“I am an officer first and then a woman,” said a proud Wing Commander Pooja Thakur after she became the first lady officer to lead the Inter-Service Guard of Honour which was inspected by US President Barack Obama at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the capital on Sunday.
“It is a proud moment to be representing the Indian Air Force commanding the Inter-Services Guard of Honour and that too to Mr Barack Obama,” Thakur said. Asked how difficult it was for a woman officer in the Services, she said there is no differentiation.
“I would say that we are first officers, be it male or female. We are just the same. We are given the same kind of training. We are equals,” she said.
Thakur, who joined the Indian Air Force in 2000, belongs to the administrative branch and is currently posted at ‘Disha’, the publicity cell under the Directorate of Personnel Officers at the Air Force Headquarters.
Asked how her parents felt when they first heard that she will be commanding the Guard of Honour, Thakur said they were proud. “They were very proud because they would be seeing me and hoping that I would do well. Presenting Inter-Services Guard of Honour to an important dignitary is a proud moment for everyone of us,” she said.
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Talking about why she joined the IAF, the young officer said it was not about a job but the way of life she wanted for herself.
“It is not a job but a way of life. I wanted to have this way of life. I had the opportunity of knowing about it since my father was in the Services too,” she said.
The officer’s father retired as a Colonel from the Indian Army. ‘Nari shakti’ (woman power) is the theme for Republic Day parade this year where Obama is the chief guest.
For the first time, all women officer contingents of the army, air force and navy will walk down the Rajpath on Monday.