The Republic Day parade this year saw the highest participation of women – many of whom scripted history. From the Assam Rifles, the first all-women contingent from a central paramilitary force to participate in the parade, to Lt Bhavana Kasturi, the first woman to lead an all-men contingent, this year’s parade represented change.
Before Republic Day, in a first, Lt Bhavana Kasturi also led an all-male contingent of 144 personnel in the Army Day Parade on January 15. She told The Pioneer, “This shows the kind of acceptance, the change and the evolutions which is happening in the entire organisation. This shows acceptance for woman officers also.”
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Born in Hyderabad, Kasturi did not know much about the army until her college days. After joining the National Cadet Corps during college (she has a Masters in microbiology), a world of possibilities opened up to her and she set her eyes on joining the army.
In an interview with SheThePeople, she emphasised that the army does not believe in gender bias. “For the army, a cadet is a cadet and an officer is an officer. The training standards for men and women are the same. We don’t have barriers — if men are running, even we have to run. If they are climbing ropes, we climb ropes. If they have to do push-ups, even we have to do push-ups. And I think after joining the army, the amount of respect an officer gets is all same,” she said.
Featured photograph: PTI