JULY 2001- Contents

Indo-Pak Focus
50Year Photo Retrospective

The 'People' Effort

Agra Summit- the happier moments

Begum Sehba Musharraf's time in India

Cuisine Diplomacy

Open Letter to the General and the PM

Indo-Pak Reconciliation School

Kiran Bedi's screen debut 

Fashion & Lifestyle
By the Young, for the Young' 

Fashion Graduates - India

Pakistan School of Fashion Design

Adopting Historic sites

Benoy Behl- documenting
India's ancient art

Preventive Medicine - How it

Aamir Khan - an interview

Adnan Sami

'United for Gujarat' - the first South Asian concert'

Travel & Adventure
Dr. Kamal Vilku -India's first lady in Antarctica

Speaking Stones - Heritage
Sites in India


Editor's Note


the craft shop

the print gallery





the-south-asian.com                               July  2001

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Isidore Domnic Mendis

She is the first Indian woman to travel to Antarctica and stay in the frozen continent for 16 months. Dr. Kamal Vilku's spirit of adventure can be gauged from the fact that she was 51 when she was selected for the expedition. Age, for this intrepid lady, is just a state of the mind…..

Apart from India, 27 countries have put up 44 stations in the Antarctica, mostly for the purpose of scientific experiments. Russia has five, America four and India, China, Japan and South Korea one each. The Indian station called Maitri (Friendship)  is India’s second station. The first, Dakshin Gangotri constructed in 1983 submerged in ice in 1989.

Antarctica_Doctor_Vilku1.jpg (25131 bytes)  Antarctica-Dr_Vilku_ice_cave.jpg (30245 bytes)
Dr. Kamal Vilku - the first Indian woman in the Antarctic
" After the dark winter, the first sunrise is precisely for four to five minutes. And that is celebration time for teams of all countries"

What do IPS officer Kiran Bedi, Everester Bachendari Pal, sky diver Rachael Thomas, shehnai player Bhageshwari Qamar, tabla player Anuradha Pal and now Dr. Kanwal Vilku have in common?

They have all achieved a first. More precisely, they are the first Indian women to carve a niche in a field that was traditionally male dominated. Most of these women are by now well-recognized figures except Dr. Kanwal Vilku, who recently staked her claim to this exclusive club by becoming the first Indian woman to travel to the Antarctica and stay in the frozen continent for 16 months.

" I am on top of the world. It's a marvelous feeling," says Dr Vilku who was part of the 22nd Indian expedition to Antarctica from December 1999 to March 2001.

" I was elated when I was selected to be a part of the expedition," says the medical doctor who was earlier with the Assam Rifles and is currently working as chief health officer at a Central Government Health Service (CGHS) dispensary in Ashok Vihar in north-west Delhi.

" I was always fascinated by the Antarctica. I had seen many documentaries of the continent on the National Geographic and Discovery channels and had always dreamt of visiting it one day. Little did I realise that my wild dream would turn into a reality."

Dr. Vilku's spirit of adventure can be gauged from the fact that she was 51 when she was selected for the expedition. Age, she says, is a state of the mind. " My father’s words still echo in my ears. He used to say that age should help not hinder education. Which is why my 16 months in Antarctica were a unique learning experience."

The expedition comprising 23 men and only one woman---Dr. Vilku---were from diverse fields - scientists, meteorologists, geologists, doctors and the army's logistic support staff.

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