A tableau of  Jammu and Kashmir   during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath in New Delhi on  January 26, 2022. (Qamar Sibtain/IANS)

A tableau of Jammu and Kashmir during the 73rd Republic Day Parade, at Rajpath in New Delhi on January 26, 2022. (Qamar Sibtain/IANS)

India showcases military might, technological prowess & cultural diversity at R-Day Parade

New Delhi, January 26, 2022

India today showcased its military might, technological prowess and cultural diversity and heritage at a grand parade down Rajpath in Delhi as part of the celebrations to mark the nation's 73rd Republic Day.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Ministers, including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, political leaders, top officials, dignitaries from variouss walks of life and large numbers of citizens watched the colourful parade that evoked a sense of pride.

This year's parade, in the 75th year of Independence being celebrated as "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav", was marked by several firsts.

For one, the Government has already announced that the Republic Day celebrations will now onwards last for a week from January 23, the birth anniversary of the great freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, to January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, observed as Martyrs' Day.

As usual, the highlight of the parade was the flypast towards the end by Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft but it was made even more special this year with a grand flypast by 75 aircraft and helicopters to mark the 75th year of Independence.

On a cold but pleasant morning, the parade started at 1030 hours, instead of 1000 hours as in previous years, for better visibility conditions for the parade and the flypast.

The ceremonies began with the Prime Minister paying solemn tributes to fallen heroes at the National War Memorial by laying a wreath. Thereafter, he and other dignitaries headed to the saluting dais at Rajpath.

As per tradition, the national flag was unfurled, followed by the singing of the national anthem and a 21-gun salute.The parade then commenced with President Kovind taking the salute.

The parade was commanded by Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra, a second-generation Army officer. Major General Alok Kacker, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area was the Parade Second-in-Command.

The proud winners of the highest gallantry awards followed. They included the winners of Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra. Param Vir Chakra winners Subedar Major (Honorary Captain) Yogendra Singh Yadav, 18 Grenadiers (Retd) and Subedar (Honorary Lieutenant) Sanjay Kumar, 13 JAK Rifles and Ashok Chakra winner Colonel D Sreeram Kumar followed the Deputy Parade Commander on Jeeps.

The Param Vir Chakra is awarded for the most conspicuous act of bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of the enemy. The Ashok Chakra is awarded for similar acts of valour and self-sacrifice but, other than in the face of the enemy.

The first contingent in the uniform of the erstwhile Gwalior Lancers was 61 Cavalry led by Major Mrityunjay Singh Chouhan. The 61 Cavalry is the only active serving horse cavalry regiment in the world. It was raised on August 1, 1953, with the amalgamation of six state forces’ cavalry units.

The Indian Army was represented by a Mounted Column of 61 Cavalry, 14 Mechanised Columns, six marching contingents and a flypast by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) of Army Aviation.

One Tank PT-76 & Centurion (On Tank Transporters) & two MBT Arjun MK-I, one APC TOPAS & BMP-I (On Tank Transporter) & Two BMP-II, one 75/24 Towed Gun (On Vehicle) & two Dhanush Gun System, one PMS Bridge & Two Sarvatra Bridge System, one HT-16 (On Vehicle) & two Tarang Shakti Electronic Warfare System, one Tiger Cat Missile & two Akash Missile System were the main attractions in the mechanised columns.

A total of six marching contingents of the Army were there including the Rajput Regiment, the Assam Regiment, the Jammu & Kashmir Light Regiment, the Sikh Light Regiment, the Army Ordnance Corps and the Parachute Regiment. The combined Band of the Madras Regimental Centre, the Kumaon Regimental Centre, Maratha Light Regimental Centre, Jammu & Kashmir Light Regimental Centre, Army Medical Corps Centre and School, 14 Gorkha Training Centre, Army Supply Corps Centre and College, Bihar Regimental Centre and Army Ordnance Corps Centre also marched past the saluting dais.

The theme of the marching contingents was the display of the evolution of the uniform and personnel weapons of the Indian Army over the last 75 years. The contingent of the Rajput Regiment wore the uniform of the Indian Army of 1947 carrying .303 Rifles. The Assam Regiment was in uniform dating back to 1962 and carrying .303 Rifles.

The Jammu & Kashmir Light Regiment was in the uniform worn during 1971 carrying the 7.62mm self-loading rifle. The contingent of the Sikh Light Regiment and the Army Ordnance Corps were in the present-day uniform with the 5.56mm INSAS Rifle. The contingent of the Parachute Regiment donned the new Combat Uniform of the Indian Army, unveiled on January 15, 2022, carrying the 5.56mm x 45mm TAVOR Rifle.

