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Republic Day is one festive occasion I look forward to most eagerly every year, especially the military parade. This year’s parade was exceptional. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t as good as we would have wished it to be. There was a slight drizzle when the ceremonies started but the weather improved as the parade commenced. President Obama was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year, the first time a President of the United States had accepted this honour.

It is reported that our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, wanted the theme of the 2015 Republic Day Parade  to be “Nari Shakti”  or “Women’s Power.” Accordingly we saw in New Delhi yesterday for the first time an unprecedented number of young women from the Defence Services march past in this event.  There were, again for the first time, all-women contingents from the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. These were commanded by Capt. Divya Ajith, Squadron Leader Sneha Shekawat and Lieut. Commander Sandhya Chauhan respectively.

Barriers are being broken and women are being given roles and responsibilities that many would not have thought possible even a decade ago. Earlier, the entire country was proud of Wing Commander Puja Thakur who commanded the Inter-Services Guard of Honour for visiting US President Barack Obama at Rashtrapati Bhavan on February 25. This was the first time a lady officer has commanded an Inter-Services Guard of Honour for such a prestigious event.

As usual, before the start of the parade, Ashok Chakras were awarded and it was a very moving sight to see the widows of two brave martyrs receive the award from the President of India. For me the true embodiment of Nari Shakti was this amazing interview given to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt by Mrs. Indhu Mukund, widow of Major Mukund Varadarajan, who was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra, the highest award a soldier can get in peace time. Her strength of character was extraordinary

If you would like to see the entire parade or parts of it , at your convenience, have a look at this link courtesy Doordarshan.