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.

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