Chennai: If you think Engineering is a man’s world, then you are wrong. And if you think only men make it big as rocket scientists, then you should read Minnie Vaid’s latest book, ‘Those Magnificent Women and Their Flying Machines’. It’s an incredible true story of women scientists who played a big role in ISRO’s Mangalyaan mars mission.
Minnie Vaid is a women wearing many hats; she is a documentary film-maker, a writer, a journalist. She has written three books and over the last 30 years, she has worked with many leading newspapers, magazines and TV channels. In 2000, Minnie started her own company, the Little Doc Productions and became an independent film-maker and producer. In a chat with News Today, she narrates how her book came about.
The initial spark
She explains how she got the idea to write her book. She says it was during a summit held in Mumbai on September 2016. “ISRO’s Mangalyaan scientists were going to share their stories about how they helped launch the mission,” recalls Minnie. “I had a very sketchy idea previously about these women scientists and was curious to know more. I was fascinated by the brief talks given by scientists Ritu Karidhal, Minal Sampat and Moumita Datta. Their matter-of-fact attitude with unmistakable assumption of competency and confidence attracted my attention. So the idea to write a book on these women took shape on that day.”
Soon Minnie reached out to these women scientists. “They said I have to get permission from ISRO authorities. I then got in touch with the PR head and after a wait of a few months for permission, I was given the green signal and set off for the preliminary round of interviews scheduled in Bengaluru in 2017, followed by a second round of interviews with the women scientists at the Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad,” she says.
Minnie reveals that as a part of her research, she visited the SHAR launch pad at Sriharikota to witness a satellite launch. “It remains a phenomenon unparalleled in my memory,” says Minnie. “After almost a year of research, I started writing the book which took about seven months to write and some more months to edit.”
Minnie talks about how much she enjoyed to interview the women scientists in her book. “It was an unknown world to me as I don’t have a science background,” she says. “But they were very patient in explaining terms and concepts.” When asked about the important lessons she had learned from these scientists, Minnie says, “One should always be focused on their goals and never let anything disturb their mind.”
So what does Minnie wish to through her book. “I have tried to keep the tone and tenor of the book simple and engaging so that it can be read and enjoyed by layman,” says Minnie. “This book profiles women scientists as icons for the next generation. It is meant to encourage girls’ interest in pursuing STEM in India. It gives hope to young girls across India to aim for the stars.”