NEW DELHI: India is celebrating its 71st Republic Day today (January 26) marking it with grand celebrations in the national capital and all across the nation.
Republic Day is celebrated to honour the historic date when the country completed its transition towards becoming an independent republic after its constitution came into effect.
While the Constitution was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, it came into effect on January 26 -- a day when Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress back in 1929, as opposed to the Dominion status offered by the British Regime.
When the country became independent on August 14, 1947, it still didn't have a permanent constitution; instead, its laws were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act 1935.
Two weeks later, on December 29, a Drafting Committee was appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Dr BR Ambedkar as its chairman. A draft constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Constituent Assembly on 4 November 1947.
The Assembly met, in sessions open to public, for 166 days, spread over a period of two years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many deliberations and some modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English) on 24 January 1950.
The day is celebrated across India with a lot of fervour. The main Republic Day celebration is held in the national capital, New Delhi, at the Rajpath before the President of India.
This year, amid the presence of Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro in the national capital to represent the 71st Republic Day Parade of India as a chief guest, the country is all set to showcase its military might, cultural diversity, social and economic progress on display at the majestic Rajpath.
The 90-minutes parade will commence with President Ram Nath Kovind taking the 21-gun salute. The march will begin at 1000 hours from Vijay Chowk to the Red Fort, via the traditional route of Rajpath.
India's rising military might, rich cultural diversity and socio-economic progress will be on full display during the Republic Day Parade at the Rajpath.
Anti-satellite weapon Shakthi, Army's battle tank Bhishma, infantry combat vehicles and newly inducted Chinook and Apache helicopters of the Indian Air Force will be part of the grand military parade.
The national capital has been brought under a massive ground-to-air security cover, with thousands of police and paramilitary personnel keeping a hawk-eye vigil.
Twenty-two tableaux-16 from States and Union Territories and six from various ministries and departments - depicting the nation's rich cultural heritage and economic progress will also roll down the Rajpath.
School children will convey the age-old message of yoga and spiritual values through dance and music during the parade, the defence ministry said.
The Republic Day Parade ceremony will commence with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the National War Memorial near the India Gate.
He will lead the nation in paying tributes to the martyrs by laying a wreath.
This is for the first time that the prime minister will pay homage to martyrs at the National War memorial instead of Amar Jawan Jyoti.
Thereafter, the prime minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the parade.
As per tradition, the national flag will be unfurled followed by the National Anthem with a booming 21-gun salute.
The parade will commence with President Ram Nath Kovind taking the salute.
The parade will be commanded by Parade Commander Lt General Asit Mistry, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area.
Major General Alok Kacker, Chief of Staff of Delhi Area, will be the second-in-command.
The first contingent in the uniform of the erstwhile Gwalior Lancers will be 61 Cavalry.
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 will be represented by a mounted column of 61 Cavalry, eight mechanised columns, six marching contingents and fly-past by Rudra and Dhruv Advanced Light helicopters of the army aviation wing.
Indigenously-developed Main Battle Tank of the Indian Army, T-90 Bhishma tank, infantry combat vehicle Ballway Machine Pikate, K-9 Vajra and Dhanush guns, transportable satellite terminal and Akash weapon system will be the main attraction in the mechanised columns.
The other marching contingents of the Army will include the Parachute regiment, the Grenadiers Regiment, the Sikh Light Infantry regiment, the Kumaon regiment and the Corps of Signals.
The Naval contingent will comprise of 144 young sailors led by Lieutenant Jitin Malkat.
It will be followed by the Naval Tableau titled 'Indian Navy - Silent, Strong, and Swift'.
The Air Force contingent, comprising of 144 air warriors, will be led by Flight Lt Shrikant Sharma.
The Air Force tableau showcases scaled-down models of the Rafale aircraft, the Tejas aircraft, the Light Combat Helicopter, the Akash missiles system and the Astra missiles.
One of the main highlights will be the marching contingent of DRDO that will showcase Anti-Satellite Weapons (ASAT) - Mission Shakti.
Mission Shakti, India's first Anti-Satellite mission, was a major breakthrough in demonstrating the nation's capability to bring down hostile satellites.
