Meet K Sivan, a humble farmer’s son who rose to ISRO top job

Kailasavadivoo Sivan, who is set to take over as the chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, had a humble beginning. His father was a farmer and he is the first graduate in the family.

science Updated: Jan 12, 2018 11:36 IST
HT Correspondent and  Agencies
HT Correspondent and Agencies
Hindustan Times, New Delhi/Chennai
K Sivan,Isro,Isro chairman
Kailasavadivoo Sivan is set to take over as the new ISRO chief.(HT file photo)

A humble son of a farmer who studied in a local government schools in Tamil medium at Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu is set to take over as the head ofIndia’s premier Space agency ISRO.

Kailasavadivoo Sivan, a native of Tarakkanvilai in Kanyakumari district, is the first graduate in the family..

“Sivan hails from a very ordinary family. His father was a farmer. He is the first graduate in the family”, his uncle A Shunmugavel said.

Recalling Sivan’s student days, Shunmugavel said that the rocket expert was “self-made, studious and hard working. He never went to any tuition or coaching classes.”

He studied in government schools in Tarakkanvilai and at neighbouring Valangumaravilai in Tamil medium. Later, he graduated from ST Hindu College in Nagercoil, he said.

“The entire village is happy. The school where he studied held a function and distributed sweets.”

On his elevation, Sivan said: “This is a rare opportunity. This is a post held by legendary people, I accept this with humility.”

“The organisation has been led by legendary leaders like Vikram Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan, U.R. Rao. It is a major responsibility,” Sivan said. “Our current chairperson, AS Kiran Kumar, has put it on a big track, I would like to take the work forward,” he added

Expressing happiness, he recalled the efforts of his seniors and work by juniors in space initiatives (for organisational and nation’s growth) and said the government also “believed in me.”

Asked if he expected the elevation, he said “I did not expect it.”

K Sivan, currently the director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Kerala, is an alumni of the Madras Institute of Technology where he studied aeronautical engineering. Sivan joined ISRO in 1982 in the PSLV project.

Sivan, who succeeds incumbent A S Kiran Kumar for a three-year term, has numerous publications in various journals and is a fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, Aeronautical Society of India and Systems Society of India.

He has received various awards throughout his career, including Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Sathyabama University, Chennai in April 2014 and Shri Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr Vikram Sarabhai Research award for 1999.

The Appointments Committee of the Union Cabinet yesterday approved Sivan’s appointment as Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman of Space Commission for a three-year tenure.

First Published: Jan 12, 2018 11:35 IST