Top 10 Incredibly Brave Women in Indian Armed Forces 

Image Source; Women’s Day

In the current years, India has been taking steps to eradicate gender barriers in its armed forces by enabling women to serve on-board submarines, in ground combat positions as well as tank units. In February 2016, President Pranab Mukherjee announced that women will finally be permitted to take up combat roles in every section of the Indian armed forces, signaling a drastic move in the direction of gender parity in one of the world’s most male-dominated professions.
With the IAF previously training women pilots to soon fly fighter jets, the resolution to induct women in combat roles in both the navy as well as the army will provide another chance for women to break the glass ceiling. Yet, even formerly, women hailing from various backgrounds and regions in India have conquer huge odds to flourish in the armed forces.
In this article you will find the Top 10 inspiring stories of India’s most respected female soldiers. With their striking records, they have established latest frontiers for women in combat!


1. Punita Arora

Born into a Punjabi family that moved to Uttar Pradesh, Saharanpur, during partition, Punita Arora is the first woman in India to bag the second-highest rank, Lieutenant General of Indian Armed Forces, and also the position of Vice Admiral of Indian Navy. Previously, Arora was the commandant of the Armed Forces Medical College in 2004, the first woman at the wheel of the institute. In addition she also co-ordinated medical research for the armed forces as additional director-general of Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS). Afterwards, she moved from the Army to the Navy as the AFMS has a familiar pool that allows officers to migrate from one service to another on the basis of the requirement.


2. Padmavathy Bandopadhyay

Padmavathy Bandopadhyay was known to be the first woman Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force. She joined IAF in 1968 and finished her Defence Service Staff College course in the year 1978, fetching the position of being the first woman officer to do so. Not just that, she was the first woman officer to become an aviation medicine expert, the first woman to carry out scientific research at the North Pole and also the first woman to be promoted to the position of Air Vice Marshal. She was also awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal for her meritorious service throughout the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict.

3. Mitali Madhumita

In February 2011, Lt Col Mitali Madhumita became India’s first female officer to be given the Sena Medal for gallantry, a decoration given to soldiers for commendable courage during operations in J&K and the northeast. Madhumita was leading the army’s English Language Training Team in Kabul and was the first officer to reach the Indian embassy in Kabul that came under attack by suicide bombers on February 2010. Although unarmed, she exactly ran close to 2 km to reach the spot, extricated in person nearly 19 officers of the Army training team who were buried beneath the rubble and rushed them to hospital.

4. Priya Jhingal

On September 21, 1992, the energetic Priya Jhingan enrolled as 001 — the first lady cadet to join the Indian Army. Jhingan, a law graduate, had always dreamt of joining the army. In 1992, she sent out a letter to the Army Chief himself, in which she asked him to let women in. A year after, he in fact did, and Jhingan and the other 24 new female recruits started their journey. When she retired, she stated that it’s  a dream that she has lived every day for the last 10 years.

5. Divya Ajith Kumar

Divya Ajith Kumar, at the age of 21 beat 244 fellow cadets to win the Best All-Round Cadet award and get the desirable “Sword of Honour,” the uppermost award given to a cadet of the Officers Training Academy. To attain the “Sword of Honour,” one must triumph the merit list, which consists of P.T. tests, higher P.T. tests, swimming tests, field training, service subjects, obstacle training, drill tests, cross-country enclosures, amongst other things. In the history of Indian Army, the first woman to win this honor was Captain Divya Ajith Kumar. She led an all-women contingent of 154 women officers and cadets for the period of the Republic Day parade in 2015.

6. Nivedita Choudhary

Flight Lt. Nivedita Choudhary became the first woman from the Indian Air Force (IAF) to crest the Mt. Everest – and the first woman from Rajasthan to attain this feat. It was around October 2009 that Nivedita, an IAF officer who had recently joined the squadron in Agra, chanced upon a broadcast calling for volunteers for IAF’s women voyage to the Everest. She volunteered, without realizing that, three years after that, she is going to do what no woman in the air force had ever done. Squadron Leader Nirupama Pandey and Flight Lieutenant Rajika Sharma, the other women on her team, climbed the peak five days soon after.

7. Anjana Bhaduria

Anjana Bhaduria is the first woman to succeed a gold medal in the Indian Army. She had forever wanted to be an officer in the Indian Army. After finishing her MSc in Microbiology, Anjana Bhaduria applied to an advertisement for the introduction of lady officers into the Army through the Women Special Entry Scheme (WSES) and she got into the first-ever batch of women cadets in the Indian Army in 1992. Excelling in all the fields during the training, she was chosen for the gold medal from a batch that comprised of both men and women. She served through the Indian Army for 10 years.

8. Priya Semwal

Priya Semwal scripted history as the first Army jawan’s wife to join as an officer in the armed forces. She lost her husband in a counter-insurgency operation and was introduced into the Corps of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) of the Army as a young officer in 2014. The 26-year-old mother of the then 4-year-old son, Semwal’s future looked miserable when she heard of the death of her husband, Naik Amit Sharma who was serving with the 14 Rajput regiment, in a counter-insurgency operation close to hilly Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in 2012. She then chose to join the army in memory of her husband and his love for his motherland.

9. Deepika Misra

In 2006, Deepika Misra became the first IAF woman pilot to train for Sarang, the helicopter aerobatic team. It was during the period of her passing out parade at Air Force Academy in December 2006 that Deepika Misra, who was then a Flight Cadet, was amazed by the aerobatic displays by the Surya Kirans and Sarang, IAF’s fixed-wing and rotary-wing aerobatic display teams correspondingly. When the IAF sought women pilots to volunteer for the Sarang team in 2010, she jumped at the chance and was among the first to be introduced into the indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter squad.

10. Sophia Qureshi

Lt. Col Sophia Qureshi of the Corps of Signals shaped history when she achieved the exceptional distinction of becoming the first woman officer to escort a training contingent of the Indian Army at Force 18. Held in 2016, she also lead the ASEAN Plus multinational field training exercise. She was furthermore the only woman officer Contingent Commander amongst all ASEAN Plus contingents present for the exercise. An officer from the Corps of Signals of the Indian Army, 35-year-old Qureshi was accepted from a pool of peacekeeping trainers to guide the Indian contingent.




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