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India’s military might, cultural diversity on display at 69th Republic Day parade where ASEAN leaders are guests

Republic Day 2018: India displayed her military prowess in the parade, with special focus on the Indian Navy and maritime security, which is an important component of New Delhi's engagement with the ASEAN countries.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: January 26, 2018 2:58:03 pm
The Camel contingent of the Border Security Force (BSF), the only one of its kind across the world, marches down Rajpath to the tune of Ham Hai Seema Suraksha Bal. (Express Photo/Tashi Tobgyal)

India celebrated its 69th Republic Day on Friday along with leaders from ten ASEAN countries, who were invited as chief guests to the annual Republic Day parade in Rajpath, New Delhi. In a first, ten Heads of State or Government attended the event which showcased India’s historic, cultural and religious ties with the ASEAN countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wished the nation on the occasion this morning, welcomed the dignitaries as well as the President to a special 100-foot dias at Rajpath to witness the parade. Leaders from  Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam graced the occasion. This year marks 25 years of relations between India and the bloc.

Ahead of the parade, PM Modi paid respect to the nation’s martyrs by laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate. At Amar Jawan, an eternal flame burns, and a reversed rifle standing on its barrel and crested by a soldier’s helmet signifies the immortal soldier.

A marching contingent at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on Friday (Express Photo/Tashi Tobgyal)

India displayed her military prowess in the parade, with special focus on the Indian Navy and maritime security, which is an important component of New Delhi’s engagement with the ASEAN countries. India’s diversity was also on display, with tableaux from 14 states and Union Territories including Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir, Tripura, Assam, Manipur, and Kerala, among others, highlighting its rich cultural and historic heritage. India’s achievements and progress were shown through the government’s flagship schemes, such as ‘Khelo India,’ a national programme to develop sports.

In pictures | India celebrates Republic Day

One of the major attractions of the parade this year was the stunts and formations displayed by the Border Security Force’s women’s motor cycle team ‘Seema Bhawani. Led by Sub Inspector Stanzin Noryang, the “Daredevils”displayed stunts such as the Salute to President and Flag March Pyramid.

 Republic Day 2018, Republic Day parade, Republic Day, ASEAN, Narendra Modi, 69 Republic Day, President Ram Nath Kovind, Rajpath, Indian Express The Border Security Force (BSF) “Daredevils” women motorcycle riders perform during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi. Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Another major attraction, which drew loud applause from the crowds, was the Indian Air Force’s flypast. Beginning with formations by IAF helicopters and aircraft, the parade ended with a Su-30 MKI carrying out a ‘Vertical Charlie’ manoeuvre over the saluting dais.

President’s address

On the eve of Republic Day, in his address to the nation, President Ram Nath Kovind said a confident and forward-looking nation can only be built by confident and forward-looking young people. “Over 60 per cent of our fellow citizens are below the age of 35. It is in them that our hopes lie. Our aspiration must be to reform, upgrade and enlarge our education system – and to make it relevant to 21st century realities of the digital economy, genomics, robotics and automation,” he said.

 Republic Day 2018, Republic Day parade, Republic Day, ASEAN, Narendra Modi, 69 Republic Day, President Ram Nath Kovind, Rajpath, Indian Express Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives President Ram Nath Kovind at Rajpath on Tuesday (Source: Twitter/PIB_India)

The Ashok Chakra, the nation’s highest peacetime military award was posthumously awarded to IAF Garud Commando Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala, who was killed in an operation against terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. He lay down his life after killing two terrorists. The award was received by Corporal Nirala’s wife, Sushmanand, and his mother, Malti Devi.

On the eve of Republic Day, the President approved conferment of 85 Padma Awards — 3 Padma Vibhushan, 9 Padma Bhushan and 73 Padma Shri — India’s highest civilian awards. One individual from each of the ASEAN countries were named as a recipient as well. There are recipients under the “Unsung Heroes” category as well, which was introduced last year. Read the full list here.

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