PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS TO IAF PERSONNEL ON THE EVE OF REPUBLIC DAY-2006
Air Marshal – Sharad Yeshwant Savur AVSM, Avinash Deodatta Joshi VM, Avdesh Kumar Singh AVSM VM VSM, Jaspa! l Singh Gujral VM VSM, Fali Homi Major AVSM SC VM, (Mrs) Padma Bandopadhyay (Retd) AVSM VSM.
Want to know more about (Mrs) Ai Marshal Padma Bandopadhyay (Retd) AVSM VSM ??? See here
http://www.asha-foundation.org/women/wo ... adhyay.php
Air Marshal Padma Bandopadhyay was born as Padmavathy Swaminathan to Shri. V. Swaminathan and Smt. Alamelu at Tirupati – the abode of Lord Venkateshwara – on 04 November 1944. Shri. Swaminathan was a Central Government employee working in Delhi. Her mother Smt. Alamelu was a house-wife. Padmayathy Sawminathan was born as the second child in the house. She has one elder brother and two younger brothers. As she grew up, she saw her mother fall sick,who was almost in the hospital for the rest of her life. She was so concerned for her mother that on that day she made a vow to herself that she would some day become a doctor and cure her mother and also thousands of such people who suffered. Her father cooked, washed their clothes and fed them. He even took food to her mother at hospital. He was a dedicated employee and spent most of his time at work and the rest of the time divided for the care of his children and ailing wife. Padma’s propensity to work hard is probably the result of such exposure in childhood. Padma’s father was very strict and all his children feared him. He was instrumental in instilling those true values of life such as simplicity, love towards fellow beings, adherence to truth and respect for elders.
She completed her basic and early education at Madrasi School in Mandir Marg at New Delhi. She grew up watching cricket, football and tennis with friends and neighbours of her age. A day came when every young male neighbour of hers was drafted and sent to 1965 Sino-Indian war, and suddenly at midnight she would hear her neighbours weeping. She listened to untold stories of misery at Indo-China Border. She heard about the unforgiving snow, which had killed thousands and handicapped many more. Her determination to serve the nation stemmed from these incidents. She was also very keen to join the Armed Forces Medical Services. With the determination and the will to succeed in her mission, she changed her subjects from Humanities to Science. Many neighbours and relatives tried to dissuade her and her parents. They told them of many stories of young girls getting burnt and injured by chemicals in chemistry labs and ultimately remaining unmarried for the rest of their lives. But the determination of young Padma and her father’s unflinching support helped her to stand up against all odds.
Many of the colleges refused to give her admission into the Sciences – their only reason was that she would not cope with the Science subjects. Padma’s father went from one college to another and finally he was able to convince the Principal of Kirorimal College and Padma joined pre-medical classes. She not only excelled but also stood first in the whole course. Luckily for her, the Armed Forces Medical College opened in Poona in 1962. She applied to the College and passed the entrance examination in the first batch. However, sending a daughter far away from home to stay in a hostel and study for a medical course for 5 years was out of question for Padma’s family members, and so she did not join AFMC. The following year she convinced her parents and joined the ‘B’ Batch of AFMC.
During her studies, she excelled in every field and passed with many prizes, medals and cash prizes. She opted for the Air Force and she was posted as an Internee at Air Force Hospital, Bangalore. This is where she met her husband to be, Flt Lt Satinath Bandopadhyay. He was the Administrative Officer of the Unit and was known as a very strict officer. But then, the destiny was for them to unite. So they came together in wedlock on 13 February 1969. After Bangalore, Padma was posted as the Medical officer to Air Force Station, Halwara – a forward base very near to Indo-Pak border. She was instrumental in establishing an antenatal clinic, family ward. She also improvised incubators for pre-mature babies, which not only saved the lives of three babies but also brought her laurels from superiors and families.
