Pioneering first woman IAF officer passes away in Bengaluru

The first woman officer of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Wing Commander Vijayalakshmi Ramanan (Retd.) passed away in Bengaluru on Sunday night at the age of 96.

She had pursued her MBBS from Madras Medical College in 1943. Awarded the best outgoing student in 1948, she went on to do her DGO and MD in obstetrics and gynaecology, and worked at Egmore Maternity Hospital, Chennai.

Later, she joined the Army Medical Corps in 1955 on Short Service Commission and was seconded to the Air Force as the first lady commissioned officer as a gynaecologist. She was posted in the Air Force Hospitals in Kanpur, Secunderabad and Bengaluru. During the wars in 1962, 1966 and 1971, she treated wounded soldiers.

Wing Commander Vijayalakshmi Ramanan also learnt Carnatic Music

She and her husband K V Ramanan, who was also an IAF officer and had persuaded her to join the Army Medical Corps, were also the first couple to serve in the Air Force. He passed away at the age of 47, in 1971, after battling cancer.

“Even until 11 days ago, she was alert and had written a note to her attending doctor. And until a few months ago, she was filing her income tax returns,” shares son-in-law SVL Narayan, a retired IT professional.

She pursued her interest in Carnatic music, having learnt from eminent musicians. “She was an AIR artiste from the age of 15 and represented her college in music competitions. She broadcast regularly from Delhi, Lucknow, Secunderabad and Bangalore,” says Narayan.

IAF officer Vijayalakshmi Ramanan (left) with then Vice President S Radhakrishnan

Ramanan was elated when one of her “interns” visited to seek her blessings last year. “Padma Bandopadhyay, who went on to become the first air marshal in the Air Force, was facing opposition from family when she wanted to marry her Bengali colleague. That’s when my grandfather intervened and oversaw the marriage in Secunderabad,” recalls her granddaughter Sukanya.

Reports: The New Indian Express


  • Shantanu K. Bansal

    Founder of IADN. He has more than 10 years of experience in research and analysis. An award winning researcher, he writes for the leading defence and security journals, think-tanks and in-service publications. He is a senior consultant at the Indian Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Shimla. Contact him at:

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