New Delhi: When Captain Divya Ajith leads the first all-women contingent of the Army this Republic Day, she will carry on her shoulders the hopes and aspirations of women officers to soon serve the nation in combat roles.
"We believe we are equal and second to none. We have already marched for the first time on the Army Day and now another first would be the Republic Day parade. So, yes, we do wish to be in the combat force.
"And I hope that this first for us will also come soon," Ajith of the Corps of Army Air Defence told PTI.
Currently, the army does not have women in combat role.
The 25-year-old officer already has a first to her credit. She was the first woman cadet in the history of the Army to have been awarded the prestigious 'Sword of Honour' at the passing out parade of the Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai in 2010.
A multi-faceted personality, Ajith is also an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, percussionist and well-versed in sports like basketball and discus throw.
India is set to showcase women empowerment in all three forces with contingents having 148 personnel each drawn from the Army, Air Force and the Navy to parade down the Rajpath on?January 26 where US President Barack Obama will be the Chief Guest.
Ajith said the entire contingent is excited, not to mention filled with immense pride to represent the country.
"And, the fact that it President Obama who will be present there himself, we are all doubly excited," she said with a smile.
The young officer, who hails from Chennai, said she always wanted to be in the Army and during her five years in service, she has never felt being discriminated against.
But, with glory comes hard work and responsibility as the contingent has been training rigorously ever since it arrived in Delhi to perfect its moves and synchronise its steps to put their best foot forward.
"It's a tough six hours training each day, from?6 AM to 9 AM?in the morning hours and?3 PM to 6 PM?all seven days. But, we want to give our best. It's been a tough regimen but our training at the OTA is coming in handy."