Dr K. Sivan© HelloIndia

HELLO! 100 Most Influential: Dr. K. Sivan

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Vishwaveer Singh

Why he matters: The former chairman of ISRO has been an instrumental force behind the growth and evolution of India’s space programme. Having mastered the art of launching satellites at a fraction of the cost of our Western counterparts, Dr. Sivan became the face of the organisation, steering it through its most dynamic phase. In many ways, he ushered India into a very select club, taking us to the Moon and beyond.

In recent memory, Dr. K. Sivan is best known for the Chandrayaan-2 mission, undertaken by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to land a rover on the Moon’s surface. While the mission failed to deliver its payload successfully, many lauded the efforts of the space scientist and ISRO for doing what no one thought would ever be possible.

In technical terms, 95 per cent of the mission went as planned, and the leaps and bounds made by the organisation were justified. But to Dr. Sivan, anything less than pure perfection was seen as a letdown, making the man tear up in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who consoled him affectionately, an image that resonated with Indians en masse, and proclaimed that we stood by our brothers and sisters at the agency and backed them for their future endeavours.

Fast forward to today, and Dr. Sivan has retired from his chairmanship at ISRO, making way for S. Somanath, his contemporary from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. Dr. Sivan oversaw the preparations for the most recent Chandrayaan-3 lunar mission, which has gone as planned till now, in many ways redeeming his efforts and earning him the moniker of ‘India’s Rocket Man.’

A crowning achievement for a mango farmer’s son, who used to once walk to school barefoot. Learning space technology and rocket propulsion, and growing under the tutelage of ISRO’s founding stalwarts, he has today made the agency the envy of the world’s space community.

To see who else is on the list, grab the copy of HELLO! India’s August 2023 issue right here!