Sixteen tableaux from various states and union territories will depict the geographical and rich cultural diversity of the country.
Various far-reaching reforms of the government including 'Start-up India', and 'Jal Jeevan Mission' will be showcased in six tableaux from different ministries and departments.
For the first time, a contingent of women bikers of CRPF will perform daredevil stunts.
The contingent will be led by Inspector Seema Nag who will be seen saluting while standing atop a moving motorcycle.
The grand finale and the most keenly awaited segment of the parade, the FlyPast will comprise of the 'Trishul' formation by three advanced light helicopters.
It is for the first time that a 'tri-service formation' is taking part in the Republic Day Parade.
It will be followed by the 'Vic' formation of Chinook helicopters, used for airlifting diverse loads to remote locations.
Apache helicopters, Dornier aircraft, C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, an Airborne Early Warning and Control System aircraft and the 'Globe' formation comprising three C-17 Globemasters are also expected to enthral the people.
Five Jaguar Deep penetration strike aircraft and five MiG-29 upgrade air superiority fighters in 'Arrowhead' formation will also display their aerial manoeuvre.
The parade will culminate with a fleet of Sukhoi-30 MKI jets splitting the sky with a breathtaking 'Vertical Charlie' aerobatic manoeuvre.
The national capital has been brought under a multi-layered security cover with thousands of armed personnel keeping a hawk-eyed vigil for the 71st Republic Day celebrations.
Facial recognition system and drones are part of the measures taken by the Delhi Police for the occasion and 10,000 security personnel have been deployed to maintain vigil, officials said.
Special security arrangements have been made for Brazilian President Bolsonaro, who is the chief guest for the Republic Day parade, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi Zone) Eish Singhal said.
Sharpshooters and snipers will be deployed atop high-rise buildings to keep a watch on the eight-km-long parade route from Rajpath to the Red Fort on Sunday, the officials said.
Hundreds of CCTV cameras have also been installed as part of the security arrangements, including at least 150 cameras in areas covering Red Fort, Chandni Chowk and Yamuna Khadar, they said.
"We have a four-layered security arrangement. Inner, middle, outer and one along with the border areas across the national capital," Singhal said, adding that drones will be also deployed.
"Around 5,000 to 6,000 Delhi Police personnel have been deployed in New Delhi district along with 50 companies of paramilitary forces," he added.
The main zone of Rajpath will be closed till 12 pm on Sunday.
The facial recognition system of Delhi Police will also be set up at vantage points for suspect identification.
More than 2,000 Traffic Police personnel have been deployed for smooth flow of traffic and facilitation of spectators and visitors to the venue.
Police personnel have been directed to stay alert since Delhi elections are also around the corner.
Anti-terror measures like tenant and servant verification, border checking, the security of vital installations, malls and markets, patrolling in heavy footfall areas are being taken, the officials said.
The police have also asked hotels, taxi and auto drivers to remain alert.
In view of the heightened security, patrolling in public places has been intensified.
"We have intensified patrolling in public places. Group patrolling, night patrolling and vehicle checking is being carried out with the help of Central Armed Police Forces. Frisking at metro stations, railway stations, airport and bus terminals has also been tightened," a senior police official said.
Apart from securing the main venue at Rajpath, adequate security and traffic arrangements for the 'At Home' function at Rashtrapati Bhavan have been made.
The security personnel have identified vulnerable spots such as crowded markets, railway stations, bus stands and other high-value establishments, and efforts are being made to secure them with the deployment of the extra police force.
A city-wide alert is also being exercised for the Republic Day, the officials said.
A traffic advisory has also been issued about the police's elaborate arrangement for route diversions for Sunday.
No traffic will be allowed on Rajpath from Vijay Chowk to India Gate from 6 pm on Saturday till the parade gets over on Sunday.
Flying of sub-conventional aerial platforms like para-gliders, para-motors, hang gliders, unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, microlight aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft, hot air balloons, small size powered aircraft, quadcopters or para jumping from aircraft are prohibited over the jurisdiction of the city till February 15, according to an advisory.
It has also asked people to report to the nearest police station in case they see any unidentified object or a suspicious person.
(With PTI Inputs)