Perhaps in response to Dr. Madhavan Nair's demands, ISRO has posted online the Main Report of the Chaturvedi-Narasimha Committee (or HPRC, the High-Powered Review Committee), and Conclusions and Recommendations of the High Level Team (HLT) headed by Mr. Pratyush Sinha. With its scathing tone and language, and blunt naming of names, the HLT excerpts are especially revealing.
Though the government sounded conciliatory last week (following Dr. Nair's loud, indignant protests), it appears ready to play hardball now. First came the release of two reports, along with a note on follow-up actions taken by ISRO in light of the findings of HPRC and HLT. It now says the ban on Nair and three others will stay even while floating a whisper balloon about keeping open the option of a criminal investigation.
* * *
As I said earlier, the allegations against Nair and his associates are entirely about commercial, financial, strategic, procedural aspects of the Devas deal -- in short, its about the administrative actions of ISRO leadership. Nair needs to stop using "oh no, Indian science is under attack" as a shield, not only because it is wrong, but also because his outbursts are now being countered with something that's even more obnoxious: the patriotism bomb:
The central government cancelled the Antrix Corporation-Devas Multimedia deal for reasons of national security and not for purported loss of revenue in sale of spectrum, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy has said.
Nair's indignant stance early on may have won him some supporters. In addition to David and Goliath, there's also Kafka lurking in the story when Nair said he did not even know what The System was punishing him for! In such a battle, it is difficult to take the side of The System.
But Nair's later utterances have undermined his case. For example, Nair's original claim that he never met the Sinha panel (HLT) has now been countered, forcing him to change his story. And his personal attacks on his successor at ISRO are so unwittingly self-incriminatory that Nair himself has now become the butt of jokes about his "management style." [What good does it do to your credibility when you claim that you handpicked an incompetent to the throne?]Nair appears to be admitting that there might have been some errors of judgement. Let's see how long this phase lasts ...
* * *