Do not complain if you don’t vote: Sunita Williams

Ahmedabad: Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams on Saturday said staying away from voting in a democratic set up is tantamount to losing one's moral right to complain about deficiencies in the system.

Williams, who had cast her vote through the absentee ballot in the US presidential elections, said youths should participate in electoral democracy.

"Exercising my franchise is something that I take seriously. If you don't vote and then complain about the system, you don't have the right to complain as you've not participated in the process," she said.

Williams was speaking at the Gujarat Technological University (GTU) which presented her with the certificate of honorary doctorate degree, announced in January.

Williams, who holds the record for the longest single space flight by a woman, said in democracy, change is slow but good.

"The only negative aspect about democracy is that change is slow. But, that in a way, is good as rapid (overnight) change is always dangerous. While, slow, evolutionary changes are good for society," the 47-year-old said, bringing the curtains down on her 10-day tour of India.

Earlier, GTU vice-chancellor Akshai Aggarwal presented the doctoral degree to Williams in a function where students from various engineering colleges, affiliated to the university, interacted with her.

When asked about her definition of success, Williams said, "Success is doing things you like, studying what you want to study and finding things that make you happy. There is no specific formula for it. Work hard for what you want to achieve".

Williams, the daughter of neuro-anatomist Deepak Pandya, opined that studying science opens up the unexplored avenues.

"Science gives the opportunity to explore, experiment and opens many unknown avenues. Also, I think, it is inherent in humans to explore, to learn more as sitting still makes them agitated," said Williams who has roots in Jhulasan village of North Gujarat's Mehsana district.

Taksha Rathod, a school girl, was also felicitated at the function for winning a prize in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Olympiad.

GTU was formed in May 2007 with many engineering, pharmacy and management colleges affiliated to it.