India's military might, cultural heritage mark R-day parade

Last Updated 26 January 2018, 17:23 IST

India on Friday showcased its military prowess and a slice of its rich cultural heritage to the leaders of the ten South East Asian nations in a grandiose 90-minute long parade to mark the 69th Republic Day.

The early morning fog, however, was a bit of spoilsport as the Army Aviation had to cancel its welcome flight in which five Mi-17 helicopters were to fly over the Rajpath carrying the national and Asean flags and the ensign of the three services.

The rest of the parade went as planned during which the central boulevard not only came alive with a dazzling display of Indian's military powers but also witnessed a signature of India's defence production capabilities as indigenous Aakash air defence missile, Brahmos cruise missile and a replica of aircraft carrier Vikrant was on display.

The top leadership of the 10 ASEAN nations – most of them having  strategic ties with India – watched the parade.

Breaking away from the tradition, the South Asian bloc was invited as the chief guests for the Republic Day parade to commemorate the silver jubilee of India's diplomatic engagement with Asean.

Led by Lt Gen Asit Mistry, General Officer Commanding of Delhi area, the parade began with a special marching contingent in which soldiers from the Rajputana Rifles carried the flags of the 10 nations and that of the Asean.

In the tableau section, the Ministry of External Affairs presented two floats Indian's long-standing trade and education links with the South East Asia and the rich cultural heritage of these nations.

The foreign leaders had a summit meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi a day before and attended the At-Home at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on the Republic Day.

The mechanised columns included Indian Army's T-90 tank (Bhishma), Ballway Machine Pikate (II/IIK) armoured vehicle, Brahmos cruise missile, indigenous weapon locating radar (Swathi), bridge laying tank T-72, mobile base transceiver station and Akash air defence missile.

The maximum cheers from the crowd, who braved the early morning chills, was reserved for the Border Security Force's Seema Bhawani – a 106 member team of the women bikers, who performed dare-devil stunts all along the 13 km route of the parade that ended at the Red Fort.

At the end, IAF presented the show stopper with the low-level formation flying of the helicopters and transport aircraft while the MiG-29, Su-30 MKI, Tejas Light Combat Aircraft and Jaguar combat jets pierced the sky.

For the first time, armed chopper Rudra participated in the Republic Day flypast.

(Published 26 January 2018, 07:18 IST)

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