India marked its 75th Republic Day on Friday with a grand parade on the Kartavya Path, showcasing its women power and military might to the world. The event was attended by French President Emmanuel Macron as the chief guest, who praised India’s democratic values and strategic partnership with France.
President Murmu Leads the Nation in Saluting the Tricolour
The ceremony began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying homage to the fallen heroes at the National War Memorial, followed by President Droupadi Murmu and President Macron arriving in a traditional buggy, a practice that was revived after 40 years. The national flag was unfurled and the national anthem was played, accompanied by a 21-gun salute with indigenous gun system 105-mm Indian Field Guns. Four Mi-17 IV helicopters of the 105 Helicopter Unit showered flower petals on the audience.
President Murmu took the salute of the parade, which was commanded by Lieutenant General Bhavnish Kumar, General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area. The parade featured contingents from the three wings of the armed forces, the Central Armed Police Forces, the National Cadet Corps, and the National Service Scheme, as well as cultural troupes from various states and union territories.
Women Power in Full Display at the Parade
One of the highlights of the parade was the participation of an all-women tri-services contingent, comprising 75 personnel from the Army, Navy and Air Force. The contingent was led by Lieutenant Commander Preeti Choudhary, Flight Lieutenant Bhawna Kanth and Major Khushboo Kanwar. This was the first time that women from the three services marched together at the Republic Day parade, reflecting the growing role of women in the defence sector.
Another first was the band performance by over 100 women artistes playing Indian musical instruments such as Sankh, Naadswaram, and Nagada, instead of the traditional military bands. The performance, titled ‘Aavaahan’, was a tribute to the women power of India and its rich cultural heritage.
The Indian Air Force also showcased its women power with 15 women pilots taking part in the fly-past, representing ‘Nari Shakti’. The fly-past included formations such as Rudra, Garuda, Eklavya, Brahmastra, Netra, and Trinetra, displaying various types of aircraft and helicopters. The fly-past culminated with a vertical charlie manoeuvre by a single Rafale fighter jet, piloted by Group Captain Harkirat Singh.
The contingents of the Central Armed Police Forces also consisted of only women personnel, led by Assistant Commandant Seema Nag. The contingents included the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, and the National Security Guard.
Military Might and Indigenous Weaponry on Show
The parade also showcased the country’s rising military might and indigenous weaponry, such as missiles, drone jammers, surveillance systems, vehicle-mounted mortars and BMP-II infantry combat vehicles. Some of the notable displays were:
- The Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher system, which can fire 12 rockets in 44 seconds and has a range of 40 km.
- The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile system, which can strike targets at a speed of Mach 2.8 and has a range of 290 km.
- The Akash surface-to-air missile system, which can intercept aerial targets up to a distance of 25 km and an altitude of 18 km.
- The Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile system, which can carry conventional and nuclear warheads and has a range of 1,000 km.
- The Anti-Tank Guided Missile systems, which include the Nag, the Helina, and the Dhruvastra, capable of destroying enemy tanks and armoured vehicles.
- The Electronic Warfare Tactical Vehicle, which can jam enemy communication systems and radars.
- The Bharat Electronics Limited’s Remote Controlled Weapon Station, which can mount a 12.7 mm gun or a 7.62 mm machine gun and can be operated from inside a vehicle.
- The DRDO’s Anti-Drone System, which can detect and destroy hostile drones using laser or radio frequency.
- The Army Air Defence’s Flycatcher and Aslesha radars, which can track and identify low-flying aerial targets and provide fire control data to weapon systems.
The parade also featured the participation of the French Armed Forces, who marched along with their Indian counterparts. The French contingent included 35 personnel from the Army, 15 from the Navy, and 15 from the Air Force. The French contingent was led by Major Gwendal Camel, who is a part of the Rafale squadron based in Ambala.
Cultural Diversity and Social Messages at the Parade
The parade also showcased the cultural diversity and social messages of the country, with 32 tableaux from various states, union territories, ministries and departments. Some of the themes of the tableaux were:
- The 75th anniversary of India’s independence and the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations.
- The achievements of the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative and the ‘Make in India’ campaign.
- The contributions of the freedom fighters and the martyrs of the independence movement.
- The promotion of the ‘Vocal for Local’ concept and the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission.
- The empowerment of women and the girl child, and the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ scheme.
- The preservation of the environment and the wildlife, and the ‘National Mission for Clean Ganga’ project.
- The promotion of the yoga and ayurveda, and the ‘Fit India’ movement.
- The celebration of the festivals and the folk arts of the country.
The parade concluded with a cultural programme by children from various schools, who performed dances and songs on patriotic and cultural themes. The programme ended with the rendition of the national song ‘Vande Mataram’, followed by the release of tricolour balloons.