Who is Dr K Sivan? From no slippers and trousers to wear in school to reaching for the moon


The Hush Post| 6:38 pm|one-minute-read|

Dr K Sivan’s life has been a life full of hardship and luck remaining elusive to him throughout life. And when the Chandrayaan-2’s lander Vikram lost touch with ISRO, life was playing the same trick with him.

Born to a farmer in Tarakkanvillai village in Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, Sivan studied in a local government school. More recently, he was known for his contribution in the development of cryogenic engines.

Sivan’s is a rollercoaster story. Son of a farmer, he didn’t get to wear slippers to school and it was only in the college days that he wore slippers.

His commitment to the Chandrayaan 2 mission was visible when he couldn’t stop his tears in a highly emotional hug that he and the PM Narendra Modi shared today.

According to a report, Dr Sivan used to wear dhotis for school. Sivan says, luck was always elusive with him. “I wasn’t bothered about what I didn’t get. I excelled in whatever I was given to do,” he said.

“A very interesting life we had back then in my village. Apart from school, we had to work in agricultural farms. My father was a farmer. He was also into the mango business during blooming season. We would go to mango orchard and help my father during holidays. When I was there, my father would not hire a labourer,” Dr Sivan said.

In an interview to NDTV, he said that usually, people have different criteria for selecting their colleges. “But my father’s criteria were that my college should be near my house so that I can help him in the orchard after returning from the college. We had a hand-to-mouth kind of condition,” he said.

“I started wearing sandals only when I started studying in the Madras Institute of Technology. Till then, we used to walk barefoot. We also didn’t have any trousers, we were always in dhoti,” Dr Sivan remembers with a smile.

Despite the hardships he had to endure in his early life, Dr Sivan is grateful that his parents provided three full meals a day. “We were not that bad. Our parents were able to provide three meals a day with full stomach,” he said.

Talking about his higher studies, Dr Sivan said he had to pursue Bachelor of Science as his father was unable to fund his Engineering course.

“I wanted to go for engineering but my father said the course was very expensive and that you should do BSc (Bachelor of Science). I resisted. In fact I fasted for a week to change my father’s mind. Finally, I had to change my mind,” he said.

“Then I did my BSc Mathematics. After doing that, my father said ‘once I stopped you from doing what you wanted, but I will not stop you this time. I will sell my land to fund your Engineering course’,” he said.

“After doing my BTech, I had to struggle for a job as at that time there were very limited jobs in aeronautical engineering. There was scope only in HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and NAL (National Aeronautics Limited). I didn’t get the job, so I went for further studies at IISc,” he added.

Dr Sivan says during his entire career, he never got what he wanted, but he excelled in whatever job was given to him.

“I wanted to join the satellite centre but I got the Vikram Sarabhai Centre. There also I wanted to join the aerodynamics group but I ended up joining the PSLV project. Everywhere, I didn’t get what I wanted,” he said.

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