Cry beloved motherland, for Parthasarathy Sudarshan

via published on July 15, 2008



R Vaidyanathan

Not many would have heard of Parthasarathy Sudarshan, an engineering graduate from REC Trichy and a scientist from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd who is rotting in the jail in USA. He has been sentenced with a 30-month prison term for helping our scientific research.

The crime? Sudarshan tried to facilitate supplies of spares and components to our important scientific organisations from entities in the USA. The organisations in question include Trivandrum-based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), a unit of the department of space, Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), which is under the ministry of defence, and Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), which is under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The indictment says the goal of the exports made by Sudarshan was to “to supply government of India enterprises on the entity list with critical electronic components needed in the production of missiles and missile launch vehicles.”

Parthasarathy Sudarshan was the managing director of Cirrus Electronics, which has offices in Bangalore, Singapore and South Carolina.

Among the “critical” items his company supplied were i960 Intel microprocessors, for use in Tejas aircraft. However, these microprocessors were not of much significance even for Intel – the company had disbanded its team and redeployed the people to work on P6 Pentium. Surely, Sudarshan wasn’t trying to start the World War III in the backyards of Nevada or Utah.

In fact, when the case was “burst,” Sudarshan wasn’t even in the USA. Initially, other employees of the company, such as Mythili Gopal were arraigned. But, Sudarshan went to USA from Singapore and was man enough to face the stupid charges leveled by the US authorities.

Contrast this with the treatment given to the Frankenstein called A Q Khan of Pakistan. His wholesale and retail trade of nuclear secrets and nuclear weapons are well-documented. But he cannot even be questioned by Uncle Sam. He is in a guest house and periodically taken to seaside resorts to enjoy nature. He has single-handedly spread the nuclear weapons and if there is a nuclear attack in the USA by the terrorists, one can safely assume that the steps initiated by Khan have borne fruit.

The so-called infringement of local laws by Cirrus pales in comparison with the gigantic global terror network spewed by Khan. But then, Khan is a citizen of Pakistan. The main crime of Sudarshan is perhaps that he is a citizen of India and was trying to facilitate Indian research efforts.

Sudarshan himself tells others involved in the case that “our intention is not to make profit on this order but to service VSSC.”

Yet, he has been made a fall guy by our insensitive establishment, which behaves like a subordinate when it comes to dealing with the West. If Sudarshan had belonged to Israel, the whole ball game would have been different. The entire country as one man would have demanded his release.

India should have categorically told USA that any movement on any issue — be it Kyoto protocol or WTO in Doha, or the nuclear deal — it cannot move an inch unless and until our Sudarshans are released and sent back to India immediately. How the USA does it is their concern. It can be a presidential pardon or an escape due to oversight at the prison or any other method.

We also do not know how many other such patriots are rotting in that wretched country for the crime of helping their motherland.

Our English-language newspapers have briefly reported it and also made it appear that he is wrong (as if these papers are published from Washington and edited by whites). Neither the newspapers nor our TV channels found it fit to cover this story of sacrifice and suffering by an Indian. There is no vigil for him. He is suffering in jail unwept and uncared for by an ungrateful nation.

Our netas are shameless and know nothing about the Sudarshans. Our middle class is totally addicted to reality shows and saas-bahu serials that do not know that scientists are rotting in jail for trying to serve our motherland. They even do not worry about our valiant officers getting murdered in Kashmir.

The Parliament is meeting soon to discuss the nuclear bill. I hope some Member of Parliament —— who is concerned about the sacrifices of people like Sudarshan — will raise this issue on a priority basis. I am hoping such members do exist, whose interests transcend the deal-within-deals in these days of murky politics and rampant greed.

Unless and until we stand by those taking risks and sacrificing themselves for the country, we cannot walk with our heads held high in the comity of nations. We need to assert and bully all these declining powers and tell them that for us, our national interest is more important than any negotiation. Till the last scientist is released from the prisons of the USA, we should not allow our Parliament to function. Anybody listening?

The writer is professor of finance, Indian Institute of Management –
Bangalore, and can be reached at

[email protected]


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