Composure, valour: What Abhinandan got from mother courage


CHENNAI: When Dr Shobha Varthaman
walked off the Indigo flight from Chennai to Delhi on Friday, calmly acknowledging fellow passengers’ standing ovation, something familiar resonated among those who have known her.

They were quick to connect the composure, bravery and valour Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman displayed to his mother, who has healed the wounded in far-flung war-torn countries and some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones.

“It’s just the way she is,” said senior neurosurgeon Dr K Ganapathy, her batch mate who has been a close family friend. “She was a fun loving and intelligent student,” he told TOI. Dr Varthaman, an anaesthesiologist by training, graduated from Madras Christian College in 1973 and went on to complete her post-graduate studies from Royal College of Surgeons of England.

In her career, she has volunteered for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and served in dangerous remote locations, such as Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Liberia, Iraq and Iran.

Group Captain Tarun Kumar Singha, a retired IAF fighter pilot who knows the Varthaman family personally, told media outlets Dr Varthaman also served as MSF medical director on the Iran-Iraq border and was involved in providing healthcare services in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.


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