A country with a kaleidoscopic diversity, rich culture and glorious history, celebrating its 70th Republic Day on Saturday, will have women at the forefront of the 90-minute parade, consolidating their positioning in the defence forces.
Etching these moments in history with a series of first-times, there will be an all-women Assam Rifles contingent leading the display at the parade and even the contingents Navy, Army Services Corps and a unit of Corps of Signals will be led by women officers.
Ruchi Pathak, 2nd in Command for the Assam Rifles, spoke to Republic TV.
"This time we are creating history. The Assam Rifles is the oldest paramilitary force and our aim is to do the best. Assam Rifles gave us the greatest opportunity to women so they can to do well at the largest stage and come up as a soldier. Two hundred and twenty women have passed and 120 are in training. We have women from different parts of the country but mostly from the Northeast. It is a great opportunity to showcase women's power." she said.
Among the plenty of firsts, Lt. Bhavana Kasturi become the first women officer to lead an all-men contingent at the parade. Lt. Bhavana will lead 144 male personnel of the Army Service Corps.
Scripting history, an all-women contingent of Assam Rifles will be participating in the parade that will be led by Major Khushboo Kanwar. This is the country's oldest paramilitary force.
At Rajpath, the Naval Marching contingent of 144 young sailors was also led by a woman, Lt. Ambika Sudhakaran.
At the parade, a women contingent of the Border Security Force on Saturday performed motorcycle stunts during the Republic Day parade, drawing one of the loudest cheers from the audience as well as dignitaries like President Ram Nath Kovind.
As per tradition, the BSF and the Army’s bike-borne ’daredevils’ end the parade on alternate years. But this time, members of the BSF’s women motorcycle team ‘Seema Bhawani’ replaced their male counterparts. Shikha Surabhi became the first lone woman in 'Daredevil' motorbike stunts on moving motorcycles
The team showcased its driving skills with daredevil stunts like Salute to President, Fish Riding, Side Riding, Faulaad, Prachand Baalay Shaktiman, Mobile PT, Bull Fighting, etc.
Over a 100 women riding as many as 26 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycles enthralled the spectators many of whom -- men, women, and children -- were on their feet and clapped throughout the display.
In 2015, women contingents of the Army, Navy and Air Force had made a debut in this national parade.
Fifty-eight tribal guests from various parts of the country, 22 tableaux of states and central government departments, and performance by school children marked the 90-minute parade of this year’s Republic Day. The event on Saturday, where South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was the chief guest, began with the laying of a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.