India celebrates miltary might, women power on 75th Republic Day

rime Minister Narendra Modi with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh arrives to pay homage at the National War Memorial on the 75th Republic Day, in New Delhi, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: India celebrated its 75th Republic Day with an imposing display of its rising military might and rich cultural heritage during a 90-minute parade at the majestic Kartavya Path on Friday.

President Droupadi Murmu led India into the grand celebrations, with an overarching theme of projecting the nation's women power and democratic values. President  Murmu and French President Emmanuel Macron, the chief guest for the day, arrived at Kartavya Path in traditional buggy, a practice that is making a comeback after a gap of 40 years.

The Indian President later unfurled the national flag. It was followed by the national anthem with a booming 21-gun salute to be given with indigenous gun system 105-mm Indian Field Guns.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday paid floral tributes to the fallen heroes at the National War Memorial here on the occasion of the 75th Republic Day. He led the nation in paying solemn tributes by laying a wreath.

Military might
The armed forces displayed an array of home-grown weaponry and military equipment such as missiles, drone jammers, surveillance systems, vehicle-mounted mortars and BMP-II infantry combat vehicles at the parade. For the first time, an all-women tri-services contingent was also part of the country's biggest ceremonial event.

In another historic first, Lieutenants Deepti Rana and Priyanka Sevda, who are among 10 women officers commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery for the first time last year, led the Swathi weapon locating radar and Pinaka rocket system at the parade.

The parade was heralded by over 100 women artistes playing Indian musical instruments such as Sankh, Naadswaram, Nagada for the first time instead of the traditional military bands.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Jantar Mantar, in Jaipur, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. Photo: PTI

Around 15 women pilots also enthralled the audience during the Indian Air Force's fly-past, representing 'Nari Shakti' (women power). The contingents of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) will also consist of only women personnel.

The parade
The parade commenced with President Murmu taking the salute. The parade was commanded by Lieutenant General Bhavnish Kumar, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area.

Practice session on January 25, 2024 ahead of Republic Day march. Photo: Rahul R Pattom/Manorama

The Kartavya Path witnessed a march past by a combined band and marching contingent of the French Armed Forces.

A 30-member band contingent headed by Captain Khourda, was followed by a 90-member marching contingent from France. 

One multi-role tanker transport aircraft and two Rafale fighter jets of the French Air and Space Force flew above the contingents while they marched past the saluting dais.

The first Indian Army contingent leading the Mechanised Column was of 61 Cavalry led by Major Yashdeep Ahlawat. 

Tank T-90 Bhishma, NAG missile system, infantry combat vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, weapon locating radar system 'Swathi', drone jammer system, and medium range surface-to-air missile were among the key displays by the mechanised columns.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent comprised 144 airmen and four officers, and it was led by Squadron Leader Rashmi Thakur.

The IAF fleet included 29 fighter jets, seven transport aircraft, nine helicopters and one heritage plane. All these aircraft will operate from six different bases.

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Indian Armed Forces Band during rehearsals for the Beating Retreat ceremony ahead of Republic Day, at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Photo: PTI/Ravi Choudhary

Over 260 women personnel from CRPF, BSF and SSB  exhibited the country's 'Nari Shakti' by carrying out daredevil stunts during the motorcycle display.

A total of 16 tableaux from states and Union territories and nine from central ministries and departments rolled down the Kartavya Path during the parade.

The states and Union territories are: Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Ladakh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.

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