New Delhi: The chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation G Madhavan Nair and his team of scientists instrumental in putting Chandrayaan into space collectively won the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2008 award at a glittering ceremony in the Capital on Monday night.
The ISRO team made the country proud earlier in 2008 by sending India’s first unmanned mission to moon. The same team also won the award in Public Service Category.
The other winners included Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (Indian of the Year, politics), actor Aamir Khan (IOTY- Cinema), HDFC’s Aditya Puri (IOTY-Business), Olympics gold medalist Abhinav Bindra (IOTY- Sports).
The other winners included actor Dilip Kumar who was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award by southern superstar Mohanlal and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who was given the Special Achievement Award for winning the third consecutive election in Delhi.
A special award for Extraordinary Service to the Nation was also conferred on Constable Tukaram Omble, the man who caught Kasab on 26/11, and the Mumbai Police for their extraordinary bravery during the terror strikes.
Nair thanked the Indian scientific community for the award. “Wow! I have received many moments of honour but this is overwhelming. I am overwhelmed by this award and proud to be a representative of the Indian science community. Thank you all. With Chandrayaan, we've shown to the world that we don't need to piggyback on the UK and the US,” he said.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who presented the awards, too took questions from the guests.
Asked about his status now since he is discharging the duties of the prime minister, the senior Congress leader quipped: "Simply I am discharging duties, neither I am officiating nor acting, neither de-jure nor de-facto."
"Under the Constitution of the country, there can be only one prime minister but he can delegate some responsibility to his colleagues and I am doing exactly that."
Meet Team Chandrayaan
The night of November 14, 2008 marked a turning point in Indian space history. As the Moon Impact Probe broke free from mother spacecraft Chandrayaan and landed on the moon, India was catapulted into becoming only the fifth nation that has sent missions to the moon.
And making this dream a reality was ISRO Chairman Madhavan Nair and his team of scientists who worked relentlessly over the past four years to make India's moon mission possible.
The hard work put in by Madhavan Nair and his team did not go unnoticed by the CNN-IBN jury. Jury Member and Hindustan Times Vice-Chairperson and Editorial Director Shobhana Bhartia said, “He has done us proud, it was one category where there was complete unanimity as to who should be the winner.”
But for now, just the thought of the Tricolour on the moon, is enough for a nation of one billion to know that the sky is really not the limit.