Earlier this week, two Indians—an Indian Navy Commander and Captain (both helicopter pilots)—were conferred with the prestigious Asian of Year award for 2018.
The award was presented to them by The Straits Times, a well-known Singapore daily, for their heroic service and bravery during in rescue operations during the devastating floods in Kerala.
Earlier this year, 42-year-old Commander Varma received widespread recognition for his rescue work in the port city of Kochi, where he airlifted a heavily pregnant woman, who ended up giving birth as soon she landed on safe ground.
Meanwhile, 54-year-old Captain Rajkumar winched 26 people up from a rooftop in Kochi, where they were stranded. During this death-defying rescue act, he navigated between trees and other houses in the vicinity. Last year, he had won a medal for rescuing a fisherman. However, what ended up on social media was a viral video of his Sea King helicopter pulling up a wheelchair-bound pregnant woman.
In total, Captain Rajkumar brought 32 people to safe ground on his helicopter.
However, these two weren’t the only heroes as the Indian Navy pilots undertook high-risk missions to save their fellow citizens marooned by the devastating floods in August.
“This year, the editors are pleased to honour the many men and women of courage and commitment who stepped up in the moment of greatest need,” said a press statement by The Straits Times.
The other two who won the award were Ng Kok Choong, a Singapore national and paraglider, who died while conducting rescue work in the earthquake-affected Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, and Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesman for Indonesia’s National Agency for Disaster Management.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)