Book title: “Ready to fire”- How India & I survived the ISRO spy case

Author: Nambi Narayan & Arun Ram

Publisher: Bloomsbury 

Well, as its title suggests the book is all about a scientist, a conspiracy, a struggle for survival & freedom, an alleged sabotage act of India’s most ambitious rocket project & so on. Nambi Narayan, a former scientist with ISRO, India’s premier space program agency & Arun Ram a journalist takes the reader on a truthful journey of a deceit, crime & freedom.

As the author writes in his note This book is not just an account of the ISRO spy case in which I was an accused. The case that broke out in late 1994 as a potboiler of sex, spies & rocket science before dying down as a police misadventure that eventually led an international conspiracy, however, forms the fulcrum of this book”.It is an autobiographical account of Nambi Narayan- an experienced, highly qualified scientist in ISRO. The book deals with various aspects of the ISRO spy case & Nambi Narayan’s development as a scientist in the hierarchy of ISRO, his passion for PSLV, his immense liking for cryogenic fuel & his struggle for ‘Vikas’ his pet project.

Apart from a spy case, this book deals with our irresponsible, corrupt & politically motivated policing system. How political party’s manipulated nation’s premier space program agency for their political gains. Nambi & Ram open all these dirty games one by one in each chapter. Interestingly, it depicts Kerala’s leftist v/s congress power struggle in a very lucid way.

Though almost a 350 pages book makes reader tired for some time, overall, it’s an enriching reading experience for those who are interested in inner information of space science since it’s written by a scientist.

As the author Nambi Narayan suspects (& proves up to a certain extent) the entire ISRO spy case against him (being project director) & his ploy to derail India’s dream of a cryogenic fuel-based space program. Though conspirators failed in their game the nation paid a heavy price for it as the PSLV project delayed for 15 years of its stipulated time schedule.

As former chief election commissioner of India & former ISRO top bureaucrat T N Seshan rightly says in his forward “ Besides documenting his trials, Nambi elaborates in this book the evolution of ISRO from its inception to the present. ISRO is a great achiever with an envious success rate compared to other departments of the government of India. This book also throws light on some internal politics & inflated egos that stood in the way of India’s great leaps. Many of the anecdotes in this book are not known yet to the outside world. Some of them are interesting, even hilarious, some others are shocking”

In a nutshell, this book will definitely lead you to a new world where all the thrills & science saga will entertain you.

By Dr. Shirish Kashikar

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