Vijayalakshmi Ramanan, the first woman IAF officer & a doctor always ‘prepared for an emergency’

Vijayalakshmi Ramanan

Vijayalakshmi Ramanan, the first woman officer in the Indian Air Force (IAF), was credited with several “firsts.” She not only was the first woman to wear a saree as a uniform, but she also created it. Wing Commander (retd) Ramanan passed away in Bengaluru on Sunday, October 18th, at the age of 96. Her family buried her ashes in the Cauvery River in Srirangapatna on Tuesday.

Prior Health Complications

Her son-in-law, S.V.L. Narayan, told ThePrint that Ramanan had experienced health problems in the last ten days and had been transferred to the IAF’s Command Hospital. She died quietly late Sunday night. She continued to be highly active till the very end. Ramanan had even written a handwritten note to her doctor just days before she died,” Narayan added.

Ramanan was born on February 27, 1924, and graduated from Madras Medical College in 1943, where she was recognised as the best outgoing student in 1948. Madras University additionally honoured her with the Balfour Memorial Medal for Medicine and the Prize for Surgery.

She completed her MD in obstetrics and gynaecology before joining the Army Medical Corps on August 22, 1955. Ramanan was eventually transferred to the Indian Air Force, where she became the force’s first female officer to be enrolled under the Short Service Commission.

The Devi Project

“For quite a few years, I was the only girl officer in the air force,” Ramanan stated in a 2018 interview with the Devi Project, a documentary film studio. There were possibly just a dozen female officers in the army and navy combined. I was first nervous about working with males, but I was brave and convinced myself that I could handle anything.”

While her father, World War I veteran T.D. Narayana Iyer encouraged her to join the forces, it was her husband, Wing Commander K.V. Ramanan, who brought her an application form and encouraged her to join the forces, according to Narayan.

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