Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, March 3:
Biju Patnaik with his dashing feats and influential political skills has till date impressed the young and old alike. Not just in his own state, Biju was lauded for his bravery around the globe. One of the eternal motivating factors in Biju’s life was Gyan Patnaik: The valiant lady of Biju. Besides being Biju’s ever supporting wife, Gyan had everything which made her an achiever in her own right!
Gyan, the fiercely adventurous Punjabi lady was one of India’s earliest women aviators. Proudly enough in 1930s, she was one of the first women in the country to get a commercial pilot’s licence. With a will of steel, this woman of substance co-piloted her husband in one of his historic rescue operations. Standing strong with Biju, Gyan accompanied him in the dead of night to rescue the Indonesian leader from Java which was then occupied by Dutch. Thereafter during 1946-49, Gyan frequently visited Indonesia with Biju for providing humanitarian supplies and assistance for Indonesia’s rehabilitation.
Gyan was even an underground participator in India’s freedom struggle and a personal witness to the history of India. She was also at Biju’s side during the evacuation of British families from Rangoon when the Japanese forces advanced on Burma. The couple later worked closely with Nepal’s democratic movement in the early 1950s.
Having an ardent passion of the knowledge of science, Gyan was deeply dedicated to ensure the reach of science for the upliftment of the society through the Kalinga Foundation.
Also read: Biju Patnaik cycled all the way to Peshawar!
She was not only the source of inspiration for Biju but even ministers of high rank like Rural Development and Industries Minister, Biswa Bhusan Harichandan used to take her advice on crucial matters.
Gyan however remained limited to the visits of Odisha and preferred to stay at the couple’s Aurangzeb Road house in Delhi. She would go to Odisha only during winter which led Biju to describe her in jest as “His Winter Wife”
Also read: Why Indonesia is indebted to Biju Patnaik?
Survived by her two sons, Prem and Naveen and daughter Geeta Mehta, Gyan became a true role model for all. She was 89 when she passed away and later a bronze statue was unveiled in Bhubaneswar in her honour.
We salute this gutsy Punjabi lady for defying all odds, who not only took woman empowerment to a new height but also fearlessly stood by Biju Patnaik during thick and thin.