In a surprise move, the government has appointed Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the earth sciences minstry, as ad-hoc chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The appointment is only for a month, after which a new chairman may be brought in. K Radhakrishnan, who was given an extension earlier this year, retired on Wednesday. Nayak, 61, a geologist from MS University, Baroda, had a stint in ISRO till 2000. Earlier, he was the director of Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad.
Nayak's appointment indicates that either the search panel couldn't find a person or the government didn't go by the recommendation. As ISRO enters a crucial phase of manned missions and interplanetary exploration, it needs a strong person at the helm, preferably someone who can straddle both rocket science and administrative skills. In the light of this, it seems to be an ad hoc measure to kep the ISRO show running.