On 19 February, one of India’s first woman fighter pilots Avani Chaturvedi flew a MiG-21 Bison solo.

Born on 27 October 1993 in Madhya Pradesh, Avani did her schooling from Deoland, in the Shahdol district. She also has a Bachelors in Technology from Banasthali University, Rajasthan and in the year 2014, she paved her way towards becoming a pilot by passing the Indian Air Force (IAF) examination. Coming from a family of army officers where her elder brother works for the armed forces, Avani considers her brother an inspiration.

Sadly it was only in the year 1991 our country introduced women pilots in the IAF for choppers and carrier aircrafts. Currently, combat roles for women in the Indian Army and the Indian Navy are still off limits due to a combination of operational concerns and logistical constraints. But that did not deter Avani, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh to join the ranks of fighter pilots in the country.

Till date countries like Britan, United States, Israel and Pakistan have women who fly fighter crafts. The Union Government in the year 2015 decided to open the fighter stream for women in India on an experimental basis – only for five years and these three women cleared the gruelling tests of the IAF and had put in 150 hours of flying.

Not to forget that these three women had to fight out the men’s club and undergo arduous tasks to qualify for flying fighter jets in place of choppers and carrier aircrafts or normal aircrafts. It is sad that the government had implemented the rule for only five years but Avani proved them wrong by flying the fighter jet MiG-21 Bison from the base camp in Jamnagar.

It is equally sad that the armed forces started recruiting women for their fighter camps only in 1992, apart from the only woman’s entry to the medical stream which is equally tough and we know our country has the best of lady doctors on whom we can write about separately.

Air Commodore Prashant Dixit told ANI, “It is a unique achievement for Indian Air force and the country”.

The media is flooded with news congratulating her on her solo achievement. It’s a condemnable act that in spite of so many achievements by women in any category – as a stuntwoman in movies, as a sportswoman, as a danseuse, as a filmmaker, as an engineer, as a doctor and many other categories, each time we need to shout out for proper justice to us women.

So is the government satisfied now that we need no experiments but are capable of flying a fighter craft and are ready to take charge in case of a real-life fight to save the nation which has turned into a land of hatred and violence against women?

It is high time we women need to unite and face society. We need improvement in our sectors and not false felicitations with a medal or a bouquet of flowers.

Currently, combat roles for women in the Indian Army and the Indian Navy are still off limits.

I conclude this essay by congratulating Avani Chaturvedi on her success. I need to mention that Avani is not only good in flying but is equally adept at chess, table tennis and is also a good painter. Avani, you have reached the open sky at the tender age of twenty-four and your fighter wings will be an inspiration to all women and also payback to our misogynist society.

Last but not the least, let me remind people of the thirteen women in IAF services, as we need to remind our patriarchal society that we exist and can fare well in any field:

  1. Punita Arora
  2. Padmavathy Bandopadhyay
  3. Mitali Madhumita
  4. Priya Jhingan
  5. Divya Ajith Kumar
  6. Nivedita Choudhary
  7. Anjana Bhaduria
  8. Priya Semwal
  9. Deepika Misra
  10. Sophia Qureshi
  11. Shanti Tigga
  12. Ganeve Lalji
  13. Gunjan Saxena

If you run out of heroes, be one. So we women are true heroes. The hurdles take just a bit longer to cross, but it results in a lasting impression, as shown to us by Avani Chaturvedi and her flying the Mig-21 Bison aircraft.

Also Read: India’s First Women Fighter Pilots: Combat Roles Are Not Just For Men


Featured Image Credit: India Times

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