Eight women scientists became the centre of attraction as they waved to the crowd from the tableau that showed India’s Shiv-Shakti Point on the Moon, where Chandrayaan-3 softlanded on the lunar south pole, Vikram lander and Pragyan rover.
India’s Chandrayaan-3 was the first spacecraft in the world to make a historic touchdown at the uncharted territory of the lunar south pole on August 23 last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had then announced that the landing site of lander Vikram would be known as Shiv Shakti Point.
Another 220 women scientists from Isro were special invitees of PM Narendra Modi at the gala event.
The Isro tableau also showed the landmark Aditya-L1 mission that was led by a woman scientist; a model of India’s ‘Bahubali’ rocket Launch Vehicle Mark III and an image of the Bharatiya Antariksha Station, for which Isro has already begun work, and a depiction of the country’s ambitious human spaceflight mission Gaganyaan, which will take three Indian astronauts to space for seven days for doing several space experiments. The float also displayed space pioneers like Aryabhata and Varahamihir on murals.
Space minister Jitendra Singh, who was among the parade audience at Kartavya Path, later posted on X, “With Chandrayaan3 as the centre of attraction along with Gaganyaan and Aditya L1, Isro’s RepublicDay tableau led on Kartavya Path by Bharat’s NariShakti.”
Isro displaying its women prowess at the parade is a way to reflect that the space agency functions without any gender bias. Recently, Nigar Shajiwho is the project director of the ongoing Aditya L1 solar mission, recently told the media that “there is no glass ceiling for women at Isro”
From time to time, Isro had brought to the fore its leading women scientists before the media after the completion of a key mission. Kalpana K, who was the deputy project director of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, had said soon after the historic landing that “it is the most memorable moment for me and my team”. More than 100 women played a direct role in the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
As per Isro records, the total strength of employees in 2022-2023 was 16,079. Of them, 3,199 were women employees from the scientific/technical (2058) and administrative block (1141) combined.
Space minister Jitendra Singh recently told the Rajya Sabha, “In India, there are 56,747 full-time equivalent of women employed in R&D in the total workforce of 3,41,818 which is 16.6% of total S&T workforce. However, their overall participation as workforce, including research, auxiliary, and administrative role in R&D establishments is about 18.8%.”
Singh had said in the past that PM Modi’s governance reforms in the last several years have enabled “ease of working” for women and are actually, in a broader sense, huge social reforms aimed at providing women employees an opportunity to perform to the bets of their potential with a high level of dignity and self-esteem.