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Only contingents of women in the Republic Day parade: how women’s participation has fared in recent years

An office memo issued last month said the 2024 Republic Day Parade will have “only female participants” in contingents (marching and band) and cadres, between performances during the parade on Kartavya Path. The memorandum has directed all participating ministries, departments, organizations and agencies to start preparing for this.

However, government sources said this would effectively mean having the highest representation of women in the parade, as certain marching contingents such as Army infantry are currently unable to have female participants.

In the 2023 show too, the theme of Nari Shakti or the power of women was front and center. Here are some key milestones from the last few years in the shows, which have seen a lot of firsts for female officers.


With the parade’s overall theme as ‘Nari Shakti’, the Navy painting showed a female crew of a Dornier aircraft flying overhead, highlighting the female crew from a surveillance outing last year. An armed police battalion of female officers from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was a new presence.

Both the Navy and the Indian Air Force contingents were led by female officers: Lt Cdr Disha Amrith and Sqn Ldr Sindhu Reddy, respectively. Reddy is an Mi-17 helicopter pilot and Amrith is an observer on the Navy’s Dornier 228 maritime patrol plane. For the first time in history, the marine marching contingent consisted of three women and six Agniveers.

Another Army air defense officer, Lt. Chetana Sharma, led the Akash missile system column.

In the parade, a team of “daredevils” or motorcyclists from the Signal Corps was co-led by a female officer. The women were part of the Border Security Force camel contingent for the first time this year.


From the country first female pilot of a Rafale Shivangi Singh fighter jet she was part of the Indian Air Force cadre at the Republic Day parade in 2022. She is only the second female fighter jet pilot to be part of the IAF cadre.

Also, as report in the indian express notedof the female daredevils who performed stunts as part of the BSF contingent that year, 14 were provided with work on compassionate grounds after the death of their parents or husbands.


Flight Lieutenant Bhawna Kanth became the first female fighter jet pilot to serve in the IAF cadre. Two years earlier, she had become the first female IAF fighter pilot to qualify for combat missions per day. She is the first batch of female fighter pilots and the second female pilot to hold a solo fight.


Tania Shergill led a contingent of men in the Republic Day Parade that year as the Parade’s first female Adjudicator. On Women’s Day that year, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh cited her example in expressing the view that no door in the forces should remain closed to women.


An all-female Assam Rifles contingent took part for the first time in 2019. Maj. Khushboo Kanwar led the display of the oldest paramilitary force in the country. “Leading a women’s contingent of the Assam Rifles was a great honor and pride for me. We practice very hard… I am the daughter of a Rajasthan bus driver and if I can achieve this, then any girl can fulfill her dream,” she told PTI.

Captain Shikha Surabhi of the Signal Corps performed bicycle stunts alongside her male teammates as part of the daredevil team.


The year included the participation of a contingent of women motorcyclists from the Border Security Force. The women daredevils of the 27-member BSF performed their stunts and stunts on their Royal Enfield Bullet 350cc motorcycles. The newly formed ‘Seema Bhawani’ team was led by Sub-Inspector Stanzin Noryang and had 113 members.


Once again marking the first time, a women’s stunt contingent from the CRPF showed up at the event and was dubbed the ‘CRPF Daredevil Women’, consisting of 120 soldiers.


For the first time in the country’s history, a contingent of women from all three forces (Army, Air Force and Navy) marched along the road between India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.

The Army contingent was led by Captain Divya Ajith, the Navy was led by Lieutenant Commander Sandhya Chauhan. The Air Force contingent was led by Squadron Leader Sneha Shekhawat. The contingents had 148 troops each from the Army, Air Force and Navy. “We believe that we are equal and second to none. We already marched for the first time on Army Day and now another first would be the Republic Day parade. So yes, we want to be in the fighting force,” said Capt. Ajith, who was with the Army Air Defense Corps.

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