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Anganwadis to now impart lessons from Abhilash Tomy’s epic voyages

Devpt comes after Smriti Irani’s declaration that there’s plenty on pages of Forces to inspire GOA : Soon, anganwadis across the country will be imparting students with invaluable lessons from the journeys of Indian circumnavigators, including Abhilash Tomy, who braved tempestuous seas, perilous weather, and immense isolation to script maritime history.

The development comes in the wake of Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani’s declaration on Tuesday that there’s plenty and more on the pages of our Forces to inspire the nation’s children.

“We will ensure that the stories of circumnavigators of the Indian Navy are told at all anganwadis across the country. Young children will be inspired by these stories, where challenges have been met with much fortitude,” Irani said. There are over 15,000 anganwadis in Kerala, and nearly 14 lakh across the country. The minister was speaking at the flag-in ceremony of INSV Tarini at INS Mandovi in Goa. On May 23, the Indian Navy’s sailing yacht completed its 17,000 nautical mile-long voyage and docked for the first Indian on Indian shores in nearly seven months.

As an example to her aforementioned ‘pages of inspiration’, the minister drew attention to Cdr Abhilash Tomy’s (Retd) journeys, which, in a way, had been a catalyst for the Navy losing some of its drag and embracing circumnavigation projects in all earnestness exactly a decade ago. On the minister’s proposal, Cdr Tomy said, “It’s a fantastic idea. Looking back at my childhood, such stories have inspired me to take up sailing. In a similar vein, I think we should talk about this in all school textbooks.”

“Kerala’s history syllabus has some details, but elsewhere we are still reading about The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, etc.,” Lt Tomy told TNIE. During the event, the minister also touched upon Cdr Tomy’s valiant run in the 2022 Golden Globe Race, which saw the naval aviator claim a podium spot, thereby becoming the first Asian to do so. The feat assumes significance given how only five years before, taking part in the race’s previous edition, Cdr Tomy suffered a debilitating injury which saw him having to “learn how to walk again”.

Captain Dilip Donde (Retd), the first Indian to circumnavigate the world, echoed similar sentiments as Cdr Tomy. “It is a magnificent idea!” he told TNIE, adding that “anganwadis have a wide network and this will ensure that these stories travel far and wide.” For Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi (Retd), the skipper of INSV Tarini’s first voyage in 2017, the minister’s proposal came as a wonderful delight. There are many in her home state of Uttarakhand who’ve not even seen the sea, yet, from a young age, Lt Cdr Joshi harboured a desire- to not only witness the majestic vastness of the sea but also master it.She wished that she had known from a young age the many avenues that existed.

“Children should indeed be aware of the many opportunities that exist and the dreams that they can nurture,” Lt Cdr Joshi told TNIE. On May 23, when INSV Tarini returned after its long voyage from Goa to Rio de Janeiro and back, there were two on board - the only women officers of the crew - who had taken to sailing inspired by the journeys of Captain Dilip Donde and Cdr Abhilash Tomy - Lt Cdr Dilna K, who hails from Kozhikode, and Lt Cdr Roopa Alagirisamy, a Pondicherry native.

“During the whole voyage, I had the company of books that detail the historic voyages of Dilip Donde and Abhilash Tomy. Their and Tarini’s previous journeys inspired me. It was only two years ago that I picked up sailing. I accomplished what I did because these stalwarts had created the way for me,” Lt Cdr Dilna told TNIE. Lt Cdr Roopa, too, expressed similar sentiments. “The Indian sailing community owes much to these men and women,” she said.

Inspired by their works, she too keeps a personal blog, documenting the ways of the water and how she, too, can master it. “Tarini’s journey will resonate with every citizen of the country, especially young women and girls who will look at the Indian Navy for an opportunity to serve,” Irani said, showering praises on the Navy’s most recent voyage. Though Tarini’s expedition had come to an end, “the adventure is only beginning,” said Admiral R Hari Kumar, the Chief of Naval Staff.

To add another page of inspiration to the Navy’s proverbial story, “These two women are training to undertake our most ambitious voyage yet - to see a women naval officer sail around the world, solo and unassisted,” Adm Hari Kumar said.At present, India has eight on the list of sailors who have circumnavigated the world. List of Indian circumnavigators Captain Dilip Donde Cdr Abhilash Tomy Lt Commander Vartika Joshi Lt Commander Pratibha Jamwal Lt Commander Swati P Lieutenant Aishwarya Boddapati Lieutenant S Vijaya Devi Lieutenant Payal Gupta (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)