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India’s military prowess at R-Day

India’s military prowess at R-Day
(L) Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as President Ram Nath Kovind (R) looks on ahead of the Republic Day parade. (R) K9 Vajra-T passes through the Rajpath, in New Delhi on January 26. (AFP)
NEW DELHI, JAN 26 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 1/26/2019 12:00:18 PM IST

India displayed its military power and cultural diversity amid tight security at the 70th Republic Day parade in New Delhi Saturday. 

The theme for the Republic Day celebrations this year was the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Women power was on full display during the 70th Republic Day parade on Rajpath with several Navy and Army contingents being led by them and a woman officer exhibiting stunts on bike.

President Ram Nath Kovind hoisted the flag at Rajpath. 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 at India Gate.

The celebration ended with a majestic fly past by the pilots of the Indian Air Force to the delight of the spectators, among who was South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the chief guest for the R-Day.

In a first, Lieutenant Bhavana Kasturi led all-male Army Service Corps contingent during the Republic Day parade. Kasturi is the first lady officer to lead an all-male contingent at the Republic Day parade.

The Republic Day function began with the National Anthem after Prime Minister Narendra Modi received chief guest Ramaphosa and President Ram Nath Kovind at the main stage. It was followed by the traditional 21-gun salute. Ramphosa’s presence at the event was significant as India is celebrating 150th birth anniversary of the father of the nation, who had spent 21 years in South Africa before returning to India to join the freedom struggle.

President Kovind awarded Ashok Chakra to Nazir Ahmad Wani, the first martyr from the Kashmir Valley to receive the highest peace time gallantry award. Ashok Chakra was received by Wani’s wife and mother.

Capt Shikha Surabhi from the Corps of Signals performed bike stunts alongside her male teammates as part of daredevils, a major attraction every Republic Day. Major Khushboo Kanwar, 30, and mother of a child, led the contingent of the Assam Rifles.

The K-9 Vajra and the M777 howitzers took part in the parade for the first time this year. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) displayed its Medium range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) and the Arjun Armoured Recovery and Repair Vehicle (Arjun ARRV).

A total of 22 tableaux, 16 from states and union territories and six from central government ministries and departments, were part of the cultural parade.

Among the tableaux representing individual states were one from Assam playing a popular song of late Bhupen Hazarika, who was posthumously awarded the Bharat Ratna on Friday.

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