Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday lauded women achievers during his first “Mann ki Baat” address of 2018. “Women are advancing in many fields and emerging as leaders,” he said after starting off with a tribute to astronaut Kalpana Chawla. “Today, there are many sectors where our ‘Nari Shakti’ [women power] is playing a pioneering role and establishing milestones.”

“Three women – Bhavna Kanth, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi – have become fighter pilots and are undergoing training on Sukhoi-30 jets,” he said.

In his radio address, the prime minister mentioned Mumbai’s Matunga Railway Station where all leading officials are women.

“Since ancient times India has been an inspiration to the world because of the respect accorded to her women, their status in society and their contribution,” News 18 quoted Modi as saying. “There has been a long tradition of women scholars since ancient times. Many such women of letters have contributed to composing verses in the Vedas.”

The prime minister also praised the women of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh. “This is a Maoist affected area, but the women there operate e-rickshaws,” Modi said. “This is creating opportunities and also changing the face of the region. It is also environment friendly.”

This year, Modi said, the government gave Padma Awards to those “who may not be seen in big cities but have done transformative work for society”.