New Delhi: A woman officer, Wing Commander Pooja Thakur, led the ceremonial Guard of Honour for US President Barack Obama at the Rashtrapati Bhavan today. (Show-Stealer Wing Commander Pooja Thakur: Comment Here)
President Obama was given a 21-gun salute at the forecourt of the majestic presidential palace, after which Wing Commander Thakur walked him for the inspection of the Guard of Honour. She is the first woman officer to lead a tri-services Guard of Honour.
The gesture reflects the theme for this year's Republic Day parade, which is "Nari Shakti (woman power)".
"It is a very proud moment for me and the Indian Air Force, to be creating history, to give the Guard of Honour to the most powerful man in the world," Wing Commander Thakur told NDTV, explaining that years of training have prepared her for moments like this.
She hoped that she would inspire more women to join the forces. "I hope it will be an inspiration to them to see that woman officers are commanding contingents of men, and people are accepting it. That's a message for everybody to come and join us," she said.
President Obama will be the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations tomorrow, which will see woman contingents of the army, navy and the air force marching down Rajpath for the first time.
The special Guard of Honour fired up social media, with many commenting that a woman taking the lead sends a positive message.
"As a woman, I feel extremely proud to learn about a Lady Commanding Officer leading the ceremonial Guard of Honour to President Obama," tweeted Anandiben Patel, the Chief Minister of Gujarat.