First woman to lead guard of honour for Obama talks about her unique privilege

Said Wing Commander Pooja Thakur after she became the first woman officer to lead the Inter-Services Guard of Honour, which US President Barack Obama inspected at Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday

New Delhi: “I am an officer first and then a woman,” said Wing Commander Pooja Thakur after she became the first woman officer to lead the Inter-Services Guard of Honour that was inspected by US President Barack Obama at Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday.

LEAD ROLE: Wing Commander Pooja Thakur led the ceremonial Guard of Honour for US President Barack Obama yesterday. Pics/Pti
LEAD ROLE: Wing Commander Pooja Thakur led the ceremonial Guard of Honour for US President Barack Obama yesterday. Pics/PTI

“It is a proud moment to be representing the Indian Air Force commanding the Inter-Services Guard of Honour, and that, too, for 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  in New Delhi.

Asked how her parents felt when they first heard that she would 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 the Inter-Services Guard of Honour to an important dignitary is a proud moment for every one of us,” she said.

Speaking about why she joined the IAF, the young officer said it was a 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.

Her father retired as a colonel from the Indian Army.

‘Nari shakti’ (woman power) is the theme for the 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 today.

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