This year the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in Delhi saw a number of firsts. A French military contingent, an ex-servicemen’s tableaux and a comeback of the Indian Army dog squad were some of them.
In a complete shift from marching traditions on Rajpath, French Army soldiers created history by becoming the first foreign military contingent to take part in the parade. The 76-member contingent of the French Army’s 35th Infantry Regiment led by Lt Col Paul Bury marched before President Pranab Mukherjee, chief guest Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 48-member ceremonial French band ‘The Music of the Infantry’ played two military tunes at the parade while the contingent was marching.
The parade also witnessed the re- entry of Army dogs after a long gap of 26 years. 36 Army dogs, consisting of 24 Labradors and 12 German Shepherds marched down Rajpath. The squad of 36 dogs was carefully chosen from 1,200 dogs that the Indian Army has. The four-legged troops underwent an intensive training for four months before marching on Rajpath. These dogs are trained to detect explosives and hidden mines in addition to their tracking and guarding skills. The canines donned capes with bold stripes of maroon and gold and were heartily cheered by the crowd.
“It was a policy decision to showcase our canines. They take part in operation with us and have helped save the lives of so many soldiers,” said Major General Rajesh Sahai, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area.
In another first, a tableau representing army veterans was showcased by Directorate of Indian Army Veterans. The theme of the Tableaux was to show the contribution of the army veterans in nation building.
Indigenously designed and developed Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) “Rudra” also made its debut at the parade. The helicopter produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is being used by the Army since February 2013. Rudra is a multi-purpose vehicle capable of working on anti-tank warfare, troop transport and close air support.
aIn another first, a CRPF male marching team was replaced by their womens’ personnel unit. The all-women CRPF marching team ws cheered by everyone in the crowd, especially the women.
(With inputs from PTI)