This season is earnestly favouring zealous Indian women, who are setting distinctive examples for the masses. Twenty-four hours after International Women’s Day, when we were still humming the tune of empowered women, another tremendously motivating piece of news came our way. The Indian Air Force is set to present the first batch of women fighter pilots. You read that right! Come June, Flight Cadets Mohana Singh, Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi will be commissioned as IAF officers. Now how is that for some ecstatic celebration?
According to a Times of India report, the trio is currently undergoing training at the IAF academy near Hyderabad. Just like their male counterparts, Singh, Kanth and Chaturvedi underwent Stage-I training on a newly-acquired turboprop aircraft. In Stage-II, they are flying the Kiran Mark-II aircraft. After their graduation in June, they will have to undergo a final Stage-III training on Hawk advanced jet trainers for six months to learn the nuances of combat flying. Sometime in early 2017, the three are expected to become full-fledged and first ever Indian women fighter pilots.
Women have been a part of armed forces since early 1990s, but could serve only for 14-15 years as short-service commission officers. President Pranab Mukherjee, however, opened all combat roles to women in February, 2016.
The initial reservations surrounding women fighter pilots were that they “were not physically suited, especially when pregnant or with other health problems”. These objections now, have ostensibly ben put away.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha was quoted as saying on International Women’s Day, “As of now, three women trainees have volunteered to join the fighter stream. They are undergoing the second phase of their training. Once they complete their training and are at par with their male colleagues, the passing out parade will be held on June 18.”
With women pilots being inducted in the world’s fourth-largest air force, India will join the ranks of countries like US, UK, Russia, Turkey, Israel and Pakistan that already have women flying combats jets for decades.
“It is a childhood dream come true to be selected for the fighter stream… I am continuing the legacy of my grandfather (who was also in the IAF) and father (a warrant officer now posted at Vadodara),” Mohana Singh told TOI.
These women are an inspiration to all of us and especially to those, who still doubt the calibre and strength of women. These people comfortably pass judgemental and sexist remarks from their hideouts and burrows, having no achievements of their own. The India Air Force has taken a step in the right direction, to show the nation that women have as important a role to play in the defence of the country, as men do. In a few months, these three women, will be protecting our skies and our realm. And we are eternally gratified and proud.