The 70th Republic Day parade at Rajpath saw a dazzling display of 'Nari Shakti' (women power) led by an all-women contingent of the Assam Rifles, which created history by walking down Rajpath for the first time.
Major Khushboo Kanwar, 30, and mother of a child, led the contingent of the Assam Rifles, the oldest paramilitary force in the country.
Beaming with pride, Kanwar asserted that leading an all-women contingent of the Assam Rifles was a matter of great honour and pride. She added that she is a daughter of a bus conductor from Rajasthan. Kanwar said the contingent practiced very hard and if she can accomplish this, then "any girl can fulfil her dream".
"Leading an all-women contingent of the Assam Rifles was a matter of great honour and pride for me. We practiced very hard...I am a daughter of a bus conductor from Rajasthan and if I can accomplish this, then any girl can fulfil her dream," said Kanwar.
"I feel extremely proud and my father feels the same. It is a small gift for him, to struggles he has seen in life. I would tell other women there's no shortcut to success," added Kanwar.
A woman officer performed a bike stunt as part of the daredevils for the first time. Captain Shikha Surabhi from the Corps of Signals performed bike stunts alongside her male teammates as part of daredevils team.
Contingents of the Navy, Army Service Corps and a unit of Corps of Signals (transportable satellite terminal) were also led by women officers.
Sporting their tilted hat, the women in uniform marched past the saluting dais and onward towards the horizon, leaving the crowd ecstatic.
Darshana Chawla, in the mid-70s, who came to watch the parade for the first time along with her daughter and grandson, was pleased to see women power on display. "We came from Rohini, and this is the first time I have attended a Republic Day parade. My daughter was also happy to see these women achievers," she said. Her daughter Swati Chawla was cheering when Capt Shikha Surabhi from the Corps of Signals performed the standing salute to the President while riding a bike.
She became the first woman to perform bike stunts, alongside her male teammates as part of daredevils, a major attraction every Republic Day.
Also, Lt. Bhavana Kasturi led an all-men contingent of the Army Service Corps and Capt Bhavna Syal, a third-generation officer in the armed forces, fronted the transportable satellite terminal's contingent.
India celebrated its 70th Republic Day with a grand display of its military might and rich cultural diversity as the ceremonial parade rolled down the majestic Rajpath here in the presence of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as the chief guest.
Also in a first, Shankhnaad, a military tune composed by an Indian classical music exponent based on a poem penned by a Mahar Regiment veteran, was also played during the parade. The tune was composed by Tanuja Nafde, a vocalist.