Even though Mi-17
helicopters failed to shower flower petals due to the all pervading fog blanket that brought down the visibility to less than 25 mt, the weather failed to dampen the spirits of those who arrived at the India Gate early morning to witness the majestic parade once more.
President Pratibha Patil, the Supreme Commander of armed forces, took the salutes in the presence of this year’s chief guest South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony and the country’s top political and military brass, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
India’s latest military acquisition – Phalcon Airborne early Warning Command and Control System (AWACS) – flew for the first time in the parade.
After the unfurling of the tricolour and the prime minister’s wreath laying at Amar Jawan Jyothi, the parade began. It was commanded by Major General KJS Oberoi, General Officer Commanding of Delhi Area.
The first one on the Raj Path was the mechanised column of the Army that includes indigenous main battle tank Arjun, SMERCH rocket launcher, indigenous ready-made bridge Sarvatra and armoured reconnaissance vehicle.
The Army also brought its ICV Communication Vehicle besides Samyukta Electronic Warfare System, Infantry Fighting Vehicle “Sarath” and Ambulance Tracked to the parade.
Touch of colour
The army conti
ngent included personnel in full regalia from Madras, Jat, Sikh, Dogra, Garhwal, Bihar and Gorkha Regiment and Territorial Army. Each were accompanied by their own regimental bands.
The Navy and Air Force showcased the technological cutting edge of the armed forces.
While the IAF displayed Hawk advanced jet trainer and its most advanced multi-role Su-30 MKI fighters, the Navy displayed a mock-up of the indigenous stealth frigate “INS Shivalik” that will be commissioned shortly. Other marching contingents included camel-mounted BSF, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, SSB, RPF, Delhi Police, NCC and NSS. Following the country’s armed and police forc
es came the country’s rich cultural diversity in full display in 21 tableaux – 13 from states and eight from ministries.
Among the most eye-catching ones was the one from Maharashtra that portrayed Mumbai’s ubiquitous “Dabbawalas” who feed the Mumbaikars daily dot on time irrespective of weather.
Interestingly, President Patil was seen explaining the work of Dabbawalas to the South Korean President. The parade was signed off by two Su-30 MKI that flew over the Raj Path forming a trident.