Today there is hardly any field where women haven’t made their presence felt whether it’s exploring the sea as marine conservationists or embarking on novel space expeditions, they have indeed been there and done that. The same holds true with the Indian Air Force, Navy or the Army, where women have accomplished commendable feats right from riding fighter jets to serve on-board submarines, piercing through the battle zone.
Indian women are doing the unbelievable and breaking the glass ceilings creating history for the nation. These women are achievers par excellence and dedicated to realize their dreams. Last month Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha declared that India has the highest number of women pilots in the world.
“India is the country with the maximum number of women pilots in the world, be it in Air India or Indian Air Force. This is a testimony of the contribution made by women to the aviation sector and also by the country to their careers”, Sinha said.
Avani Chaturvedi is one such woman who wishes to fly higher and make a breakthrough into the combat zones. She is the first ever Indian woman to fly the MiG-21 Bison and all that at the tender age of 24.
But higher as she flies more grounded is her attitude towards life. On a humble note she says, “I was just at the right place at the right time. I was a part of a team, so anyone else in my place would have done the same.”
Avani gets delighted on the fact that in another year she will become a fully operational fighter pilot and give a competition to her male counterparts. She took her first solo sortie on MiG 21 Bison on February 19th. Chaturvedi is one of three first women to join the league of fighter pilots, besides, Bhawna Kanth and Mohana Singh.
In October 2015 the government first took the historic step of induction of women pilots into the Indian Airforce. However the Army and Navy are yet to incorporate women into the combat zones due to some logical and operational constraints.
Avani Chaturvedi’s success is an inspiration to many women who are seeking to challenge the stereotypes in male dominated fields.
Avani shares her heart warming message for all the women aspirants to mark the International Women’s Day, she says, “At any point in life, be it in any field, women should not feel that they are different, rather they should focus on doing their best in whatever they do, find their own voice and the rest will fall into place. If you are good professionally and competent, then everybody would accept you,”.
She adds that every woman has the mettle to shine bright, they should give it their best shot and the rest will fall into place automatically.
“Never lose hope” is her motto in life. Avani believes in equal opportunities for all and claims the same perspective is followed in the Indian Airforce.
” It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. Our training process was similar. We all had to follow a similar schedule and treated equally,” says Avani.
After giving wings to her dreams Avani is all set and excited to fly a French Rafale warplane.
India is set to launch its first series of Rafale aircraft and let them flown by September 2019 and by 2022 it targets to introduce 36 more Rafale fighter jets in its crew.
Endorsing a bunch of new age women fighter pilots into mainstream Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa stated, “It’s baptism by fire…if our women fighter pilots can fly the MiG-21s, then they can fly any aircraft in our fleet,”.
It’s 25 years since women have ushered into the IAF with 104 out 1600 women enrolled in flying roles. Today these brave women have made the nation proud with their free spirit and indomitable approach towards their goals. Jai Hind.