currently, only NAL and HAL build planes in India. In December, Mahindra group become the first private Indian conglomerate to acquire the capability to build aircraft when it bought two Australian aerospace firms for up to Rs175 crore over five years.
For the RTA-70 project, HAL is the manufacturing partner and firms such as Infosys Technologies Ltd and the local unit of US technology firm Honeywell International Inc. are building some technology components, Satish Chandra, convenor for the RTA programme at NAL, said in a lecture on 30 September.
The plane is expected to consume around 30% less fuel than existing 70-100-seater passenger aircraft, and have half their maintenance costs through the use of special sensors and coatings. RTA-70 will be able to land and take off on small runways and use satellite navigation, Chandra said.
"We should make use of all resources (in aerospace) within the country. The aim is to make the project a success," said Nair of Siati.
In addition to building rockets and launching satellites, Isro is building a capsule to carry astronauts into space and later to the moon; some of the facilities and technologies it uses for projects such as these could complement NAL's plane programme. NAL, too, builds and tests technology for Isro's programmes.
While Isro's record of building rockets and launching satellites has improved over the years, it has seen its share of delays. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, or GSLV rocket, with an indigenous cryogenic engine, was set for launch by January but has been delayed by at least a year.
Analysts caution that Isro's bag is full with projects, including planetary and manned space missions, and even if it is used as a partner, the lead agency should take on the onus of completing the project.
"Why just Isro, you can use any resource available in the country, but the least you should do is to have one person or agency that should be accountable (for the project)," said retired Air Marshal T.J. Master, chairman of Master Aerospace Consultants (Pvt.) Ltd, an aerospace advisory. "It should be made a commercial success and that should be the drive."