611 – Daunting Tasks

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Daunting Tasks

The following is the story of the evolution of Indian Missile Capability. India had fought two bitter wars with China  in 1962 and with Pakistan in 1965. Indian Government wanted to achieve self-reliance in military hardware and weapon systems. Till then, India obtained these  Missiles from Russia. Key people in charge of Missile technology passionately advocated the development of these missiles in the country.

In the year 1969, the Indian Government made a decision to build and launch our own satellites, termed as Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV). The primary objectives of the SLV Project were design, development and operation of a standard SLV system, capable of reliably and expeditiously fulfilling the specified mission of launching a 40 kg satellite into a 400 km circular orbit around the earth.  Dr. Kalam was assigned the task of heading the project.

People both within the country and outside India were highly skeptical about India’s capability to design and launch a 100% indigenous Missile system. However, Dr. Kalam and his team were very confident of completing the project.

The time span for the completion of the project was estimated to be 10 years. The entire SLV project involved about 10 Lakh components assembled into  about 250 sub-assemblies and 44 major subsystems. The components were to be manufactured by over 300 Small Scale Industries.

It required a Project Implementation Strategy which required a vision and sustainability over a period of 10 years.  During the initial years, the subsystems were designed, technologies identified, processes established, work centers selected, manpower earmarked and schedules drawn. A major challenge  was the building up of a management structure to effectively handle this mega-project and coordinate activities which were spread over a large number of work centers with their own ways of working and management.  Additionally, there were limitations on manpower and funds for the project. The project required about 275 Engineers and Scientists  but were sanctioned only about 50. The project was broken down into three major milestones to facilitate periodical review and evaluation.

After 10 years of hard work, in August 1979, the 23 meter-long, four-stage SLV rocket weighing 17 tonnes finally took off elegantly and immediately started following its programmed trajectory. Stage I performed to perfection. There was a smooth transition from Stage I to Stage II.  Suddenly, the rocket went out of control. The flight was terminated after 317 seconds and the vehicle’s remains, splashed into the sea.

The incident caused profound disappointment to the people and to the engineers in particular. However everybody gathered themselves up and committed themselves to rebuild and re-launch the satellite. After 11 months of intense effort, on 18 July 1980, SLV was successfully launched into Orbit. The people who were involved in the project were ecstatic. The whole nation was excited. India had made its entry into the small group of nations which possessed satellite launch capability.

Dr Kalam attributed his successful handling of the project to the Thirukkural Couplet which advises one, never to be daunted by the enormity of the task in front of them, but just plan and start taking small steps towards it.

Thirukkural Couplet 611 stresses the need for perseverance in pursuit of larger objectives.

அருமை உடைத்துஎன்று அசாவாமை வேண்டும்
பெருமை முயற்சி தரும்.

Arumai Udaiththu-endru Asaavaamai Vendum
Perumai Muyarchi Tharum

பரிமேலழகர் உரை:

அருமை உடைத்து என்று அசாவாமை வேண்டும் – தம் சிறுமை நோக்கி, நாம் இவ்வினைமுடித்தல் அருமையுடைத்து என்று கருதித் தளராதொழிக; பெருமை முயற்சி தரும் – அது முடித்தற்கேற்ற பெருமையைத் தமக்கு முயற்சி உண்டாக்கும். (‘சிறுமை நோக்கி’ என்பது பெருமை தரும் என்றதனானும், ‘வினை முடித்தல்’ என்பது அதிகாரத்தானும் வருவிக்கப்பட்டன. விடாது முயலத் தாம் பெரியராவர்; ஆகவே அரியனவும் எளிதின் முடியும் என்பதாம்.).

Overwhelmed with the magnitude and difficulty of the task in hand and felling unequal to the same, a person should not refrain from even attempting it. He will surely achieve success and greatness by diligently pursuing action.

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

அஸாத்⁴யமித³ மித்யேதாம்  மதிம்  த்யக்த்வா ப்ரயத்யதாம்
ஸ ஏவ யத்னஸ்தே த³த்³யாத் ப³லம்  கார்ய ஸமாபனே ||