New Delhi. 26 January 2019. The Republic turned 70 with elan this year.
An all women marching contingent of the Assam Rifles took part for the first time. Major Khusboo Kanwar lead the contingent.
The ‘Sentinels of the North-East’ took active part in all pre and post-Independence wars. The ‘Friends of the Hill People’ are also custodians of law and order and guardians of our borders. They were effectively involved in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir. Raised as the ‘Cacher Levy’, the force completes 183 years of glorious service to the Nation.
The main colourful celebration was held at the historic Rajpath where President Ram Nath Kovind hosted President of Republic of South Africa and Supreme Commander of the South African National Defence Force Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa.
India and South Africa enjoy unique relationship underpinned by shared values and common principles. This year India is celebrating 150th year of birth of greatest saint of 20th Century, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, whom we all fondly call the Mahatma. Underlining theme of this year’s Republic Day Celebration was the great man himself. His 21-year stay in South Africa played a pivotal role in moulding him into the Apostle of Peace. His transformation is best described by one of the greatest men of the 20th Century, anti-apartheid crusader and first President of all-encompassing new South Africa, Dr Nelson Mandela. He said, “You gave us Mohandas Gandhi; we returned him to you as Mahatma Gandhi.”
The Republic Day Parade Ceremony commenced with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti under India Gate. An eternal flame burns at the Amar Jawan Jyoti to commemorate the indomitable courage of our Armed Forces personnel who have made the supreme sacrifice in the service of the motherland. It is symbolised by a reversed rifle standing on its barrel and crested by a soldier’s helmet.
This year veterans of Indian National Army (INA) who fought valiantly against the imperial forces also took part in the Parade. They were Parmanand, Lalti Ram, Hira Singh and Bhagmal.
The first contingent in the uniform was of the erstwhile Gwalior Lancers is 61 Cavalry led by Major Apurva Dabhade. The 61 Cavalry is the only active serving horse Cavalry Regiment in the world. The Regiment was raised on 01 August 1953, with the amalgamation of six State Forces’ Cavalry Units.
Main Battle Tank of the Indian Army, T- 90 Bhishma, Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) Ballway Machine Pikate (BMP-II/IIK), Surface Mine Clearing System (SMCS), K-9 Vajra-T, M 777 A2 Ultra Light Howitzer (ULH), Transportable Satellite Terminal (TST), Akash weapon system, were the main draw in the mechanised columns.
The other marching contingents of the Army to included the Madras Regiment, the Rajputana Rifles, the Sikh Regiment, the Gorkha Brigade, the Army Service Corps, , the 102 Infantry Battalion (Territorial Army) Punjab followed by the the Veterans’ Tableau, which marked recognition and respect to the soldier’s selfless service to the nation. It showcased the theme, ‘Veterans: Accelerators in Nation’s Growth’. The Combined Band of the Sikh Light Infantry, Mahar Regimental Centre and Ladakh Scouts played the tune ‘Shankhnaad’ for the first time in the Parade.
The Naval Contingent comprised of 144 young sailors led by Lieutenant Commander Ambika Sudhakarn as Contingent Commander. It will be followed by Naval tableau titled, ‘Indian Navy – Combat Ready Force for National Security’, which will proudly illustrate the combat potential of the multi-dimensional Indian Navy of the 21st Century.
The Air Force Marching Contingent also comprised 144 air warriors. The air warriors marched with rifles in ‘Bagal shashtra’, while the pistols of the officers were secured in their holsters. It was followed by the Air Force Tableau titled ‘Indian Air Force Encouraging Indigenisation’ showcasing the scaled-down models of the aircraft, radar and missile system which have been indigenously designed and manufactured. The models displayed were Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Low-Level Light Weight Radar (LLLWR), Sukhoi-30MKI and Akash Missile System.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) displayed Medium range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM). This System is an Air and Missile Defence (AMD) system intended for the protection of own territories and ground forces against attacks by enemy aircraft and guided weapons. In addition to this, DRDO also showcased Arjun Armoured Recovery and Repair Vehicle (Arjun ARRV).
The flypast led by Advanced Light Helicopters Weapon System Integrated (WSI) ‘Rudra’ and two Advanced Light Helicopters, ‘Dhruv’ of Army Aviation in ‘Diamond’ formation, was cynosure of all eyes.
Assam Rifles lead the marching Contingents of Para-Military and other Auxiliary Civil Forces. It was followed by the Indian Coast Guard, Central Reserve Police Force, Railway Protection Force, DELHI POLICE, Border Security Force Camel Contingent, National Cadet Corps Boys & Girls Contingent and National Service Scheme Marching Contingent. Children’s Pageant was led by Navy Children School Chankyapuri, Delhi with the performance “Jai Ghosh”- a proclamation of faith and assurance in the principles of the divine soul, Mahatma Gandhi.
Corps of Signals Motor Cycle Team saluted the president with daredevil acts in the Parade under the dynamic leadership of Captain Manpreet Singh, who saluted smartly from a 12.5 feet ladder. This is the first time in the history where he beat his own record of saluting from a ladder of 8ft.
The grand finale of the parade was a spectacular flypast by the IAF. The flypast commenced with the ‘Rudra’ formation comprising three ALH Mk IV WSI helicopters in ‘Vic’ formation, followed by the ‘Hercules’ formation comprising three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in ‘Vic’ formation. Behind the ‘Hercules’ formation is the ‘Netra’ the “Eye in the Sky”. Trailing them were the ‘Sutlej Formation’ which is AN 32 aircraft flying in ‘Vic’ formation. Behind the ‘Netra’ formation is the ‘Globe’ formation, comprising one C-17 Globemaster flanked by two Su-30 MKIs.
Next in line were Five Jaguar Deep penetration strike aircraft, in ‘Arrowhead’ formation. Following the Jaguars were five MiG-29 Upgrade Air Superiority Fighters in ‘Arrowhead’ formation. Three state-of-the-art, SU-30 MKIs of Indian Air Force executed the Trishul manoeuvre. the culmination of the parade as a lone Su-30 MKI flying at a speed of 900 km/hr splited the sky with a ‘Vertical Charlie’ manoeuvre over the saluting dais.