Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Software & system sweethearts who captured India's military minds

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Software & system sweethearts who captured India's military minds

Women scientists powering India's silent artificial intelligence and robotics sphere during their first-time ever media outing in Bangalore recently. Express Photos: Jithendra M
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: They march in step with their male counterparts. Their contributions one notch up than men, many times. They make the men who call the shots aware that the times are changing. The ladies have arrived. And, they are here to stay.
Welcome to the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR). Guests onboard this part of the series are all women. Their stellar contributions over the years have scripted many software and system sagas that went on to aid India's defence and intelligence. These software sweethearts come from star cities like Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai, while there are many who represent places like Kadalur, Kasegaon and Kurnool. They have time and again won the heart and soul of the military minds with their smart systems, that make men 'more intelligent.' And, if numbers matter to you on a Sunday morning, they are a healthy 30 per cent of the CAIR's 350-strong research community.
The CAIR stands apart from the rest of DRDO labs in many ways with a modern crèche that facilitates a young mother to swap between the lab and the apple of their eyes. The lab also boasts of a very high number of women scientists who have done their Ph.D, M. Tech and MS at India's best institutes. “Women leaders have an important role to play. They demonstrate an inclusive, team-building style of leadership, problem-solving and decision-making. Their strong people-skills, willingness to see all sides of a situation, coupled with their natural instincts, enables them to empathise better with individual concerns, and incorporate them into the scheme of things when appropriate,,” says DRDO chief V K Saraswat.
The lab's recent acquisition of status as an ISO 9001:2008-certified laboratory owes a great deal to the sheer grit and persuasive qualities of Manimozhi Theodore, Scientist-G, who heads the Software Quality Assurance Group. D Padma, Scientist-F, who heads a team that created Communication Middleware as part of the systems for the Indian Army. Dipti Deodhare, Scientist-F, heads the Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks team, and has established leadership in these esoteric technologies. Their numerous invitations to participate in international scientific forums, publications and collaborations are just glimpses of their hidden prowess.
The next-gen women leaders are groomed to take on the future needs of the armed forces. Persia V and Anshu Bhardwaj, have been in the forefront of cutting-edge R&D, while Chitra Vishwanathan balances her role as the mother of two teenagers admirably with her work. Shyni Thomas keeps a virtual eye on her three-year-old daughter, back in the crèche after a day at the play school, even as she takes on the tough questions of military officers reviewing her work in artificial intelligence, and runs off to face her PhD defence at IISc, balancing it all with practised finesse at multi-tasking. “I have my role models to inspire me,” she said smiling.
Adversities don't seem to stop these women; if at all they seem to motivate them to perform better. "Even under hostile military conditions, in any remote corner of the country, we are more than willing to step up and participate in the fielding of systems that we have helped create," says Smita Srivastava, Scientist-D. "Working on a niche technology like virtual reality is a one-in-a-million opportunity,” feels Sangeeta Shrivastava, Scientist-E, who has contributed to creating a first of its kind terrain fly-through using stereo visualization at the CAIR.
Copyright@The New Indian Express
Tomorrow, Part 8: Battle Management Systems

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