Nigar Shaji: breaking gender stereotypes

In ISRO, I believe, all the missions that we have taken up have become possible and met with success, because our mantra is taking pride in whatever we do and thanks to a sense of belonging. Self-motivation is the ISRO culture, for the Aditya mission too,” said Nigar Shaji, project director of ISRO’s Aditya-L1, India’s first solar observatory, which has reached its destination. She was addressing a session at the Bengaluru zone institute where she was honoured for the role she was playing in leading the Aditya-L1 mission to the Sun.

RI President Gordon McInally interacting with RI Director Raju Subramanian; Nigar Shaji, project director, ISRO’s Aditya-L1; and her brother PDG S Sheik Saleem.

On the successful Aditya-L1 mission, a self-effacing Nigar said the whole project “is teamwork, and the honour being bestowed here by Rotary on me, I dedicate to my team. I am so proud of being the project leader of this mission, which will make it possible for India to also study the Sun, which is the need of the hour.” (Since the institute was concluded in December, the laboratory has been successfully parked at an optimum spot in space from where it will have an unobstructed view of the Sun.) Nigar is the sister of RID 3212 PDG S Sheik Saleem.

From L: Ravvi Shankar, RID 3232 PDG J Sridhar, his spouse Punitha, Nigar Shaji, RID 3212 PDGs V R Muthu and Sheik Saleem.

Recalling the very purpose behind setting up of ISRO, the aerospace engineer, said, “ISRO was started by the visionary Vikram Sarabhai with a goal to use space technology to improve the standard of living of our people. It is so similar to what you Rotarians are doing… your service to humanity both locally and globally. I am really amazed that you have managed to carry out such long programmes like polio eradication, spending billions of dollars. You have now taken up projects like eradication of malaria in African countries.”

Saying that she was extremely proud of being a part of Sarabhai’s dream which had come such a long way, she added, “Thanks to all these projects done today by ISRO, we have respect in the world in the area of space technology. All the nations which have developed space programmes respect us today because of our landing on the moon (through the Chandrayaan-3) and because of the Aditya mission and our other achievements. Now these nations are coming to us for co-operation, and this is the biggest achievement for us, and the need of the hour for our country which is inching towards becoming a developed country,” she added amidst thunderous applause.

Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat


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