From Kathak dancing twin sisters to IAF pilot dreamer, meet the cadets

New Delhi: Twins Ridhi and Sidhi Sharma, both trained Kathak dancers from Delhi, have been matching steps much before the marching drills they are practising as cadets at the ongoing NCC Republic Day Camp here.

The sisters, students of Class 8, were among a section of participating cadets who attended a reception hosted for them by IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari here on Monday.

Selected contingents from various directorates of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) were present during the function held in the sprawling laws of the Air House on Akbar Road.

PTI interacted with some of these cadets who shared their dreams, aspirations, and experiences of being a part of the annual NCC R-Day Camp, which takes place at Delhi Cantonment.

Kerala native and NCC’s air wing cadet, Anjali G, studying at a college in Thiruvanthapuram, says, “My dream is to join the Indian Air Force and become a pilot”.

The 19-year-old, hailing from Alappuzha, was excited to be part of the camp, and said the IAF chief’s address to cadets during an event at the camp held earlier in the day has further motivated her to join the armed forces.

“Since my school days, I have been fascinated with flying and we read about women pilots also. I feel the NCC training and the values ingrained in us will hold us in good stead in future,” she said.

Her fellow cadets in the NCC Directorate (Kerala and Lakshadweep) say Anjali is among the cadets “shortlisted” for the marching contingent who will be part of the Republic Day Parade on Kartavaya Path on January 26.

“We are practising drills for the big parade, and we wake up at crack of dawn to prepare for the day,” she added.

Her fellow air wing cadet, Harani AS (19), also a native of Kerala, fixes her beret and crimson hackle and stands in attention, anticipating the arrival of the IAF chief at the Air House event.

“I am proud of being an NCC cadet, but my dream is to crack the UPSC examination and become an IPS officer,” she said.

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari, by turn, interacted with members of each representatives of the NCC directorate and asked them, “How’s the josh?”, to which the cadets shouted, “High, sir.”

The Sharma sisters — Ridhi and Sidhi, said the IAF chief’s words have motivated them to do better in life.

“We both are trained Kathak dancers, and have been matching steps while performing together. At the camp, we are also learning to match steps while practising drills. NCC training is hard, but it’s rewarding for us, moreso when we are school students,” Ridhi told PTI.

Her sister Sidhi, two minutes younger to her twin sibling, says both Kathak and NCC offer different experiences, and shared that they have been learning the dance form from class 1.

Asked what given them more joy, donning a NCC uniform or Kathak costumes, Sidhi says, “Kathak!”

“I feel, I am in a comfort zone when I do Kathak, NCC training is hard,” she added.

“We are from junior wings of the NCC, and haven’t thought about our dreams yet,” the sisters concurred.

Priyanka Jha, a college student and a cadet in the NCC Delhi Directorate said NCC is like a ‘mini India’ and “we also get to learn about cultures of other states through camp interaction”.

“We know there a lot of stereotypes about certain states, “but, we don’t agree with them”, she said.

At the Air House, she shared a table with three cadets from Jammu and Kashmir while having refreshments.

Jammu native Sona Rajput, a college student, said, “NCC teaches you a lot, discipline, camaraderie, and ‘Unity And Discipline’ is our motto.”

True leaders empower those around them and their influence extends far beyond parade grounds, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari told the cadets at the Camp, and urged them to join the armed forces and live a life of “unity and discipline”.