The first woman from Uttar Pradesh to climb Mount Everest has experienced both extremes of life, from the pinnacle of accomplishment to the depths of neglect. While there has been no government acknowledgment for this unsung braveheart in her hometown, suffering has been her only “gift” to date.
Meerut is where Toolika Rani, 28, was raised and attended school. She is presently in Lucknow. She holds a postgraduate degree in history and is NET-eligible. She is working on a Ph.D. in history, focusing on “Sherpas of Nepal.”
Toolika Rani, an Indian Air Force (IAF) officer, accomplished the nearly solo feat of raising the tricolour above the mountain. Without assistance from the government, she spent more than a year scrounging up Rs 20 lakh from her friends and other well-wishers. Although she had humble beginnings, she had no modest goals. Therefore she could handle any odds without difficulty, not even the shortage of tools and other accessories. For the mission, she took out a loan from the IAF. Rani, the fourth female IAF officer to reach the summit, was unfazed by the fact that only two sherpas were available to help.
She experienced frostbite on her feet not long after the once-in-a-lifetime experience. She has thus been receiving treatment at Lucknow’s command hospital for over two months. The young achiever claims that the only acknowledgment she has received to date is the ritualistic one from the Nepali government after the achievement while lying in the officer’s family ward of the hospital.
Rani, who succeeded in her second attempt, says, “I am yet to receive anything, other than the congratulations messages.” Last year, on an IAF team trek, she had to return after reaching 22,500 feet owing to freezing feet. But on April 8, she headed out for the summit once more due to her desire to reach the top of the planet.
The IAF is unable to organise team expeditions every year. Yet she was adamant about moving forward. She went by herself and continued. Being from a low-income family in the village of Alipur, close to Meerut, Rani was taken aback by specific organisations’ unhelpful attitude when they declined to sponsor her because she worked for the government. She had no choice except to borrow money from friends.
After that, Toolika kept climbing despite physical hurdles. She was about to get her leg amputated but continued visiting the highlands. She is also the first Indian woman to climb Mount Damavand in Iran, Asia’s highest volcano. Toolika recently came back from the area surrounding the Everest base camp.
Also, as a Public speaker
After leaving the Indian Air Force in December 2015, Toolika gave over 160 motivational speeches and interviews in India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, and Italy on platforms like TEDx, Toastmasters International, Rotary International, ITC Infotech, various educational institutions, schools and colleges across India, international radio and TV channels, etc.
When we reach a certain point in life, Toolika said, “I sincerely felt that we must also radiate that energy onto our surroundings. When someone understands that their potential may be used, it becomes their responsibility to educate others. We occasionally hesitate to make courageous decisions, especially women. So it’s crucial to give people hope. Everyone can climb their own personal Everest.
Challenges & Adversities in the journey of “Life”
According to Toolika, a lack of self-belief is the biggest obstacle in any career. Every objective initially feels like a summit, but one must have confidence in oneself.
Toolika has received 15 honours, including the Hindustan Times Award, the Rani Laxmi Bai Bravery Award from the Uttar Pradesh government, the Exceptional Global Woman Award, the Global Excellence Award, the Aspiration She Power Award for Courage and Resilience, and others. She even got honoured on March 8, International Women’s Day.
She encourages people to dream big. “At a time when technology makes everything convenient, be original. Fear not challenges. No path is easy. Do not be afraid of social rejection or failure. Being a decent person is also crucial, ” Toolika inspired everyone.