It was 3o’ clock in the morning. 145 pairs of sleepy eyes sprang open. The men started getting armed, not for a war this time, but for a 12-14 kilometres march to Vijay Chowk. This had been a daily routine for flight lieutenant, Shrikant Sharma & his 144 men for the last two months, a drill for the preparation for Republic Day 2020, for the second time in a row. The proud lieutenant smiled to himself as he remembered the day he was chosen as one of the 40 officers to lead the Indian Armed Force’s contingent. He could still visualize himself running 6-8 kilometres alongside 39 other officers, undergoing rigorous physical training & yoga sessions. The intensity & level of physical training, however, increases every year along with the amount of pressure.
Yet this had not been able to dampen Lieutenant Sharma’s spirit. In fact, he thought, it had doubled his passion, as the competition for him, was no longer a competition with the other 39 officers, but with himself. He needed to test himself & this competition was just a way to prove that to his own self. As he quickened his pace to gear up for the run, he suddenly remembered what the IAF Tableau would have in store for this year’s Republic Day – Rafale aircraft, indigenously made light combat aircraft & helicopters, air-guided Aakash missile system & Astra missiles. The lieutenant felt fire surging through his veins as 145 pairs of strong feet stamped through the fresh, dewy air of the new dawn.
“The feeling is actually the same, rather it has doubled as compared to last year. The amount of pressure, physical exertion, and level of training increase every year.” Flt Lt Shrikant Sharma said.