Women’s Day Special INDIAN AIR FORCE BREAKING NEW FRONTIERS

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Wing Commander Ankita Taprial was the first woman in her district to be commissioned as a Flying Officer. Here is a conversation with her.

I always dreamt of donning the Defence uniform and joined at the young age of twenty. Life in the blues has been exciting, adventurous and thoroughly satisfying. The Air Force is not a profession but a way of life.

Since I was born in a defence cantonment and grew up in a family of uniformed personnel, I learnt that my family members always had disciplined and gentlemanly conduct. All families on the campus lived like a big family, sharing each other’s happiness and sorrow and celebrating festivals of all religions. The achievements of other officers motivated me to join the forces. Also, the profession was new for girls then, and taking it up as a challenge made me strive hard to wear the uniform.

There have been many instances where we had to work extremely long hours without adequate rest to complete the operational task. The happiness on completion of such tasks takes away one’s fatigue and fills one with extreme satisfaction. Observing how the weakest link in the chain gives their best for the team to succeed is also a pleasure. These are great moments to be cherished for a lifetime.

I spearheaded the entire gamut of Supply Chain Management, entailing logistics operations, warehouse management, inventory control, procurement, leadership and stakeholder management. I also ensured the complete execution and accurate delivery of critical projects within stringent deadlines.

An Air warrior has to be highly disciplined, honest, trustworthy and a keen learner. One must enjoy challenges and perform to the best of their capabilities. They must possess qualities to be a good leader and an efficient team player. They must also keep the honour of the IAF and the country above everything. The motto “Service Before Self” should always be followed by one’s heart.

The most special thing about being a fourth-generation officer is the feeling of serving the Nation as a family tradition and that too as a woman officer. These are undoubtedly the steps towards Woman Empowerment and Gender Equality. It is a matter of pride in the Defence fraternity to serve in the forces generation after generation. I am incredibly fortunate to have contributed in this regard. I would love my daughter to join the forces, too.

The Air Force has taught me the value of time management, which has helped me excel at multitasking. It has enhanced my capacity to stretch my physical and mental agility. The work ethics have taught me how to lead a team efficiently and understand how my work contributes to achieving the organisation’s ultimate goal. This further gives me the satisfaction of a job well executed.

Lippi Parida

Senior Columnist

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