Indian Naval Officers Vijay Varma, P Rajkumar conferred with The Straits Times Asian of the Year 2018 Awards

Indian Naval Officers Commander (Pilot) Vijay Varma and Captain (Pilot) P.Rajkumar honoured with Straits Times Asian of the Year 2018 Awards

Another proud moment for India and its Navy, as Commander (Pilot) Vijay Varma and Captain (Pilot) P. Rajkumar were conferred with The Straits Times Asia of the Year Awards for what The Strait Times report called, their death defying rescue flying during the floods in the south Indian state of Kerala. In fact, The Straits Times Asia of the Year 2018 was awarded to four men of courage and two disaster relief organisations. Collectively billed as The First Respondents, the report said, they are the late Singaporean Paraglider Ng Kok Choong, Indian Navy Helicopter pilots, P. Rajkumar and Vijay Varma, Dr. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for Indonesia’s National Agency for Disaster Management, besides that Singapore’s Mercy Relief and the Jakarta-based (Indonesia) Asean Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre). The winners were announced on November 28, 2018 at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum 2019, said the report.

From (L-R): Indian Naval Officers Vijay Varma, P Rajkumar conferred with The Strait Times Asian of the Year 2018 Awards. Photo: Twitter.

Floods in Kerala

In what could be termed as the worst ever disasters in the annals of Kerala, the tiny south Indian state faced continuous downpour resulting in heavy floods all across the state. With scores of navy helicopters, the pilots of Indian Navy undertook high-risk missions to save people from rooftops and isolated land as Kerala battled a flood crisis in August this year, the report pointed out.

Commander Vijay Varma, 42, who won several laurels for leading the the rescue in a district of Kerala’s port city Kochi, winched up a heavily pregnant woman, who later had given birth just after being airlifted to safety. Furthermore, the 54 year old Captain Rajkumar, with his world of experience, winched 26 trapped persons up from a rooftop in Kochi, while making sortie between trees and other houses just two days after receiving a medal for saving a fisherman last year, The Straits Times report said and added that a Sea King helicopter pulling up a wheelchair-bound pregnant woman was widely shared on the social media and finally the officer ended up 32 people on board, added the report.