At a time when Haryana is looked down upon for its skewed sex ratio, Lt Manisha Takshak (25) from Jhajjar, the district with the lowest gender ratio in the country, has come to its rescue. Manisha recently caught the nation's attention by leading the navy contingent on the Republic Day where US president Barack Obama was the chief guest.
Jhajjar district, under which Manisha's village Chhapar, 70km from New Delhi, falls, had registered lowest child sex ratio in India during 2011 census at 782 girls against 1,000 boys.
Daughter of a small farmer Umed Singh Takshak, Manisha did her matriculation from her village school in Hindi medium with the sheer determination to make a mark for herself.
"After I topped Haryana in my 8th class, my father decided to ignore the people's adverse comments on raising a girl like a boy and allowed me to pursue BTech from Maharashi Dayanand University after passing senior secondary from a Jhajjar-based private school," said Lt Manisha.
Sharing his feeling with HT, Umed Singh, who is father of two sons besides Manisha, said: "My daughter became an officer in the Indian navy in 2012 and brought laurels to not only Jhajjar but the entire Haryana. However, Manisha was not included in the felicitation ceremony of newly-recruited Lieutenants at that time".
Two male lieutenants from the state were honoured, but as Manisha was a girl, her candidature was not considered, he added.
Lauding the Union government's campaign 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' to mobilise public opinion in favour of the girl child, Manisha's mother Jaswanti Devi said that they also became subject of taunts by co-villagers while supporting their daughter in her pursuit of studies and career.
"Unless people understand that girls and boys are equal and they should be raised without bias, the falling sex ratio cannot be corrected," she said.
On how she entered in the defence services despite hailing from a modest background, Manisha, who is currently posted at Chennai, said that her father used to narrate the bravery tale of her grandfather, who was martyred in 1962 Indo-China war.
"The charm to wear uniform and passion to serve the country brought me into the defence services, where my childhood dream of saluting the President in uniform came true", she said.
Asked about her source of inspiration, she said that her parents who took indescribable pains for supporting her against all odds are her role model. "There were times when my father had no money to pay my fees, but he worked overtime to support me", he said.
Reciprocating the sentiments, her parents said that their daughter had "shut everyone's mouth and opened their eyes" and proved that girls too can bring glory to one's family, if given equal opportunity by their parents.