Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of the 74th Republic Day, at Kartavya Path in New Delhi, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (PTI Photo)
NEW DELHI: India’s diverse and vibrant cultural heritage and military prowess, infused with a spirit of "aatmanirbharta", were showcased for the first time at the recently revamped and renamed Kartavya Path as the nation celebrated its 74th Republic Day. "Nari Shakti" was predominantly the theme of the celebrations. Twenty-three tableaux, including 17 from states and Union territories and six from various ministries and departments, took part in the ceremonial parade.
As the parade came to an end, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the crowd amid cheers after bidding adieu to President Droupadi Murmu and her Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the chief guest at the event. A group of "shramyogis" involved in the construction of the Central Vista, the Kartavya Path and the new Parliament building, along with milk, vegetable and street vendors, were specially invited for the parade.
Made-in-India weapons were on display at the parade this year. In a bid to get rid of colonial vestiges, an indigenous 105-mm Indian field guns offered the 21-gun salute to Murmu. In another first, the parade witnessed a contingent of a women’s armed police battalion of the CRPF.
The BSF’s camel band and the Delhi police’s band also saw women constables participating for the first time.
The ceremony commenced with the PM visiting the National War Memorial, where he was received by defence minister Rajnath SIngh. The PM paid tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath. According to tradition, the national flag was unfurled, followed by the national anthem with a booming 21-gun salute. The ceremonial salute this year was given with 105-mm Indian field guns, which replaced the vintage 25-pounder guns, reflecting the growing "aatmanirbharta" in defence.
Extending his greetings to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier said, "We wish to move ahead unitedly to make the dreams of the great freedom fighters of the country come true."
The PM also thanked Sisi for taking part in the Republic Day celebrations. "I am grateful to the Egyptian President for gracing this year’s Republic Day celebrations with his august presence," Modi tweeted. This was also the first time an Egyptian President was invited to be the chief guest of the event.
A combined band and marching contingent of the Egyptian armed forces also took part in the parade, which started around 10.30 am and ended close to noon after a fly-past. The Egyptian contingent included 144 soldiers, representing the main branches of the Egyptian armed forces.
The Indian Army was represented by a Mounted Column of 61 Cavalry, nine Mechanised Columns, six marching contingents and a fly past by Advanced Light Helicopters of the Army Aviation Corps. The 61 Cavalry is the only active horse cavalry regiment in the world. The Indian Army displayed its BrahMos missile as part of its contingent at the parade.
The Indian Navy tableau featured a women aircrew of Dornier aircraft, highlighting an all-women crew surveillance sortie undertaken last year. The main section of the tableau displayed the "Make in India" initiatives of the Navy. It included a model of the new indigenous Nilgiri class ship with a Dhruv helicopter deploying marine commandos, models of indigenous Kalvari class submarines and autonomous unmanned systems being indigenously developed under the iDEX-Sprint Challenge. Nine Agniveers -- six men and three women -- were part of the Navy's contingent.
The Air Force tableau, based on the theme "Indian Air Force Power Beyond Boundaries", displayed a rotating globe highlighting the IAF’s expanded reach. The IAF showcased its array of vintage and modern aircraft, comprising the Rafale jets, Sukhois, Apaches and Jaguars during the flypast.
However, shallow fog lowered visibility as spectators strained their eyes to watch aerial manoeuvres by a battery of 50 aircraft, including 45 from the Indian Air Force. They flew in different formations such as "Bheem", "Vajraang", "Baaz", "Tiranga", "Garuda", "Amrit" and "Trishul". The Navy's IL-38 was also showcased at the event for the first and perhaps the last time, as it is likely to be decommissioned.
Three Param Vir Chakra awardees and three Ashok Chkara awardees also took part in the parade and a "veterans tableau" with the theme "Towards India's Amrit Kaal with a Resolve of Veterans' Commitment" was also part of it.
The ministry of culture’s tableau showcased the power of the feminine divinity. The Assam tableau was based on the theme "Land of heroes and spiritualism" and featured Bihu dancers. The Gujarat tableau was based on the theme "Clean, Green, Energy-Efficient Gujarat." The Uttarakhand tableau featured the Manaskhand tourism corridor, on which work is underway.
Cultural performances were presented by 479 artistes chosen through the nationwide "Vande Bharatam" dance competition. This is the second time that the dancers have been selected through a nationwide competition.