During a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan auditorium, the President said conferment of this award on Pillai is recognition for the outstanding work done by our space and defence research scientists. Mukherjee also congratulated the entire scientific community and ISRO in particular for the remarkable feat of having successfully executed the Mars Orbiter Mission in its very first attempt, a press release issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
"I, on my behalf and that of all our countrymen, pay tribute to the scientists and technical staff who have toiled tirelessly to create history," the President said. 67-year-old Pillai has been credited with development of critical missile technologies through realisation of 'Agni', 'Prithvi', 'Nag' and 'Akash' missiles.
Pillai, who is also a recipient of civilian honours Padma Shree in 2002 and Padma Bhushan in 2013, has worked as Chief Controller (Research and Development), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of 'BrahMos Aerospace', a joint venture between India and Russia.
"Pillai exhibited outstanding leadership qualities that helped India possess the fastest, most precise and potent cruise missile, BrahMos, which is now inducted in the Indian Armed Forces. His contribution to this venture has made him to be regarded as the 'Father of BrahMos'," reads the citation.
A recognised scientist, Pillai had graduated in Electrical Engineering from Madras University. He underwent management programme at Harvard Business School and obtained PhD from Pune University. He has worked with great visionary leaders like Dr Vikram Sarabhai, Prof Satish Dhawan and Dr A P J Abdul Kalam to contribute in country's major space research programme. Pillai has also contributed to the successful development of SLV3, India's first satellite launch vehicle, as a core team member and in the evolution of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) configuration for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
He has written many books including revolution in leadership, nano science and nano technology for engineering. The Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award honours each year an Indian, residing in India or abroad, who is an exceptionally outstanding and distinguished business leader, management practitioner, public administrator, educator or institution builder for his or her sustained individual contributions and achievements of high professional award and excellence. Pillai is recipient of the 15th Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award.