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Historic Moment: For the First Time, Indian Air Force inducts Three Women Fighter Pilots into its fighter Squadron

Mohana Singh, Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi were commissioned in the fighter stream of the air force on Saturday, June 18, at a parade in Hyderabad

FILE - A woman poses for a photograph next to an Indian Air Force (IAF) light utility helicopter on display at Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru, February 18, 2015. Image source: Reuters
  • Women pilots make up about 100 of the air force’s 1,500 pilots
  • Mohana Singh, Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi were commissioned in the fighter stream of the air force 
  • These Three women fighter pilots will be trained for a year before they get to fly supersonic warplanes by next year in 2017

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has inducted three female fighter pilots marking the first time one of the world’s largest militaries has opened the door to women in combat roles.

Mohana Singh, Bhawana Kanth and Avani Chaturvedi were commissioned in the fighter stream of the air force on Saturday at a parade in Hyderabad.

It’s a huge step forward for the 1.2 million strong Indian armed forces that has trailed countries like the United States, Britain, Israel and neighboring Pakistan in allowing women into the cockpit of fighter jets.

The Indian air force could blaze the trail for the army and navy. In February 2016, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee announced in parliament that women will be allowed in all fighter streams of the armed forces.

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Asked about the challenges she is likely to encounter as a woman fighter pilot, Mohana Singh shrugged, “Nothing different from my male counterparts, as much as they face.”

Women pilots make up about 100 of the air force’s 1,500 pilots, but have so far served only in helicopter and transport units.

Three women pilots-Bhawana Kath, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh the newest fighter pilots of Indian Air Force who were inducted into the force on Saturday in Hyderabad. Image Courtesy: K.V.S. Giri
Three women pilots-Bhawana Kath, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh the newest fighter pilots of Indian Air Force who were inducted into the force on Saturday in Hyderabad. Image Courtesy: K.V.S. Giri

The three women fighter pilots will be trained for a year on Hawk advanced trainer jets before they get to fly supersonic warplanes by next year.

The Indian air force has called their induction a “progressive step in keeping with the aspirations of Indian women and in line with contemporary trends in armed forces of developed nations.”

But it also says the induction has been made on an “experimental basis,” which it will study for five years. Observers take that as an indication that although a step forward has been taken, gender parity will only creep in slowly in the armed forces.

For the Indian forces, women’s vulnerability if captured and the challenge of frontline deployments have been major sticking points.

Former air vice marshal Manmohan Bahadur with the Center for Air Power Studies in New Delhi told VOA the armed forced are taking a cautious approach. “So the point is: Is putting women in combat in harm’s way that has to be accepted by society. For India it has happened now, in other countries it has happened earlier,” he says.

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Part of the nudge to change attitudes towards women came from courts, which have ruled in favor of better working conditions for female officers and called on the armed forces not to block their progress. Until 2010, they were only offered temporary commissions of up to five to 10 years.  Women constitute a mere 2.5 percent of armed personnel, most of them administrators, intelligence officers, doctors and nurses.

Bahadur says the change in attitude to women in combat will happen slowly. “It is a natural tendency to shield the women. That may happen in the initial stages, but after some time, it will become a day in and day out affair and then it does not matter. So it is a gradual process that should be allowed to take place.”

The induction of the three women received huge coverage in the Indian media with newspaper headlines like “Women Fighter Pilots Break Cloud Ceiling,” and “No Sky Too High.”

Meanwhile, the female fighter pilots are excited about their pioneering role. “The only thing I would like to say is dream big and work for it. If you really wish to do something, all the ways will automatically open for you,” says newly commissioned fighter pilot, Avani Chaturvedi. (VOA)



  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Yes, these women are making their way breaking all the stereotypes. Women pilots in IAF is a great achievement by them.

Next Story

Menstruation Not a Taboo in Hindu Culture

Irony is that today, those very people who first advocated the stopping of ‘shameful and orthodox’ rituals of celebrating menstruation

sindoor a cultural identity of every Hindu women (wikimedia commons)

