Convocation Address at NIT, Kurukshetra



27 March 2012


Dr. A Sivathanu Pillai

Distinguished Scientist & Chief Controller (R&D), DRDO


CEO & MD, BrahMos Aerospace

Innovative Young Minds


Respected Prof. Anand Mohan, Director, National Institute of Technology, Dr. Chandra Shekhar, Director, CEERI and Guest of Honour, Distinguished Guests, faculty members, Graduates who are receiving certificates and their proud parents, Ladies and Gentlemen,

My warm greetings to all of you.

I am indeed honoured to participate and to deliver the convocation address in the 9th Annual Convocation of the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra. It gives me a great feeling to stand at this historic site, where the great Mahabharat War took place. Kurukshetra war was fought to destroy the evils and to establish Dharm. Great Bhagavat Geeta, spiritual document for India came out of this war at this site. Today, India stands for peace, dharm and value system. It is a unique Nation, telling the world, the highest value of democracy and unity among diversity. There may have ripples here and there, time and again, but in overall analysis “India is India”. Dr. Abdul Kalam, the Former President of India, envisions about India, in his collection of poems – “The Life Tree” as:

“I have no house, only open space

Filled with truth, kindness, desire and dreams;

Desire to see my country developed and great,

Dreams to see happiness and peace abound”

When we talk about our Nation and its greatness, every one of us has to be a responsible citizen. We have to individually create value system for each one of us. If we establish ourselves a good human being, then the Nation will be a good Nation. As the divine hymn says,

“Where there is righteousness in the heart

There is beauty in the character.

When there is beauty in the character,

There is harmony in the home.

When there is harmony in the home,

There is an order in the Nation.

When there is order in the Nation

There is peace in the World”

Our spiritual wisdom has been our strength. We survived as a Nation, the onslaughts of invaders for more than 1000 years and the numbing effects of colonisation. We have also learnt to adjust rifts and divisions in our own society. But in the process of all adjustments, we also lowered our aims and expectations and settled down to a lower mindset. From the great knowledge givers to the world and richness, we came down to the lowest strata of prosperity, when we got the freedom. It is time we must regain our heritage and wisdom to enrich our lives. We need to home-grow our own model of development, based on our inherent strengths to tell the world that Indians are great people.

We need to set our targets very high and work hard to achieve that high aim. Problems may come on the way but we have to defeat them so that problems do not absorb us. Nothing is impossible to achieve, if our aims are high and purposeful and we are determined to achieve them.

Mahatma Gandhi once told,

“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it, even I did not have it in the beginning.”

So friends, everything is in your hand. You must make yourself ready to do a remarkable work, which will find a place for you in the history of the world. You know that history is not written for cowards and one who thinks small. If you think big, if you have a vision, and if you help others, if you do a great task or invention, or a great project, you will find a page written in the history of the world. I wish the names of those who studied at NIT, Kurukshetra are imprinted in that book.

I would like to highlight few examples from India’s missile programme, how we achieved self-reliance in critical technology, using innovative young minds.

Agni & Supercomputer

India’s long range guided missile is Agni, the Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile. In its trajectory, it flies to an altitude of 600 kms and flies back to the target point, re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. Re-entry is a very important technology, as the re-entry module has to withstand 3000°C at the point of crossing the atmosphere. Choice of material, shape of the re-entry module, guidance and control algorithm, capability for electronics systems to withstand the high speed and the temperature conditions are the important aspects during re-entry. The technique use for designing the shape of the module was Computational Fluid Dynamics with elaborate software codes to analyze more than 100,000 grid points in the structure. Supercomputer can do the iteration using a fast algorithm, without which, it will take considerable time for the analysis. A two pronged approach was initiated with a group of young scientists to evolve new CFD codes and another group of young scientists to develop a supercomputer. Within 24 months the team came out with a solution to reduce each iteration time from 9 days to 5 minutes, using the fastest Supercomputer PACE++ parallel processor, which was 20 times faster than the Cray XMP Computer, refused to India. The CFD effort resulted a top class CFD centre in the campus of Indian Institute of Science. Networking of Academy and R&D Labs and using fresh young minds from the Universities have tremendously helped to overcome the Technology denial regime instituted by few developed Nations. India proved its might with innovative young minds.

BrahMos Supersonic Cruise Missile – The Brahmastra

The Gulf Wars from 1991 gave us the message that cruise missiles are very important to destroy the enemies’ assets on the first day, without even the enemy knowing. Cruise missiles are stealthy, fly at very low altitude and very precise to hit the target. American Tomahawk missiles were dominant during the Gulf Wars, but it has a subsonic speed. India decided to go for cruise missile development, with a difference. When the whole world was using subsonic (i.e. speed less than that of sound) cruise missiles, India decided to go for supersonic cruise missile, 3 times faster than the sound. To cut short the time of development and inherit very high level of technology, India joined hands with Russia making the BrahMos joint venture. BrahMos is responsible to design, develop, produce and market a world class cruise missile. A new generation young scientists from the Indian institutions with the help of experienced Russian specialists, formed a consortium with industries of India and Russia, made it possible to create a wonderful product, i.e. BRAHMOS. It is a supersonic cruise missile, which can be launched from any platform on land, on sea, underwater and in air with multiple missions against land and sea targets. The unique nature of BrahMos with its universality made Indian Armed Forces, the first in the world to possess supersonic cruise missiles. Various versions of BRAHMOS have been developed, produced and inducted in the Indian Armed Forces on ships and on land. The best students of more than 200 coming from National Institutes including NIT, Kurukshetra are those who have created history by making this wonderful product, which made India the world leader in the cruise missile family. The developed world got astonished to see the Indian might through this Brahmastra. We together established that “We can do it”.

Hypersonic Reusable Cruise Missile–The Sudharshan Chakra

Lord Krishna took Viswaroop at Kurukshetra, with his mighty ever-moving Sudharshan Chakra on his right index finger. The importance of Sudharshan Chakra was its ever readiness to destroy the enemy and come back. If this is so, the idea came to us that why not we create a hypersonic cruise missile which destroys the target and flies back to us for re-use. Going at a speed of Mach 7, deliver the warhead, assess the destruction of the target, come back and get ready to go again, i.e. Hypersonic Reusable Cruise Missile, the next version of Sudharshan Chakra. This is the BrahMos-II programme and it has been started with its design and basic technology development. Our dream of achieving this extraordinary project will come true with the help of young engineers like you.


Friends, if we can do great things and create history, what is that we are missing? What is that we need to correct? There seems to be an attitude problem. We are not able to shake ourselves. We have a settled mindset for limited achievement. We must break the bounds and establish a mind to achieve, a mind to be revolutionary not to accept the evils of today, a mind to reform the society and a mind to live with righteousness.

Our cultural heritage from Mahabharat to today is a highly valuable asset. The responsibility of using this value system with outstanding skill is with the youth of today, to establish a modern India, which is prosperous, safe to live and highly secure. As youth of today, you, the graduates, are responsible to build the global leadership for India to become a model among the comity of Nations. With 580 million youth, India has the greatest asset, which can definitely make it a Developed Nation.

Many questions whether India will become a developed Nation. This is the result of inferiority complex, we built over the years, as we were ruled by others. It is the time that the youth of India must come out of the defeatist spirit and herald the message to the world, we are the knowledge power. We must shed the mindset of defeatism and energize ourselves with the spirit of confidence and victory with indomitable spirit to achieve our cherished dream of developed Nation for India”

Saint Patanchali in his yoga sutra says,

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary work, all your thoughts break their bounds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you will find yourself in a new great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamt yourself to be.”

I wish you all the best for your future endeavours.

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