Radha is a fascinating person. At a college cultural event, he shocked us by performing a kathakali dance. We thought it was quaint and a lark. Little did we know that he had trained as a kathakali dancer during his school days. He gave Carnatic music recitals at other events and to our untrained ears this too was a caper. He was later trained by a renowned artist and performed at Guruvayur Temple and leading music sabhas. At the pinnacle of his career, he was the Chairman of ISRO. Little wonder he is the pride of our batch from IIM Bangalore.
On the day of his superannuation, Radha drove down to the Press Club of Bangalore where the Chief Minister of Karnataka presented him the “Man of the Year” award. Then with grace and simplicity he spent the rest of the evening with his wife and close family members, proud of his past achievements but looking forward with anticipation for the dawn of a new phase in life.
Radha will never be the simple and affable student that we knew. But his humility, passion for classical music and dance and deep spiritualism remain untouched by fame.
He recollects visiting temples in Kerala, during his days in service, with the mandatory retinue of security guards and police vehicles and wishing for the day when he could stand in line with everyone else to purchase coupons for conducting rituals.
Deeply influenced by the Bhagavad Gita, Radha says that in the eighteen or twenty minutes during the launch of an important mission, he lives in the moment, unmindful of honours and accolades. He thinks only of the role he is ordained to perform to the best of his ability and experiences a state of bliss.
In his autobiography, “My Odyssey,” he says, “I feel happy and contented. Posterity might remember me as the Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) Man. But I would like to be remembered as a person who served the Indian space programme to the best of his ability.”
Post retirement, Radha has more time to practice and perform Carnatic music, besides being an eminent speaker and author. He is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of IIT Kanpur and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of IITs. He continues to serve in an advisory capacity at ISRO.
Radha is a wonderful example of riding on an illustrious past without yearning for the trappings of power and position.
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