India celebrates 74th Republic Day with a spectacular parade of many firsts

India’s military might, cultural diversity on display at Kartavya Path

Google Doodle depicts elements of parade with intricate artwork

US Embassy in New Delhi celebrates with musical rendition of ‘Vande Mataram’

New Delhi: Tens of thousands of people endured a winter chill and mist on Thursday as they gathered to watch a parade in the Indian capital showcasing the country’s defense capability and cultural heritage on a newly revamped ceremonial boulevard renamed as ‘Kartavya Path’.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi looked on as an official guest at India’s Republic Day event, which marked the anniversary of the adoption of the country’s constitution on Jan. 26, 1950, nearly three years after it won independence from British colonial rule.

A 144-member band and marching contingent from the Egyptian Armed Forces also joined battalions of the Indian military and police in the parade. El-Sisi, in a blue suit and matching tie, was flanked by Indian President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wore a multi-colored Rajasthani turban.

Scores of women, men, schoolchildren and folk dancers in colorful dresses performed cultural and fusion dances down the boulevard amid big cheers from the crowd.

The Made-in-India 105mm Indian Field Guns replaced the British-era 25-pounder guns for the first time this year for the 21-gun salute.

Main Battle Tank Arjun, Nag Missile System (NAMIS), BMP-2 Infantry Combat Vehicle of SARATH, Quick Reaction Fighting Vehicle, K-9 Vajra-Tracked Self-Propelled Howitzer Gun, BrahMos Missile, 10 Meter Short Mobile Network Center and Aakash (new generation equipment) in Span Bridge, Mobile Microwave Node and Mechanized Column were the main attractions along with hundreds of men from police and military battalions marching along.

The newly-recruited Agniveers were also a part of the parade for the first time. Other participants included a camel-mounted regiment with its women riders from Border Security Force (BSF) led by a shiny brass band with tubas.

The navy contingent showcased the Indian Navy’s multi-dimensional capabilities, Nari Shakti and indigenously designed and built assets under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ campaign. The 90-minute parade ended with a flypast featuring 75 air force fighters, including Rafale jets, transport planes and helicopters.

For the last time at the Republic Day parade, the Navy’s IL-38 aircraft had its last take-off at the parade. The aircraft has served for over four decades.

“Nari shakti” and women empowerment dominated the theme of tableaux of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Tripura at the Republic Day parade. The Jammu & Kashmir tableau with its theme ‘Naya J&K’ showcased the holy Amarnath Shrine and Tulip gardens and lavender cultivation.

Rajpath Avenue, built by India’s former British rulers, was redeveloped as part of India’s 75th-anniversary celebrations of independence the past two years. It is lined on both sides by huge lawns, canals and rows of trees, and has been renamed “Kartavya Path”. Workers who helped refurbish the boulevard, their families and maintenance workers were seated in front of the main dais during the parade as part of this year’s theme: “Participation of the Common People.”

India traditionally invites foreign leaders to witness the parade. Former French President Francois Hollande was the guest of honor in 2016 and former U.S. President Barack Obama viewed it in 2015. Ten Southeast Asian leaders watched the parade in 2018.

Images courtesy of (Image: ToI) and (Image: PIB)

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