Meaningless Outrage

Today I chanced against a tweet accusing BJD was perpetrating dynastic rule because the Bhuwaneshwar Airport was named after Biju. Here is an extract of an old article:

One of the first woman pilots of undivided India dies

Vivek Shukla

New Delhi—In the death of Gyan Patnaik here on Tuesday , India has lost one of its first woman pilots. She was 90. An ex student of Lahore’s prestigious, Kinnaird college, Gyan basically hailed from Raja Bazar area of Rawalpindi. Gyan was one of the first women in the undivided India to get a commercial pilot’s licence in 1937. She co-piloted with her husband and former Chief Minister of Orissa Biju Patnaik’s aircraft on several adventurous trips around the world. Incidentally, Gyan’s son, Naveen, is the present Chief Minister of Orissa.

Mourning her death, historian R.V.Smih said that with the passing away of Mrs. Gyan, India has lost a towering personality who worked tirelessly for the welfare of minorities also. In order to pay her last respects, a very large number of people, including a few ex students of Kinnaired College also came to her Aurangzeb Road residence, which is very close to the Delhi house of Mr. Mohhammad Ali Jinnah.

Old timers would recall that Gyan and Biju came closer when both met in Lahore in late 30s. They became very close and later decided to marry. One of the many aviation-rated anecdotes about her life was that Biju took his baraat by plane to Rawalpindi for his wedding. It is also said that when the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru sent Biju Patnaik to help the Indonesian freedom fighters, Gyan also went there to support her husband. During 1946-49, Biju frequently visited Indonesia along with Gyan with planeloads of medicines and other humanitarian assistance for the Indonesian freedom fighters. Later the Patnaiks built up excellent ties with Sukarno, who later became the first President of Indonesia. Biju and Gyan Patnaik rescued Muhammad Hatta, the then vice president of Indonesia and Premier Sutan Sjahrir from the Dutch imperialists in a Dakota aircraft and brought them to India.

Gyan Patnaik also worked closely with the Nepalese democratic movement in the early 1950s. Gyan also supported her husband in flying innumerable sorties to evacuate British families from Rangoon as the Japanese forces advanced during the Second World War. Biju also opened supply lines to the Chinese forces fighting the Japanese and the Soviet army resisting Hitler’s aggression.

Even though she was married to Oriya, she remained hard core Punjabi. She used to meet Punjabi authors at her place very frequently.


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