Woman officer to lead IAF Day parade for the first time today | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Woman officer to lead IAF Day parade for the first time today

Oct 08, 2023 07:39 AM IST

Group Captain Shaliza Dhami will command the Indian Air Force Day parade for the first time in Prayagraj to mark the service’s 91st anniversary.

A woman officer, Group Captain Shaliza Dhami, will on Sunday command the Indian Air Force Day parade for the first time at air force station Bamrauli in Prayagraj to mark the service’s 91st anniversary, officials aware of the matter said.

Group Captain Shaliza Dhami
Group Captain Shaliza Dhami

A helicopter pilot, Dhami was also the first woman to assume command of a frontline IAF combat unit in March. She heads a missile squadron in the western sector. Commissioned into the IAF in 2003, Dhami is a qualified flying instructor and has logged more than 2,800 hours of flying.

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The development comes at a time when the armed forces are opening more frontiers for women and giving them opportunities on a par with their male counterparts.

“Also for the first time, the parade will have an all-women contingent consisting of the newly inducted Agniveer Vayu, who shall march shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. The parade also includes a flight of Garud commandos for the first time,” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ashish Moghe said on Sunday.

Women in uniform are no longer on the fringes but are being assigned central roles like their male counterparts – they are flying fighter planes, serving on board warships, being inducted in the personnel below officer rank (PBOR) cadre, eligible for permanent commission, and undergoing training at the National Defence Academy.

The IAF and navy have allowed women officers to join their special forces units --- the Garud commando force and Marine Commandos, respectively, to promote gender equality within their ranks, provided they meet the criteria for selection.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari will unveil the air force’s new ensign at Prayagraj. The IAF crest will now be featured in the top right corner of the ensign, which currently displays the national flag in the upper left canton and IAF tri-colour roundel on the right. The current ensign was adopted more than seven decades ago, replacing the Royal Indian Air Force ensign that featured the Union Jack and the RIAF roundel (red, white and blue).

The IAF crest consists of the Ashoka lion on the top, with the Himalayan eagle with its wings spread below it.

A light blue ring encircles the eagle with Bhartiya Vayu Sena written on it in Hindi. The IAF’s motto, Nabh Sparsham Deeptam (Touch the Sky with Glory), is inscribed below the eagle in golden Devanagari.

It comes a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the Indian Navy’s ensign at the commissioning ceremony of aircraft carrier Vikrant, with the flag drawing inspiration from the seal of Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Cross of St George being dropped.

The IAF’s MiG-21 fighter jets will take part in the IAF Day flypast over Sangam in Prayagraj for the last time this year. The flypast will feature around 110 aircraft, including the IAF’s newest C-295 transport plane. The air display will include Rafales, Sukhoi-30s, Mirage-2000s, MiG-29s, Jaguars, LCA Tejas, C-17s, C-130Js, IL-76s, AN-32s, Chinooks, Apaches and Hawks.

The IAF held its annual celebrations in Chandigarh last year, in line with the three services now organising their flagship ceremonial events outside the national capital. The parade was traditionally held at the Hindan air base on the outskirts of the national capital.

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