Indian Air Force is one of the mightiest air force in the world. It is fourth in the world in terms of strength. Indian Air Force is known for its modern fighter fleet and perfection in flying skills. It is a long journey and a history to tell, there are some people who raised this great institution. Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee is one of the men who has played a very important part to establish the defence of the independent India.
Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee was born on March 5, 1911, and was the youngest among all of his cousins. The cousins had incredible careers. His sister, Renuka Ray, was a freedom fighter who would later become a well-regarded parliamentarian of her own kind. His older brother Prosanto became the chairman of the Railway board.
Subroto’s parents was expecting his career in medicine but destiny decided something different and adventurous for him. He was even sent to the Cambridge University in England to prepare for a medical career. When he was in Britain, the British government, under growing pressure from Indians who wanted greater representation in the Army, announced that it would start the IAF wherein only Indians would be selected to serve. Subroto received a press clipping of the notification and he finds it interesting.
He wrote the entrance exam despite the doubts of his mother in 1929 and soon became one of the six Indian recruits who was trained at the Royal Air Force in UK. During his training he helped set up an Indian library for the Indian airmen and even wrote a letter to his mother, asking for old books from their home.
Subroto became one of the six who was commissioned in the Indian Air Force and was part of the first squadron raised in the Indian Air Force. In 1939, Subroto had been promoted to Squadron Leader and he was the first Indian ever to achieve this position. In 1942, he became the first Indian to lead an RAF station. In 1945, he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
After Independence, when the people who were serving in the Indian Air Force would have to be divided between India and Pakistan. Subroto wanted the British Officer to stay for five or seven years. He made this decision for the betterment of country’s air force by stalling his promotion for the same time period. He put country first before himself setting up of the tradition of sacrifice and service before self.
In 1952, he joined the Imperial Defence College in England for further training. He looked towards the position of Chief of Air Staff but that become a reality in 1955, which was the changed name of Commander-in-chief of the Indian Air Force. He was the only Indian to hold both COAS and CICIAF both positions.
At the younger age, he once tried to calm down his mother by saying that his death would not be caused by flying planes. He wasn’t aware of the end which was very near, he died in a restaurant at Tokyo when food got stuck in his windpipe. After every effort, he met with an untimely demise.
Subroto Mukherjee will always be remembered as the father of Indian Air Force. A football tournament is conducted on his death and today the tournament is one of the biggest inter-school football tournaments in India.