The Indian culture upholds women. Manusmriti does state that ‘that land is holy and worthy of living where women are worshiped’; but this is not what Indian society reflects in few cases. Yet, we are constantly striving and working towards this goal. One such example is of an exemplary woman called Prem Mathur.
When it comes to equality, women in India have always been given a secondary position. Even today, the society freely criticizes female drivers for small errors as compared to rash driving in case of men. However, one has to accept the positive, overlook the negative and move forward in life. The actions of the society on these grounds are not dissuading women from driving any sort of vehicle today. In fact, the number of lady-driven cars, bikes is on the rise. Women are also capable of driving vehicles on air and sea.
The determination of one such woman 60 years ago helped instill faith in the capability of women at large. That courageous woman was Captain Prem Mathur.
Sylla Petit, the sister of J.R.D. Tata, was the first lady pilot. She would fly as a hobby. Having obtained her license from Bombay Flying Club, Petit flew just for the sake of fun. Her younger sister, Rodabeh Tata also followed suit. However, these ladies would fly for the joy of it. They didn’t have any specific ambition with regards to flying. Things were different in case of Prem Mathur. She took to flying as a hobby but went on to become first commercial lady pilot in India.
Prem Mathur obtained her flying license from Allahabad Flying Club and wished to work as a commercial pilot. Men did not approve of a woman’s capabilities to handle emergencies. The persons in-charge turned down Mathur many times. Earlier she won the air race in 1949 conducted by the Aero Club. She appeared and passed the interview conducted by Deccan Airways, Hyderabad in 1951. She was then appointed as co-pilot. The senior could not muster the courage to give her full command. Unhappy, Ms. Mathur then went to Delhi to fly private aircraft of G D Birla. She then joined Indian Airlines and worked for three years.
As a courageous woman, she chased her dream and accomplished it. She is a woman Indians should be proud of, for she embarked on a new path. Albeit a less traveled one in times when women were still coming to the forefront. It is women like Prem Mathur who prove that India has immense potential to grow on social and professional fronts.