Here’s Why Tessy Thomas Is Called the Missile Woman of India

There was a time when all the dos and don’ts were rigorously reserved to be tagged to a woman’s life in India. There were different realms of society, especially in the professional sector where the very idea of having a woman’s presence was unthinkable. However, as far as the norms of evolution go, exceptional metamorphosis has been observed in society as women stepped forward into several domains of life by shattering all the glass ceilings and emerging victorious in a much more glorious way than their male counterparts. Starting from holding top positions in politics, administration, law, and corporate bodies to winning international awards such as the Nobel Prize or sports championships as well as establishing start-ups from scratch, women today are leaving marks in every profession across the world. One such name is Tessy Thomas, who grew up in a same male-dominated society with a scientific bent of mind, embedded her name in golden letters in the history of India and the world as well.

It is not just a coincidence that Tessy Thomas, who is currently appointed in a directorial position at the DRDO, is known as The Missile Woman of India. It was not even the whim of the public that conferred this title on her. In fact, it was a journey laden with hurdles and occasional failures with a lot of zeal and determination that crowned Tessy Thomas as The Missile Woman of India.

Born in Alappuzha situated in Kerala, Tessy has always felt a strange compulsion towards the infinite horizon of science and tried comprehending more about its mysteries. What fuelled this desire was the Thumba Rocket Launching Station, which was not far from her humble dwelling. The mechanisms of rocket launching and missiles had always intrigued her and ignited her passion for pursuing scientific research while she was growing up. This curiosity and love for science were fostered by her mother, and it was just a matter of time before her innate knack for mathematics and physics manifested in the form of academic genius. She honed her knowledge in science and mathematics in her school life and even fetched 100 per cent scores in her final exams, which instilled in her the confidence that she was right about her true calling. It did not come as a surprise though, as these subjects were at her full command. It was time for Tessy to follow her heart when she decided to join the Thrissur Government Engineering College through a scholarship program to complete her engineering. After that, she decided to pursue an MTech degree in guided missiles from the Institute of Armament Technology at the age of 20, where she met her soulmate Saroj Kumar Patel.

Tessy Thomas was on the verge of fulfilling her dream of working as a missile scientist and exploring her scientific genius when she started working at DRDO in the year 1986. Her brilliance gained the attention of Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who was coincidentally someone Tessy Thomas worshipped as her role model. It was the huge pool of knowledge and love for science in Tessy Thomas that convinced the former President of India and The Missile Man of India to select Tessy for the Agni missile program which back then was an extremely enterprising research project India was working on. This opportunity to work with Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at DRDO on the Agni project set Tessy Thomas on her journey of becoming The Missile Woman of India.

Initially, Thomas worked in the capacity of a consultant on the Agni missile program and also contributed her expertise in developing different kinds of launch vehicles and missiles for national purposes. However, that was not just it! Tessy went on to expand her achievements by working on radio frequency identification tags, infrared communication devices, and GPS technologies.

 At times when no other country was prepared to take the risk of developing missiles that would not only cross the atmosphere but re-enter at equivalently high speed while at the same time emanating a heat of more than 3000 degrees Celsius, Tessy Thomas and her team took up the challenge. Tessy used to work for almost 12 hours every day to finally see the successful launch of the Agni 5 missile in the year 2012. The intercontinental ballistic missile devised by Tessy Thomas and her team took the entire world by storm as the initial criticisms and disappointments she faced after the failure of a few of her endeavours in the year 2006 got smoothed out.

It is not just the honour of being called The Missile Woman of India that makes Tessy Thomas such a glowing personality of science and modern-day missile technology. She is the reason for pride for all the Indian women whom she showed how to keep their feet firmly grounded in both the world, personal and professional at the same time. In fact, Tessy herself is a living example of success, after struggling and working hard to do justice to her role as a mother and wife while shouldering the responsibility of honouring science and technology and the future of India. Tessy Thomas is not just a brilliant woman who wears the crown of being the first woman from India to lead a team of scientists in designing one of the best and most powerful ballistic missiles in Indian history, but also a living example of someone with an undying love for science and enormous perseverance who never stopped chasing her dreams.

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