Saturday, February 01, 2003

The Seven Astronauts

I saw the sad news this of the disintegration of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the tragic passing of the seven Astronauts, including the first Indian woman in space, Indian American Kalpana Chawla and the first Israeli Astronaut Ilan Ramon, this morning at the gym. Both and The Times of India have extended coverage of Kalpana Chawla, and Haaretz has extended coverage on the Israeli angle and on Ilan Ramon.

On Kalpana Chawla, for me, as a South Asian American, people like her just served as an inspiration and role model on a national level. Ms. Chawla, hailing from a small town in Haryana state in Northern India, had succeeded in more ways than anyone could have imagined. She touched the stars, and touched more people in India and the world over than she will ever know. In her, South-Asian-Americans had a South Asian-American hero and role model.

Among the lessons of her life, and of the many immigrants that remain nameless, is that there should never be anything that will hold you back from your dreams. If a strong woman from Karnal in Haryana, India can become an American astronaut, then there is no answer to what we all can do. Kalpana Chawla made us proud, as Desis, as South Asian Americans, and as people.

My prayers are with the families/friends of all seven astronauts.

UPDATE: The South Asian Journalists Association ( has created a tremendous resource for anyone interested in writing on Dr. Chawla, or just trying to find out more about this woman.


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