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Reportage: Archana Masih
Photograph: Jewella C Miranda
Design: Dominic Xavier

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1730 hours.

With a precision that comes most naturally to the armed forces, a gleaming black army Ambassador pulls into the driveway of the VIP guesthouse at the Armed Forces Medical College in Pune. Dot on time.

A uniformed trooper runs to the rear door with an open umbrella to shield the officer who steps out. Dressed in the Indian Army's olive green uniform, the officer pulls the pleats of her sari and walks up.

Don't know how many of you have seen an officer of the Indian Army dressed in a sari. For us, it is a first time. And when the officer is the first woman to attain the rank of lieutenant general of the world's fourth largest army, well, what can you say? Wow! Amazing! Yess!

Lieutenant General Punita Arora is a warm, friendly officer who refers to the Indian Army as "us, ours" -- as if it were an extension of her personality -- and is bemused with all the fuss surrounding her in the last two weeks.

"If my fellow male officer picks up a rank, he also feels great isn't it? I'm sure even they feel very proud, I also felt the same way," she explains.

"I never felt that I am a woman and I've reached this position, so I've done something very great."

Also See: Lest We Forget

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