“INDIVIDUAL brilliance is not as important as collective competence for success,” says 58-year-old Major General Madhuri Kanitkar, dean of the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune, who will be the third woman in the country and the first paediatrician from the armed forces who has been selected for the rank of Lieutenant General.
Lt Gen Punita Arora was the first woman in the country to don the second highest rank of Lieutenant General in the armed forces. Padmavathy Bandopadhyay is the first woman Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force and the second woman in the armed forces to be promoted to a three-star rank.
Three star officers hold the rank of Vice Admiral, Lieutenant General and in the Air Force, which has a separate rank structure, Air Marshal.
“They have been amazing torch-bearers,” Kanitkar told The Indian Express. “We face a selection board conducted by the Director-General of Armed Forces Medical Services and the three chiefs of armed forces. It is also approved by the Ministry of Defence and the cabinet committee. I have been empanelled but the rank will be assumed only when a vacancy comes up at year-end”.
Kanitkar and her husband Rajiv, also a lieutenant general, will be the first couple in the armed forces to reach this rank. Kanitkar has served in the Indian military for 36 years.
A topper at AFMC and winner of the presidential gold medal for the best outgoing student, Kanitkar completed her post-graduation in paediatrics and training in paediatric nephrology at AIIMS. Kanitkar is also a member of the Prime Minister’s scientific and technical advisory board.
The first trained paediatric nephrologist of the armed forces, Kanitkar, who single-handedly set up units to monitor kidney ailments in children in Pune and Delhi, had returned to her alma mater, AFMC, as its first woman dean in 2017. “We are brimming with ideas to upgrade medical education and research. Towards this goal, we have been permitted to establish a multidisciplinary research unit at AFMC under the aegis of the Indian Council of Medical Research. Recently… Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services, Lt Gen Bipin Puri, announced setting up of a medical research unit,” said Kanitkar.
“I had made a timeline plan and my team at AFMC worked overtime to full our dreams for the college. The aim is to get the status of an institute of national importance and help align medical education and medical research to improve public health in our country. Eventually the path from illness to wellness is when the ‘I’ gets replaced by ‘We’,” she said.