Dr K Kasturirangan
As one of India’s foremost space scientists, Dr K Kasturirangan has played a key role in the success of the country’s space programme. He is currently Chairman of the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA); Chancellor, Central University of Rajasthan; Chairman, Public Affairs Centre, Bengaluru; Member, Atomic Energy Commission; Emeritus Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru; and Honorary Distinguished Advisor, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
As Chairman of ISRO, Dr Kasturirangan oversaw India’s space programme from 1994 and 2003. He was a Member of the Rajya Sabha from 2003 to 2009, and also, concurrently, Director of NIAS, Bangalore, before becoming Member of the erstwhile Planning Commission. He was appointed Chairman of the Committee entrusted with drafting the new National Education Policy from July 2017 to December 2018.
Dr Kasturirangan completed his Bachelor of Science with Honours, and Master of Science in Physics from Bombay University. He received his Doctorate in Experimental High Energy Astronomy in 1971 while working at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. His interests include astrophysics, space science and technology as well as policies governing the practice and study of science.
Dr Kasturirangan is also a member of several international and national science academies. He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences and served as its President from 2001-03. He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering and was its President from 2005-06. He was also General President of the Indian Science Congress in 2002 and 2003. In addition, he is a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy and the National Academy of Sciences of India.
Dr Kasturirangan is the only Indian to be conferred honorary membership of the International Academy of Astronautics and has served as its Vice President earlier. He is a Member of the International Astronomical Union and a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). He is also Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University, UK, and Academician of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City.
He has won several awards including the Brock Medal from the International Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, the Allan D Emil Memorial Award from the International Astronautical Federation, both in 2004, as well as the Theodore von Karman Award from the International Academy of Astronautics in 2007.
In addition, he was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Engineering; the Aryabhata Award 2003 by the Astronautical Society of India; Lifetime Achievement Award by the Asia-Pacific Satellite Communications Council, Singapore; Aryabhata Medal by the Indian National Science Academy (2000); the Asutosh Mookerjee Memorial Award by the Indian Science Congress; the Jewel of Ruia award by Ruia College Alumni Association, 2007; Maharana Udai Singh Award 2007-08 by Maharana of Mewar Charitable Foundation, Udaipur, 2008; Rajayogindra Award by the Maharaja of Mysore (2008); and the Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Gold Medal from the Indian Science Congress in 2009.
He has been conferred with the highest civilian honours, the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri by the President of India. He was also awarded as ‘Officer of the Légion d’honneur’ by the President of France.