A view of the 72nd  Republic Day Parade held on Janpath in New Delhi on January 26, 2021.
A view of the 72nd Republic Day Parade held on Janpath in New Delhi on January 26, 2021.IANS

India's military might, socio-economic progress and cultural diversity on display at R-Day Parade

New Delhi, January 26, 2021

India today put its military might, socio-economic progress and cultural diversity on display during the 72nd Republic Day Parade down the stately Rajpath in the national capital in a celebration that was markedly scaled down in view of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Today's parade took place under the shadow of unprecedented and chaotic scenes on the capital's borders where agitating farmers from various states, who had been given permission by the Delhi Police to stage a tractor rally after the main Republic Day parade on Janpath, broke through barricades and began their march early in the morning, hours ahead of the agreed schedule.

Police tried to stop them at various places and used teargas and lathi-charges to deter them but the farmers finally made their way to the iconic Red Fort in the capital, even as the official parade began at 10 am and continued for the next two hours.

The farmers are demanding the repeal of the three new Central farm laws passed by Parliament in September, 2020 and have been protesting at various points on Delhi's borders since November 26, 2020.

Among the highlights of the parade, watched by much lower numbers of people this year because of the social distancing norms in place due to the pandemic, were representations of the country's stride in indigenous defence technologies in the tableaux put up by the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

The two DRDO tableaux depicted, among other things, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) - Navy - Take off from INS Vikramaditya, the Army's Main Battle Tank T-90 Bhishma, Infantry Combat Vehicle Ballway Machine Pikate (BMP-II) – Sarath, Mobile Autonomous Launcher of the Brahmos Missile system, Pinaka Multi Launcher Rocket System and Samvijay Electronic Warfare System.

The Indian Navy, in addition to tableaux murals depicting Pakistan Army surrendering, depicted a Petya class ship and Operation X undertaken by divers of Indian Navy and Mukti Bahini and some other ships which took part in the 1971 India-Pakistan War.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) showcased, among other things, the Mi-17 V5, Chinook and Apache helicopters.

As many as 32 tableaux -- 17 from various States and Union Territories (UTs), nine from various Ministries and Departments and paramilitary forces and six from the Ministry of Defence, rolled down the parade route.

President Ram Nath Kovind took the salute at the parade. VIce-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Ministers, other political leaders, officials, diplomats and other dignitaries watched the parade.

School children performed folk arts & crafts displaying skills and dexterity handed down from generations; Bajasal, one of the most beautiful folk dances of Kalahandi, Odisha; the Fit India Movement, and the Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India).

For the first time, a 122-member contingent of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, comprising soldiers of the Bangladesh Army, sailors of the Bangladesh Navy and Air Warriors of the Bangladesh Air Force, led the contingent march on Rajpath.

The parade culminated with Rafale aircraft flying at a speed of 900 kilometre per hour carrying out a ‘Vertical Charlie’.

The ceremonies commenced with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the National War Memorial, where he led the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath. He and other dignitaries then headed to the saluting dais to witness the parade.

The Prime Minister and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh welcomed Vice-President Naidu and President Kovind as they arrived at the saluting dais.

As per tradition, the national glag was unfurled followed by the national anthem and a booming 21-gun salute.

The parade was commanded by Parade Commander, Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra, General Officer Commanding Delhi Area. Major General Alok Kacker, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area was the Parade Second-in-Command.

They were followed by the proud winners of the highest gallantry awards. They included the winners of the Param Vir Chakra and the Ashok Chakra. Param Vir Chakra winners Subedar Major Yogendra Singh Yadav, 18 Grenadiers and Subedar Sanjay Kumar, 13 JAK Rifles and Ashok Chakra winner Lieutenant Colonel D Sreeram Kumar followed the Deputy Parade Commander in 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 domestic contingent in the uniform of the erstwhile Gwalior Lancers was 61 Cavalry led by Captain Deepanshu Sheoran. 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, seven mechanised columns, six marching contingents and fly-past by Rudra and Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters of the Army Aviation.

The indigenously-developed Main Battle Tank (MBT) of the Indian Army, T-90 Bhishma, Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV), Ballway Machine Pikate (BMP II)-, Brahmos Weapon System, Pinaka Bridge Laying tanks T-72, Samvijay Electronic Warfare System and Schilka Weapon system were among the main attractions in the mechanised columns.

The other marching contingents of the Army included the Jat Regiment, the Garhwal Regiment, the Mahar Regiment, the Jammu & Kashmir Rifles Regiment, the Bengal Sappers and the Territorial Army.

The Combined Band of the Mechanised Infantry Regimental Centre, Para Regimental Centre & JAT Regimental Centre; Sikh Regimental Centre, Assam Regimental Centre, Jammu & Kashmir Rifles Regimental Centre; Sikh Light Infantry Regimental Centre, Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre and Artillery Centre (Nasik Road) also marched past the saluting dais.

The Naval contingent comprised 96 sailors and four officers led by Lieutenant Commander Lalit Kumar as Contingent Commander. It was be followed by the Naval Tableau titled "Swarnim Vijay Varsh". The fore part of the tableau showcased the Indian Navy’s attack on Karachi harbour in the night of December 4-5, 1971 by missile boats. On the sides of the tractor, the route taken by the attacking units will be depicted.

