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CfB Bureau

The commander of Indian Army’s all-women contingent at the Republic Day parade hopes that seeing them march down the Rajpath will inspire more young women to don the olive green uniform

Captain Divya Ajith

This year’s Republic Day was a historic event for its central theme – the empowerment of the Indian women. And it was the young officers – who were at the forefront of the all women contingents of the Army, Navy and the Air Force marching for the first time, signifying women’s role in the realm of defence – that stole the show, leaving many in the crowd ecstatic and proud.

As the Army contingent led by Captain Divya Ajith marched past the ceremonial dais, the crowd broke into applause. While the marching contingent of Navy was led by Lieutenant Commander Sandhya Chauhan, the Air Force contingent was led by Squadron Leader Sneha Shekhawat. The all-women contingents had 148 personnel each drawn from the Army, Air Force and the Navy.

The Naval tableau led by Lt Commander Swetha Kapoor and Lt Varthika Joshi portrayed the extraordinary accomplishments of four of India Navy’s women officers, who braved the vagaries of the seas and participated in an ocean voyage from Goa to Rio de Janerio onboard Indian Naval sailing vessel ‘Mhadei.’

With ‘Women Empowerment’ being the theme of the 66th Republic Day, where US President Obama was present as a chief guest, tableaux showcasing the subject drew much attention.

Stories of conquests kept coming along and a tableau on women personnel summiting the Mt Everest drew perhaps the loudest cheer from the crowd, with many saluting the brave officers from the stands.

Gurgaon-based web designer Reenu Dabas, who had come along with her family to witness the occasion said: “I, as a women, felt happy and proud to see the marching contingents from our gender.”

“For me it’s a matter of great pride to command an all-women contingent for the first time in the Republic Day parade,” Captain Divya had told the media ahead of the event. “And, I think many of those parents who will be seeing us either at the Rajpath or on television, will feel inspired to send their girls to the Army and many of those girls would themselves be motivated to don the uniform.”

The 25-year-old woman officer, who hails from Chennai, said, she always wanted to join the Indian Army and after serving for five years, it’s an honor for her to lead the march, in front of the country.

But, glory comes after a lot of hard work, as the entire contingent had been preparing rigorously since coming to Delhi. “From 6-9 AM in the morning and then 3-6 PM in the evening, all seven days, it's been a tough regimen but our training at the OTA is coming in handy. Also, since we are marching here for the first time, we are training doubly harder vis-a-vis our male counterparts,” Captain Divya said with a smile.

In 2010, Captain Divya had created history by becoming the first woman in the history of the army to have won the coveted ‘Sword of Honour’, awarded to the best cadet at the passing-out-parade ceremony at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai.

A multi-faceted personality, Captain Divya is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, percussionist and well-versed in sports like basketball, discus throw, among others.

Source: PTI

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