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Science has no gender. Knowledge matters: Dr. Tessy Thomas

While women scientists and engineers have been contributing to every project of ISRO, men and women, boys and girls have played equal roles. It was a team effort. Chandrayaan-3’s success was the culmination of the teamwork of men and women said Dr Kalpana Kalahasthi, the engineer who put India on the moon, while addressing 150 plus FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) members at a session called ‘Stellar Journeys’, held at the Park, Rajbhavan Road on Friday 


Dr. Tessy Thomas added, ‘When I joined DRDO several years ago, we just had 1 or 2% women working with it. Now things have changed. We have 12 to 15% women. Women are now leading from the front. The system is slowly evolving. Science has no gender. What matters is knowledge, talent, capability, your positive attitude and your commitment, not gender. Either at ISRO or DRDO, we both men and women work together for a common objective. 


Both the most celebrated women space scientists were in Hyderabad on Friday at the invitation of FLO. They were in conversation with Ms. Priya Gazdar, Chairperson of FLO


Rough and tough, we learn by doing. Failures do not stop us. We rise well each time we fail at certain things. We try, fail, learn, unlearn, relearn and come back and our journey continues. Every scientist at ISRO is trained well to handle such situations, both the highly acclaimed brains of ISRO shared to the hall full of audience


Dr. Abdul Kalam, the most celebrated missile man, was our guru. What we learnt from him was ‘humbleness’. He inspired the whole scientific community, not just in our country, but across the world. He used to say, there is no problem if you fail first, but if you make the same mistake again, it is not acceptable. He taught us how to be goal-focused and to be goal-oriented. 


Answering the other question ‘How is it possible for India to build a moonlander in less than what it costs to make a medium-budget Hollywood film? Is it financial discipline, better resource mobilisation, or is it the famous Indian jugaad? ‘Ms Kalpana said being frugal is in our blood, for the matter of every Indian.  We knew what our objective was, and we knew what our resources and capabilities were. We had to do the best out of what we had and we did exactly that. 


When we build project reports we look for what needs to be done newly to improve the efficacy and efficiency of the project, Ms. Kalpana added. 


We were self-sufficient. Manpower was our asset, she added 


Answering a question about what prompted her to step into the world of missiles, which in the present context may not be so much a big deal today, but when you stepped into the world of missiles, it would have been a very unusual and daring choice.  Dr Tessy replied ‘it was my childhood dream. I was fascinated by the missile world. I used to run out of the house and watch the sky aeroplanes soaring high. 


 Launching a project in the hope of making it land smooth after travelling 4 lakh kilometres was a real challenge. It was orbiting with high velocity. It was orbiting at 1.6 km per second. We had to kill the speed and land smoothly on the surface of the moon so that the function of the devices would not be affected.   We built an intelligent lander.  The mission was the best example of resilience, Ms. Kalpana said.


Replying to another question on the colonisation of the moon she said, the smooth landing was the first step towards that.  Then we will reach it with human missions, land there, and establish a base, and then the question of space tourism or colonisation arises.  We are in the right direction to achieve just that.


Welcoming the gathering earlier, Priya Gazdar asked, "Who are our role models? These two women are a great inspiration to all of us.  Though we hear and read much about them, when we see them in person, flesh and blood we will have a lasting impression. 


Speaking further she said in a world that valorizes brute force and aggressive competition as we are witnessing currently, FLO and organisations like FLO, stand as harbingers of change.


What could be a better program as my term begins in FLO than these incredible women of ISRO addressing us?  They are the greatest source of inspiration for the entire India and the world.  


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