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Why We love to boast of Sunita Williams?

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By Chinmayee Dash: We Indians love to praise our people, who are established in overseas, achieve name and fame there. Our media spares no chance to highlight them if they achieve great in any field, even if they might have remained unknown to us for years.

NASA astronaut and Unites States Navy Officer Sunita Williams is one of those known faces, who is a familiar name in India because of her Indian origin. Even though, she is an American astronaut, she is identified as a daughter of India.

She might not have been a known personality in the US media, but she is gaining popularity here. Born to Deepak Pandya and Bonnie Pandya in Euclid, Ohio, she is the second woman of Indian origin to have been selected by NASA for a space mission after Indian scientist Kalpana Chawla.

Recently, Sunita has begun her second space journey along with two astronauts from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Her father Deepak Pandya is an Indian. He is a well-known neuroanatomist in the US. Sunita has very often visited her family from father’s side in Gujarat. Even though, she is born and brought up in the US, the Indian soil also attracts her. She is also of Slovenian descent from mother’s side. Therefore, she has triple national identity – Indian-Slovenian-American. She might be the perfect example of kinds of citizenship.

The astronaut holds three records as a female space traveler: longest spaceflight (195 days), number of spacewalks (four), and total time spent on spacewalks (29 hours and 17 minutes). She achieved everything in the US with the due support of her family and US government, but we Indians boast of her achievements due to her Indian origin.

Sunita was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) with STS-116, aboard the shuttle Discovery, on December 9, 2006 to join the Expedition 14 crew. In April 2007, the Russian members of the crew rotated, changing to Expedition 15. Among the personal items she took with her to the ISS a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, a small idol of Lord Ganesh and some Samosas, which showed that she loves India and believes in Hinduism.

She had last visited India in 2007. She went to the Sabarmati Ashram, and her ancestral village Jhulasan in Gujarat. She received much applauds, love and affection. She is the first person of Indian origin to have been awarded the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Vishwa Pratibha Award by the World Gujarati Society.

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