India celebrates R-Day with gaiety
India celebrated its 64th Republic Day with traditional parades, arms display and cultural displays on Saturday.
Besides national Capital Delhi, programmes were organized in all State capitals where Governors and Chief Ministers reviewed the march past.
A kaleidoscopic view of the country's rich cultural heritage and military prowess were on display at the parade on the 8-km stretch from Rajpath to Red Fort in Delhi.
An eager audience on both sides of the imposing Rajpath, the country's ceremonial boulevard facing the seat of power Raisina Hills, braved the winter chill and cheered as the parade went past them portraying the rich and diverse culture of the country.
Of special interest was the 5,500-5,800 km ballistic Agni-V missile mounted on a road mobile launcher which was paraded by the Defence Research & Development Organisation.
General Officer Commanding (Delhi) Lt General Subroto Mitra led the synchronised military and police contingents as they marched to the cheerful tunes of bands through the 2-km Rajpath where President President Pranab Mukherjee, also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, took the salute for the first time after assuming office in July last year.
The impressive march-past was watched by the chief guest, Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and top political and military brass.
Police and other paramilitary forces turned Delhi into a virtual fortress for the Republic Day celebrations as helicopters scanned from air, snipers kept a hawk-eye vigil from rooftops and armed personnel at every nook and corner provided a ground-to-air security apparatus.
Minutes before the parade began, Singh, Antony and chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force laid wreaths at 'Amar Jawan Jyoti', an eternal flame in the memory of those who laid down their lives while defending the nation.
The country showed its military strength with the MBT Arjun Tank, Armoured Ambulance Tracked Vehicle, BrahMos missiles and 214 mm Pinaka rockets, 15 Metre Sarvatra Bridging System.
As the country's armed and police forces demonstrated their might, states and different departments put up an impressive show when they showcased their rich cultural diversity in full display in 19 tableaux -- 14 from states and five from ministries. '
The grand finale of the parade was the spectacular fly past by the IAF.
The breathtaking Trishul formation comprising three Su-30 MKI flew over the Rajpath and once in front of the saluting dais, the Su-30MKI aircraft split upwards, making a Trishul in the sky. The fly past concluded with another Sukhoi Su-30 MKI carrying out a Vertical Charlie manoeuvre over the saluting dais.
- Asian Tribune -