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December 02, 2019

First woman pilot welcomed to the Indian Navy

First woman pilot welcomed to the Indian Navy

Sub Lieutenant Shivangi, 24, is the first woman pilot to join the Indian Navy, and her appointment marks a major milestone for the armed forces, considering that until 1992, India’s naval forces only permitted women to serve in medical services. She will be flying the Dornier aircraft, which are used for transport and maritime reconnaissance. “It's a very big thing,” Shivangi told CNN. “It's a big responsibility for all of us and I know that I have to do well.” Commander Sridhar Warrier, defence press relations officer for the navy, said that the class of aircraft Shivangi will be flying “cover large distances over the sea and provide information to the ship at sea of any suspicious or interesting activity happening.”

IZA World of Labor author Sher Verick has looked at the relationship between female labor force participation and economic development. In his article he notes that: “As more women enter the labor force, economies have the potential to grow faster in response to higher labor inputs. Women’s supply of labor increases household incomes, which helps families escape poverty and increase their consumption of goods and services.”

According to figures from the Indian Ministry of Defense, the Indian Navy has positions for 735 pilots, 644 of which are currently filled. Shivangi, who grew up in Muzaffarpur, said that she wanted to become a pilot since she was little. “I was about 10 years old and I was at my grandfather's place and there was some minister who had come to meet people," she said. "I had gone with my grandfather to see it and I saw a man who was flying a helicopter. It was very inspiring for me. In my mind I thought that maybe someday I'll also fly something like this,” she said.

Shivangi’s path led her to completing studies at the Malaviya National Institute of Technology in Jaipur and it was there that she met with a navy recruitment officer. The presentation she saw showed “the various aspects of life in the navy” and that motivated her to drop out of college and join the armed forces. The Indian Air Force welcomed women pilots for the first time in 2016, and in May 2019, Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth became the first woman to qualify to undertake combat missions on a fighter jet. Two other women are also set to become navy pilots on December 21 but for now, Shivangi and the other two women will fly transport planes.

Read Sher Verick’s article Female labor force participation and development.

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