09/10/2019, 17.34
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Anupriya Lakra, a tribal Catholic, is the first woman commercial pilot in Odisha

The 27-year-old comes from St George parish in Malkagiri. Only 41 per cent of tribal women are literate. The young woman will start work later this month.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Anupriya Madhumita Lakra, a 27-year-old Catholic, is the first ethnic Orao woman to get a commercial pilot license.

News that she was hired by IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation Limited), an Indian low-cost airline, to work as a co-pilot starting in September, went viral, arousing admiration for the young woman born into a tribal community in Malkagiri district.

She “is an example for other tribal girls,” said Fr Simon Eluvathingal, who served the Malkangiri parish (St George Catholic Church) for three years.

Anupriya is the daughter of Mariniyas, a policeman, and Jaman Yasmin, a housewife. As a child, she studied at the Dipti Convent School in Malkangiri, in the Diocese of Rayagada.

When the family moved to Semiliguda, she continued her studies at the Jeevan Jyothi Convent School. After studying engineering in Bhubaneswar, she was admitted to the Government Aviation Training Institute (GATI) in 2012 where she passed her exams.

Her parents made great sacrifices to enable her to study, often borrowing money from relatives and friends. Her success, they say, "is proof that nothing is impossible if we have the courage, the attitude and the will to realise our dreams."

The State of Odisha (Orissa) is on India’s east cast. Tribal communities represent 22.95 per cent of the population, 57.4 per cent in Malkagiri. The State literacy rate is 73 per cent, but only 41.20 per cent for tribal women.

For Niranjan Bisi, tribal leader and Odisha Adivasi Kalyan Mahasangha president, “it is a matter of pride for tribals that a local woman will now fly a plane.”

Anupriya’s mother is grateful to the Lord for her daughter's success and does not regret the sacrifices they made. “I am very happy. Her success will inspire other girls,” she said, adding that parents should encourage their children.

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