I was in my second trimester of pregnancy when we had a national emergency during the Kargil War. Being pregnant couldn’t be an excuse to not participate in the historic war and fight for the nation. I did not let my pregnancy deter my inner strength to perform as the daughter of the soil. I strongly believe it’s the mindset that matters!” Captain Yashika Tyagi’s heart fills with pride whenever she thinks about the privilege of serving in the Kargil War.
The universe always falls in love with a stubborn heart. That’s what happened in the case of Captain Yashika. While young Yashika wanted to don the uniform of an army officer, women were not allowed in the army back then. She decided to become an IPS officer but the magic happened. In 1993, when Yashika was in her final year of college, the army started inducting women into their Short Service Commission. Life blessed Yashika with the most beautiful gift.
Captain Yashika joined the Indian army in 1994. She is the first lady officer of the Indian Army to be posted at snowbound/High Altitude areas of Leh/Kargil. During the Kargil War, she successfully supervised the security of logistic installation, ammunition dumps and other sensitive areas with no untoward incident of a security breach of any kind.
Belonging to a family of army background, the fighter spirit runs through Yashika’s blood. Let’s hear about the journey and experience of Capt. Yashika Hatwal Tyagi.
You Have Served The Nation For So Many Years As An Army Officer. How Has Your Experience Been?
I feel very proud that I got the chance to serve my nation. 1993 was the first year when the induction of the first women’s batch happened and I joined the Army in 1994. My journey started at the Indian Army Ordnance Corps, a logistical wing of the army. During my tenure, I served in various domains of the Indian Army. I was the first lady officer to be posted in a high altitude cold climate area. My unit was equipping the forces at Siachen Glacier which is the highest battle zone on the planet.
From 1997-1999, we had Operation Vijay which was the battle of Kargil. I was posted at that time in a high-altitude area and was part of the battle from beginning to end looking after the supply chain management of the armed forces. I am so proud that we rose to the occasion.
You Were Pregnant When You Were Serving In The Kargil War. Tell Us About That Experience.
I was in my second trimester of pregnancy when we had a national emergency during the Kargil War. As a soldier, our first and foremost duty is to serve the nation, we don’t think of ourselves. The only thought during such times in a soldier’s mind is to protect the country. That’s what I did.
Knowing fully well that anything could happen at any time, the thought never came to mind of requesting the authorities to post me in peaceful areas. I always believed that pregnancy is not a medical condition, therefore, it felt very normal to me. By god’s grace, we won the war and also I had a safe delivery with a beautiful healthy kid.
Your Family Has Always Been Your Support System. What Was Your Family’s Role In Your Entire Journey?
I come from an army background. My father was an army officer and we lost him when I was 7. So it was my mother who raised me and my sisters. She always felt that every girl should be educated and financially independent in her life. So, her sleepless nights have made all of us independent and self-sufficient today.
Inspired by my mother, I also believe that the only gift we can give our daughters is education. We just have to help them become self-independent so they can conquer the world on their own.
Was Joining The Army Your Childhood Dream?
As I told you, I lost my father when I was 7 but the army never left our hand. We have received immense support and strength from the army. I have seen the best example of humanity done by the army in my own life. That’s why I wanted to be like them and wear that uniform.
When I was growing up there was no women’s army in India. Thus, inspired by Kiran Bedi, I started my civil services preparation. Just after I completed my graduation, the Indian Army introduced its first batch of women. The miracle had happened. I was so happy at that time because I could get the opportunity to wear an army uniform just like my father.
I appeared in the SSB exam and cleared it in the first attempt. I commanded my contingent and cleared my training with various medals and merits. It was a big deal back then as people didn’t even know about the participation of women in the army, I was getting trained as an army officer. So yes, it was a very proud feeling for me and it still is.
On Republic Day 2023, You Were The First Woman Veteran To Salute The Supreme Commander Of The Indian Armed Forces. How Was Your Experience?
It is a dream of every Fauji to salute the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. For me, this dream came true with utmost graciousness. It is an absolute honour to represent millions of veterans and become the first woman veteran from the Tri-Services (Army Navy and Airforce) to salute the President on Kartavya Path.
Currently, Captain Yashika Tyagi runs her YouTube Channel ‘Shaurya Tales’ where she narrates the stories of Brave hearts of the Indian Armed Forces, and daredevil military operations and shares how leadership evolves in crisis situations to motivate the youth of India.
She has worked with different organisations as a motivational speaker and leadership coach over the past few years. She has also given 200+ talks with multiple organisations such as Infosys, Danfoss, Globant, Bain & Co, and CatFit to name a few.