Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tessy Thomas: A star of space science

Tessy Thomas has been appointed as the Director of India’s prestigious Rs.2500 crores AGNI V missile project. Her mission is to develop a rocket with a range of 5000km which is almost the same range as the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).


In a country where women have adorned eminent positions including that of President and Prime Minister, and brilliantly proved their mettle too, the elevation of Tessy Thomas as the AGNI V chief may not cause much surprise. But it is significant in several ways.


Erase any image of a stooping old scientist from your mind. This brilliant ‘Missile Woman’ is about 45 or 46 years old. No glamor schools or high profile educational institutions to start with. She had initial education at local schools in Alleppey, Kerala. I am proud because that is my home district.


Tessy Thomas did her B. Tech from the Government Engineering College, Trichur, which is now affiliated to the Calicut University. After that it was M. Tech from the Defence Institute of Advanced Technologies, Pune. That opened the doors of Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) for her, in 1988. And there was Dr. APJ Abdul Kalaam to guide her. He placed her in the AGNI Missile Programme. Sometimes she is referred to as Agni Putri, daughter of fire. Her specialty is solid system propellants.


According to one report, Tessy Thomas has an MBA qualification from Indira Gandhi National Open University, and is doing her PhD. There are other reports that refer to her as Dr. Tessy Thomas. The invitation to the Trichur Engineering College Golden Jubilee Lectures on August 25, 2008 gives her name as Ms. Tessy Thomas. All that is immaterial. People like her are born with ‘Doctor’ stamped on them.


Tessy is married to Saroj Kumar from Orissa. They studied together at the Defence Institute of Advanced Technologies, Pune. He is now a Commodore in the Indian Navy. Their son is an engineering student at Vellore, Tamil Nadu. He is named after one of India’s missiles – Tejas.


No godfathers, no political patronage. Sheer merit has brought the girl from a Backward District this far. And sheer merit will propel Tessy Thomas to greater heights, like the missiles she guides.

13 comments:

Anand Antony said...

Very inspirational article. Also kudos to the authorities (political and otherwise)who recognised talent. I like your comment "All that is immaterial. People like her are born with ‘Doctor’ stamped on them". Can I add to that? It is actually immaterial whether there is a "Doctor" or "MBA" attached to their names. To me their work counts. To take an extreme analogy, does Nobel Prize add anything to the stature of Einstein?

Sunita said...

"Sheer merit has brought the girl from a Backward District this far. And sheer merit will propel Tessy Thomas to greater heights, like the missiles she guides."

And that is as it should be ! I'm firmly of the belief that only merit counts. I'll be rooting for her every step of the way.
I almost envy her association with Dr. Kalam . In my books, he's one of our very few super-heroes. Now I think I'll add a page for Tessy Thomas too.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thank you, Anand Antony.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Yes, Sunita, Tessy Thomas is a person to be admired. Incidentally, her son Tejas and my grandson Adithya know each other in Vellore Institute of Technology.

Ashvin said...

couldnt help sending the link to a few of my friends who passed out from GEC Trichur.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thank you, Ashvin.

Kariyachan said...

Very motivational and encouraging.

Most probably she had appropriate mentoring and probably a role model or two, who encouraged her and let her believe in herself and her abilities , and built up confidence during her childhood or early adulthood, without which nothing fruitful is possible in this life.

Confidence and belief in oneself is the key.

A classic example of how "skies-are-the-limit" for anyone who innovates and work hard.

Anson said...

I don't know actually who she is.
But this time I want to congratulate
for her meritorious work behind Agni.
Really I proud myself as a Keralite more
than an Indian.
Hats off to Agni puthri

DATA CONTROL PROJECT JOBY_ANUP_MATHURIA said...

Nice to see people coming up from
local schools in kerala to top most engineer scientists. This is the quality you look into in future india. Needless to mention, woman they themselves are systematic,punctual,cool and very good project leaders as like at home

DATA CONTROL PROJECT JOBY_ANUP_MATHURIA said...

Nice to see people coming up from
local schools in kerala to top most engineer scientists. This is the quality you look into in future india. Needless to mention, woman they themselves are systematic,punctual,cool and very good project leaders as like at home

Abraham Tharakan said...

Joby, Anup, Mathuria, thank you for your comment.

Nandakumar said...

I think enough is enough. We are all indians. Do not discriminate any community or the person as our ancestors from all community contributed in building united India and fought for our Independence. A success in any field of India is our success and in the field of Science & Technology or any other field as the case may be, collective contribution is led to the ultimate results and success. But the only difference is here that those who are led from the front is got more applauds than the people worked behind the screen. But their contributions also very well appreciated by the entire scientific community of india. This very fact well known to the scientific community of india but not necessary to the general public.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Nandakumar, all I can say is ... well...well