New Delhi: India today celebrated its 68th Republic Day with a customary parade showcasing its military might, rich cultural heritage and its economic and social achievements. President Pranab Mukherjee hoisted the National flag at the historic Rajpath followed by the parade.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the Chief Guest at this year's parade, which was witnessed by an enthusiastic crowd of thousands along the Rajpath. Among those present at the parade included Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet colleagues and senior Opposition leaders from across the political spectrum. Also present were the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
The parade ceremony commenced at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, where the 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 Armed Forces personnel who have made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the motherland.
After unfurling the National Flag, the national anthem was played with a 21 gun salute. The parade began after the President gave away the country's highest gallantry awards to the widows of martyrs. The Nation's military prowess and achievements in different fields, state-of- the-art defence platforms, its diverse cultural and social traditions, and the government's emphasis on self-reliance and indigenisation were showcased before the public at the historic Rajpath. The highlights of this year's Parade were a 149-member UAE Presidential Guard, the Air Force, the Navy and Army contingent led by a UAE band consisting of 35 musicians marching on Rajpath and presenting a ceremonial salute to Mr Mukherjee.
The UAE military contingent was led by Lt Col Abood Musabeh Abood Musabeh Alghfeli. This year's parade also saw some of the firsts to its credit. For the first time, a contingent of the National Security Guard (NSG) popularly known as the Black Cat Commandoes marched -past the Rajpath. The parade also saw the fly-past of three LCA Tejas Aircraft flying at a height of 300 m from ground in 'Vic' formation and the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) developed by DRDO. Sticking to the 67 years tradition of the Republic Day Celebration, the colourful BSF Camel Regiment led by Deputy Commandant Kuldeep Seervi took part.
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', Akash Weapon System, CBRN Recconnnaisance Vehicle and Dhanush Gun System were the main draw in the mechanised columns. An Indian Air Force 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 Sattelite. This year the Indian Navy's Tableau has the theme 'Indian Navy – Professional Force-Anchoring Stability, Security and National Prosperity'. The tableau showcased the lethal Marine Commandoes proceeding for action, the indigenously built Kolkata Class Destroyer and the Kalvari Class next generation attack submarines. The tableau also displayed a model of the P-8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft. —UNI