Captain Tarun Kumar Singha, a retired IAF fighter pilot from Assam in an article with an English daily spoke about the role of Wing Commander Abhinandan’s mother Dr Shobha Varthaman in shaping up her son’s career in the Air Force.
A graduate from Madras Medical College, and a post-graduate in Anaesthesiology from the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Dr. Shobha was a volunteer member of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), translated ‘Doctors Without Borders’. She worked extensively in conflict zones around the world, including Liberia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Papua New Guinea, Haiti and Laos. Her work with the
MSF work exposed her to some of the most conflict-ridden zones and unstable political situations.
She had also seen death at close quarters and escaped a suicide bomb blast when she was working in Sulemaniyah, Iraq during the Second Gulf War of a suicide-bomb blast. She also taught the Indian technique of breathing—Pranayama for a holistic approach to soothe the war torn nerves of her Iranian patients, which was well received.
As the Chief Medical Coordinator, she had the arduous task of overseeing the rehabilitation of victims of sexual violence and HIV. Her work took her to places which were in war and also to the remotest of places like Papua New Guinea where she had to live with the tribals. Her travels around the world had exposed her to various problems faced by the people and that though foreign aid assistance many countries lacked basic amenities. Her next exploration mission was in Laos.
A dedicated Doctor and wife she also joined her husband Retd Air Marshal S Varthaman on his diplomatic sojourns as a senior IAF officer managing both her professional and personal life perfectly and being a great influence on Abhinandan Varthman.