Barack Obama, the President of USA, was extended a warm welcome by President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Sunday, January 25th. His ceremonial reception was followed by the Guard of Honor, which was led by a woman officer, Wing Commander Pooja Thakur. This was the first occasion on which a woman officer had led the Guard of Honor for a major foreign dignitary at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Wing Commander Pooja Thakur has been in service in the Indian Air Force for a period of 13 and half years. She is currently serving as an administration officer in the publicity cell of IAF, DISHA, located at Delhi Air Headquarters in New Delhi. Pooja comes from the state of Rajasthan and is a para jumper.
In an interview with ANI, Pooja Thakur said, “Right from our training days we are treated just like male officers, so first we are officers then we are women.”
She further stated, “I am probably the first woman to command a joint services guard of honor, so I am proud and honored. I hope this inspires girls to see that lady officers are commanding contingents of men. Also, people are accepting it. That’s the message for everyone to come and join the services.”
Coming just two days after the launch of “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” campaign by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, this event holds a historical significance. The Prime Minister declared the “Sukanya Samridhi Account” in Haryana a few days before, besides raising his voice in favor of women empowerment. The aim of this program is to eradicate female feticide from the country and encourage education of women. In addition to this major step to encourage women, they will be given a major role in the Republic Day Parade too, where President Obama will be the honorable chief guest.