New Delhi: India will celebrate her 69th Republic Day today and people began gathering from early Friday morning to witness the parade at Rajpath. With passionate patriotism written on their faces and palpable excitement in the air, Indians cutting across all ages braved the cold to walk through layers of security cover.
They, and the entire country in fact, can expect a number of unique highlights at Rajpath and during the course of the parade. Following are some of the keypoints from the celebrations:
* For the first time ever, as many as 10 foreign dignitaries have been invited as chief guests for the Republic Day celebrations. The leaders are from ASEAN countries and their presence underlines India's growing ties with South-East Asian countries.
* The main stage - enclosed with bullet-proof glass - will be 100-feet wide this year. This is three times bigger than what it was in 2017.
* Over 700 students from across the guest countries will participate in the celebrations.
* Seema Bhavani - BSF's all-woman daredevils squad will participate in the parade for the first time. The 113-biking contingent will perform stunts and acrobats on their 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet motorcycles.
* Floats from 14 states and union territories, and from nine ministries will be accompanied by a special float marking India's 25 years of being closely associated with ASEAN countries.
* For the first time, the All-India Radio float will lead the parade.
* For the first time, floats from Income Tax Department and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) will be seen at the parade.
* Attack helicopter Rudra will participate in the celebrations for the first time ever. In its maiden appearance at the parade, Rudra will join 21 fighters, 12 helicopters and five transporters from IAF in the fly past.