74th Republic Day: all that happened
From an all-women contingent to a chest-thumping display of made-in-India weapons, the 74th Republic Day parade features a lot of firsts.
PM Narendra Modi, along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the chiefs of the tri-services, led the nation in paying homage to the martyrs at the National War Memorial before the parade commenced.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is the Chief Guest this year. The parade kicked off with a 144-strong contingent of Egyptian soldiers marching down Kartavya Path, which was once known as Rajpath.
The first major highlight of this year’s parade was the 21-gun salute from 105mm Indian Field Guns, replacing the British-era 25-pounder guns that have been used for decades.
The theme of this year’s parade is centred on ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ as almost all weapons and military equipment showcased were made in India. Battle tanks Arjun MK-1, K-9 Vajra self-propelled howitzer guns, BMP, Akash missiles, BrahMos and Nag missiles were part of the display.
Women-power and Agniveers
An all-woman contingent from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is a major highlight of this year’s parade. Lieutenant Commander Disha Amrith, 29, became the first woman to lead a naval contingent of 144 sailors.
Other marching contingents featured women as well such as the BSF camel contingent, Corps of Signals, Army Air Defence and Army Daredevils.
Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Tripura displayed a tableau based on women empowerment rooted in their respective cultural heritage
The parade also featured freshly-recruited Agniveers along with several girls and boys as part of the NCC and NSS marching contingents
479 artists performed in a series of cultural performances. The dancers were shortlisted from the "Vande Bharatam" dance competition that is held nationwide.
The motorcycle display by the Corps of Signals’ Dare Devils team gave quite a thrill to the audience as their performance featured a variety of formations including a yoga display.
A mix of culture and military might
The parade featured 23 tableaux, 17 from states and union territories, and 6 from various government ministries, representing India's cultural legacy, economic progress, and national security.
The star-attraction of the whole event was the flypast where three forces participated. 45 aircraft, including vintage aircraft to the most modern jets in service in the Indian Air Force, put on a display that was not easily visible given Delhi’s weather conditions.
The flypast culminated with India’s newly acquired Rafale fighter aircraft performing the Vertical Charlie manoeuvre. Though Rafale was featured in the parade in the last two years as well, this is the first time a quarter of the fleet, nine aircraft, took part in the flypast.
A reach-out to the common public
People who were involved in the construction of the Central Vista, Kartavya Path, New Parliament Building, milk, vegetable vendors and street vendors got invitations to prominent positions in the gallery.