Chinook choppers, Dhanush Artillery Gun, All-Women Bike Stunts Make India Proud (Photo Credit: ANI)
India marked its 71st Republic Day with a grand military parade and exhibition of its history, cultural diversity and strategic weaponry at the Rajpath on Sunday. This year's Republic Day was unique for India in many ways. There were several firsts in the celebration this year, including the prime minister paying homage at the National War Memorial, display of Chinook and Apache helicopters in the fly past and showcasing of the A-SAT weapons system. Twenty-two tableaux were on display during the parade, of which 16 were of various states and UTs and six were of ministries, departments and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). The band played the national anthem with a 21-gun salute in the background when the tricolour was unfurled by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rajpath before the start of parade.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute at the National War Memorial along with the service chiefs for all the three armed forces i.e. Army, Navy and Air Force. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Yesso Naik and Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar were also present on the occasion.
Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro was the chief guest for this year's ceremony. This was the third time that a Brazilian president was the chief guest at the Republic Day.
Out of the total 22 tableaux, 16 were of various states and UTs and six of ministries, departments and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). The tableaux were presented as part of India's strength in its "Unity in Diversity".
Jammu and Kashmir, which participated in the parade for the first time as a Union Territory, had the "Back to Village'' programme as the theme for its tableau. While Goa's tableau highlighted its biodiversity and 'save the frog', its anti-frog poaching campaign, Indian Air Force's tableau was a scaled down model of Rafale aircraft, Tejas aircraft, Light Combat Helicopters, Akash Missiles System, and Astra Missiles against a sky blue background.
The tableau of the Ministry of Jal Shakti showcased government's new initiative "Jal Jeevan Mission" which aims to provide a functional tap connection to every rural household by 2024. The National Disaster Response Force's tableau showcased the cutting-edge technology used by the agency during rescue operations in flood-hit areas and Delhi's Anaj Mandi inferno last year.
Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal were among those who attended the celebrations.