The first generation IAF officer from Haryana will assist President Droupadi Murmu as the supreme commander of India's armed forces unfurls the Tiranga on Republic Day.
On January 26 when President Droupadi Murmu arrives on Kartavyapath to officially commence the Republic Day ceremony for the first time after taking office last year, she will be assisted by Flight Lieutenant Komal Rani.
Flight Lieutenant Komal is a native of Kurukshetra, Haryana, and belongs to the Indian Air Force's education branch. She was commissioned into the IAF in 2020 and is the first member of her family to join the armed forces.
The young officer will assist President Murmu as the supreme commander of India's armed forces unfurls the Tiranga.
"Once the President arrives, the President's Bodyguard will give the command for the National Salute and unfurling of the flag," Flight Lieutenant Komal says over the phone from Delhi where she has been practicing for the past month.
"On hearing the command, I will unfurl the flag which will be followed by the National Anthem."
Tugging at the rope which holds the flag from the pole towering over Kartavyapath may seem easy, but every move has to be practiced with the minutest detail and precision.
Flight Lieutenant Komal has been practicing the unfurling of the flag for the past month and was informed that she was selected as the main candidate for carrying out the task on the President's behalf on January 18.
She has been a part of the combined parade practice every day from 7.30 am-11.30.am.
"Our instructors have taught us the technique of unfurling the flag and also how to fold the flag. I have practiced well and am looking forward to Republic Day," she says.
The time fixed for the unfurling of the flag is between 10.30 am-10.32 am on Thursday, January 26, 2023.
After the flag is unfurled, she will take position behind the dais.
The officer will wear the IAF's winter ceremonial uniform with medals.
Flight Lieutenant Komal has previously taken part in the Republic Day parade at the college she attended as a National Cadet Corps cadet in Haryana.
Her interest in the armed forces took form during her years as an NCC cadet.
"I wanted to be in the armed forces and was selected for both the Indian Army and IAF," she says and believes the armed forces offer an excellent career option, especially for women.
"The IAF gives equal opportunities where you are not seen as a female or male officer. You are just an officer."
In 2015, Lieutenant Haobam Bella Devi, a native of Manipur unfurled the national flag for then President Pranab Mukherjee on Rajpath which is now renamed Kartavyapath.
The Republic Day 2023 function will begin with the prime minister paying homage to all the soldiers who have made the supreme sacrifice for the Motherland at the National War Memorial. An inter-services guard comprising seven personnel from the three services will give the salute. The guard will be commanded by Squadron Leader Akash Ganghas.
The IAF is the lead service this year (the three defence services serve in rotation for the R-Day parade).
The IAF's 144 member marching contingent will be led by Squadron Leader Sindhu Reddy.
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com