I am sure you all must have definitely heard about the recent Chandrayaan-2 mission. Although the Vikram Lander lost contact just a few minutes before landing on the moon’s surface, overall, the mission was 90% successful. That in itself is a big feat for India!
Do you know who is the man behind India’s journey to the moon- the man whose hard work and willpower made this mission possible for India in the first place? Yes, you guessed it right! Popularly known as the Rocket Man of India, it’s Dr. K. Sivan! His story is in true sense, a ‘Rags to Riches’ story. Life threw some tough luck his way but he still outshone everything and came out with a newfound confidence! Want to know how he did it? How this humble son of a farmer made it to being the most respectable personality in the country today? So let’s get straight into it.
So, who actually is K. Sivan? Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan is an Indian Space Scientist and Chairperson of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). He was born on April 14, 1957 in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu. His father was a farmer who worked for long hours in the fields to be able to send him to government school. They were in such a bad financial condition that Sivan had to actually walk barefoot to school! Young Sivan wanted to pursue Engineering, but due to lack of funds, he couldn’t. So, he went for a B.Sc. degree in Mathematics instead. He was an exceptionally brilliant student, which he proved by scoring 100% marks in four subjects, and became the first graduate in his family!
Later, his father sold his land to fund Sivan’s Engineering course so that he could pursue his dream career. Sivan graduated with a B.Tech degree from Madras Institute of Technology in 1980. Then, he struggled a lot to get a job, but all went in vain. So, he went on and completed his Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from IISc Bangalore and joined ISRO to take part in the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) Project. Further, he completed his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Bombay in 2006. He is also the Fellow of prestigious organizations such as Indian National Academy of Engineering, Aeronautical Society of India and Systems Society of India.
Sivan is a self-made man. Even after having such a tough life, he is an extremely humble and down-to-earth man. He very well knows the importance of hard work and dedication, which indeed helped him get into all the prestigious colleges and he aced in all subjects without any coaching or tuition.
He has significantly contributed to the development of cryogenic engines and launch vehicles for the Indian Space Program, and worked diligently on the planning, design, integration, and analysis of missions. He is also the former director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center and Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre. A total workaholic that he is, he has put so many hours into his work that he is also fondly called as ‘India’s Sleepless Scientist’ by many.
Recently, under his guidance and leadership, ISRO was able to successfully execute the Chandrayaan-2 mission which is India’s second Lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1.
One very curious thing about him is that he isn’t much of a talker and generally prefers to occupy himself with work. But he does know how to interact with the masses! We all saw when he visited the spectators’ gallery before the launch of Chandrayaan-2 and assured everyone that the rocket would fly that day.
He also thanked all the people who worked day and night to make the Chandrayaan-2 mission possible- engineers, supporting staff, technicians etc. who worked in the background, but contributed their absolute best to India’s space program. All this shows how generous and grounded our Rocket Man is! The way he broke down into tears when the Vikram Lander lost contact was indeed very moving for everyone. It portrayed how attached and dedicated he was to his work and success of the entire mission.
In his bright career, he has achieved lots of honors and awards which include Dr Vikram Sarabhai Research Award in 1999, Doctor of Science from Sathyabama University, Chennai in 2014 and Tamil Nadu Government’s Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Award in 2019.
His family, schoolmates, and children of his district speak of him with immense pride and happiness. He has become a role model for kids today, so much so that when kids are asked what do they want to be when they grow up, they say, “We want to be like Sivan Sir.”. One of his schoolmates, Madankumar, recollects with immense joy and admiration- “When Sivan was in the fifth standard, I was in the first standard. He was always first and got 100 on 100. He is a role model for all. He is a man of our soil.”
Dr. K. Sivan has also co-authored a book called, ‘Integrated Design for Space Transformation’ that has inspired and enlightened a lot of space enthusiasts in the country. He deeply and firmly believes that India’s future in space technology is going to be a great one. The speciality about it is that we are focused on low cost launches and missions.
His aim is to bring development in space research, but mind you, he is not limited only to this field. He had also discussed with the medical fraternity for the development of medical devices in India. The proposals for the development of a microprocessor-controlled artificial limb and artificial heart pump which is being called as ‘Left Ventricle Assist Device’ have been accepted and have been taken up for the development of a prototype.
Dr K. Sivan is a great inspiration for the country. At every point, he had to struggle to get whatever he wanted. He faced lots of failures and disappointments earlier in his life, but that only made him go on to shine brighter! He didn’t lose hope and kept going, which makes his life, a living testimonial of the fact that nothing is impossible if you have the will power to do something! We wish him more success in his life and hope that with him, India will definitely keep climbing new heights of achievement.
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