It was a proud moment for the country to finally see Rafales fly over the Indian airspace and touching base at the Ambala airbase.
But it must have been a different feeling altogether for the 22-year-old Saurav Chordia who designed the uniforms and arm patches worn by The Pilots of Squadron 17, also known as Golden Arrows who flew the fighter jets.
Saurav belongs to Basugoam which happens to be a small town in Assam's Bodoland region. He always wanted to be a pilot but due to weak eyesight, he couldn't fulfil this dream.
The squadron has a glorious history and legacy. So I had to bring that element to the design and also show the modernisation that Rafale brings in.
- Saurav Chordia
Reportedly, Saurav Chordia started designing arm patches when he was just 18 years old. And, some of his works include the G-suits and overalls of Squadron 25 pilots who were the first ones to fly the Tejas Light Combat and also for the Surya Kiran Aerobatic squadron.
As a child, when I watched Tom Cruise in the movie Top Gun, wearing patches and flying, I was inspired. Since I have weak eyesight, I could not make it. But I took up designing aircraft models and patches and soon my work began to get noticed. Officials got in touch with me and before long, I was designing patches for the air force.
For the Rafale pilots, Saurav Chordia has designed two patches, a circular one and a second one shaped like the aircraft while carrying the motto "Udayam Ajasram (Arise Ever)."
Saurav's brother Sumit commented that:
This is a Make In India moment. The patches were designed here. We are happy and take pride that they were made by a young man from this small town in Assam. Our parents had supported us a lot.
He had refused to take any payments for patches and had designed them for free. But, as it turns out, The Indian Air Force made a small stipend to the young man as a gesture to make him feel a part of the family and to also encourage such amazing talents.
It indeed is a proud moment for the entire country and for Saurav Chordia who did his bit to make this happen.