India is gearing to celebrate its 70th anniversary of becoming a republic. One of the awaited marks of this celebration is the parade.
Set to take place on Rajpath tomorrow, the 70th R-day parade will display many firsts.
It will be the first instance where the Indian Army displays its newly-acquired artillery guns namely–M777 and K9 Vajra. And also the first time where AN-32 transport aircraft will fly on bio-fuel over Rajpath as four veterans of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army march.
But what seems to be grabbing limelight the most is the show of women power set to happen this R-day.
These women officers will be seen breaking into the traditional male bastion as they march forward with their heads held high and pay their tribute to the nation’s rich history and cultural heritage.
Here’s all you need to know about how the 2019 70th R-day parade will create history:
An all-women contingent march
According to a report in The Times of India, this year’s parade will be the first of its kind where an all-women contingent of a paramilitary force will participate.
Led by Major Khushboo Kanwar, this contingent is a part of the Assam Rifles, also known as India’s oldest paramilitary force.
Giving the publication an overview of the history of the Assam Rifles, Major Khushboo added that this oldest paramilitary force started inducting rifle-women in 2015, with its first batch of 124 women graduating in April 2016.
Today, the force has over 220 rifle-women with 33 per cent of this population belonging to the northeast. She further explains how women officers from the Indian Army are being deputed in Assam Rifles too.
What makes the contingent so special is also the fact that some of these valiant rifle-women are vir mahilas or widows of martyred soldiers, who are continuing the legacy of their husbands.
“It’s a proud moment for me as I will be leading an all-women contingent of Assam Rifles for the first time on R-Day,” Major Khushboo told TOI.
Major Khushboo herself hails from a conservative family from Rajasthan, where her father worked as a bus conductor. She completed her education with great difficulty by earning various scholarships.
“If I can be part of the majestic parade after coming from a small place in Rajasthan with sheer hard work and dedication, anyone can reach here. It is just about living your dreams,” she beams.
A woman officer leading a contingent of 144 men
Another highlight of the event will be Lieutenant Bhavana Kasturi, who will lead a contingent of Army Service Corps (ASC) consisting of 144 men.
It is after a gap of 23 years that the ASC (which handles logistics for the Army) will be a part of the parade.
Speaking to the publication, Lt Kasturi adds how she is a first-generation officer inducted in the Army in 2016.
“Nobody from my family has ever served in the Army. But my family has always motivated me and empowered me. Clearing a tough selection procedure to get a chance to lead a contingent of 144 men shows there is no gender bias in the Army. I want to tell young girls of the country that ‘chase your dreams and never give up and you’ll reach great heights’.”
A woman officer to be part of the Army’s daredevils motorcycle team
This R-Day, Captain Shikha Surabhi will perform a stunt where she will stand on a moving motorcycle and ride ahead of a team of 33 men riding nine bikes in a pyramid formation.
Cpt Surabhi will salute the chief guest for the parade, South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa.
We cannot wait for these firsts to unveil. Stay tuned, if you are just as excited as us!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)