Republic Day 2019: India displays military might, cultural grandeur at Rajpath; women contingent leads wayhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/republic-day-2019-70th-narendra-modi-cyril-ramaphosa-india-south-africa-army-parade-president-kovind-5555988/

Republic Day 2019: India displays military might, cultural grandeur at Rajpath; women contingent leads way

Republic Day 2018: There were many firsts at the parade this year inlcuding an all-women's contingent of the Assam Rifles and the inclusion of four INA veterans.

Republic Day 2019: India's rich culture, military might on display; President awards Ashok Chakra to Nazir Wani
Republic Day 2019: This year, the overall theme for the Republic Day celebrations was the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and tableaux of many states, themed on him. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

Seventy years since the birth of its Constitution, India celebrated Republic Day on Saturday with a grand annual parade at Rajpath amid heavy security cover. The ceremonial parade rolled down the majestic Rajpath with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in attendance as the chief guest along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman among several other leaders. Ramaphosa is the second South African president, after Nelson Mandela, to attend the grand event as its chief guest.

The event started with PM Modi paying his tributes to the martyrs by laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti after which President Kovind unfurled the national flag with the national anthem being played in the accompaniment of booming 21 gun salute in the background. The well-coordinated gun salute by seven cannons of 2281 Field Regiment starts with the first note of the national anthem and ends with the last. Special clocks are used to measure time in smaller units for precision.

Soon after this, President Kovind awarded the Ashoka Chakra — India’s highest peacetime gallantry honour — to Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, a militant-turned-soldier who was martyred while fighting a group of six militants in Shopian in Kashmir in November. Wani is the first Kashmiri to be conferred the Ashoka Chakra and the award was received by his wife and mother.

Republic Day 2019: India's rich culture, military might on display; President awards Ashok Chakra to Nazir Wani
Several states, organisations and government departments also showcased their achievements through 22 tableaux this year. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

This year, the overall theme for the Republic Day celebrations was the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and tableaux of many states, themed on him. The highlights of the parade were four Indian National Army (INA) veterans, aged over 90 years, taking part in the parade, among the many firsts for a Republic Day parade as well as ‘Nari Shakti’ (women power) which was on full display on the ceremonial boulevard with an all-woman Assam Rifles contingent creating history this year by participating for the first time in the parade, which was led by Maj Khushboo Kanwar. Contingents of the Navy, Army Service Corps and a unit of Corps of Signals (transportable satellite terminal) were led by women officers too, as the crowd cheered.

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Republic Day 2019: Women contingent leads the way, parade highlights Mahatma Gandhi's life
Republic Day Parade 2019 at Rajpath in New Delhi on Saturday. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

At Rajpath, India showcased its military might as well as its rich cultural heritage and traditions. The military might was on display, with the artillery gun system M777 American Ultra Light Howitzers, recently acquired from the US, and K9 Vajra, a self-propelled artillery gun, showcased on Rajpath, being new additions this year.

republic day parade 2019 watch highlights
The parade also showcased 33 people on 9 motorcycles forming a human pyramid, lead by Subedar Major Ramesh. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

Several states, organisations and government departments also showcased their achievements through 22 tableaux this year. The tableaux of Sikkim, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, West Bengal, Tripura, Goa, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Uttarakhand were displayed on the occasion. The Governors unfurled the tricolour in their respective states to mark the day.

Also Read: Explained: Why India-South Africa relations are unique, and Ramaphosa is a special R-Day Chief Guest

The event ended with the flypast which began with the Rudra formation comprising three ALH Mk IV WSI helicopters and featured Sukhois, MiG fighter jets. The parade also witnessed a ‘vic’ formation of An-32 aircraft, whose lead plane flew on a mix of traditional and bio-fuel for the first time. It also showcased 33 people on 9 motorcycles forming a human pyramid, lead by Subedar Major Ramesh. A lone woman officer exhibited bike stunts as part of the iconic team.

republic day parade 2019 watch highlights
The event ended with the flypast which began with the Rudra formation comprising three ALH Mk IV WSI helicopters and featured Sukhois, MiG fighter jets. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

Scores of people had reached to watch the parade. The Indian Army’s T-90 tank, Ballway Machine Pikate (BMP-II/IIK), Surface Mine Clearing System, 155 mm/52 Calibre Tracked Self-propelled Gun (K-9 Vajra), Transportable Satellite Terminal, Troop Level Radar and Akash Weapon System were also showcased at the parade.

Also Read: Republic Day Parade 2019: India’s rich cultural diversity on display at Rajpath; 10 points

Several senior leaders, including Home Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were present on the occasion at Rajpath. Also, continuing his tradition of donning colourful turbans at the Republic Day and the Independence Day, PM Modi wore a yellowish orange headgear with a red tail and traditional kurta pajama along with the trademark Nehru jacket.

PM Narendra Modi wore a yellowish orange headgear with a red tail. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)

SWAT women commandos, mobile hit teams, snipers are among the varied layers of security under which the national capital was placed for the Republic Day celebrations. Elaborate measures, including the deployment of anti-aircraft guns, were put in place to secure the airspace.

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