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Motivated and RARING to go

Young scientists at the different Defence establishments in Kochi say they were inspired to become scientists by Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam. SUDHA NAMBUDIRI learns that most of the young crowd are from middle class families .

The NPOL (Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory) at Kochi, where young scientists have found their preferred vocation.

All through my career in the field of technology and its management, I relied on the power and potential of youth. My strength has been my young teams who never let me down.

Dr A P J Abdul Kalam in `Ignited Minds'

THEY ARE the new faces of the nation's defence labs: Young and raring to go. They talk only of `projects, cutting-edge technology, spin-offs, systems and larger systems.' A lot of it may be strange to us, but watch them talk and you know why the man they adore the most, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, loves them the best.

Speak to a few young scientists of Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO's), Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) to find out what makes them tick and you will be floored. What motivates them? How did they end up opting for a defence research career when there are many greener pastures?

Simple backgrounds

Most of them come from simple background, are extremely focussed and have highly inspiring role models in their parents.

Says Baheeja, "My mother was my greatest motivation. Her regret was that despite being good at studies, she couldn't go to school. I remember right from Class I, she would go around showing off my report card. So I studied just to make her happy. My father operated a taxi and it kept him busy. He never discouraged me but my mother was a great motivator. I always wanted to join DRDO ever since my senior joined here. I wanted to work in electronics only and hence never attended any campus interviews conducted by the software companies. I wrote only the DRDO test and very sure of getting the job."

For Lijjo Vijayan too, a schoolteacher mother has been an inspiring influence. "My Dad's abroad, so I see him only occasionally. My mother is thrilled to bits that I joined here. When I went to her school, the kids were talking only of Kalam and science. As for the job, it's different, a combination of academic and applied sciences. There's a wrong perception among most people that this job doesn't pay. People keep asking me why I didn't join any major software company. But I work in an organisation that's part of something bigger, the defence system of this country. And our shining icon is the President." Adds Kiran Govind Vilwathilakam, another new entrant.

"My father is into pharmaceutical business while my mother is a teacher. While in college, just about everybody must have read Dr Kalam's books which had technical stuff that we could easily assimilate. I find that I am happier than most of my friends who are slogging with routine jobs without having a chance to do anything creative."

Different field

Lakshmi Prasanna's mother always wanted her to be in a field that was `different from the rest.' "She was an EDPM (Extra Department Post Master) in a village in Andhra Pradesh. We never went to school till Class VI. Me and my brother wrote a test and joined in Class VII." After her B-tech in Naval Architecture she worked in a consultancy for two years. "When I joined DRDO, my mother's joy knew no bounds. For me too, it's a dream fulfilled. I had always wanted to be part of DRDO ever since I did my project at a DRDO lab in Vishakhapatnam."

It was the same for Faizal Khalid who had done his engineering project at NPOL. "I liked it here, the work atmosphere was good and it gave me an inkling as to how I could be involved in the complete life-cycle of a product, right from its creation in the lab to its installation in the final stage, in this case the navy." Born to schoolteacers, Faizal says that he was sure he would clear the DRDO test and interview. "This is the only job I applied for."

No overseas plans

S Amrudesh aimed for mechanical engineering. And he thought he would go abroad like many of his friends and relatives. That was until he read Dr Kalam's books while in college. "It fascinated me enough to change my career plans completely. My interest was aerodynamics, flight systems and flying. ISRO was in my mind. But then DRDO happened. In most companies you only get to work in a small part of a big system. Here we are involved in the whole process. Dr Kalam showed us that there is a lot of scope for high-end work in India also."

Role model

YOUNG SCIENTISTS feel they have chosen the right path and are a happy motivated crowd. NPOL's director V. Chander sums up the present generation. "The previous generations had a lot of ideals, but this generation has a role model in Dr Kalam. He inspires the youth to believe in themselves. I find that they are very enthusiastic and highly motivated. They sincerely believe that India can build its own defence systems."

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