25-year-old Taniya Sanyal has scripted history by becoming the first woman firefighter at AAI. In a conversation with Airports India, she discusses her motivations, fears and shares her message with the women of tomorrow.
From a student of Botany to now being the first woman firefighter at Aai—what has been your motivation?
First of all, thank you for having this conversation, and I want to thank Airports Authority of India for giving me this opportunity. From childhood, I wanted to do something different that can bring a positive change in the society. I remember watching Kiran Bedi on the news in my early-teens. She is known for her exceptional service to society – I am greatly inspired by her. Also, my grandmother is my inspiration, as she was also a government employee and she always motivated me to strive for the best!
What has been the reaction of your family on you choosing an unconventional career?
I have indeed been very lucky in this aspect. My family doesn’t think that an unconventional career should be reason enough for not pursuing that career. It is only because of my parents that I am where I am today. I will give all the credit to them. They have supported me right from the beginning — accompanying me to the entrance tests, motivating me for physical examinations — they have always been by my side. I have never received a single negative comment from them or from any of my friends. My elder sister too is always by my side, as are my friends. Even when I have had doubts in the past, they have stood by me. They always thought this was an opportunity to prove myself, and here I am today—all thanks to their support and motivation. I am especially grateful to my grandmother, whom I mentioned. Though she is no more, she has been a motivational figure since my childhood and I know that she would be delighted to see where I have reached today.
How is AAI preparing you for the job? Were there any physical limitations that you had to overcome?
I am still undergoing training at FTC, Delhi. I still have miles to go to become a true firefighter. I will do my best, hoping for the best. I think if you truly want to do something great then you have to step out off your comfort zone, I did the same. Initially it did take some time, but now I have completely adapted myself. I always believe in myself that yes, I can do it! Due to the conducive environment at AAI and the very helpful instructors, I am performing well beyond I had imagined.
What has your experience been of training to become a firefighter in a batch full of male colleagues? Were there any particular fears (that you had to overcome) or has it been a confident journey?
Firefighting is all about discipline. They teach us how to maintain discipline and give our 100 per cent to the task at hand. Most importantly, our prime mantra is “tranaye seva mahe” that means, we are always ready to help the people when they are in trouble. It is an amazing journey actually, because in our day to day life, we don’t get to tackle fire and the related exigencies. It feels good now that in the event of fire I can do much more, and, I can do that with utmost confidence!
As the first female firefighter at AAI, you have laid the stepping stone for a new legacy –what will be your message to the women of our country?
Women symbolise power, i.e shakti. There is nothing that we cannot do. The only thing necessary is to dream and be completely focussed on our goal. This is what I have done. There will be various challenges but you need to be determined to defy all the odds and pursue the objective. That is how women are eternally built by Lord Almightly. We can absorb all pain and difficulties to soar high in any field at par with our male counterparts. Believe in yourself and the world will be all yours. I can surely say that it is not the physical or social barrier for us (the women of today), it is only the mental barrier that we need to overcome.