Ms. Padmavathy Swaminathan, now called Mrs. Padma Bandopadhyay was busy attending to her busy work schedule and family too. She learnt and changed her life style from that of a Tamilian Brahmin to Bengali Brahmin. Her dynamic personality is evident by her fluency in Bengali and familiarity in Bengali Traditions so much so that hardly anyone can tell that she adopted this culture after spending 1/3 of her life in another culture. The Bandopadhyays first son, Amiya was born on 07 June 1970. Though the couple spent most of their time at work, whatever time they had available was spent in bringing up Amiya in a homely atmosphere and educating him.
During the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, both Flight Lieutenants Satinath Bandopadhyay and Padma Bandopadhyay contributed significantly to the war effort. They both won appreciation for their dedication to their duty and service to the nation and were decorated with Vishisth Seva Medal. This was history. Nowhere in the world had a couple been awarded at the same investiture ceremony by the head of the nation, the President.
Meanwhile Sqn Ldr Padma Bandopadhyay went for an Aviation Medicine Course at Institute of Aviation Medicine, Bangalore. During this period their second child, Ajit was born on 15 March 1975. Ajit was born just a day prior to her postgraduate exams. She cleared the exams to become the first Lady Aerospace Medicine Specialist despite so many hurdles. The Bandopadhyays totally sacrificed their personal comforts and went without sleep and sometimes food for the sake of duty and children. Both the children were also very caring about their parents and took pride in what their parents were doing. They studied well and were God-gifted. Both were brilliant in their studies and won scholarships. They were the aspirations of their parents. During this time both Satinath and Padma Bandopadhyay were again commended for their dedication to service by the Chief of the Air Staff.
Time and tide waits for none. Sqn Ldr Padma Bandopadhyay became Wing Commander and she was posted to DIPAS where she did laudable research work on high altitude. During this time she lived at High Altitude areas both in the Western and Eastern Himalayas. She was instrumental in making the new acclimatization schedule for Indian Soldiers at high altitudes and preventive measures to HAPO and HACO. She even went to North Pole during these years, becoming the first lady to go to North Pole. She stayed there for six month during winter months and concluded research on extreme cold effects on Indian soldiers. On her return, she was awarded Indira Priyadarshini Award for being an Outstanding Lady with so many achievements. This was the first time any Lady in uniform was honoured with this Award. She was also awarded the Air Force Wives Welfare Association Trophy by AFWWA.
Padma was promoted to the rank of Group Captain and was posted as Deputy Principle Medical Officer (Specialist) of Western Air Command, Indian Air Force when Indo-Pak relations reached their lowest ebb. During the Kargil Operations she toured all the forward areas and looked after the medical needs of the Air Warriors.
On 26 June 2000, she made history again by becoming the First Lady Air Commodore of Indian Air Force. She took over the command of the most prestigious Air Force Medical Unit, Air Force Central Medical Establishment. Once again history was made, when she was awarded Ait Vishisth Seva Medal for her service of meritorious order on 26 January 2002. She was promoted and became the First Lady Air Vice Marshal of Indian Air Force and also the first of all the Air Forces of the world. She took over as Additional Director General Armed Forces Medical Services. She did laudable job and was promoted to the highest rank of the Medical Branch – Air Marshal on 01 Oct 2004. She took over the command of Air Force Medical Services and became the first lady Air Marshal of the world
and also the first Lady Director General Medical Services of the forces. She is also the first Lady Honorary Surgeon to the President of India
After retirement she plans to spend her time with her two sons. Her first son, Amiya Banerjee is now a Psychiatrist and Consultant at VIMHANS. He is married to Dr. Neelam Banerjee and they have two sons, Arjun and Madhav. Her second son, Ajit is a senior Engineer at Amazon.com in Seattle, USA and is married to Myriam. Padma wants to spend the precious time of her life with her grandchildren. And also she wishes to engage herself in social service and teaching. She has been a mentor to numerous people and is an inspiration to thousands. She is a story of struggle and success. Her perseverance, high spirits (even when trotting downhill), will and dedication towards duty are only a few of her virtues. The youth and old alike look up at her with pride and wish that someday they too would be like her, or have children like her.