A day after the army’s first-ever all-woman contingent at the Republic Day parade marched with pride, they soaked in the glory all over again at a surprise reception hosted by army chief General Dalbir Singh at his residence.
“The parade was spectacular. In the little time you got to prepare for it, you put up a great show. We are proud of you,” Singh told the 153 female officers invited to Army House on Tuesday.
The parade celebrated ‘women power’ in line with PM Modi’s call to promote ‘Nari Shakti’. Singh told HT that an all-woman contingent would be a regular feature at future parades. “We are working on career progression plans for them. Their contribution is immense,” he said.
Singh’s wife Namita Suhag spent an hour with the ladies, asking them about their aspirations and challenges.
The women trained hard for the parade, spending eight gruelling hours daily at the Chennai-based Officers’ Training Academy for three weeks. “We would’ve outperformed the male contingents had we got more time for practice,” said Lieutenant Priti Sharma, 24.
In a first, a female officer will unfurl and fold the flag at the Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29, marking the end of Republic Day festivities. One of the four officers shortlisted for the job, Captain Sheena Nayyar, 25, said it was a sign of changing times.
Indhu Mukund and Parmeshwari Devi, whose husbands were Monday posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, also attended the reception, along with veterans who took part in the parade.