A New Star

In the city of Karnal, Haryana, a couple held the hand of their little girl and went to the Principal’s Office of Tagore Bal Niketan. They had come for their daughter’s admission.

In the office, the Principal asked, “What’s the name of the child’s father?”

“Madam, my name is Banarasi Lal Chawla.”

Then he pointed to his wife and said, “This is Sanjyoti, her mother.”

The Principal looked at the child and asked her affectionately, “What’s your name, dear?”

“Manto,” she said.

“But that’s your nickname, isn’t it? What name should we use at school?”

The girl’s mother said, “Madam, we’ve thought of three to four names. But we haven’t decided yet which one to keep.”

She told her the names they had thought of.

When she heard the names, Manto said at once, “Kalpana. Keep that name. I like it!”

“But why do you like the name Kalpana?” asked the Principal, with a smile.

“Because ‘Kalpana’ means imagination. And I like to imagine and dream,”
said Manto.

The name Kalpana was thus entered in the school register.

“What’s Kalpana’s date of birth?” asked the Principal.

The husband and the wife stared at each other for a while and said slowly, “July 1, 1961.”

However, they knew that her real date of birth was March 17, 1962. But if they told her real date of birth, she would not get admission in the school. She was a year younger than the cut-off date for admission. Kalpana’s parents wanted their daughter to be admitted to this school because it was close to their house.

Manto was the youngest amongst their four children but she was quite smart
and they thought she should attend school immediately.

The admission process went smoothly and soon Kalpana started going to school. She was good at studies and began excelling in class.

One day, Kalpana returned home from school and said, “Mother, today all the children in school drew the map of India on the floor and painted it. It was a project, and everyone took part in it.”

“Then you must have taken part in it too!” said her Mom.

“No, I didn’t like that! I decorated the ceiling of the classroom with black
chart papers, put bright dots on it, and made it look like the night sky with countless stars—the outer space!”

Her mother knew that Kalpana was interested in space. She often saw Kalpana lie down under the open sky and stare at the stars for hours.

Time passed, and Kalpana reached class 10. It was the Mathematics period.

While explaining the null-set concept in algebra, the teacher said, “A null set is
also referred to as the empty set. It is the set that contains no elements. For example, suppose we have to find the set of all senior citizens who are less than five years old. Clearly, there are no senior citizens under five and a person has to be much older than five to be considered a senior citizen. Thus it is a null set or an empty set. Let me give you another example to explain it clearly. Indian women astronauts are a great example of a null set. That’s because not a single Indian woman astronaut has gone into space.”

Kalpana, who was sitting in the classroom, slowly said, “Maybe in a few years someone will, and then it will no longer be an example of a null set.”

The other students looked at her in surprise. But what she said was perhaps going to become true.

Soon, it was time for her to take admission in a college. Everyone was wondering what subject they should take up.

“I will pursue engineering,” announced Kalpana at home.

“No, no. You should become a doctor or a teacher. That’s more suitable for girls,” said her father.

Her mother was also of the same opinion, but Kalpana did not budge. She insisted and finally her parents gave in and Kalpana took admission in Chandigarh Engineering College.

When she chose to pursue the aeronautical branch of engineering, her teachers said, “This branch is not for girls. There won’t be any girl in your class. You’ll have to study alone.”

“I don’t care,” said Kalpana. “I’ll study alone if I have to.”

With determination, Kalpana continued her education. She proved to her family and society that a girl could become an aeronautical engineer. After engineering, Kalpana wanted to study further. No one could stop her from going ahead. She kept going until she reached outer space.

Because she was Kalpana Chawla—the first Indian woman to travel to outer space. Born in the small town of Karnal, she dared to dream and reached great heights.

After completing aeronautical engineering in 1982, she went to the United States. She completed her degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas in 1984. In 1988, she got selected by NASA, and in 1995, she was selected to travel into space. She left for space on November 19, 1997, on the STS-87 Columbia Shuttle. She spent 372 hours in outer space and returned to Earth on December 5, 1997.

She left for space for the second time on January 16, 2003, in the Space Shuttle Columbia. It was a 16-day project. With her six companions, Kalpana Chawla stayed in outer space, carried out research, and gathered information. Unfortunately, on February 1, 2003, before landing, the Columbia space shuttle malfunctioned and crashed over Texas, and Kalpana along with her six companions lost their lives.

Although Kalpana Chawla is no longer with us today, she pursued her dream and proved that girls of India are no less than others. With willpower and due diligence, dreams can be fulfilled.

She always said that she was made to go into space and that she would die in space too. She completed her mission and bid farewell to the world. And since then, a new star shines brightly in the sky.

DIY Tricolour Badge

You will need:

A5 size cardboard, blue coloured paper, scissors, black sketch pen, paint brush, craft glue, ribbon, pista shells.

How to make:

1. Take a piece of cardboard and cut into a circle.

2. Cut and stick the blue coloured paper on the cardboard.

3. Colour the pista shells – orange, white and green as shown.

4. Stick the green shells on the outer edge of the cardboard circle. Next, stick the white shells and stick the orange shells in the inner-most circle.


5. Add a ribbon on top for hanging it. Write a message in the center of the badge.

Your Badge for National Flag Adoption Day is Ready!

