Republic Day Celebrations: cultural heritage, military might on display at Rajpath
It was a spectacular moment filled with multi-hued images of India’s rich cultural heritage, its achievements in diverse fields and military prowess were on majestic display at the magnificent Rajpath
New Delhi: It was a spectacular moment filled with multi-hued images of India’s rich cultural heritage, its achievements in diverse fields and military prowess were on majestic display at the magnificent Rajpath, the ceremonial boulevard, in Delhi on Sunday, as the nation celebrated its 65th Republic Day amid tight security.
Marching down from the seat of power at Raisina Hills to Red Fort, the parade showcased India’s ‘unity in diversity’ and defense capability as thousands of spectators along the 8-km-long route cheered the contingents and the mechanized columns.
The well-turned out and synchronized military and police contingents led by General Officer Commanding (Delhi), Lt General Subroto Mitra, marched proudly to the lilting tunes of bands through Rajpath where President Pranab Mukherjee took the salute.
The march past was watched by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the chief guest of the Republic Day celebration, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the country’s top political and military brass, besides the diplomatic community.
Braving the winter chill, a large number of enthusiastic people came to witness the parade that culminated at the Red Fort.
Minutes before the parade began, Dr. Singh, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force laid wreaths at Amar Jawan Jyoti.
Around 25,000 security personnel were deployed across the city while the commandos of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Delhi police kept vigil at important locations.
The parade began shortly after President Mukherjee and his Japanese Prime Minister Abe arrived at the saluting base at Rajpath escorted by the President’s bodyguards riding bedecked horses.
The main attractions of the parade were scintillating show of air power, fascinating tableaux depicting the diverse culture and dance by colorfully dressed schoolchildren.
A highlight of this year’s parade was the display of India’s first indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. Main battle tank Arjun MK-II, the first indigenously designed and developed tank, was also on display.
The recently-inducted transport aircraft C-130J Super Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster, a heavy lift, long-range aircraft, were major attractions of this year’s flypast.
DRDO displayed the ‘Astra’ and ‘Helina’ missiles, models of an underwater vehicle, mini UAV-NETRA, tracked surveillance vehicle Muntra S and unmanned aerial vehicle ‘Nishant’.
The weaponry put on display by the Indian Army included T-90 tank ‘Bheeshma’, multi-launcher rocket system Smerch, Brahmos weapon system and transportable satellite terminals.
A flypast by the Advanced Light Helicopter ‘Dhruv’ of the Army Aviation Corps drew loud cheers from the spectators.
The marching contingents of the Army included horse-mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry, the Parachute Regiment, Punjab Regiment, Madras Regiment, Rajputana Rifles, Mahar Regiment, Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regiment, 9 Gorkha Rifles and 103 Infantry Battalion.
The Air Force tableau presented the story of its transformation over the past eight decades, highlighting its fighting prowess. The Navy’s tableau depicted a scaled-down model of a submarine, one of the most potent and deadly military platforms in its arsenal.
The marching contingent of the Navy was led by Surgeon Lieutenant Ambika Nautiyal while the Air Force contingent was headed by Squadron Leader Manvender Singh.
The marching contingents of paramilitary and other forces included those from BSF, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, CRPF, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, CISF, Sashastra Seema Bal, Railway Protection Force, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme. Twenty of the 25 children selected for the National Bravery Award-2013 also participated in the parade. Five children were awarded posthumously.
The camel-mounted band of BSF and the ex-servicemen marching contingent was another major attraction.
After the armed forces and police formations came the country’s rich cultural part, which was depicted in 18 tableaux — 13 from States and five from ministries.
A breathtaking performance by BSF’s motorcycle team ’Janbaz’ enthralled the spectators as they performed ‘side riding’, ‘ladder double’, ‘neck riding’, ‘harmony’, ‘human pyramid’ and other exercises.
The grand finale of the parade was a spectacular flypast by IAF. The flypast commenced with ‘chakra’ formation, comprising three Mi-35 helicopters in ‘vic’ formation, followed by another ‘vic’ formation by three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.
Trailing them was a ‘globe’ formation comprising one C-17 Globemaster flanked by two Su-30s fighter aircraft.
Then came five Jaguars flying in ‘arrowhead’ formation, another five Mig-29 air superiority fighters called ‘tridents’ flew in ‘fulcrum’ style.
The Mig-29s were followed by three Su-30 MKI which, while flying over the saluting base split the formation, making a ’trishul’ in the sky. The finale to the flypast was a ‘vertical charlie’ manoeuvre by a Su-30 MKI over the saluting base.