Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pa's book


My father has published a book, the cover of which is shown above. What is the book about? To paraphrase - the book is not about the science and technology of rockets, nor is it a history of rocket science in India. Rather, it is an exposition of the thought processes and work practices that have made the Indian space effort a success.

Nevertheless, detail is necessary and is presented, because otherwise it would be too "hand-wavy".

Despite all the hype, India is and will remain constrained in resources for R&D for the foreseeable future. Moreover, as noted here by Sunil

From an Indian perspective though, it’s not only the money that needs to increase. The money is very, very important. But, to use a hackneyed scientific phrase, the money is necessary but not sufficient. There is a cultural shift that’s needed to change “mindsets” and re-energize research. There remains a institutional/systemic roadblock to innovation and research in India.,,,

The book says that the Indian Space Research Organization has worked its way around most of those roadblocks, and the message is that this success can be repeated if the lessons learned are taken to heart.


Rajan P. Parrikar said...

Congratulations to your father on this work!

On a related topic - how is it that a country like Brazil has developed the expertise and capabilities in building commercial jetliners (their Embraer line is now taking some market share away from Boeing 737s, not a small achievement) while we haven't? I mean this to be a serious question, not a rhetorical knock-down of Indian efforts.

s c r a p s s t u f f s said...

To the poster above: Brazil was and is far less constrained than India in terms of being able to access technology which is helpful for its efforts, technology that isn't easily available to India because its considered dual-use. Also Brazil showed foresight in identifying a niche area in aerotech (at that time) and investing money in that area. India decided to focus on the military domain rather than civilian and therefore we are ahead in this area than Brazil.

Arun, congratulations to your father on getting this book out. I'm going to add this to my read list as I'm particularly interested in knowing why the ISRO has managed to get hold of and retain talent, just like DAE has managed to (DRDO in stark contrast hasn't quite done this). Does your father's book shed some light on this aspect?

Perpetual Outsider said...

Congratulations to your dad. How long did he take to write the book?

Arun said...

Thanks for the congratulations! My father reads this page, so he'll get them.

Rajan, I don't know why India doesn't have a strong civilian aircraft industry, and can only speculate. I'll note that the SLV and ASLV are not practically useful rockets, but were necessary stepping stones in gaining competence. I wonder if Indian aircraft designers produced functional but practically useless aircraft on their way to mastery of design.

Scrapsstuffs, yes, how the organization delegates authority, communicates its goals from the top down, and accepts feedback from the bottom up; and pays attention to the careers and professional growth of its members are important and touched on in the book.

Perpetual Outsider, it was months and months of work.

Interested Observer said...


Any idea where I can get the book from? (You should know):-)

I would also contest the observation (as given by scrapstuff) and commonly held by many that DRDO has not achieved as much as ISRO has. The fact is that ISROs achievements are internal, they are decided by it, and it doesnt have three pernickety customers riding on its back. Furthermore, DRDO straddles such wide swathes of science and has to excel in each- by itself an almost herculean and impossible proposition. Lastly, DRDOs mandate is to indigenize and it has done so to a high degree, but again growing it has taken a huge amount of time- in contrast, it would be honest to say that the bulk of ISROs newer sats are still imported.

All in all, its interesting to see the popular perception, but such comparisons are in the end, useless. There is no doubt that ISRO has benefited from its narrower focus, which has allowed it to deliver on its core ideas, but at the same time, it has not had to face the issues DRDO has.

DAE is another issue altogether- butlets end the diversion here!