The Air Force contingent, comprising 96 airmen and four officers, was led by Flight Lieutenant Tanik Sharma. It was followed by the Air Force Tableau titled "Indian Air Force: Touch the Sky with Glory". The Air Force tableau showcased scaled down models of Light Combat Aircraft, Light Combat Helicopter, Su-30 MK-I aircraft and Rohini radar against a sky-blue background. Smartly attired officers in their flying overalls stood alongside the models.

One of the main highlights was the marching contingent of DRDO that showcased Anti-Tank Guided Missile systems, which play a crucial role in defeating armoured tanks. The operability of the missile from a tank is a key feature and challenging task in modern armoured warfare. The ATGMs tableau of DRDO showed full-scale models of Nag, HELINA, MPATGM, Sant and Laser Guided ATGM missiles.

The Indian Coast Guard marching contingent was led by Deputy Commandant Ashish Nagar. The motto of the ICG is "Vayam Rakshamah" meaning "We Protect". The Indian Coast Guard keeps the country's maritime frontiers safe and secure. The force comprises 155 surface units and 62 air assets.

The contingents of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Delhi Police, Border Security Force (BSF) Camel Contingent and National Security Guard (NSG) popularly known as the Black Cat Commandoes also marched past the saluting dais.

The National Cadet Corps (NCC) Boys Marching contingent was led by Commander Senior Under Officer Ranjeet Singh Gurjar of NCC Directorate Rajasthan, while the Girls contingent was headed by Senior Under Officer Samruddhi Harshal Sant of NCC Directorate, Maharashtra.

The National Service Scheme (NSS) contingent comprising 100 volunteers also took part, led by Abhijit Bhuin from West Bengal Directorate.

The Massed Pipes and Drums Band of the Indian Army also peformed during the parade.

There were 17 tableaux from various States/union territories, namely, Gujarat, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Tripura, West Bengal, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Ladakh in the parade.

Themes depicted by the tableaux included the vision for Ladakh to be Carbon neutral, the Sun Temple at Modhera in Gujarat, Tea-tribes of Assam, Shore Temple and other monuments of Pallava Dynasty in Tamil Nadu, Bhakti Movement & Saints of Maharashtra, Dev Bhoomi - The Land of the Gods, Kedarnath, Splendorous Sounds of Chhattisgarh’s Folk Music, 400th Birth Anniversary of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, promotion of eco-friendly tradition for achieving self-reliance (Aatmanirbhar) in Tripura, Sabooj Sathi – Wheels of Change in West Bengal, Pang Lhabsol Festival of Sikkim, Ayodhya: Cultural Heritage of Uttar Pradesh, Redevelopment of Shahjahanabad in Old Delhi, Vijayanagara- The city of Victory, Coir of Kerala, Lepakshi - Architectural Monolithic Marvels of Andhra Pradesh and East meets West theme of Arunachal Pradesh.

Nine tableaux from different ministries/departments and paramilitary forces formed part of the parade, showcasing Digital Bharat, Aatmanirbhar Bharat, Four Labour Codes that depict the guiding philosophy of Mehnat ek Samaan, Adhikar ek Samaan, One Nation, One Sign Language, Ojo Bharat, Tejo Bharat: Immune India, Active India, CRPF: A Professional Ops Force with Humane Sensitivity, Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan: COVID, Samudra Prahri Indian Coast Guard, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s New India: Vocal for Local, Border Roads Organisation: Connecting Places, Connecting People, Amar Jawan and Heralding 75th Year of Indian Independence.

This year’s children’s pageant comprised around 400 participants.

The grand finale and the most keenly awaited segment of the parade, the Fly Past, consisted of the Rudra Formation comprising a Dakota aircraft flanked by two Mi-17 IV helicopters flying in ‘Vic’ formation, followed by the Sudarshan formation consisting of one Chinook and two Mi-17 IV Helicopters in ‘Vic’ formation.

Rakshak attack helicopter formation consisting of one Mi-35 helicopter and four Apache helicopters in ‘Vic’ formation came next. Bhim formation comprising three C-130J aircraft in ‘Vic’ formation then ruled the sky. Behind Bhim formation was Netra, the ‘Eye in the Sky’. It is an indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft with state-of-the-art early warning radar and a host of advanced electronic warfare equipment, all indigenously designed and developed by DRDO.

This was followed by Garuda formation comprising one C-17 Globemaster with two MiG-29s and two Su-30 MKI aircraft in ‘Vic’ formation. The C-17 is a heavy lift; long range strategic airlift aircraft. Induction of C-17 aircraft has changed the dynamics of strategic mobility and reach of the Air Force.

The next formation was one of the awaited attractions of the event, one Rafale with two Jaguar Deep penetration strike aircraft and two MiG-29 Air Superiority Fighters in ‘Vic’ formation at the height of 300 metres and a speed of 780 kilometre per hour. It was followed by the Trinetra formation comprising three Su-30MKIs and the penultimate formation will be Vijay comprising of three Advance Light Helicopters which are part of the acclaimed Sarang Display Team of the IAF.

There was then a single Rafale aircraft flying at a speed of 900 kilometre per hour carrying out a ‘Vertical Charlie’. The aircraft was piloted by Group Captain Harkirat Singh, Shaurya Chakra, Commanding Officer of 17 Squadron with Squadron Leader Kislaykant. The craft went up vertically, carrying out a series of rolls and giving a befitting salute to the motto of the Indian Air Force ‘Nabha Sparshan Deeptam’.

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


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