Radhika Menon: India’s non-fictional Aquawoman
Issue 15 | September 27, 2020
Gender bias; a predicament encircling humanity since time immemorial. Every part of the world, at some point in time, has been beset by the same and unfortunately, many still fall into its clutches. Despite living in the 21st century, a time of modernisation, men and women continue to remain unequal when it comes to enjoying privileges. Sure, there is an immeasurable distinction between the musculature of men and women and, yes, owing to which the average man is, as likely as not, physically more skilful than an average woman. That is perhaps why men took decisions for women in the era of extreme physical brutality and rageful wars. Maybe, this favouritism was necessary back in the day and maybe, in a way, mankind did help women by suppressing their freedom. However, that era is long gone, times have changed and so should our perception, our frame of mind and our actions. Although countless valient women have quashed sexism and achieved their goals, this segment aims at recognizing the invaluable efforts of the current head of the Indian Merchant Navy, Captain Radhika Menon.
Radhika Menon, the first woman to receive the IMO Award for showing exceptional valour at sea, is also the first female captain of the Indian Merchant Navy. Born in Kerala, she was extraordinarily good in academics and extracurricular activities. In school, she was the most zealous among all her classmates; and with her intelligence, hard-working self, and unparalleled commitment, she achieved near to everything she wanted. It was this commitment and dedication that led her to explore the seemingly impossible paths of life which most women, due to oppression, do not even dare to dream.
Although Radhika faced immense resistance from her family and relatives concerning her decision to pursue a career in the maritime industry, her inborn passion to serve as a desirable model guided her through all the aversion and opposition. This passion is what took her to the All India Marine College, Kochi, where her life turned around and prepared her for the exemplary role she was always destined to play.
Radhika, post enrolling in the institute, opted for a radio course and in 1985, upon completion of this one-and-a-half-year course, went on to become the first woman ever to serve as a radio officer in the Indian Merchant Navy. This was a significant feat in itself because back in the day only men were regarded as suitable for this industry. Although she started off as a radio officer, Radhika never meant to stop there. With her ambitions soaring high and her skill-set just in place to back them up, she completed her master’s degree and kept gathering invaluable experience at sea. Needless to say, her hard work, intelligence, and enthusiasm paid back. In truth, really well!
Her dream became a reality when she was promoted to captain of the Indian Merchant Navy in 2012. With her promotion, she gained immense power and responsibility.
Although Radhika, while in power, carried out numerous successful projects, the one she undertook recently in 2015 tops the list. She, along with her brave and trusted comrades saved seven fishers left stranded at the mercy of the sea. The rescue mission was unbelievably tricky, yet with her incomparable intelligence, quick thinking, and vigour, the team saved the fishermen. This mission made Radhika receive the prestigious Exceptional Bravery at Sea Award from the IMO.
Her story shows that a woman can achieve anything she sets their mind to; she just needs to trust herself more than the opinions of others.