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Grand display of 'Nari Shakti', military might on Kartavya Path as Republic turns platinum

India Air Force (IAF) helicopters fly past during the 75th Republic Day parade, at the Kartavya Path, in New Delhi, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. (Photo: Defence PRO/ PTI)

NEW DELHI (PTI): India has celebrated its 75th Republic Day with a grand display of 'Nari Shakti', rich cultural heritage and military might comprising missiles, warplanes, surveillance gadgets and lethal weapon systems with French President Emmanuel Macron gracing the occasion as the chief guest.

The Republic Day Parade on Friday, January 26, at the Kartavya Path in the heart of the national capital commenced with President Droupadi Murmu taking the salute shortly after she and Macron, flanked by the President's Bodyguards, arrived in a 'traditional buggy'.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, several other Union ministers, the country's top military brass, foreign diplomats and senior officials were among those who witnessed the impressive show that also included a fly-past by helicopters and other aircraft, with even a dense fog cover failing to dampen the spirits of the spectators.

Soon after, Murmu and Macron left from the Kartavya Path in the 'buggy', which made a return after 40 years. After the end of the parade, PM Modi, wearing a multi-coloured 'bandhani' print safa, mingled with the excited crowd as people clicked pictures and welcomed him with claps and slogans of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai".

For the first time, an all-women tri-services contingent marched down the ceremonial boulevard reflecting the country's growing 'Nari Shakti' (women power).

In another first, the parade was heralded by over 100 women artistes playing Indian musical instruments such as 'shankh' and 'nagada' instead of traditional military bands.

The first Army contingent leading the mechanised column was the 61 Cavalry, which was raised in 1953. It was followed by 11 mechanised columns, 12 marching contingents and a fly-past by advanced light helicopters of the Army Aviation Corps.

The T-90 Bhishma tanks, NAG missile systems, infantry combat vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, weapon locating radar system 'Swathi', drone jammer system and medium-range surface-to-air missiles were among the key displays by the mechanised columns.

The all-women tri-services contingent, led by Captain Sandhya of the Army Military Police, with three supernumerary officers Captain Sharanya Rao, Sub Lieutenant Anshu Yadav and Flight Lieutenant Shrishti Rao, drew huge applause.

Another all-women Armed Forces Medical Services contingent, headed by Major Srishti Khullar with Captain Amba Samant of the Army Dental Corps, Surgeon Lieutenant Kanchana of the Indian Navy and Flight Lieutenant Dhivya Priya of the Indian Air Force also marching down the majestic avenue.

The Army's marching contingents included the Madras Regiment, the Grenadiers, the Rajputana Rifles, the Sikh Regiment and the Kumaon Regiment.

The Indian Navy's contingent consisted of 144 men and women Agniveers, led by Lt Prajwal M as commander and Lt Mudita Goyal, Lt Sharvani Supreiya and Lt Devika H as platoon commanders.

It was followed by a naval tableau, depicting the themes 'Nari Shakti' and 'Sea Power Across the Oceans Through Indigenisation'.

The themes of the celebrations were – 'Viksit Bharat'; and 'Bharat – Loktantra Ki Matruka' (India – Mother of Democracy).

A 95-member marching contingent and a 30-member band contingent from France also took part in the parade.

Two Rafale fighter jets and an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft of the French air force also featured in ceremony that culminated with a jaw-dropping fly-past by 46 aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

The IAF fleet included 29 fighter jets, seven transport aircraft, nine helicopters and a heritage plane. These aircraft operated from six different bases.

Fifteen women pilots, including six from the fighter streams, operated the IAF platforms during the fly-past.

For the first time, indigenously-built Tejas aircraft flew in a formation of four aircraft.

The ceremony started with the Prime Minister's visit to the National War Memorial, where he led the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

Minutes later, President Murmu and her French counterpart Macron arrived in the 'traditional buggy' as the crowd sought to capture the moment on their mobile phones.

The national flag was then unfurled, followed by the national anthem with a 21-gun salute using the indigenous 105-mm Indian Field Guns.

"The 75th Republic Day Parade showcased the nation’s extraordinary Nari Shakti as impressive march-pasts by women received standing ovation by the invitees. President Droupadi Murmu and the French President Emmanuel Macron arrived at the Kartavya Path in the traditional buggy which made a comeback after 40 years," the Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a post on X.

Four Mi-17 IV helicopters of the 105 Helicopter Unit showered flower petals on the audience present at the Kartavya Path.

The Kartavya Path also witnessed a march past by a combined band and marching contingent of the French armed forces.

Gallantry award winners, and winners of Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar riding jeeps decked up with flowers, also took part in the parade.

Officials said about 77,000 guests are estimated to have attended the event, which included 13,000 "special invitees". A senior official of ISRO said, "About 200 women from ISRO" also attended the event, some of them accompanied by their spouses.

A total of 16 tableaux from states, Union territories and nine from central ministries and departments rolled down the Kartavya Path during the parade.

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