Patriot Nasa boy turns hero
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- Published 7.10.14
Thiruvananthapuram, Oct. 6: A young Nasa researcher from Kerala whose patriotic stand had prompted the US space agency to relax a citizenship rule was surprised to find himself the toast of New Delhi during a visit last month.
Arun P.V. even received an invite to the Prime Minister’s home after Narendra Modi learnt how the 26-year-old from Kottayam had declined to give up his Indian citizenship when Nasa offered him a job in January last year.
Arun’s Nasa assignment required him to accept American citizenship at a later date. Since that would have meant losing his Indian nationality, Arun declined.
True to its professionalism, Nasa realised his worth, acknowledged his concerns and took him on board without pressing the citizenship clause. It could not be confirmed whether Nasa had made a similar concession for anyone else before.
A Kerala daily had at the time reported the matter without the news creating much excitement. But things got moving when Arun arrived in Delhi last month as part of a US team of scientists to discuss cooperation in the use of space technology for the benefit of ordinary citizens.
A senior colleague in the delegation — which included scientists from Nasa, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the United Nations Development Programme — mentioned the story to home minister Rajnath Singh during a meeting. When Modi heard it from Rajnath, he invited Arun to a private meeting.
Officials said the meeting, held in the first week of September, lasted nearly 30 minutes, the discussions ranging from recent developments in science and technology to India’s Mars Orbiter Mission.
Modi is learnt to have told Arun that the doors of the country’s space research establishments would always be open for him.
Sources in Arun’s family told The Telegraph that the young man had been thrilled at the Prime Minister meeting him personally.
Although a Nasa employee, Arun is now doing a research project on artificial intelligence at MIT.
He graduated in mechanical engineering in Kottayam before doing his MTech at the National Institute of Technology in Bhopal.
His work on artificial intelligence at the Bhopal institute drew attention and eventually earned him his Nasa job.