Kottayam: When India celebrates Republic Day on Thursday, K V Geetha Kumari – a 69-year-old currently residing in Kottayam town – would be recalling some proud moments of another such day 50 years ago.
During the Republic Day of 1973, it was the contingent commander Geetha Kumari who had led the 90-member senior wing girls platoon of the National Cadet Corps(NCC) at the parade in New Delhi which offered salute to the then President, V V Giri.
“I learnt from the felicitation certificate given to me by the then NCC Director that I was the first Keralite to lead its contingent at the Republic Day parade. I felt really proud at that time,” says Geetha Kumari, who belongs to Puthuparambil House at Nagampadom in Kottayam town.
Geetha Kumari was chosen to lead the parade after she was selected as the best cadet among the top cadets from the 16 NCC directorates. She also received the trophy on behalf of the Kerala contingent from the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Even after all these years, Geetha Kumari vividly remembers her visit to Delhi for the parade. “On the days before the parade, we engaged in stringent practice at the mango grove outside the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The practice lasted from 5 am to noon. The parade route was 6 km long,” she recalls.
Before starting for Delhi, Geetha Kumari was trained to modulate her voice while issuing commands loudly. “I gave commands in a loud voice while keeping my hand over my stomach,” she says.
Twenty NCC cadets had travelled to Delhi for the parade in 1973. They included Leelamma Kurien from BCM College. The cadets were led by Major N C Nair and Captain Suma.
In 1972 also, Geetha Kumari had been selected for the Republic Day celebrations in the national capital as the best cadet, while she was a Sociology degree student at BCM College. However, the parade did not take place due to the Bangladesh war.
Geetha Kumari later worked with the government and retired as Additional Secretary, Vigilance. She now lives at Nagampadom along with her husband T N Rajappan, who is a retired deputy engineer with BSNL and son Krishna Anand.
Geetha Kumari’s daughter Arya Rajan also was an NCC cadet. Arya currently teaches at an engineering college.