The Missile Man

A guided missile was being installed on a vehicle called the missile launcher. The vehicle had seen such a device for the first time. He asked the machine, “Hello, my friend! Nice to meet you. I am seeing you here for the first time. Who are you?”

The missile smiled and said, “I am a machine made by Indian scientists and I can be controlled by computers to hit a specified target.”

The vehicle who did not understand what the machine said, asked, “What is your name? Maybe I’ll understand you better with your name.”

“I’m a guided missile,” said the missile.

“Ah!” said the vehicle and asked, “Weren’t you developed by the missile man,
Abdul Kalam?”

The missile was feeling happy that the vehicle had recognised her and said, “Yes, that’s me! Missile Man Abdul Kalam along with other Indian scientists made me by developing the technology for the first Indian guided missile!”

The vehicle was curious and said, “Tell me more about Abdul Kalam.”

“All right!” the missile said. “I have been with him for a long time. He and his team designed and built me. Do you want to hear the story?”

“Yes,” the vehicle said. “I’ve been alone for a long time. There’s no one to talk to me here. I would love to hear his story.”

The missile loved to talk about his maker. Who would not? He said, “Abdul was born on October 15, 1931, in the town of Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. Rameswaram is a famous tourist spot. It is at the tip of the Indian peninsula.”

“Yes, Rameswaram is a beautiful town where one can see the three different water bodies—the bay of Bengal, the Indian ocean and the Arabian sea, meeting each other,” added the vehicle.

“Yes,” said the missile. “Abdul’s father, though not formally educated, was a man of clear and simple ideas. He was strong-willed and believed in hard work. Their family was very poor. His father rented boats to fishermen. The family income was limited. Abdul’s family was huge and there were many mouths to feed.”

“Abdul studied in Rameswaram. He told me once his teacher Iyadurai was teaching students about the science of flying, but the children could not understand anything.”

“So Iyadurai took them to the seashore, and showed them birds flying there, and explained the lesson again. This had a huge impact on Abdul and he decided that he would build a career in aviation science when he grew up.”

“His teacher always said—to achieve success in life, one must have strong will power, faith and patience. Once a student understands and masters these three qualities, he/she can achieve anything in life.”

“So true,” agreed the vehicle.

“Abdul made this his life motto. When his family faced money difficulties, he took on the job of distributing newspapers in the morning and then went to school after that to study.”

“Sometimes, his math tutor called him at 4am for extra lessons. After class, he would go and distribute newspapers, and later go to school. After returning from school, he would sit at the flower shop to help his father.”

“He faced many difficulties in life,” said the vehicle, feeling sad for young Abdul.

“Yes,” said the missile. “But he did not let the difficulties stop him. He just kept working on them one step at a time. In 1957, he graduated in Aeronautical Engineering from Madras Institute of Technology.”

“Oh yes! You did say that flying was his childhood dream!” said the vehicle, excitedly.

“Yes, he realised his dream. And now it was time to put to work what he had studied. After graduation, he joined the Defence Research and Development Organisation, an Indian military research institute, as a scientist.”

“Soon, he joined the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), where he worked with a team of rocket engineers to set up a rocket launching station, which is used even today. In his career at ISRO, he built the Satellite Launch Vehicle or SLV. And in July 1980, for the first time ever, India successfully launched satellite Rohini in space using the SLV. India became one of the few countries to have done so.”

“Due to his contributions, Abdul was made the Project Director-General of ISRO. He continued working on his core passion along with other scientists. Their achievement of launching satellite Rohini in space made India an exclusive member of the International Space Club.”

“Wow! That is indeed a great honour for India,” said the vehicle, feeling very proud.

“Yes! But Abdul dreamt India should achieve advanced space technology. He wanted India to be honoured by the whole world. Vikram Sarabhai had made it possible for India to enter the field of satellite and launch vehicles. Abdul worked with the team at ISRO on the designs of target-controlled missiles or guided missiles that built missiles like ‘Prithvi’ and ‘Agni’.”

“Right!” said the vehicle. “And you’re built on the same technology. The fact that you’re installed on me makes me proud too.”

“Thank you!” said the missile. “I’m a guided or target-controlled missile.
Abdul was then entrusted with the development of nuclear technology to strengthen India’s defence capabilities. He was also appointed as the adviser to the Defence Minister from July 1992 to December 1999. And that introduced
him to politics.”

“Yes, I know some of that,” said the vehicle. “He became the President of India on July 25, 2002. And remained the president till July 25, 2007.”

“Yes, and after that, he stepped down from politics. He spent his time studying and writing books. He shared his knowledge with the students and at the same time wrote several books to enlighten and guide the youth. He said that no work in life is difficult. If one is determined, one can overcome all difficulties. His books include Wings of Fire and India 2020.”

“He had clearly defined goals for India in his book India 2020. While teaching a class at the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, he suddenly had a heart attack.”

“What?” said the vehicle, in shock. He continued working until the last breath of his life,” said the missile and paused. 

“I heard that he received many awards including the Bharat Ratna, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and the Hoover Medal. But I don’t know his full name till today. Do you know it?” asked the vehicle.

“Yes,” said the missile. “His full name was APJ Abdul Kalam or Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam.”

At that moment, someone started the vehicle. “Well, it’s time for me to work now! When we catch a break, we will chat again!” said the vehicle.

The missile looked at the scenery around and enjoyed the view and its thoughts on its creator