Nambi Narayanan Biography, Wiki, Family, and More | Dr. Nambi Narayanan Case [ISRO Scientist]

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Who is Dr. Nambi Narayanan?

S. Nambi Narayanan is an Indian scientist and an aerospace engineer who was born on 12 December 1941. He was instrumental in developing the Vikas engine that would be used for the first PSLV that India launched. He had been awarded with the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian award by the Government of India. 

Nick NameRocket Man, Nambi
FieldWorked on Cryogenic Technology
Popular ForIntroducing liquid fuel rocket technology in India
Language KnownKannada, Hindi, English
Date Of Birth12 December 1941
Age79 Years
BirthplaceNagercoil, Kanyakumari, Karnataka
HometownTirukurungudi, Tirunelveli, Karnataka
CasteTamil Brahman
Zodiac Sign/Star SignSagittarius

Early Life And Education

S. Nambi Narayanan was born into a middle-class family on 12 December 1941 in Nagercoil, Travancore, which is in present-day Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu, where he also completed his schooling at DVD Higher Secondary School. His family traces its roots to Tirukurungudi village in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu. He completed his early schooling with another ace scientist of ISRO Y. S. Rajan.

Doctorate QualificationMaster’s degree in Chemical Rocket Propulsion
College NamePrinceton University, New Jersey
Post Graduation QualificationM Tech
College NameMadras University
Educational QualificationB Tech in Mechanical Engineering
College NameThiagarajar College of Engineering, Madras
High School NameDVD Higher Secondary School

Nambi Narayanan Physical Status

HeightIn Centimeter: 170 cmIn Meter: 1.70 mIn Feet: 5′6” feet
Weight in kilogram76 kg
Weight in pounds167 lbs
Body MeasurementNot Known
Eye ColourBrownish
Hair ColourWhite


  • Ready To Fire: How India and I Survived the ISRO Spy Case by Nambi Narayanan, Arun Ram; Bloomsbury India, 2018.

Nambi Narayanan Latest News

Espionage charges

In 1994, Narayanan was charged with leaking vital defence secrets to two alleged Maldivian intelligence officers, Mariam Rasheeda and Fauzia Hassan. Defense officials said the secrets pertained to highly confidential “flight test data” from experiments with rocket and satellite launches. Narayanan was among two scientists (the other being D. Sasikumaran) that were accused of selling the secrets for millions. However, his house seemed nothing out of the ordinary and did not show signs of the corrupt gains he was accused of.

Narayanan was arrested and spent 50 days in jail. He claims that officials from the Intelligence Bureau, who were the ones to interrogate him, wanted him to make false accusations against the top brass of ISRO. He alleges that two IB officials had asked him to implicate A. E. Muthunayagam, his boss and then Director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC). When he refused to comply, he was tortured until he collapsed and was hospitalised. He says his main complaint against ISRO is that it did not support him. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, who was ISRO chairman at the time stated that ISRO could not interfere in a legal matter.

In May 1996, the charges were dismissed as phony by the CBI. They were also dismissed by the Supreme Court in April 1998. In September 1999, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) passed strictures against the government of Kerala for having damaged Narayanan’s distinguished career in space research along with the physical and mental torture to which he and his family were subjected. After the dismissal of charges against them, the two scientists, Sasikumar and Narayanan were transferred out of Thiruvananthapuram and were given desk jobs.

In 2001, the NHRC ordered the government of Kerala to pay him a compensation of ₹ 1 crore. He retired in 2001. The Kerala High Court ordered a compensation amount of Rs 10 lakhs to be paid to Nambi Narayanan based on an appeal from NHRC India in September 2012.

On 3 October 2012, The Hindu reported that the government of Kerala had dropped charges against the police officials who were alleged to have falsely implicated Narayanan in the espionage case on the grounds that over 15 years had passed since the case was initiated. The top officer involved in the case, Siby Mathews, was later appointed Chief Information Commissioner in Kerala (2011 – 2016).

It was reported on 8 November 2012 that the government of Kerala had not complied with the Kerala High Court order to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakhs.

The ISRO Spy case

in October 1994, Kerala police in Thiruvananthapuram had registered a case against Mariam Rasheeda, a Maldivian national, under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act 1946 and Section 7 of the Foreigners Order, 1948.

The initial charges against her were of overstaying in India following the cancellation of her flight to Maldives. Following her interrogation, the police made out a case that she had contacted ISRO space scientists who were suspected of having transferred cryogenic engine technology to Pakistan through her. And the following month, the police arrested Narayanan and another ISRO scientist, D. Sasikumaran.

The police case was that Narayanan and Sasikumaran had passed on secret documents to other countries, especially Pakistan. The arrested scientists were grilled by Intelligence Bureau sleuths, including Gujarat-cadre IPS officer R B Sreekumar, who was then IB additional director in Kerala.

Within 20 days of the case being registered, the probe was handed over to the CBI. In 1996, it submitted its closure report in the chief judicial magistrate’s court in Kochi, saying that the allegations of espionage were unproven and false. The court admitted the closure report, leading to the discharge of all those who had been implicated.

In 1996, CPI (M) led government tried to reinvestigate the case, which was later quashed by the Supreme court on the scientists’ appeal.

Some Interesting Fact About Nambi Narayanan:

  • Nambi Narayanan was born on 12 December 1941 in Nagercoil village in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu.
  • His full name was S. Nambi Narayanan.
  • He was born into a very middle-class family.
  • He has also been a classmate of YS Rajan, another scientist from ISRO during his early education.
  • Narayanan did his B Tech in Mechanical Engineering from Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madras.
  • Nambi first met ISRO Chairman Sarabhai at the Thumba rocket launching station.
  • Sarabhai was very impressed by Narayanan, so he recruited him at ISRO.
  • Narayanan then worked with another scientist YS Rajan as a payload integrator.
  • He also received a fellowship from NASA in 1969.
  • Later he completed a Master’s degree in Chemical Rocket Propulsion from Princeton University, New Jersey.
  • Narayan introduced liquid fuel rocket technology in India.
Nambi Narayanan with Russian Scientist
Nambi Narayanan with Russian Scientist
  • In 1994, Narayanan was arrested on false charges of espionage and his illustrious career was ruined.
Nambi Narayanan during arrest
Nambi Narayanan during arrest
  • Narayanan was imprisoned for 50 days after his arrest where he was tortured and harassed by the police.
  • Later in the year 1996, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) dismissed all allegations leveled against them as false.
  • In 1998, the Supreme Court of India dismissed all the allegations against him as false and also acquitted him of the case.
  • In 2001, the NHRC ordered the Kerala government to pay a compensation of ₹1 crore to Nambi.
  • In September 2012, based on an appeal by NHRC India, the Kerala High Court ordered to Kerala Government to pay a compensation of ₹10 Lakh to Nambi Narayanan.
  • On 7 November 2013, seeking justice in the court against those who had conspired to be falsely implicated in this false case.
  • After this, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DK Jain also asked the Kerala government to pay a compensation of ₹50 lakhs to the Narayanan for this battle fought for his mental cruelty and his honor for years.
  • Sri Narayanan had fought a legal battle for many years in various legal forums for his honor and justice, for which the Kerala government decided to give him ₹1.3 crores as compensation.
  • In October 2018, film actor R Madhavan announced the making of a biographical film Rocketry: The Nambi Effect on Sri Narayanan.
  • At the event of the trailer launching of his biographical film Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, Narayanan and R Madhavan meet Prime Minister Modi and they share some video clips with PM Narendra Modi. After that Pm Modi got emotional and tweeted 

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