Though the Stereotype of gender bias is still prevailing in many parts of India but daughters have proven their mettle in all the spheres of life and outshone boys. They have elevated themselves to heights and are on top of the hierarchy. From statesmanship to aeronautical engineering, women have been walking parallel to men in all the spheres of life. Many icons like Indira Gandhi, Kalpana Chawla, Sunita Williams, Tina Dhabi, and many others have emerged as role models for an Indian woman in particular and global women in general.
Kashmiri daughters are not far behind rather have made prominence in different walks of life. In the recent past, Syed Sehrish, Ruvaida Salaam like daughters have displayed extraordinary excellence at national level. Though the daughters of urban areas are privileged enough with lots of facilities and platform available but a Kashmiri daughter from a rural background has carved a niche for herself at national level some 25 years back but couldn’t enjoy limelight and media coverage which kept her lesser known to masses.
Yes, I am talking about Sami Ara Surury, Kashmir’s first commercial pilot from northern Kashmirs Sumbal tehsil in Bandipora district. Born to Ghulam Mohiuddin and Mukhta Begum, Sami found an educated environment from her home as both her parents were educated government employees. Her father was a government servant and her mother a teacher. Sami attained her primary education at primary school Sumbal. She was the only girl student in the area’s boys high school. During those days in the area, girls were encouraged to help their parents with domestic chores instead of going to school. After passing her matriculation examination with flying colors, Sami joined M L Higher Secondary School, Hajin for further studies. Sami was the apple of every eye in the school for her all-around capabilities. Besides being sharp in studies, she was an outstanding debater, orator and athlete. After passing her 12th class examination, she was yearning to become a doctor but couldn’t crack the common entrance test. Her passion to excel in life didn’t stop her from chasing her dreams. She didn’t lose hope rather came up with courage and enthusiasm to face the challenges of life very bravely.
She went for her BSC degree and was probably the first female science graduate from Sumbal area. After her graduation, she was longing to go for her master’s degree but there was something else in store for her. She opted for a private job at a meagre salary but this didn’t impress her as she had to be an achiever. According to Sami, hardships and difficulties never stop a person from chasing his/her dreams rather these things make a person stronger and bolder enough to overcome difficult times in life. Sami didn’t give up and continued to look for new fields to explore. After some months, she applied for the job of air hostess and luckily, she got selected. This boosted her morale and gave her self-confidence. Now, Sami began to prepare herself for a bigger endeavour. She kept working hard while earning. Her job of airhostess didn’t stop her from working hard in academics. She used to study late in the nights because she had to perform a challenging job in aviation during the day. Sami began to dream for a bigger career in aviation. Yes, beyond her stint of air hostess. After many years of hard work, she had gathered enough merit and other requirements to go for commercial pilot training in Texas USA. She completed her training in a record period of three months and was qualified enough to fly an aeroplane. Yes, Sami was now a licensed commercial pilot and probably the first lady pilot of Kashmir valley. She gave wings to her dreams. She showed that hardships can’t deny a person from his/her realizing wishes.
Sami is married to a commercial pilot from Madhya Pradesh and is blessed with two cute sons. According to Sami, ” I have earned enough name, fame and wealth. I wish to sensitize young people particularly girls about the career options in aviation and other sectors. I want to eradicate the stigma of gender bias from my society, particularly from rural areas. Though the scenario is quite different and encouraging compared to my childhood when women education was stigmatized in our valley but we have still a lot to do”. Giving the credit of her success to her mother and her own hard work, Sami believes that strong willpower and concrete intentions can do miracles.
Sami has become a new media sensation in Kashmir, with lots of fans and followers. She is visiting educational institutions, colleges and universities to interact with students. She counsels young people about new career options, particularly in aviation. She has become an instant celebrity. People want to see her, talk to her, media hoses including print and electronic ones interview her. Very recently, she appeared on Doordarshan Kashir channel where she made interesting revelations about her journey.
She is gaining popularity among young people for her adventurous and sensational career. Flying in air tempts every human being so she is followed by people as a source of inspiration. Samis tagline on her twitter handle describes her ambitions: When dreams take flight sky is the limit.
However, her journey has not been easy. As there is a wise saying that Rome was not built in a day, same is the case with Captain Sami Ara. Her journey has been full of challenges and hurdles.
It was very difficult for her to pursue her dreams because, during those days, girl’s education was a social taboo in her part of Kashmir. A girls career in aviation was a tall order but Sami defied all odds and broke the shackles of stereotype to prove her mettle. She brought laurels to whole Kashmir by becoming the first lady pilot of Kashmir.
Her feat can inspire many young girls to choose their careers in aviation. It can persuade parents to allow their daughters to interpret their dreams outside their homes. Not only girls but boys too derive an inspiration from Captain Sami Ara to do well in life.
Those who still consider the birth of a female child inauspicious and a bad omen must check their conservatism because Captain Sami Ara is a glorifying example of excellence which has proven the notion wrong that girls are not at par with boys. This daughter of soil has outclassed boys from her early days of schooling to the licensed commercial pilot. We wish this daughter of land will continue to inspire us. We wish her all the best for her future endeavours.