NEW DELHI: India showcased its military might and cultural diversity on Rajpath as it celebrated its 73rd Republic Day on Wednesday. The parade included many firsts with first women pilots of Indian Air Forces Rafale combat aircraft Lieutenant Shivangi Singh also taking part. The number of aircraft this year was also the highest.
Shivangi Singh became only the second woman fighter pilot, after Flight Lieutenant Bhawna Kanth participating last year, to participate in the parade as part of the IAF tableau. She belongs to the second batch of IAF women pilots who joined training in 2017. At present Shivangi is part of the IAF’s Golden Arrows squadron based out of Ambala in Punjab.
The 73rd Republic Day started with President Ram Nath Kovind - the first citizen and Supreme Commadner of the country - unfurled the Tricolour which was followed by the National Anthem with a 21-gun salute. The Gun salute was presented by the Ceremonial Battery of 871 Field Regiment. The parade at Rajpath will begin at 10:30 am, half-an-hour later than usual, for better visibility.
There were a total of 16 marching contingents, including four CAPF contingents, two NCC, one each Delhi Police and NSS. Besides six marching contingents of the Indian Army, one each marching contingent of the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force will be participating.
The marching this year started at 1030hrs in place of 1000 hrs for better visibility. Apart from cultural performances by more than 480 dancers from across the country, and as many as 21 tableaux, the parade also featured a grand 75 aircraft flypast by the Indian Air Force, Army and Navy.
There were two motorcycle display teams of the BSF and ITBP and two animal contingents from 61 Cavalry and BSF camels.
The day also saw a moment when President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh bid farewell to the President’s Bodyguard (PBG) horse, Virat who served the Army as part of the PBG and has been on RD Parade for 13 years as the mount of the commandant of the PBG Commandant. Virat was awarded with the Army Chief’s Commendation Card on 15 January Army Day this year.