|An Indian Air Force Personnel
|Being one of the first Indian women IAF officers to fly in a combat zone (Kargil War)
|Physical Stats & More
|Date of Birth
|Year 1975 She The People
|Age (as in 2020)
|Hansraj College, University of Delhi
|Reading, Exploring New Places
|Awards, Honours, Achievements
|Shurya Chakra Award by the Indian Army
|Relationships & More
|Name Not Known (an Indian Air Force Mi-17 Helicopter Pilot)
|Son: Not Known
Daughter: Pragya (born in 2004)
|Father- Anup Saxena (an Indian Army Officer)
Mother- Name Not Known
|Brother- Anshuman Saxena (an Indian Army Officer)
|Basket Chaat, Kulfi Falooda
Some Lesser Known Facts About Gunjan Saxena
- She was born and brought up in a family of soldiers, where both her father and brother were in the Indian Army.
- She always wanted to be a part of the armed forces. In an interview, while talking about her father, she said, “He would always tell me and my elder brother that he wanted us to ride from a tricycle to an aeroplane. And when as a fifth grader I was shown a cockpit by a cousin who happened to be an Indian Airlines pilot, I decided that I only wanted to fly.”
- She completed her schooling and moved to Delhi for her graduation from Hansraj College. There, she also joined Safdarjung Flying Club, New Delhi to learn the basics of flying. After completing her graduation, she started applying to get a job as a pilot.
- In 1994, Gunjan Saxena got selected into the group of 25 young women; the first batch of women IAF trainee pilots.
- The first posting of her career was in Udhampur, Jammu and Kashmir (Himachal Pradesh). In an interview, she said that
“When a course mate and I reached the Udhampur unit, we saw that basic things like a separate washroom and a separate changing room for women weren’t there. To ensure privacy, me and my other female coursemates would take turns standing guard at the gap, while the other changed inside. Thankfully, that arrangement ended soon.”
- In 1999, during the Kargil War, she got the opportunity to prove her mettle along with Srividya Rajan. She flew her small Cheetah helicopter through hostile mountain territory to supply medical evacuation, spotting Pakistani positions, and rescue injured soldiers in the war. She proved her spirit brilliantly in the Kargil’s Operation Vijay and became the first ever woman pilot of IAF to do so.
- In an interview with NDTV, she said that
“It was the evacuation of the injured Indian Army soldiers that motivated me the most during the war. I think it is the ultimate feeling that you can ever have as a helicopter pilot. That was one of our main roles there – casualty evacuation. I would say it’s a very satisfying feeling when you save a life because that is what you’re there for.”
- As the role of women in the Indian Military has always been a subject of discourse; especially in combat zones, their service has often been cut-short as compared to those of men. Due to this discrimination, Gunjan Saxena’s tenure as a chopper pilot ended in July 2004; after seven years of her service.
- For her outstanding service in the war zone, she was honoured with the Shaurya Chakra Award (a gallantry award presented for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice while not engaged in direct action with the enemy) by the army and became the first woman to receive this honour.
- She is often referred to as the “Kargil Girl.” After her tenure as a short service commissioned officer, now, she is a homemaker, married to an IAF officer, and lives with her family in Jamnagar (a city in Gujarat).
- Here is a video on Gunjan Saxena’s journey:
- In 2018, Jhanvi Kapoor was roped in Gunjan Saxena’s untitled biopic.
- To view the biography of Gunjan Saxena, check out the video below.