Training fields

List of 15 “first” Indian women who made history in various fields








Dr Tessy Thomas, DRDO scientist, and Usha Kiran, CRPF COBRA commando





These determined warriors, rocket scientists and young athletes come from different regional and societal backgrounds in the country, and their success glorifies the embedded motto of “unity in nation diversity”.














Dr. Tessy Thomas, Managing Director (Aero Systems) at DRDO
Dr. Tessy Thomas, Managing Director (Aero Systems) at DRDO





1. Dr. Tessy Thomas

Thomas, also known as ‘India’s Missile Woman’, comes from a modest background in Kerala and has the privilege of leading the successful launch of the Agni-V missile project, is the first woman in the field to do it. Thomas is a scientist and director general (Aero Systems) at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).







Indian gymnast, Dipa Karmakar
Indian gymnast, Dipa Karmakar





Dipa Karmakar

The 29-year-old is from India’s northeastern state, Tripura. She happens to be the first Indian gymnast in the country to compete in the Olympics. Karmakar made her Olympic debut in 2016, where she finished 4th in the final.







Truck mechanic Shanti Devi at his shop in Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, New Delhi
Truck mechanic Shanti Devi at his shop in Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, New Delhi





3. Shanti Devi

In a profession heavily dominated by men, Shanti Devi is a picture of feminine strength in the modern age. Shanti Devi, 55, has worked as a truck mechanic on the chaotic streets of Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar in New Delhi, the nation’s capital, for two decades.







Deepa Malik, Indian para-athlete
Deepa Malik, Indian para-athlete





4. Deepa Malik

Besides being the President of the Indian Paralympic Committee, Deepa Malik is the first Indian athlete to win a medal at the Paralympic Games. The latter began her sports career at the age of 30 and won a silver medal at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in the shot put. Later, she also won a gold medal in the javelin event at the Para-Athletic Grand Prix held in Dubai in 2018.







WWE Star Kavita Devi
WWE Star Kavita Devi












5. Kavita Devi

Former Haryana cop Kavita Devi made history after becoming India’s first female wrestler to compete in the Mae Young Classic event in 2017. Devi made headlines for taking on the popular neo fighter Dakota Kai from Zealand.







Commando CRPF COBRA Usha Kiran
Commando CRPF COBRA Usha Kiran





6. Usha Kiran

Kiran is the youngest CRPF officer to join the force’s 232 Mahila Battalion in 2014, and after several years of training and service, she became the first woman to be inducted into the commando battalion unit for action Resolved (COBRA) and is currently stationed in the insurgency-affected Bastar of Chhattisgarh.







Indian sprint runner Hima Das
Indian sprint runner Hima Das





7. Hima Das

Das, also known as “Dhing Express”, is the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal on track at the IAAF World U20 Championships. The 22-year-old also holds a national record for the 400-meter sprint with a time of 50.79 seconds.







Indian-American economist Gita Gopinath
Indian-American economist Gita Gopinath





8. Gita Gopinath

Gopinath, an American national, has Indian roots and is an economist by profession. She made the country proud by becoming the first female chief economist at the IMF (International Monetary Fund).







Former Indian Captain Mithali Raj
Former Indian Captain Mithali Raj





9. Mithali Raj

Also known as ‘Sachin Tendulkar of Indian women’s cricket’, Mithali is the only female batsman in the country to have played over 200 ODI matches. The former India captain is also the leading scorer in women’s international cricket.







IAF Flight Lieutenant Avani Chaturvedi
IAF Flight Lieutenant Avani Chaturvedi





10. Avani Chaturvedi

Flight Lieutenant Avani Chaturvedi, from Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, becomes India’s first female pilot to fly a fighter jet solo. Earlier, she was declared the first female fighter pilot along with two of her female colleagues.














Indian boxing champion Mary Kom
Indian boxing champion Mary Kom





11. Mary Kom

Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom became the first woman to win a gold medal for the country at the Olympic boxing tournament. The former MP for Rajya Sabha was a 6-time amateur boxing world champion and recently played in her last Olympics in Tokyo.







Indian Chief Garima Arora
Indian Chief Garima Arora





12. Garima Arora

Indian chef Garima Arora became the first Indian woman to win a Michelin star in November 2018. The 36-year-old is enjoying huge popularity in Indian homes thanks to the reality show MasterChef India.







Indian mountaineer Arunima Sinha
Indian mountaineer Arunima Sinha





13. Arunima Sinha

The Indian mountaineer is the first female amputee in the world to scale the challenging ranges of Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus, Mount Kosciusko, Mount Aconcagua, Mount Denali and Mount Vinson. She has also represented the country in volleyball at the international level.







NASA scientist Kalpana Chawla
NASA scientist Kalpana Chawla





14. Kalpana Chawla

Now, who doesn’t know Kalpana, an Indian-born mechanical engineer and NASA scientist, the first Indian-born woman to travel in space. Chawla made history by flying on the Space Shuttle Columbia as a Mission Specialist in 1997.







Indian commuter Saina Nehwal
Indian commuter Saina Nehwal





15. Saina Nehwal

Indian commuter Saina Nehwal holds multiple accolades in international badminton and is the first Indian woman to rank 1 in the list of top commuters in the world. She also holds 24 international titles as well as 10 Superseries titles.











First Published: November 11, 2022, 04:38 IST



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