Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan

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Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan
Kasturirangan at IISc.jpg
Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan
Born (1940-10-24) 24 October 1940 (age 74)
Ernakulam, Kerala, India
Nationality Indian
Fields Astronomy/Space Research including Science, Technology and Applications
Institutions National Institute of Advanced Studies; Indian Space Research Organisation
Alma mater Bachelor of Science with Honours from Ramnarain Ruia College, Matunga (Mumbai), Master of Science degrees in Physics from Bombay University and Ph.D. (Astronomy & Astrophysics), 1971 from Physical Research Laboratory, Gujarat University
Known for Pioneering contributions to India’s space programme and notorious for giving a license to loot report on Western Ghats
Notable awards Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan

Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan (born 24 October 1940 in Ernakulam) is an Indian space scientist who headed the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) from 1994 to 2003. He was a Member in the Upper House (Rajya Sabha, 2003–2009) of the Indian Parliament. He is now a member of the Planning Commission of Government of India, chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University[1] and chairman of Karnataka Knowledge Commission .[2] He was also the Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, from April 2004 to 2009. He is a recipient of the three major civilian awards from the Government of India: the Padma Shri (1982), Padma Bhushan (1992) and Padma Vibhushan (2000).

Key contributions[edit]

Dr. Kasturirangan was responsible for directing the Indian Space programme for over 9 years, as Chairman of ISRO and the Space Commission and as Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Space, before laying down office on 27 August 2003. He was earlier the Director of ISRO Satellite Centre, overseeing the development of new generation spacecraft, the Indian National Satellite (INSAT-2) and the Indian Remote SensingSatellites (IRS-1A and 1B) as well as scientific satellites. He was also the Project Director for India's first two experimental earth observation satellites, Bhaskara-I and II.

Under his leadership, the programme witnessed several major milestones including the successful launching and operationalisation of the India's prestigious launch vehicles, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle. Studies on the advanced version of the GSLV, GSLVMk-III, was also completed including defining its full configuration. Further, he also oversaw the development and launching of some of the world's best civilian remote sensing satellites, IRS-1C and IRS-1D, realization of new generation INSAT communication satellites, besides ocean observation satellites IRS-P3/P4. He also led the initiative for India to enter the planetary exploration era by an extensive studies leading to the definition of Chandrayaan-I. These efforts have put India as a pre-eminent space-faring nation among the handful of six countries that have major space programmes. As an Astrophysicist, Dr. Kasturirangan's interest include research in high energy X-ray and gamma ray astronomy as well as optical astronomy. Defining India’s most ambitious space based High Energy Astronomy observatory and initiating a related activities was also an important milestone under his leadership. He has made extensive and significant contributions to studies of Cosmic x-ray and gamma ray sources and effect of cosmic x-rays in the lower atmosphere.

Education and research[edit]

Dr. Kasturirangan graduated in Science with Honours from Ramnarain Ruia College, Matunga situated in central Mumbai, and obtained his Master of Science degree in Physics, from University of Mumbai. He received his Doctorate Degree in Experimental High Energy Astronomy in 1971, working at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.

As an Astrophysicist, Dr. Kasturirangan's research interests include high energy X-ray and gamma ray astronomy as well as optical astronomy. He has published more than 244 papers, in international and national journals, in the areas of astronomy, space science and space applications.

Dr. Kasturirangan is a member of several important scientific academies and educational institutions, both within India and abroad.

Career highlights[edit]

  • 2004 - 2009 Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
  • 2003 - 2009 Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha)
  • 1994 - 2003 Chairman, Space Commission/Secretary, Department of Space, Government of India, Bangalore
  • 1990 - 1994 Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore
  • 1986 - 1989 Associate Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore
  • 1984 - 1986 Deputy Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore
  • 1980 - 1989 Project Director, Satellite IRS-1A, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore
  • 1979 - 1983 Project Director, Satellite Bhaskara-II, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore
  • 1976 - 1980 Project Director, Satellite Bhaskara-I, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore

Special roles[edit]