The Naval contingent comprised 96 young sailors and four officers led by Lt Cdr Aanchal Sharma as Contingent Commander. It was followed by the Naval Tableau which showcased the multi-dimensional capabilities of the Indian Navy and highlighted the key inductions under "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" (Self-Reliant India). The ongoing Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav also found a special mention in the tableau.

The forward part of the tableau depicted the Naval Uprising of 1946, which contributed to India's struggle for independence. The rear section illustrated the "Make in India" initiatives of the Indian Navy from 1983 to 2021. These included models of new Vikrant with LCA Navy in air flanked by models of indigenously designed and built warships. The frames on the sides of the trailer depicted the construction of Indian Naval platforms in India.

The Indian Air Force contingent comprised 96 airmen and four officers and was led by Squadron Leader Prashant Swamynathan. The Air Force tableau was titled "Indian Air Force, Transforming for the Future". The tableau showcased scaled-down models of MiG-21, Gnat, Light Combat Helicopter and Rafale aircraft, as well as the Aslesha radar.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) displayed two tableaux, signifying the defence technological advancements of the country. The tableaux were titled "Suite of Indigenously Developed Sensors, Weapons and Electronic Warfare Systems for LCA Tejas" and "Air Independent Propulsion System" developed for the submarines of the Indian Navy.

The first tableau displayed an indigenously-developed Advanced Electronically Scanned Array Radar; five different aerial-launched weapons and an Electronic Warfare Jammer to further enhance the capabilities of fourth-generation LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Tejas. The second tableau displayed an indigenously-developed AIP System for propelling the Indian Naval submarines underwater. The AIP System is powered by indigenously-developed fuel cells with a novel onboard hydrogen generator.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) contingent was led by Deputy Commandant H T Manjunath.

The marching contingents of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), led by Assistant Commandant Ajay Malik; 15 times winner of the best marching contingent, Delhi Police, led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Vivek Bhagat; Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) commanded by Assistant Commandant Mohnish Bagree; Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) led by Deputy Commandant Nirupesh Kumar and Border Security Force (BSF) Camel Contingent headed by Deputy Commandant Manohar Singh Kheechee also marched past the saluting dais.

The National Cadet Corps (NCC) Boys Marching contingent, comprising 100 Senior Division cadets, was led by Senior Under Officer Rupendra Singh Chauhan of the Punjab Directorate. Senior Under Officer Pramila of Karnataka Directorate headed the NCC Girls Marching contingent, consisting of 100 Senior Wing Cadets drawn from all 17 Directorates. The marching contingent of the National Service Scheme (NSS), comprising 100 volunteers, was headed by Siddhi Ramesh Baraiya from Diu Union Territory, Ahmedabad Directorate.

These were followed by tableaux of 12 States andUnion Territories and nine Ministries and Departments on various themes under Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

After them came cultural performances by 480 dancers chosen through an all-India dance competition Vande Bharatam. This is the first time that dance groups performing at the parade were chosen through competitions.

As in past years, the motorycle display, by the Seema Bhawani Motorcycle Team of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Himveers of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) drew loud cheers from the spectators.

The grand finale and the most keenly awaited segment of the parade, the flypast, witnessed, for the first time, 75 aircraft and helicopters of the IAF flying in various spectacular formations as part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. Vintage, as well as modern aircraft and helicopters like Rafale, Sukhoi, Jaguar, Mi-17, Sarang, Apache and Dakota, will display different formations, including Rahat, Meghna, Eklavya, Trishul, Tiranga, Vijay and Amrit.

For the first time, IAF coordinated with national broadcaster Doordarshan to show amazing cockpit videos during the flypast to television audiences watching the parade.

The ceremony culminated with the national anthem and the release of tri-colour balloons.

Ten scrolls each of 75 metres in length and 15 ft in height were displayed along Rajpath during the parade. These were prepared during the Kala Kumbh event jointly organised by Ministries of Defence and Culture. The scrolls were painted in two phases -- at Bhubaneswar and Chandigarh -- by over 600 renowned artists and young aspirants from across the country. Inspiration was drawn from the unsung heroes of the freedom struggle showcasing the rich cultural heritage of indigenous and contemporary visual art practices.

Before the commencement of the parade, the contingents of Central Armed Police Forces staged static band performances in the seating enclosures at Rajpath.

For a better viewing experience at the parade, 10 large LED screens - five on each side of Rajpath – were installed.

Elaborate arrangements were in place in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with reduced numbers of seats for spectators. Only adults who had taken both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and children above 15 years of age who have taken one dose of the vaccine were allowed entry for the parade. Other COVID-19 protocols like social distancing and wearing of marks were in place.

There were no foreign dignitaries at the parade this year in view of the pandemic.

The Government had made arrangements to enable people like autorickshaw drivers, construction and sanitation workers, frontline health workers and others, who normally do not get a chance to watch the parade, to witness the event this time.


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