It was tricolour balloons, 22 tableaux projecting India’s rich diversity and the armed forces showcasing their might on Rajpath, as the country celebrated 71 years as a republic yesterday.
Sixteen state tableaux and six from different ministries and departments were displayed on Rajpath.
Huge crowds gathered for the parade, with women taking centre-stage at the annual pomp-filled spectacle of military might featuring army tanks, horses and camels.
For the first time, the riders performing daredevil stunts on motorbikes to the delight of the crowds were women.
Inspector Seema Nag saluted the gathered VIPs as she led her fellow bikers — one precariously perched at the top of a ladder wedged behind her vehicle’s handlebars as others formed a human pyramid, drawing the loudest cheers from thousands of spectators.
The event also witnessed India showcasing its military prowess.
The two-hour showcase of military might and cultural diversity included everything from battle tanks and state-of-the-art weaponry to traditional dancers.
Scaled-down models of the Rafale aircraft were paraded by the air force, following the nation’s purchase of 36 jets from France in 2016 in a multi-billion-dollar deal.
The mounted camels of the Border Security Force put in an early showing, strutting down the avenue in brightly coloured caparisons.
The Air Defence Tactical Control Radar was displayed at the parade as was Boeing P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft and the Kolkata Class Destroyer and the Kalvari Class submarine by the Indian Navy.
Advanced Light Helicopters were flown in ‘Diamond’ formation, over Rajpath as this year’s Republic Day chief guest Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro watched.
Bolsonaro sat next to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who wore a saffron turban — and waved and clapped from behind a bullet-proof glass.
The T-90 Bhishma battle tanks of the Indian Army rolled down the Rajpath, commanded by Captain Sunny Chahar of 86 Armoured Regiment.
Traditional dancers representing some of India’s diverse regional cultures performed on elaborately decorated floats showcasing selected states.
The show culminated with a Su-30 MKI fighter jet roaring through the sky in a “Vertical Charlie” aerobatic manoeuvre.
Earlier, President Ram Nath Kovind received the national salute at Rajpath. Lieutenant General Asit Mistry, General Officer Commanding, Headquarters Delhi Area, led this year’s parade.
Prime Minister Modi also paid rich tributes to the martyred soldiers by laying a wreath at the National War Memorial in New Delhi, before the parade began. He was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat along with the three service chiefs - Army Chief General M M Naravane, Navy chief admiral Karambir Singh and Air Chief Marshal R K S Bhadauria.
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