  • 2005-2006 President, Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE)
  • 2004 onwards Chairman, Council of Indian Institute of Science (IISc)
  • 2000-2005 Chairman, Board of Governors, IIT Madras
  • 2000 onwards Chairman, Council of Raman Research Institute (RRI)
  • 2001-2003 Chairperson, Research Council of National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore
  • 2001-2003 President, Indian Academy of Sciences
  • 2001-2003 Member, Board of Governors of IIT, Roorkee
  • 2002-2003 General President, Indian Science Congress 2002-03
  • 1995-2003 Chairman, Governing Body of the United Nations Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia-Pacific, India.
  • 2004 onwards Chairman, Governing Council, Aryabhata Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital
  • 2004 onwards Member, Economic Policy and Reforms Council, constituted by Government of Rajasthan
  • 2004 onwards Member, Committee on Energy, Indian Parliament
  • 2007 onwards Chairman, Governing Council, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore
  • 2007-2011 Member, General Body, Birla Institute of Technology and Science-Pilani, Rajasthan
  • 2007 onwards Independent Director, Brigade Group, Bangalore
  • 2008 onwards Chairman, Karnataka Knowledge Commission, Karnataka
  • 2008 onwards Member, Karnataka Vision 2020, Karnataka
  • 2008 onwards Member, Advisory Committee, Indian Science News Association, Kolkata
  • 2009 onwards Member, Planning Commission, Government of India.
  • 2012 onwards Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University.[3]


National awards[edit]

  • Shri. Hari Om Ashram Dr. Vikram Sarabhai Prerit Award (1981)
  • Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Engineering Sciences (1983)
  • Shri. Om Prakash Bhasin Foundation Award (1988)
  • Dr. K.R. Ramanathan Memorial Gold Medal for 1995 conferred by Indian Geo-Physical Union (1995)
  • FIE Foundation's 1995 National Award (1996) Ichalkaranji
  • G.P. Chatterjee Memorial Award of ISCA (1997)
  • M.P. Birla Memorial Award in Astronomy (1997)
  • Goyal Award conferred by Goyal Foundation (1997)
  • Biren Roy Memorial Lecture Medal of the Indian Physical Society, Calcutta (1998)
  • Vidya Ratna National Award of Subbaram Trust, Bangalore (1999)
  • Shri Murli M. Chugani Memorial Award for Excellence in Applied Physics of Indian Physics Association (1999)
  • H.K. Firodia Award for Excellence in Science and Technology by H.K. Firodia Memorial Foundation (1999)
  • IGU Millennium Award by Indian Geophysical Union (1999)
  • M.N. Saha Birth Centenary Award for 1999-2000 conferred by 87th Indian Science Congress (2000)
  • ‘Aryabhata Medal Award 2000’ conferred by Indian National Science Academy, Calcutta (2001)
  • ‘4th Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati National Eminence Award’ by South Indian Education Society, Mumbai on 28 December 2001 (2001)
  • ‘Rathindra Puraskar’ by Visvabharati, Santiniketan (2002)
  • ‘V. Krishnamurthy Award for Excellence’ conferred by Centre for Organisation Development, Hyderabad (2002)
  • ‘G.M. Modi Award’ for outstanding contribution in innovative Science, conferred by Gujarmal Modi Science foundation, New Delhi (2002)
  • ‘Bhoovigyan Ratna Award’ from Bhoovigyan Vikas Foundation, New Delhi (2002)
  • 8th National Science & Technology Award for Excellence by the Jeppiaar Educational Trust, Chennai (2003)
  • ‘6th Ram Mohan Puraskar 2003’ awarded by Ram Mohan Mission, Calcutta (2003)
  • ‘Asutosh Mookerjee Memorial Award’ by the Indian Science Congress, Chandigarh (2004)
  • ‘Man of the Year’ award by the Centenarian Trust, Chennai (2004)
  • ‘Prof. M.N. Saha Memorial Lecture Medal ‘of the National Academy of Sciences of India, Jaipur(2004)
  • ‘Life Time Contribution Award in Engineering’ for 2004 by Indian National Academy of Engineering, Delhi (2004)
  • ‘Balvantbhai Parekh Gold Medal 2005’ for life-time Achievements in Space Science by The Indian Planetary Society, Mumbai (2005)
  • ‘Aryabhata Award 2003’ by Astronautical Society of India (2005)
  • ‘Lakshmipat Singhania – IIM Lucknow National Leadership Award 2006’ by Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (2006)
  • The Jewel of Ruia Award by Ruia College Alumni Association, Shikshana Prasaraka Mandali’s Ramnarain Ruia College, Dec. 2007
  • Maharana Udai Singh Award by Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation in Udaipur, 2 March 2008
  • Rajayogindra Award, Maharaja of Mysore, Mysore, 18 July 2008
  • Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Gold Medal, 96th Indian Science Congress, The Indian Science Congress Association, 3 January 2009, Shillong
  • Shasthra Bhooshan Award by His Highness Pazhassi Raja Charitable Trust, Kerala, 27 February 2009
  • Prof Y. T. Thathachari Lifetime Achievement Award by Bhramara Trust of Prof. Y T Thathachari and Smt. Madhuri Thathachari of Mysore on 14 March 2009
  • Distinguished Academician Award by Indian Institute of Technology Patna on 26 October 2013[4]

