Failures never deterred Prof U R Rao, colleagues recall visionary's dreams
A visionary who dreamt of a sound satellite technology for India and worked towards realising it, a leader who had the conviction to drive himself and others to achieve, a scientist whose quest for knowledge knew no bounds. Colleagues recall how Prof Udupi Ramachandra Rao was an inspiration throughout his lifetime.
For someone who has known Prof Rao for 55 years, R Aravamudan, Director (Retd) ISRO Satellite Centre is still amazed by his persistence. "He was highly dedicated and a hard working scientist. He never bothered about the time of the day. He worked 24/7 if needed and made his colleagues also work that much," he said.
Prof Aravamudan met Prof Rao when the latter joined ISRO as an atmospheric scientist. At that time, Prof Rao was trying payload experiments on sounding rockets. From being a scientist Prof U R Rao took on the job of setting up satellite technology centres in ISRO. It was his task to set up labs for satellites. Prof Aravamudan recalls how when Prof Rao took over as chairman, he developed all aspects of space technology. His love for ISRO and science was so immense that even after retiring, he continued to be a visiting scientist at ISRO headquarters.
A full-time scientist who never let failure deter him
Every person who worked with Prof Rao speaks of his hard work and dedication but never let failure derail his dreams. "During the initial days, we faced many failures like SLV and ASLV but he never got deterred. He encouraged people to go back, find out what went wrong, correct them, set things right. start over and then succeed," said Prof Aravamudan. This, according to him, became the foundation of Indian PSLV's dream run. "We have had 37 PSLV launches and all of them are a success. It is a world record and no other country has this kind of an unblemished record," he added.
Prof U R Rao, a man who dreamt and did not stop at that
While many men dream, few men work towards realising it. Prof Rao believed in dreaming but what he believed in more was working towards realising that dream. "Prof Rao dreamt of India having a satellite program and a satellite centre. He didn't just dream but worked for it and worked very hard. He dreamt of it at a time when we had nothing, not even a launch vehicle," said Dr P G Goel, Hon Distinguished Professor at ISRO HQ, a colleague of Prof Rao.
Dr Goel, speaking to Oneindia said that there ought to be a book on Prof Rao and casual conversations simply did not do any justice to him, his contributions or memory. "India is very strong when it comes to satellite technology and it is all because of Rao's dream and hard work. He is the only person in India who as a scientist and leader, created many leaders. There have been many leaders but Rao created leaders so there is no vacuum, there is no dearth of leadership even after he is gone," Dr Goel added.
Prof Rao was a man of science but he also took a keen interest in Economics. "He was fast in learning new things. He grasped technology, rockets, application, atomic energy, everything in a flash. He was multifaceted," said Dr Goel.
Colleagues recall how, almost till his last days, Prof Rao continued to visit the ISRO and had a dedicated room where he would research, read scientific papers and hold discussions.
"He was a full-time scientist. He retired in '94 but he wouldn't sit at home. In fact, we had reserved a room for him in the headquarters. He would be there before any one else. He would walk in at 8.30 every morning and read up scientific papers, research. He would go home only by 5 PM. His mind was always on Science," said Prof Aravamudan