New Defence Toys Steal the Show at Delhi Parade
The country’s military prowess and cultural richness was visible in all its splendour in the contingents marching the eight-km stretch from Raisina Hill to Red Fort as India celebrated her 65th Republic Day on Sunday. Thousands of proud spectators braved the winter fog and chill in Delhi to cheer the contingents.
The highlight of this year’s impressive parade was DRDO’s Tejas, the Indian Light Combat Aircraft believed to be a game changer for India’s air defence preparedness. Among the military weapons flaunted by the DRDO at this year’s parade were ‘Arjun Mk-II’, the mark II version of Indian Main Battle Tank, ‘Astra’ and ‘Helina’ missiles and other unmanned systems. Also on display were transport aircraft C-130J Super Hercules and C-17 Globemaster, the recently inducted gems in India’s military kit.
The Army showcased the T-90 tank ‘Bheeshma’, multi-launcher rocket system Smerch, the Brahmos weapons system and transportable satellite terminals. The Indian Air Force’s grand tableau showcased the transformation of the air force in the last 80 years while the Navy flaunted a model of INS Arihant - India’s first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine.
Apart from the nation’s military might, the parade also treated spectators to a visual delight of colourful state tableaux that brought out the grandeur of various cultural colours India has to offer. This year, the parade witnessed a set of 18 tableaux of which 13 were state tableaux while five were those of Union Ministries and Departments. From rain-soaked Meghalaya’s Arecanut to desert state Rajasthan’s terah taali dance, the state tableaux offered a glimpse into the cultural speciality of each state. The chief guest this year was Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who watched the tableaux with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Defence Minister A K Antony and top political and military brass.
The day began with the prime minister paying homage to the unknown soldier at the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial with the three service chiefs in attendance. A customary 21-gun salute was given after President Pranab Mukherjee unfurled the tricolour. Sub Inspector K Prasad Babu of Andhra Pradesh’s counter-Maoist force was posthumously awarded the Ashok Chakra for valiantly fighting Maoists near the Andhra-Chhattisgarh border.
The parade drew to a close with the spectacular flypast by the Indian Air Force, including one by the Advanced Light Helicopter ‘Dhruv’ of the Army Aviation Corps, drawing loud cheers.