Blue Cross of India cofounder Usha Sundaram, 86

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2010:

 

Usha Sundaram, 86, died on April 6, 2010 in Chennai.
Taught to fly at age 20 by her husband Captain V. Sundaram, who was
among the first pilots for Tata Airways, Usha Sundaram initially
flew the VT-AXX that was personal aircraft of the Maharaja of Mysore,
Jayachamaraja Wodeyar Bahadur, a noted patron of music. The name of
his plane has recently been revived for an Air India jetliner. From
1945 to 1951 the Sundarams were pilots for the first Indian prime
minister, Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru. After Usha Sundaram became the
first graduate of the Indian government flight training school in
Bangalore in 1949, she continued alone as Nehru’s pilot while her
husband devoted more of his time to airline business. Flying a


twin-engine DC-3, Usha Sundaram distinguished herself at instrument
flying in inclement weather, when instrument flying was still
relatively new, and on several medical evacuation flights which
required prolonged travel at low altitudes, since cabin
pressurization was then unreliable. The Sundarams continued to fly
together recreationally until 1996, a year before V. Sundaram’s
death. They “hold the world record for the fastest flying time (27
hours) between London and Madras in a piston engine aircraft,” The
Hindu recalled in March 2008. Always fond of animals, the Sundarams
cofounded the Blue Cross of India at their home in Chennai in 1959.
Their son Chinny Krishna, then 15, participated in animal care and
rescue for the first several years, then earned an engineering
degree in the U.S. Upon his return to India in 1964, the Blue Cross
was formally incorporated, with the Sundarams, Chinny Krishna, and
his bride Nanditha Krishna among the founding trustees. In 1966,
Chinny Krishna began developing the prototype for the Animal Birth
Control program that became Indian national policy in 1997, funded
by the Indian government since 2003. Usha Sundaram continued as a
Blue Cross volunteer in various capacities to the end of her life.
The Blue Cross of India now has four animal hospital and shelter
complexes in the Chennai area. The Blue Cross of Hyderabad, begun
in 1992 by actress Amala Akkineni, is not an affiliate, but was
named in honor of the Blue Cross of India. The Blue Cross
organizations work closely together.

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