As the Indian Army’s all-women contingent prepares for its first-ever presence at the Republic Day parade, its commander expressed hope that seeing the officers march down the Rajpath will inspire more women to don the olive green uniform.
Captain Divya Ajith, who scripted history by becoming the first woman cadet in the history of the Army to win the ‘Sword of Honour’ for best cadet at the passing out parade of the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai in 2010, is now all set to write another, when she leads the contingent on the ceremonial boulevard on January 26.
“For me it’s a matter of great pride to command an all-women contingent for the first time in the Republic Day parade.
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,” Captain Ajith of the Corps of Army Air Defence, told PTI.
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 honour for her to lead the march, in front of the country. “The entire contingent is also excited about marching in front of US President Barack Obama, who will be the chief guest on the occasion,” she said.
But, with glory comes a lot of hard work, as the entire contingent has 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,” she said with a smile.
The women contingent would also comprise some women cadets, a Defence official said. A multi-faceted personality, she is an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, percussionist and well-versed in sports like basketball, discus throw, among others.
“We also marched for the first time on Army Day this year and we are all excited about the R-Day now,” she said.