Swiss by Birth, Indian by Soul

Kaushal Kishore

So far, 21 bravehearts of India have been awarded the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), the country’s highest gallantry award for their acts of extraordinary and selfless bravery in combat.

But the person who designed this prestigious medal of valour was a Swiss-born woman, Eve Yvonne Maday de Maros, who later changed her name to Savitri Bai Khanolkar. Her story is very interesting.

She was born in Switzerland to a Hungarian father and Russian mother on 20th July, 1913. As a teenager in 1929, she met Vikram Khanolkar and fell in love, while Vikram undergoing training at the Royal Military Academy in the UK was visiting Switzerland during a term break. Despite resistance from her parents, she came to India later and married Vikram in 1932.

She quickly immersed herself in the study of Indian culture, history, legends, mythology and traditions and learned to speak fluently Hindi, Marathi and…

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