Changing a decades-old tradition, the 71st Republic Day ceremony this Sunday will not begin from India Gate, where the Prime Minister commemorates soldiers who have died in combat for India. Instead, at 9.33 am, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial, which was opened on February 25, 2019.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, Army chief General M M Naravane, Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh and Air Force chief Air Marshal R K S Bhadauria will stand behind Modi when he pays homage to the dead soldiers.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Yesso Naik and Defence Secretary Ajay Garg will also be present at the ceremony.
The eternal flame that is lit under India Gate is also lit at the National War Memorial, which mentions names of all Indian soldiers who have died defending the country since Independence.
After laying the wreath, the Prime Minister will go to Rajpath for the Republic Day parade, which will last for 90 minutes, starting 10 am. The parade, which also has 22 tableaux from various states and government departments, will feature a few debuts this year.
On March 27 last year, India became only the fourth country to successfully fire an Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile under a project named Mission Shakti. Demonstrating this prowess, the A-SAT missile will feature in the parade this Republic Day.
It will be part of the tableau of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the agency responsible for propelling India to the elite league.
The DRDO will also feature its Air Defence Tactical Control Radar.
Another indigenous project in the Republic Day parade for the first time will be the 155mm/45 Dhanush Gun System. Developed and manufactured by the Ordnance Factory Board, Dhanush, a howitzer, will be part of the Army’s display.
The Army will also showcase the K-9 Vajra, a self-propelled gun.
Also marking their debuts will be the Sarvatra Bridge System and 5-meter Short Span Bridge, both developed by the Engineering Corps of the Army.
Beyond these Made in India projects, India will also bring out the heavy-lifter helicopter Chinook and Apache, an attack helicopter. The country had acquired both in 2019. The two kinds of helicopters will be part of the fly-past.
Contrary to what was reported earlier, popular hymn Abide With Me will be part of the Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29. As the last song played by the military band, it will follow Vande Mataram, which was supposed to replace the hymn, according to some reports.
The parade will have 16 marching contingents from the armed forces, paramilitary forces, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and 13 military bands. The motorcycle display this year will be performed by an all-woman team of the Central Reserve Police Force.
President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro will be the chief guest at the parade this year. This will be the third time that a Brazilian President will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade, the last occasion being in 2004.
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