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January 26, 2008 / Mridul

Republic Of India Turns 58; Republic Day Parade Coverage

Republic Day Parade

India celebrates its 59th Republic Day on Saturday. It was on January 26, 1950, that the Constitution of India came into force and the country declared itself a Republic. The date was officially chosen as Republic Day because it was on January 26, 1930, that the Indian National Congress symbolically declared Poorna Swaraj, or complete independence from Britain.

The Parade ceremony commenced with the Prime Minister laying wreath at the Amar jawan Jyoti at India Gate, the war memorial for the Immortal Soldier. After observing a two minute silence the prime Minister & the Chiefs of the three divisions of the the Indian Armed Forces proceeded towards the main parade area where they received the President Pratibha Patil & Chief Guest the French president Nicolas Sarkozy. The dignitaries then proceeded towards the main dais where President Patil unfurled the national flag amidst the tune of the national anthem, Jana Gana Mana. This was followed by the customary 21 gun salute.

Next, the highest peacetime military honors, The Ashok Chakra, were awarded posthumously to Col Vasant Venugopal (officer of 9 Marathas) – Under his command, the battalion killed nine foreign terrorists in Uri Sector of Jammu and Kashmir on July 31, 2007; Captain R Harshan (2 Paramilitary Special Forces) at 25, he became the youngest Ashok Chakra winner in India’s history – He fought bravely during an operation in Kashmir last year & killed two terrorists before succumbing to his injuries in Kashmir; Naib Subedar Chunni Lal – He faced the enemy bravely & killed three terrorists in the Kupwara sector in June last year.

Following this the Parade began with a fly past by four Mi-7 helicopters which flew in an inverted wineglass formation unfurling the national tricolour as well as those of the three defence services. The parade was led by General Officer Commanding Major-General K J S Oberoi. The Army showcased its impressive armory before the nation. The most attractive ones being the indigenously developed frontline T-90 battle tanks, the Indian version of BrahMos, the nuclear capable short range surface-to-surface missile Dhanush and the nuclear capable IRBM Agni-3 missiles which made its maiden appearance at this year’s Republic Day parade.

The awesome show of the armed services’ armory was followed by marching contingents. The army contingent included personnel drawn from Punjab Regiment, Grenadiers Regiment, Rajputana Regiment, Sikh Light Infantry, Assam Regiment, Mahar Regiment, 8-Gorkha Rifles and the Territorial Army. The Camel mounted Band and Contingent of the Border Security Force was the main attraction & drew cheers from the thousands assembled.

This was followed by tableaux from 26 states and Central Ministries and Departments will present the varied historical, architectural and cultural heritage of the country. They will also showcase country’s progress in different fields. Tableaux of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Railways and the Central Public Works Department focussed on various aspects of the Indian Independence movement. Haryana’s tableau depicted the scene of of thousands of women and children jumping into a well in a bid to save themselves from the Britishers who completely destroyed Rohnat village in Hisar district.

Eighteen of the 22 children selected for the National Bravery Awards 2007 also participated in the parade riding on caparisoned elephants. 4 have got the award posthumously. An ex-servicemen’s contingent and 13 Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra awardees participated in the parade as four teams of the army band provided music for the march.

At the end of the Parade the Jaanbaz, the motorcycle display by the Border Security Force became the center of attraction. It consisted of 170 riders on 34 motorcycles performing Border Man Salute, ladder balancing, parallel bar, human pyramid, Guldasta Safari and Flag March. They performed breathtaking stunts in a synchronised and synergistic display of mind, body and machine coordination.

The grand finale of the parade was spectacular IAF’s flypast led by MI-26 and Advanced Light Helicopters followed by Big Boy Formation comprising an IL-76, two AN-32 and two Dorniers. Following this 5 Jaguars amazed the audience with their awesome Arrow Head Formation. But that was just the start of the fly past, with a thunderous sound came 5 MiG-29 aircrafts. The final jewel in the Republic Day’s parade were the 3 Sukhoi MKI which roared in the sky in the breath taking Trishul formation.

The ceremony culminated with the National Anthem and release of balloons.

Although it has been so many years and the overall pattern & the composition of the parade remains the same year after year still almost everybody wakes up early this day & waits anxiously for the parade to begin. I love watching the Parade because of the discipline with which the soldiers conduct themselves. At the end of the Parade thousands of people ran to their terraces to catch a glimpse of the Air Force’s crown jewels. And this time it was even more special since the Sukhois flew much closer to the ground 🙂

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