India’s military might and cultural diversity was on full display at the 68th Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi. On a cloudy day, the proceedings began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar paying tributes to martyrs at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate. Later, President Pranab Mukherjee and Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan made their way to Rajpath with the accompaniment of the presidential bodyguard.
The parade began with the marching of a special contingent from the UAE armed forces as the crown prince watched on from the special VIP enclosure. This was the second time a foreign military contingent took part in the parade.
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Al Nahyan, also Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces, was seated next to Prime Minister Modi who wore a pink color ‘safa’ (turban). The two leaders were seen sharing some light moments.
India’s elite counter-terrorism force, the National Security Guard (NSG), also made its debut at the parade in New Delhi. The contingent that consisted of 60 commandoes in black overalls and full armed gear gave the ceremonial salute to President Pranab Mukherjee as they marched on Rajpath.
The Indian Army’s missile firing capability T-90 ‘Bhishma’ tank, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP-2K, Mobile Autonomous Launcher of the BrahMos Missile System, Weapon Locating Raddar ‘Swathi’ and Akash Weapons System and Dhanush Gun System were among the main draw in the mechanised columns.
There were also tableaux from 17 states and union territories and six central departments. While the state tableaux highlighted cultural and religious heritage, the central government departments showcased some of the flagship programmes of the administration. 21 of the 25 children, who received bravery awards, also marched in the parade. Four children were awarded posthumously.
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The one-and-a-half hour long parade culminated with the brilliant flypast by the Indian Air Force. The parade saw the fly-past of three LCA Tejas Aircraft flying at a height of 300 metres in ‘Vic’ formation and the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) developed by DRDO. The ‘Vertical Charlie’ formation by single Su-30 MKI was the final act in the air as the parade came to a close.
Despite the chilly winds, hundreds of spectators trooped in to witness the parade. The country’s political leadership including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other ministers in the Centre were present at Rajpath.
(With inputs from PTI)