India celebrated its 68th Republic Day with an impressive parade at Rajpath displaying its military might and cultural diversity. President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Ministers, dignitaries and hundreds others watched the parade. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the chief guest this year.
It was a contingent from the United Arab Emirates which led the Republic Day parade this year as it marched down Rajpath. In 2016, a continent from France had participated in the parade. This was the first time that a foreign contingent had participated in the parade ever since it started in 1950 to mark the adoption of the Constitution on January 26 that year.
The Republic Day Parade ceremony commenced at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate where Prime Minister led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath. An eternal flame burns at the Amar Jawan Jyoti to commemorate the indomitable courage of Indian Armed Forces personnel who have laid down their lives for the country. A 149-member Presidential Guard from UAE soldiers impressed thousands of spectators who had gathered to witness the spectacular parade. The continent from UAE was led by a band consisting of 35 musicians, presented a ceremonial salute to President Mukherjee.
A contingent of the National Security Guard (NSG), popularly known as the Black Cat Commandos, also participated in the parade for the first time. The parade was commanded by Lt General Manoj Mukund Naravane, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area. The army showcased its Tank T-90 and Infantry Combat Vehicle and Bramhos Missile, one of its treasured armour, its Weapon Locating Radar Swathi, Transportable Satellite Terminal and Akash Weapon System.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) tableau rolled down the Rajpath with the theme “”Air Dominance Through Network Centric Operations””. The tableau displayed the scaled down models of Su-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, AWACS, UAV, Apache and Communication Satellite.
The Indian Navy’s “”Professional Force-Anchoring Stability, Security and National Prosperity”” tableau showcased the lethal marine commandos proceeding for action, the indigenously built Kolkata Class Destroyer and the Kalvari Class next generation attack submarines. It also displayed a model of the P-8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
Tableaux from 17 states and Union Territories, six Central Ministries and Departments presented the varied historical, art and cultural heritage of the country. A tableau on GST was the highlight of the parade as was a tableau on Khadi India. The heroic motor bike stunts of ‘Dare Devils’- the motorcycle display team of Corps of Military Police – was an instant hit with the parade viewers who braved bad weather and rains.
The grand finale of the parade was a spectacular fly-past by the IAF’s Mi-35 helicopters, indigenous combat light aircraft Tejas, Jaguars and Sukhois. Making a departure, Prime Minister broke his security cordon and mingled with the spectators after the ceremony was over.”