If you are a first time visitor to some of the areas of the Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO) Missile Complex in Hyderabad, there are chances that you might wonder whether you are lost in a deep forest!
Even with modern concrete structures propping up, the planners have taken pains to keep the natural ambience of the area intact. And, the woods are still lovely, dark and deep inside the Imarat Kancha, the hub of India's Missile Complex.
When OneIndia landed at the Missile Complex on Wednesday, it was all geared up to join the nation-wide celebrations to mark the 84th birth anniversary of former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, who was also the former chief of DRDO.
From October 15, 2015, the Missile Complex will be renamed after Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, a befitting tribute to the man who caught the imagination of a young nation by developing missiles and teaching the nuances of dreams.
OneIndia met a number of young scientists at the Missile Complex and they were all thrilled to be part of a team that saw Dr Kalam from close quarters. These are the ‘lucky fellows,' as Dr Kalam would often say, who are spearheading a number of missile programmes.
"Whatever we do in the name of Dr Kalam cannot match the contributions he made to DRDO and India. We owe a lot to Dr Kalam for the courage and confidence he injected in each one of us, especially to take risks," says Dr G Satheesh Reddy, currently the Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister.
Today, the seeds sown on the barren lands of Imarat Kancha by Dr Kalam and his team have transformed into a lush green campus buzzing with gen-next missile technologies.
RCI took baby steps holding Dr Kalam's hands
According to insiders, the Research Centre Imarat (RCI) - one of the key laboratories in the Missile Complex, took baby steps holding Dr Kalam's hands.
"Established on August 27 in 1988, RCI became a lead player in India's missile programmes under the leadership of Dr Kalam. He wanted to build a world-class research centre at Hyderabad and later became RCI's Founding Director," says the young Regional PRO for DRDO here.
Insiders say DRDO acquired around 2000 acres of land in 1970's for setting up an anti- tank missile testing facility. However, the land was lying vacant for years together after the testing was completed.
Unhappy with the non-utilization of the land, the then Andhra Pradesh government asked DRDO to surrender the land. And, Dr Kalam stepped in as a savior.
He convinced the government officials and reiterated about the nation's important missile programmes. He finally persuaded the government to give the land for setting up an advanced R&D centre.
RCI today is a technology-leader in delivering many critical avionics systems including control, navigation, guidance, seekers, telemetry and embedded computers to name a few.
"RCI's mission as envisaged by Dr Kalam is to become a global leader in avionics in all futuristic research and development activities," says a scientist.
‘Wings of Fire' has many mentions about RCI
In his bestseller book Wings of Fire, Dr Kalam has recalled about RCI a number of times. He termed setting up of RCI as one of the most satisfying experience of his life.
"After finishing our work at Pentagon once we landed in San Fransico. I utilized this opportunity to visit the Crystal Cathedral built by my favourite author, Robert Schuller. I was amazed by the sheer beauty of this all-glass, four-pointed, star-shaped structure that is more than 400-feet from one point to another," writes Dr Kalam in the book.
"Before God trusts you with success, you have to improve yourself humble enough to handle the big prize. I prayed to God in Schuller's Church to help me build a Research Centre at the Imarat Kancha - that would be my Crystal Cathedral," Dr Kalam writes in Wings of Fire.
Reacting to DRDO's decision to rename the Missile Complex Dr Kalam, his grand nephew Sheikh Saleem told OneIndia from New Delhi that the family is humbled by the move.
"The Missile Complex was always very close to Dr Kalam's heart. Now, youngsters will get further inspired by seeing his name always attached to the Complex," said Saleem.
In addition to RCI, the Missile Complex consists of Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) and Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL).
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia and tweets @writetake.)