In a series of firsts, Republic Day will be celebrated very differently in 2021. There is a string of changes that have taken place but one of the many changes that the whole nation is proud of and is looking forward to is the role of women in the contingents and the parade. ”Sashakt Nari, Sashakt Bharat”, the goal and the vision that no one can deny. It will be indeed a matter of pride for India to see strong women taking up roles in defence and also owning up to it. 

In conversation with The Wonk, Lieutenant Commander Neelam (Education Branch Officer) of the Indian Navy said, “As a naval officer, it was my dream to be here. When I joined the navy, it was a dream fulfilled, and wearing this uniform every day, it is like you are reliving your dream every day. It was challenging. As for being a woman in the force, one can constantly see there has been an increase in the number of women in the forces. Now they have started giving them roles which weren’t given to them earlier.”

She further added how the women officers are now posted on frontline shifts starting last year. She said that even the Indian Air Force has been inducting women officers across various ranks. She added, “We are looking forward to more challenging roles.”

Let us look at two more women officers who are ready to show their commitment and capabilities this Republic Day parade and fill the eyes of young women with hope and inspiration!

Flight Lieutenant Swati Rathore 

 To make this Republic Day more unique and historic, Flt Lt Swati Rathore will lead the flypast for the parade this time. She will be the first woman to have done so. She hails from Nagaur, Rajasthan, and did her schooling in Ajmer. Post schooling she joined the Airwing at the NCC. 

Flt Lt Swati Rathore is a part of the 2016 batch of IAF where she was the only one selected for the flying branch, out of a group of 200 female students. 

Various leaders along with a huge number of Netizens have congratulated her on her achievement and are eagerly looking forward to the parade. 

Her father, Dr. Bhavani Singh Rathore said, “My daughter has let me hold my head high. I am overwhelmed as the dream which she saw has turned into reality.” 

Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth

In another of the firsts this republic day, Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth is set to be the first woman fighter pilot to take part in the Republic Day Parade. Bhawana will join the IAF’s tableau displaying mock-ups of indigenously-manufactured (centred around the theme of “Make In India”) Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Light Combat Helicopter Rudra, Rohini radars, and BrahMos.

 She has been posted at the Rajasthan airbase and commissioned on a MiG-21 Bison fighter plane currently. She was one of the first three women to be commissioned as fighter pilots in the year 2016 by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. 

During a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said, “I belong to a middle-class civil family and never knew that women were not allowed to be fighter pilots. I have felt that fighter pilot is not a thing for me because I am a girl and moved forward like a child.”

Did you know?

As reported, Durriya Mustafa Tapia, the founder of Movers Charity Trust, a woman hailing from Surat will be travelling 10,000 km on a truck to provide essentials to the needy this Republic day. Through her visionary mission, she hopes to cover 13 states in 35 days across the country including 4,500 underprivileged villages.