As India’s 66th Republic Day draws near, which will also see US President Barack Obama as the chief guest; preparations are in a high gear. Since this year, the theme of the parade is ‘Naari Shakti’ or ‘Women Power,’ for the first time we will see all-women contingents at the ceremony from all three forces, along with the regular ones.

 

According to Times of India, a source revealed, “The orders came from the top since PM Narendra Modi was keen on women empowerment and `Naari Shakti’ as the main theme for the parade. Women officers, with proper turnout, drill standards and fit enough for the 10-km march, have been pulled out from different stations across the country.”

 

However, this process is relatively different for women for a couple of reasons. Firstly, unlike paramilitary and police forces, the armed forces cannot draw women from other ranks for the parade since they are initiated into the forces only as officers. Secondly, there are just about 3,000 women officers amongst the total strength of 59,400 officers. The Army has around 1,300 women officers, IAF 1,350 and Navy 350.

 

Each of the woman contingents will comprise of 148 officers. They will, however, be a small minority in the predominantly male groups of the over 13-lakh strong armed forces. The women till very recently could serve for14 years in branches like signals, engineers, aviation, intelligence, ordnance, air traffic controller and air defence because of “operational, practical and cultural problems”. They can now opt for permanent commission in some wings like legal, naval constructor, accounts and education.

 

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