Last year, Captain Shikha Surabhi became the first woman to lead a formation of 36 men and nine Bullets of the army bike display team at the Republic Day parade. But even as she readied for the performance of a lifetime, she philosophised to a journalist, “Nothing can beat this feeling. But, in life, you should crave for the next thing – and there are more things to do ahead – for the country and myself.” This, in a way, sums up the attitude of most riders.
The fact remains that a large proportion of those who join the security forces hail from villages and small towns. Surabhi, for example, is from Arrah in Bihar, but was raised in Hazaribagh (Jharkhand). Like millions of Indians, she went to a Hindi-medium school. Her interests in sports and adventure were kindled by her mother, who was a sports teacher at a school in Ranchi. Luckily, from the beginning, Surabhi’s chosen sports were the aggressive, adventurous ones, like kick-boxing and wrestling.