Military might, cultural aura mark R-Day parade
Indigenous fighter aircraft Tejas, Indian Air Force's latest acquisition: C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft and C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft, made-in-India Arjun main battle tank (Mark-II) and scaled-down version of Navy’s nuclear-power submarine Arihant were the show-stoppers.
While the Defence Research and Development Organisation displayed the Astra and Helina missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles Netra and Nishant, Indian Army displayed the T-90 tank, multi-launcher rocket system Smerch and the Brahmos cruise missile.
The military show of strength drew loud cheers from spectators, which included President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union ministers. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the chief guest.
Incidentally, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had threatened to disrupt the Republic Day parade with his sit-in protest last week, also witnessed the parade, his controversial law minister Somnath Bharti in tow.
Commanded by Lt General Subroto Mitra, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area, the parade began with the marching contingent of the Army's horse-mounted columns from 61 Cavalry.
It was followed by the Parachute Regiment (3 para) on the double march, Punjab Regiment, Madras Regiment, Rajputana Rifles, Mahar Regiment, Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry Regiment, 9 Gorkha Rifles and 103 Infantry Battalion (TA) Sikh Light Infantry.
Next came the marching contingents of the Navy and Air Force, followed by the paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces. Contingents from the Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Railway Protection Force, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme marched on Rajpath along with their bands. The camel-mounted colourful band of the BSF was a major attraction.
Tableaux from 18 states, including Karnataka, and central ministries presented a panoramic view of the historical and cultural heritage and scientific progress of the country. The BSF's 162-member motorcycle display team Janbaz was another piece of attraction for people, who braved Delhi's cold and early-morning fog to reach the central boulevard.
The grand finale was a flypast by the IAF. It began with three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, which were trailed a C-17, flanked by two Su-30s. Next in line was five Jaguars in arrowhead formation and another five Mig-29 in fulcrum.
Then came three Su-30 MKI, which flew over Rajpath, and once in front of the saluting dais, split upwards, making a trident in the sky. One of the fighters then carried out a Vertical Charlie manoeuvre (spinning on its axis) over the saluting dais.
Coldest Republic Day in a decade
The national capital celebrated the coldest Republic Day in a decade on Sunday, with the minimum temperature settling at 9.9 degrees Celsius, a notch below the season’s average, DHNS reports from New Delhi.
Nevertheless, Delhiites braved the chill to see the parade at Rajpath. “Seeing the continuous cold weather conditions, we came prepared. We wore many layers of clothing to beat the morning chill,” said Akash Kumar, a Janakpuri resident.
The flypast by the Indian Air force was not affected by the light fog in the Rajpath area of the city, where President Pranab Mukherjee took the salute at the ceremonial parade.
According to the Meteorological Department, the maximum and minimum temperatures may hover between 8 and 19 degrees Celsius on Monday. “There may be light fog in the morning on Monday,” said an Met official.