BUSTING THE MYTH – Kalpana Chawla
Indian society from time immemorial has been restrictive and conservative towards women. Be it education or other essentials of life, women have been deprived of them mostly. This scenario has changed over time though. For a woman to choose a path in life and become successful, is a commendable achievement. One such epitome of achievements is KALPANA CHAWLA, born March 17, 1962. She was the first Indian lady astronaut and second Indian astronaut to go into space. While the famous cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma was the first to go in 1984. She not only had a strong will, determination but also magnificent achievements which led her to success.
Though Kalpana died in a disastrous accident which space shuttle Columbia met in 2003. But India will always remember her as a role model and will always be proud of.
DREAM BIG… DREAM UNINTERRUPTED…
Kalpana Chawla, the bold and furious lady soul was born in Karnal district of Haryana. Her parents were originally from Multan district of West Punjab (now Pakistan). They, later on, shifted to Punjab after partition. Her father, Banarasi Lal Chawla and mother Sanyogita were loving parents. She belonged to a middle-class family. Since her childhood, she was much fascinated towards space, stars, sky. She was very imaginative and creative in her school days. The little girl would stare at stars for long and wonder the science behind them. This curiosity paved way for her to select engineering career. Her father was not in favor of this but with her mother’s support she convinced him and joined Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh. She was the only girl in her batch to select Aeronautical engineering.
Kalpana had a strong determination to become a flight engineer. This led her to pass the engineering college with good numbers. She developed an interest in reading aviation books and became student editor at her college magazine. Her college professors were amused at her intelligence as once she submitted a research item on ‘Time Lapse In Space’ which was based on Albert Einstein’s theories.There was no girls hostel so she lived in a small room over a garage and went college cycling every day.
She impressed not only parents but also teachers with her college performance and zeal to succeed.
PERSISTENCE AND CLARITY OF PATH
Kalpana decided of pursuing masters in Aerospace Engineering at University of Texas, USA.She had a really tough time to persuade her parents again, who wanted her to get married.In Texas, she met the love of her life, Jean Pierre Harrison.He was a flying instructor and an aviation author.In 1983, they got married and Kalpana learned to fly a plane from him.She got licensed to fly multiengine land airplanes and seaplanes.She then pursued the doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.She then started working in NASA.And from here, her journey of space projects started.
Only her persistence and constant unstoppable efforts brought her here and helped her achieve the life goal.From NASA, she did many space projects, gave many discoveries to her last space project.
She is a great example and role model for every Indian woman.Kalpana has proved the fact that with persistent efforts, indomitable courage, and dreaming big and uninterrupted, one can achieve what one desires.