International awards[edit]

  • Award of Intercosmos Council of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (1981)
  • International Collaboration Accomplishment Award 2001’, conferred by Internationa Society for *Air Breathing Engines (ISOABE), Bangalore (2001)
  • ‘ISPRS Brock Medal’ instituted jointly by ISPRS and ASPRS, Istanbul, Turkey (2004)
  • Allan D Emil Memorial Award of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), Vancouver, Canada (2004)
  • ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ of the Asia-Pacific Satellite communications Council, Singapore (2005)
  • Theodore Von Karman Award by International Academy of Astronautics (IAA), France (2007)
  • Making a Difference Award at the annual ESRI International User Conference, San Diego, USA (2009)[5]


Dr Kasturirangan is the recipient of Honorary Doctorate from 16 universities which is given below:

Banaras Hindu University (1994), Andhra University (1995), S.V. University, Tirupati (1996), Sri Krishna Devaraya University, Ananthpur (1998), Anna University, Chennai (1998), Roorkee University, Roorkee (1999), IIT, Bombay (2000), Chatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur (2000), Gurunanak Dev University, Amritsar (2001), University of Calcutta, Calcutta (2002), Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi (2003), Panjab University, Chandigarh (2003), Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belgaum (2004), Alagappa University, Karaikudi (2006), University of Mysore, Mysore (2007); SRM University, Chennai (2008)

National recognition[edit]

  • Padma Shri (1982)
  • Padma Bhushan (1992)
  • Padma Vibhushan (2000)

General information[edit]

He has published more than 244 papers in the areas of astronomy, space science and applications.

Delivered 60 Convocation Addresses in various universities of the country and also is the recipient of Honorary Doctorate from 16 universities.

He delivered nearly 309 public and memorial lectures. His recent important lectures include M.N. Saha Memorial lecture of the National Academy of Sciences; J.C. Bose Memorial lecture at the Royal Society of London; Third Darbari Seth Memorial Lecture, New Delhi; K R Narayanan Oration at the Australian National University, Canberra; 28th Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Lecture, Ahmedabad Management Association, Ahmedabad; Prof. D.S. Kothari Memorial Lecture at University of Delhi, Delhi; Karnataka Rajyotsava Extension Lecture, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore; First Memorial Lecture of Sir Arthur C. Clarke at the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies, Colombo. More recently, he was one among the four global personalities and the only Asian to deliver a Keynote Address on 'Potential of Space Technology to serve Humankind: coming 50 years' at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris during the celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the launch of Sputnik organized by International Astronautical Federation and UNESCO.


External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
U. R. Rao
ISRO Chairman
1994 - 2003
Succeeded by
G. Madhavan Nair