Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Jaane Kahan Gaye Wo Log

Public memory is quite infamous for being very short. You can't really blame the common men, they already have their business to mind. This post is about those people who shot off to fame few years back. Their descent was also almost as fast as their rise in the public attention. Now that their names are off the public memory, my curiosity got better of me and I did little research about their current whereabouts. I've managed to cover very few of such people; Please feel free to suggest more names (I've loadsa free time nowadays ;-)).

I've used Google extensively for the research work and have picked up content, rather shamelessly, at times, all because the motive was to spread awareness not to display my mediocre writing skills.

Rakesh Sharma
(Only Indian to go to space)
"Saare jahan se accha, Hindustan hamara" - The second most popular utterance of these famous words of Iqbal was done from outer space, by Rakesh Sharma. Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma (later retired as Wing Commander) was the first Indian (We've had only Kalapna Chawla after him. She was American citizen though) to go into space. In 1984 he became the first citizen of India to go into space when he flew aboard the Russian rocket Soyuz T-11. During the flight, Squadron Leader Sharma conducted multi-spectral photography of northern India in anticipation of the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Himalayas. Sqn Ldr Rakesh Sharma was awarded the Ashoka Chakra, for the successful completion of the Space Mission. As were his Russian companions Malyshev and Strekalov. This is the first and the only time, the Ashoka Chakra was awarded to foreigners.

Retired with the rank of Wing Commander, Rakesh Sharma joined Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) as a test pilot. He was based at the Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) in Bangalore and worked on the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft program. Current status - Retired. Sadly, the website of ISRO doesn't provide much details about his historic flight or his whereabouts!

Links: 1, 2.
Rajeev Goswami
(The poster boy of anti-Mandal agitation, 1990)
His burning body on the cover of India Today became the emblem of the student agitation against the Mandal commission report during '90. He started the series of self-immolation incidents all over India in protest of V.P.Singh's decision to implement reservation. Goswami himself never got a government job despite no hike in reservation due to agitation.

Many uncharitable stories were floated by Mandalites regarding Goswami's motivation. It was claimed he had been paid heavily and his family assured a life of luxury in case he succumbed to his burns. Apparently, the dirty tricks department of the Congress was out to avenge V P Singh's humiliation of Rajiv Gandhi and no money was to be spared to bring the government to its knees. Others asserted Goswami was intoxicated beyond any self-control and prodded by some people to attempt an entry into history books. Yet others said his self-immolation bid had little to do with Mandal and more to do with intra-college gang rivalry. None of this, however, washed with youngsters across the country who seemed to have been electrified by his symbolic sacrificial act.

V P Singh was reported to have instructed the Safdarjang Hospital authorities not to let him die under any circumstances. The few brief reports that have appeared after Goswami's death suggest that the overdose of medicines administered to ensure his life in 1989 took its toll over the years as his liver and kidneys were damaged beyond repair.

The outburst against the Mandal order marked the revolt of a new generation that demanded opportunities; they demanded an environment in which they could pursue their aspirations. Looking back, Rajeev Goswami's attempted suicide can be said to have been a turning point in contemporary Indian history. It marked the cusp between old politics and the new.

He died, rather low profile death, in Delhi in February 2004 after a prolonged illness at the age of 33. Doctors attributed his death to failure of his liver and kidneys. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Links: 1, 2, 3.
Tathagat Tulsi
(Youngest Post-Graduate, Guinness Book World Record Holder)
This boy from Patna was making headlines in various newspapers across the nation during the late 90's. Tathagat can boast of being the youngest post-graduate in the world! But the path to this success wasn't an easy one. He had to move to the Supreme Court to get special permission to appear in class 10th exams at the age of 9 years. He completed B.Sc. Physics Honors at the age of 10 years & 6 months! He finished his master's degree in Physics in 1999 at the age of 12 years. India Government sent him to Nobel Prize winners' meeting held in Germany during Jun.25-29, 2001.

Events took a depressing turn here. He was suspected to be a fake by media. He was labeled as "the programmed genius" by media. But soon after this controversy, he silenced his critics by snatching an admission at IISc Bangalore in their coveted doctoral program, at the age of 15! Now, he is a senior Research Fellow at IISc (his webpage).


Jeet said...

What to say.. thnx for your post.
Another observation one can make is abou reservation scene, it is worse than ever specially in Rajasthan. Ashok Gehlot government made it worse..

Vivek Kumar said...

Cool post!

I remember I wanted to make a similar post long time back.. and Rakesh Sharma was on my list too.. but somehow the idea got lost.. I think I wanted to make it 5 people, but couldn't decide on the names..

And don't recall much now :(

Varun Singh said...

@jeet:- reservation is just another tool to capture votes now. I rem when Jats finally got reservation as OBC by armtwisting and lobbying, the reserved seats came up to 51% in Rajasthan and the cut-off marks for general category were lower than that of OBC seats!

@vikku:- I also wanted to write about more such people. Could think of this many only. Perhaps Jaspal Rana would've fitted the bill. Rem, how hyped he got during his peak days?

Anonymous said...

Rakesh Sharma is CTO of Automated Workflow, company in Bangalore.