The felicitation of Sunita Williams by Indian Council of Social Welfare (ICSW) in Chembur,Mumbai,Wednesday turned out to be an extremely chaotic affair that disappointed students who could not interact with the Indian-American astronaut.
The 47-year-old is in India to deliver a series of lectures to school students in Delhi,Kolkata and Mumbai from April 1-4.
There was commotion right from the start as people rushed towards the stage to take pictures of Williams. They pushed each other and stood on chairs to catch her glimpse and click pics as organisers tried in vain to control the situation.
Police efforts to calm the crowd also had little impact. While several blamed the media for the commotion,others said it was bad planning and execution.
Students of at least a dozen schools in Chembur did not get a chance to ask Williams questions. But a post-event press release issued by ICSW said after her address,the astronaut interacted with the schoolchildren.
We wanted to talk to her but did not get an opportunity, said Anita Yadav,a class 9 student of Saraswati Vidyamandir. Around 21 students of the Chembur school had come for the event.
It was chaotic. Students are upset as there was no interaction with Williams. Things could have been better-managed, said school principal Ragini Mahajan.
In her brief address,Williams said she was happy and honoured that people had taken time out to be at the event. She said a greater percentage of women in India were part of the workforce than in the US and encouraged the motivated and imaginative youth of India to participate in the international space programme.
She presented ICSW working women hostel a photograph as a symbol of international space cooperation.
I am looking forward to Indian participation in the space programme. I am really excited to meet as many people as I can in India and hopefully encourage kids to join the space programme. I identify myself with the youth and the young ladies here and am looking forward to seeing them create a future in the very near future, Williams said.
Meanwhile,ICSW announced adoption of a backward village in the state to recognise contribution of Williams to space technology.