R-Day parade showcases emerging India
The Agni-5 inter-continental ballistic missile from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, which can hit targets deep inside China, was the showstopper for the ceremonial parade from Raisina Hills to Red Fort.
Two key military acquisitions, a model of the Russian-origin aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and the US-made strategic heavy-lift troop carrier C-17 Globemaster III, were showcased before the country for the first time. Both are expected to be pressed into service later this year. West Bengal featured prominently in the resplendent show.
While it was the first Republic Day parade for President Pranab Mukherjee, who has his roots in the eastern state, the parade was commanded by Lt Gen Subroto Mitra, General Officer, Commanding, Delhi area.
The West Bengal tableau, displaying the life and works of Swami Vivekananda, was the first to enter Rajpath.
The ceremony commenced at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in paying homage to martyrs. This year’s chief guest, Bhutan’s king Jigme Wangchuk, followed the show with rapt attention, along with Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Defence Minister A K Antony, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other dignitaries.
The Indian Army showcased the indigenous Arjun main battle tank, the Brahmos cruise missile and the Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher. A flypast of the Dhruv advanced lightweight helicopters by the Army Aviation Corps was an added attraction.
The Indian Air Force showcased its upcoming basic trainer aircraft, Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II and the new VIP helicopter, Augusta Westland AW-101, along with the indigenous airborne early warning and control system atop the Embraer 145 platform, which is under trial. The Navy’s tableau highlighted INS Chakra submarine, which Russia has leased out to India.
Tornados, the 135-member motorcycle display team from the Army Service Corps, was another attraction for the spectators, who cheered the daredevils during their performance. There were marching contingents from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB, CISF, RPF, Assam Rifles, Delhi Police, NCC and the NSS. The cultural procession was marked by 19 tableaux—14 from states and five from various departments—which highlighted India’s ethnic splendour. Besides Bengal, four more eastern states—Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattishgarh—put on show their cultural heritage. The North-East was represented by Meghalaya and Tripura.
The Indian Railways’ double-decker train and “One hundred years of Indian cinema” were also displayed. A breathtaking flypast of the IAF troop carrier C-130J Super Hercules and Jaguar, MiG-29 and Su-30 MKI fighters marked the end of the hour-long extravaganza.