Daughter of tea seller tops Indian Air Force Academy

Aanchal Gangwal, daughter of a tea stall owner from MP, bags President’s Plaque

Updated - June 21, 2020 12:51 pm IST

Published - June 20, 2020 10:19 pm IST - Hyderabad

Aanchal Gangwal

Aanchal Gangwal

Suresh Gangwal, a tea stall owner at Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh, was a proud man while watching his daughter on TV. His daughter, Flying Officer Aanchal Gangwal, who graduated from the Indian Air Force Academy on Saturday, bagged the President’s Plaque.

A Computer Science graduate from a government degree college in Neemuch, Ms. Gangwal joined the Madhya Pradesh police department as a Sub-Inspector. Later, she quit the job after being into merit as Labour Inspector. “I worked there for eight months before joining the forces,” she said.

Soon after graduation, she started appearing for AFCAT, and got recommended in SSB in her sixth attempt.

Basketball court to cockpit

A national level basketball player, Flying Officer Antara Mehta, who will soon fly fighter jets, always wanted a ‘life of adventure’ and learn from experiences. “So, I joined the IAF in the flying branch and got commissioned in the fighter’s stream,” the newly commissioned officer, who hails from Nagpur, said. She is the first woman fighter pilot from Maharashtra and 10th in the country. “I will be the first one from my family as well,” Ms. Mehta said.

Childhood dream

Born in a Fauji family from Kathua district in Jammu and Kashmir, Flying Officer Keshav Sharma was always fascinated by the ‘big flying toys’ since his childhood.

Keshav Sharma

Keshav Sharma


His father retired from the Indian Army, while his elder brother was still serving the country. “If you need to be motivated to do something, it tells you that you are not motivated enough. Internal desire is what counts. My fascination for defence forces is attributed to the experiences of my life,” he said.

Lazy no more

Always chided for his lazy attitude by his parents, Flying Officer Umesh Girimallanavas was equally confused to choose his career, while he was in the final year of engineering. A native of Sankeshwar in Karnataka, he is now a proud son. “I saw the pride in my father’s eyes when he told his parents that I could earn money in any profession, but only as a soldier I could earn respect and serve the nation,” he said.

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