Padmavathy Bandopadhyay

Bandopadhyay in 2012
Birth namePadmavathy Swaminathan
Born (1944-11-04) 4 November 1944 (age 79)
Tirupathi, Madras Presidency, British India (now Andhra Pradesh)
Service/branchIndian Air Force
Years of service1968–2005
Rank Air Marshal
Service number11528 MED (MR-2246)
Commands heldDGMS(Air)
AwardsPVSM, AVSM, VSM, Padma Shri
Alma materArmed Forces Medical College, Pune
Spouse(s)Wg Cdr Sati Nath Bandopadhyay (m. 1968–2015; his death)

Air Marshal Padma Bandopadhyay, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, PHS (born 4 November 1944) is a decorated former flight surgeon in the Indian Air Force. She was the first woman to be promoted to the rank of Air Marshal in the Indian Air Force. She is the second woman in the Indian Armed Forces to be promoted to a three-star rank, after Surgeon Vice Admiral Punita Arora.

Early life

Bandopadhyay was born as Padmavathy Swaminathan on 4 November 1944 at Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh into a Tamil speaking Iyer family. When Padma was four or five years old, her mother contracted tuberculosis and eventually became bedridden. As a result, Padma's thoughts have been consumed with medical difficulties since she was a small child, and she also took on the role of her mother's primary caretaker while she was still quite young. In addition, her neighbor in the Gole Market neighborhood in New Delhi was Dr. S. I. Padmavati, Professor of Medicine at Lady Hardinge Medical College. Padma has said that her experience with her mother's illness and hospitalization at Safdarjung Hospital, and having a neighbouring lady doctor with the same name as her were early motivations to become a doctor.[1]


She studied at Delhi Tamil Education Association Senior Secondary Schools in the humanities stream. After graduating from school, she made the difficult and uncommon transition from humanities to the science stream in Delhi University. She studied pre-medical at Kirori Mal College and then joined the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, in 1963.


She joined the Indian Air Force in 1968. She married Wing Commander S. N. Bandopadhyay, a fellow air force officer.[2] She was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM)[3] for her conduct during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Sati Nath and Padma were the first IAF couple to receive a President's award in the same investiture parade.[4]

She was the first woman to become a Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Society of India and the first Indian woman to conduct scientific research at the North Pole.[5] She is also the first woman Armed Forces officer to have completed the Defence Services Staff College course in 1978.[6] She was the Director General Medical Services (Air) at the Air Headquarters.[7] In 2002, she became the first woman to be promoted to air vice marshal (two-star rank). She subsequently became the first woman air marshal of Indian Air Force. Bandopadhyay is an aviation medicine specialist and a member of the New York Academy of Sciences.[8]

Military awards and decorations

Ati Vishisht Seva Medal Vishisht Seva Medal Paschimi Star
Sangram Medal Operation Vijay Medal High Altitude Service Medal 50th Anniversary of Independence Medal
25th Anniversary of Independence Medal 30 Years Long Service Medal 20 Years Long Service Medal 9 Years Long Service Medal

Awards and honors

See also


  1. ^ Bandopadhyay, Padma (21 December 2017). The Lady in Blue: The memoirs of First Lady Air Marshal. Zorba Books – via Amazon.
  2. ^ "तेजस्विनीः भारत की पहली महिला एयर मार्शल, डॉ. पद्मा बंधोपाध्याय से ख़ास बातचीत". Archived from the original on 15 December 2021 – via
  3. ^ "Service Record for Air Marshal Padmavathy Bandhopadhyay 11528 MED at Bharat". Bharat Rakshak.
  4. ^ Limca Book of Records: India at Her Best. Hachette India. 5 May 2018. ISBN 9789351952404.
  5. ^ "Success Story".
  6. ^ "Marching Ahead: 14 Incredibly Brave Women in Indian Armed Forces Who Broke the Glass Ceiling". The Better India. 24 January 2017.
  7. ^ Kumar, Anshika (15 September 2017). "Padmavathy Bandopadhyay – Inspiring story of the first woman Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force".
  8. ^ "First woman Air Vice Marshal". The Times of India. 26 November 2002. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Padma Awards 2020 Conferred To 13 Unsung Heroes Of Medicine". Medical Dialogues. 27 January 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2020.