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A Slot for Everybody Drags on R-Day March

With just a fortnight left for the Republic Day, the preparations have hit some speed-breakers.

Published: 12th January 2015 05:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th January 2015 10:49 AM   |  A+A-

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NEW DELHI: It’s the Republic Day Parade of the world’s largest democracy where two global leaders will share the dais. An event doesn’t get bigger than this and organising it can be a nightmare. And Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur is entrusted with this  Herculean task.

Though Mathur, a 1977-batch IAS from the Manipur-Tripura cadre, is handling Republic Day arrangements for the second time, this is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first Republic Day Parade after assuming office and US President Barack Obama is the Chief Guest.

With a global audience likely to tune into  the R-D festivities, there is absolutely no room for error.

With just a fortnight left for the Republic Day, the preparations have hit some speed-breakers.

R-Day-March.jpgThough security agencies wanted to cut short the duration of the parade, the Ministry of Defence(MoD) is finding it difficult to accommodate the demands from various ministries and departments to include their representation in it. 

Despite the MoD efforts to keep it short, the duration of this year’s R-D Parade is expected to go up by 20-25 minutes.

This is bound to give a tough time to the security agencies. Last year, the parade was one hour and 56 minutes long.

MoD officials said last-minute inclusion of tableau, all-women officers contingent belonging to the three Services to depict ‘Naari Shakti’ and showcasing of Naval air-assets after three decades have increased the length of the parade.

The Navy’s US-made P-8I long-range maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft will make its maiden appearance at the flypast, followed by the newly-acquired Russian-made MiG-29K.

The last time a Naval combat aircraft came to the capital was in 1984, when Naval aviator Arun Prakash (who went on to become the Navy chief) flew with Sea Harrier jets over Rajpath.

But here, the increase in the number of tableau from 20-27 have contributed to the worries of the MoD.

And the Defence Secretary, who is the chairman of the MoD’s Expert Committee comprising eminent persons from various fields to select tableau for the R-D Parade, has so far not been able to finalise the list.

Sources close to Mathur say that his office has to deal with all sorts of requests and political pressure from various ministries to accept their proposal. 

But as the head of the Expert Committee, Mathur has to ensure that prescribed parameters and rules are followed. Incidentally, this year the maximum number of ministries and departments have come up with either ‘women empowerment’ or ‘Make in India’ themes.

“Surprisingly, people could not think beyond ‘Make in India’ or ‘Nari Shakti’ themes. And they expect the ministry to clear it too. We have sent back some of the proposals and asked them to do a rethink,” said an official.

This resulted in an inordinate delay, as normally the process of finalising the tableau gets over by early December.

This leaves some time for preparation as January 26 is just two weeks away. The MoD started the procedure for selection of tableaux in July. So far, 16 states, 10 ministries and departments have come up with proposals to showcase themselves on historic Rajpath.

The  Army will also have its own tableau for the first time, which will show the Army’s all-women expedition team that scaled Mount Everest. The number of participating schools has also gone up from four to six.



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