NEW DELHI: A strong and resurgent India is celebrating its 63rd Republic Day on Thursday. This year’s parade will highlight the nation’s achievements in various fields alongwith the military prowess, scintillating display of air power as also country’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday paid a solemn tribute to soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for the nation by laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate.Prior to the start of the 63rd Republic Day parade showcasing India’s military might and cultural diversity, Manmohan Singh drove to the tomb of the unknown soldier — marked by a reversed rifle, standing on its barrel and crested by a soldier’s helmet.
After the prime minister laid the floral wreath, the guard commander gave salute and buglers played the “Last Post” — rendered at military funerals and ceremonies commemorating those who have died in war.Along with everyone, Manmohan Singh observed a two-minute silence.The highlight of this year’s Parade will be the 3,000 kms range Agni-IV missile. The intermediate range surface-to-surface ballistic missile mounted on a road mobile launcher is being paraded by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The weaponry put on display by the Indian Army includes the T-72 tank, Carrier Mortar Tracked, SMERCH Multiple Launch Rocket System, Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket System, Full Width Mine Plough, NBC Water Purification Systems and Jammer Station VHF/UHF. The Army’s Mechanized Columns will conclude with a flypast by the Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv of the Army Aviation Corps.
The Indian Air Force will display its latest acquisition, the C-130-J Super Hercules tactical aircaft, which makes its debut at the Republic Day Parade, with three of the six aircraft acquired from the US participating in the flypast. The Indian Navy’s tableau also glosses over its newly acquired capabilities.The parade will be commanded by Lt. General Vijay Kumar Pillai, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area. Major General Rajbir Singh, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area will be the parade Second-in-Command.
The marching contingents of Army will include the horse-mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry, Parachute Regiment, Bengal Engineer Group and Centre, Brigade of the Guards, Kumaon Regiment, Assam Regiment to name a few, along with contigents of paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces of the Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, Central Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force and National Cadet Corps.
The marching contingents of Navy comprising 144 men will be led by Lt. Commander Manikandan K. and the Air Force contingent comprising 144 men will be led by Flight Lieutenant Sneha Shekhawatthe first woman ever to lead an IAF contingent at the Parade.Tableaux from 23 states and Central Ministries and Departments will present the varied historical, architectural and cultural heritage of the country. They will also showcase country’s progress in different fields. Nineteen of the 24 children selected for the National Bravery Award – 2009 will also participate in the parade. Five children have got the award posthumously.
In the children’s pageant section, 1,200 boys and girls drawn from Delhi’s two schools, – KendriyaVidyalaya, Sector-2, RK Puram and Government Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Hastsal, Delhi, besides regional cultural zones, – South Zone Cultural Centre, Thajavur, East Zone Cultural Centre, Kolkata and North Central Zone Cultural Centre, Madhya Pradesh will present dances and other programmes.
Janbaz, the motorcycle display by the Border Security Force will be a major attraction of the parade consisting of 154 riders on 30 motorcycles under the leadership of Inspector Amit Kumar. They will perform breathtaking stunts in a synchronised and synergetic display of mind, body and machine coordination.
The grand finale of the parade will be a spectacular flypast by the IAF. The flypast will be led by a Vic formation of three Mi-35 helicopters, followed by the three Super Hercules again in a Vic formation. Trailing them will be one IL-78, flanked by two AN-32 and two Dornier, in a Big Boy formation.The breathtaking Trishul formation comprising three Su-30 MKI would fly over the Rajpath.