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Air Marshal,Padma Shri, PVSM, AVSM, VSM

Mrs. Padma Bandopadhyay (Retd.)

She graduated from the Armed Forces Medical College in 1967. Her Post-Graduate degrees include Diploma in Aerospace Medicine from Bangalore University in 1975, MSC (Defence Sciences) from Madras University in 1978, MD Physiology from Pune University in 1984 and PhD in High Altitude Physiology in 1995.

She was born at the temple town of Tirupati, in a pious South Indian, middle-class family rooted deeply in its values, customs, and traditions. Before she was selected to the Armed Forces Medical College, she had dropped out of a tailoring school, and then was the first to change from Humanities to Science stream.

During her four decades in uniform, she contributed her knowledge and skills during 1971 Indo-Pak war and 1999 Kargil war. She worked extensively in the field of Aerospace Medicine for selecting pilots, and for improving their flying skills with aeromedical training. This involved research in the field of hypoxia and G-stress, as well as designing flying clothing to enhance the pilot’s flying skills. She conducted extensive research in high altitudes to prevent mountain sickness in Armed Forces personnel and formulated a new acclimatisation schedule. She conducted research in the icy Arctic during winter months, to devise measures to improve the fighting capability of Armed Forces personnel when exposed to extreme cold.

She retired as Director General Medical Services (Indian Air Force) in 2006. Post retirement, she interacted with Government and Non- Governmental agencies to conduct health camps. Through Telemedicine, she is providing healthcare to patients belonging to economically weaker sections in far flung areas in eastern UP. She perceived the importance of mental health issues while delivering these services and equipped herself with the necessary knowledge and skills. She completed a Certificate Course in Adolescent Health and Counselling in 2015.


As a member of the Advisory board of the mental unit of Nirmal Chaya complex and other homes for children in need of care and protection and in conflict with law. Her help in conceptualising reform and rehabilitation strategies for women and girls and in changing Manas Foundation gender sensitization programme for commercial drivers in Delhi and NCR is invaluable. She has helped many young girls by educating them. During her innumerable interviews, she has stressed on women’s education and empowerment with her personal example. 

She has many Firsts to her credit.

  • She and her husband are the first couple in uniform to be decorated with the Vishisht Seva Medal on the same day at the same Investiture parade in 1973.
  • First lady Aerospace Medicine specialist in India.
  • First Lady Officer to have successfully completed Defence Services Staff College.
  • First to conduct research in the icy Arctic during winter of 1989-90.

For her exceptional service, she has been conferred with Presidential awards: Param Vishisht Seva Medal (2006) and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (2002).

She was conferred ‘Padma Shri’ in the year 2020 in recognition of exceptional and distinguished service in the field of Medicine.

Work Life balance- Her advice to women:  Do not neglect work as well as family. While working, remember work and do your duties to your best. At home spend maximum time with family. Time management is very essential.