By: Sunila Goray Raj

Menstruation is Far From Taboo in Hinduism.
There is so much to be said about it all – but here I only want to focus on the leftist’s latest favorite topic : Menstruation.
A survey conducted in USA in 1981 showed that a substantial majority of U.S. adults and adolescents believed that it is socially unacceptable to discuss menstruation, especially in mixed company. Many believed that it is unacceptable to discuss menstruation even within the family. Studies in the early 1980s showed that nearly all girls in the United States believed that girls should not talk about menstruation with boys, while more than one-third of girls did not believe it appropriate to discuss menstruation with their father.
In Hindu culture, a girl who achieved menarche, or her first period, was feted, and pampered at a ceremony where family and close friends gathered and lavished gifts on her. The girl would be bathed in fragrant water after applying oil, turmeric etc. she would be bedecked in fine clothes, flowers and ornaments – and her feet would be washed. This is because Hinduism celebrates, and does not abhor menstruation. The Shakti philosophy upholds it as a gift which is responsible for creation of life.
Devotees singing in front of Kamakhya temple (Hindu Council Of Australia)
The Kamakhya Temple in Assam celebrates the annual menstruation of the Goddess – and there is no idol there, just a structure that resembles the yoni, or the female symbol of creation.The Chengannur Temple in Kerala has a tradition of bathing the idol in a grand ceremony after her ‘period’ is over. According to the Kalika Purana, Kamakhya Temple denotes the spot where Sati used to retire in secret to satisfy her amour with Shiva, and it was also the place where her yoni (genital) fell after Shiva danced with the corpse of Sati. It mentions Kamakhya as one of four primary shakti peethas: the others being the Vimala Temple within the Jagannath Temple complex in Puri, Odisha; Tara Tarini) Sthana Khanda (Breasts), near Brahmapur, Odisha, and Dakhina Kalika in Kalighat, Kolkata, in the state of West Bengal, originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati.
The temple remains closed for three days during the Ambubachi mela for it is believed that mother earth becomes unclean for three days like the traditional women’s menstrual seclusion. During these three days some restrictions are observed by the devotees like not cooking, not performing puja or reading holy books, no farming etc. After three days devi Kamakhya is bathed and other rituals are performed to ensure that the devi retrieves her purity. Then the doors of the temple are reopened and prasad is distributed.On the fourth day the devotees are allowed to enter the temple and worship devi Kamakhya.
Many religions have menstruation-related traditions, for example: Islam prohibits sexual contact with women during menstruation in the 2nd chapter of the Quran. In Judaism, a woman during menstruation is called Niddah and may be banned from certain actions. Western civilization, which has been predominantly Christian, has a history of menstrual taboos.
Forced by a tradition to live alone in a hut during menstruation, an 18-year-old Nepali woman died of snake bite. Flickr
Some Christian denominations, including many authorities of the Eastern Orthodox Church and some parts of the Oriental Orthodox Church advise women not to receive communion during their menstrual period. In certain branches of Japanese Buddhism, menstruating women are banned from attending temples.
In Japan, the religion of Shinto, the Kami, the spirits they worship, would not grant wishes if you had traces of blood, dirt, or death on you. In some portions of South Asia, there is a menstrual taboo, with it frequently being considered impure. Restrictions on movement, behaviourand eating are frequently placed.[57] The Yurok in North America practiced menstrual seclusion. Yurok women used a small hut near the main house.
BONUS FACT: Hinduism is the only mainstream religion which worships God in the female form – for wealth (Lakshmi), education (saraswati), and courage too (Durga) – we worship Goddesses. What greater women empowerment can there be? To accuse Hinduism of gender disparity is beyond ridiculous!
An orchestrated effort is being made, or should I say, has been made for several years now, to denigrate Hindu customs and culture. In the whole uproar over Sabarimala, the issue being tom-tommed by pseudo liberals is Women’s rights – gender equality, and especially the whole taboo surrounding menstruation – and all of it is nothing but a distortion, and concoction, where the narrative is being twisted to suit the agenda of certain vested interests.
Menstruation, Hinduism
Ambubachi mela 2016 is the most important festival of Kamakhya temple of Guwahati and is held every year during monsoon .It is a ritual of austerities celebrated with ‘Tantric rites’. It is a common belief that the reigning diety, ‘Kamakhya’ , ‘The Mother Shakti’ goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this period. Flickr
In the West, media houses like the BBC and CNN are upholding Kanakadurga and Bindu, who pretended to be transgenders, and were whisked into Sabarimala in ambulances with the support of plains clothes cops, as ‘defenders of women’s rights’.
I do not know if I should shake my head, or tear my hair out in frustration.
With the advent of western education, especially missionary education, Hindus were made to feel that this whole ceremony is horrendous – how can you announce that your daughter has now started menstruating, what an embarrassment, how orthodox, what a shameful ritual, how backward – these were the things we were told. And instead of trying to resist, and make others understand what this ceremony meant, and its deep significance – we (me included) hung our heads in shame, relented, and agreed with them.
Today hardly anybody performs this ceremony for their daughters, because we were taught by those who came from outside that it is taboo, and shameful. We also joined the bandwagon which proclaimed menstruation to be ‘filthy’.
Irony is that today, those very people who first advocated the stopping of ‘shameful and orthodox’ rituals of celebrating menstruation, are mocking Hindus about women entering Sabarimala and turning it into a ‘menstruation taboo’ issue, whereas clearly, it is not that at all.
Today, those very same people are trying to prove themselves as modern and as the harbinger of women’s rights and equality by conducting a festival dedicated to menstruation – styled ‘Aarpo Aarthavam’. It is laughable! The hypocrisy is just unbelievable.
So please stop trying to fool gullible people, because there are still many of us who know the truth. (Hindu Council Of Australia)