India again displayed its military prowess and its cultural diversity at the ceremonial Republic Day parade at Rajpath in Delhi. Like every year, this year too the parade was a grand spectacle.
The 90-minute event began after President Pranab Mukherjee arrived with this year’s chief guest, French President François Hollande.
Earlier, PM Modi along with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the chiefs of the three Services paid tribute to the Indian martyrs at the Amar Jawan Jyoti.
Right at the beginning, President Mukherjee conferred the Ashok Chakra posthumously to Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami. The highest peacetime gallantry award was awarded to Goswami for his bravery in fighting the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir.
The parade began with proud winners of the gallantry awards who followed the Parade Commander. Soon, a 76-member French Army contingent led by a French military band was seen marching down the Rajpath. This was the first time that a foreign army contingent participated in the event.
This year’s parade also saw the return of four-legged troop. 36 dogs of the Indian Army and 90 camels of the Border Security Force joined the proud march. The dog squad, which plays a vital role in saving lives of soldiers, made a comeback to the parade after a gap of 26 years.
India’s military might was in full display. Missile firing T-90 ‘Bhishma’ tank, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP II (Sarath), Mobile Autonomous Launcher of the BrahMos Missile System, Akash Weapon System, Smerch Launcher Vehicles, among others were displayed.
Next to come were the tableaux representing 17 states and 6 central ministries and departments. The tableaux presented the varied historical, architectural and cultural heritage of India.
Several excited school children and students performed a number of song and dance sequences before the VVIP dignitaries.
Like every year, the daredevil jawans performing dangerous bike stunts remained the main attraction of the parade. Indian Army’s motorcycle stunt team did a fine balancing act that drew a big applause from the audience.
The grand event ended with the much awaited Indian Air Force’s flypast. Sukhoi 30, Mig 29, Jaguar combat planes, C-130J Super Hercules transport aircrafts all performed aerial acrobats in the flypast. Thousands of people who sat on the either side of the Rajpath looked into the not so clear skies and cheered when the warplanes zoomed past.
(With inputs from PTI)