Squadron Leader Arpita Mukherjee got commissioned on 27 Jun 2009 in 33 SSC (W) G Course and she got promoted to Sqd Ldr on 27 Jun 2015. An accountant officer and part of the ground duty team, she has completed nine years in the Indian Air Force and been on the commentary team since her commissioning. “I was an RJ earlier so it was easy for me. RJing and this kind of commentary are similar since they are dynamic. However, RJing is more fun and frolic where you can be a little frivolous in passing comments but we work in a zero-error environment here. It involves technical terms you need to know; you can’t say something that is not correct or approximately correct,” she says. She has also done a commentary for the Republic Day parade in Delhi.
An ex-radio jockey, a commentator and a squadron leader at the Indian Force are the varied facets of a diverse career that our woman in uniform Arpita Mukherjee has had. This human dynamo who ditched the popular life of an RJ over joining the Indian Air Force and adorning the uniform, is an inspiration to the youth who are undecided about their calling in life. In an interview with us Arpita Mukherjee, a squadron leader with Indian Air Force who hails from Indore talks about her childhood, varied career choices and realising her calling of serving the nation.
Here is her interview with Times of India
Tell us a little about your childhood? What is it that you wanted to become as a kid?
I wanted to become many things when I was a kid. I hail from an open-minded Bengali family with working parents and the Bengali gene itself brought the creative streak in me to the fore. This creative streak got coupled with the right amount of extra curriculum activities in school and thus my average grade in academics got the thrust from my participation in sports like basketball and volleyball, declamation contests and classical dancing. My mother has always believed in being self-reliant and hence the feeling of being self-reliant was engraved in me from my very childhood. I started working from class 11 th for my pocket money and it’s an awesome feeling when I look back and take a note of my early work experiences ranging from being an assistant manager marketing to a public relation officer and then a radio jockey. It definitely gives a paradigm shift to a conventional pattern of working. In short, in my early age I had the hunger to do and experiment with everything all at once and just wanted to be versatile.
Talk about your stint as an RJ for a year?
While I was pursuing my MBA in advertising and public relations, I gave auditions for an RJ at one of the leading media houses and was absorbed immediately. I used to host two shows, one in the morning and another one in the evening. But despite enjoying the name, popularity and the glamour of being a Radio Jockey, the pull of being in a uniform kept calling me.
How did Indian Air Force happen to you? Talk about your versatile career and how did you prepare for it?
Like I mentioned the power and the pride of wearing a uniform is one thought that used to always fascinate me. Even while working as an RJ, I used to miss the crude and rough life that I sporadically enjoyed while attending the NCC camps. Though, I developed the desire of serving the nation since childhood as many of my paternal relatives were in the defence forces, hence I have always had a glimpse of how a defence life is. But the insight was provided once I joined NCC-Air Wing, there I came to know about the unlimited job possibilities that air force offers. So, once in NCC I learnt how to apply for the competitive exam, I took up some brush up courses and applied for SSB through my graduation. I could crack through the exam, completed a year’s training and joined the accounts department with the Indian Air Force as an officer. In fact, after joining the Indian Air Force as a stroke of luck and because of the unlimited opportunities that Air Force offers I was allowed to work as a commentator at various forums. My first assignment came out to be the felicitation ceremony of Sachin Tendulkar as an honorary group captain. And then there has been no looking back and I have anchored the best of events. I have been working as an air force commentator now. I have anchored eight air force day parades and many other events. As a fluke since past three years I am the commentator for ministry for defence that conducts the Republic Day parade and have been hosting the grand event. So, irrespective of being a squadron leader and a ground duty officer and not being a direct part of the operation, Indian air force has allowed me to both- embrace the uniform and continue my passion of being a commentator.
What is it that you love about your job the most?
The thing that it allows us to explore beyond imagination- the places, the people, the working setting. It helps me do a job and lead a life which is versatile.
After achieving so much, what is it that you still long for doing?
I am an animal lover, a dog lover to be precise. I want to open a dog shelter house for the strays. Though, I do foster dogs occasionally but I would want to spend my major time with dogs once I retire. Also, I love travelling, so I would like to explore the umpteen unexplored places.
Who were the women you used to draw an inspiration from as a kid?
The first wonder woman for every child is the unsung hero of the house- the mother and so was mine. I have always marvelled at the way my mom used to manage the office, home and a kid with utmost perfection. She was my super hero since the beginning. And the second woman that I really have been looking up to is Kiran Bedi. I used to get inspired by the poise, the authority and the power that she held in uniform with complete responsibility of doing something for the nation.
A message that you would want to give to the young women who look up to you?
Once you are a woman, you already are wonderful and a super hero. But, remember even the superheroes can be distinguished only once they wear their uniform. So, wear yours with pride and be your kind of wonder woman that you always wanted to be.