Neemuch (MP): Uniforms have been Aanchal Gangwal's passion right from childhood, perhaps because her hometown happens to have a key training academy for CRPF. The 23-year-old daughter of a tea seller from this small district in Madhya Pradesh is all set to take off in a big way as a flying officer in the Indian Air Force (IAF).
After briefly working as a labour inspector with the state government and then as a sub-inspector with police, she has already proved her merit for her new assignment. From among the 123 cadets in the Air Force Academy in Dindigul, Aanchal was awarded the President's Plaque at the combined graduation parade on Saturday.
She does have one regret. Her parents Suresh and Babita Gangwal could not attend the passing out parade due to this year's restrictions caused by the pandemic. Suresh had to quit his studies at the secondary school to support the family. But during her home visit in December she had met them.
Suresh recalls how Aaanchal would occasionally come to the tea stall and help him and also complete her homework on the side.
Aanchal recalled how her parents strove hard all through their life to ensure that their three children-- two daughters and one son -- were provided with all necessary amenities. Aanchal has always been a fighter.
She said: "When I was a school kid, I had decided to be in the defence."
Aanchal holds a graduate degree in Computer Science from Sitaram Jaju Government Girls College in Neemuch. She said that neither of her parents ever raised doubts about her dreams or capabilities despite being a girl.
"When I told my parents that I want to be in defence, they were a little worried like any parent. But they never tried to stop me."
"It still feels surreal. It is a dream come true. I used to dream of this day almost every night. To stand in my uniform, in front of my father and mother, who have fought all the difficulties in their lives to get me here. However, I will have to wait for some time. I am happy that they could see the ceremony on television."
During the passing out parade, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had said that this year the newly commissioned IAF officers, instead of going home for a break, would be proceeding straight to their next units to shoulder their responsibilities for the task at hand. Aanchal said: "I am always ready to serve the nation and see this as an opportunity to do so."