Dr. Padmavathy Bandopadhyay was born in Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh. She was raised in New Delhi and obtained her education at the Kirori Mal College.
She joined the Indian Air Force in 1968.
She has the distinction of being many firsts: the first woman officer to have completed the Defence Service Staff College course in 1978, and to command the Indian Air Force’s Central Medical Establishment; the first woman Air Force officer to become an aviation medicine specialist, and eventually the Director General Medical Services (Air); the first woman officer to be promoted to the rank of Air Vice Marshal in 2002; the first woman Fellow of the Aerospace Medical Society of India and the first Indian woman to have conducted scientific research at the North Pole (during late 80s, studying the physiology of extreme cold acclimatization).
She did the laudable job and was promoted to the highest rank of the Medical Branch – Air Marshal on 1 Oct 2004. She took over the command of Air Force Medical Services and turned to be the first lady Air Marshal of the world and also the first Lady Director General Medical Services of the forces. She is also the first Lady Honorary Surgeon to the President of India.
She was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal for her meritorious service during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.