Vibrant India, military might showcased at Republic Day parade

The Republic Day parade had a `mini-India` in itself depicting the myriad hues of country`s diversity in full battle regalia.

New Delhi: Colourful tableaux depicting the myriad hues of country`s diversity, a vibrant performance by students and armed forces in full battle regalia -- the
Republic Day parade on Wednesday had `mini-India` in itself.

Marching down from the Raisina Hills to Red Fort, the
parade showcased India`s `unity in diversity` and the military
might as thousands of spectators along the eight-km long route
cheered the marching contingents and the mechanised columns.

The well turned out and synchronised military and
police contingents led by General Officer Commanding (Delhi)
Maj Gen Manvendra Singh marched proudly to the lilting tunes
of bands through the Rajpath where President and Supreme
Commander of Armed Forces Pratibha Patil took the salute.

The march-past was watched by the Republic Day chief
guest Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vice
President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence
Minister A K Antony and the country`s top political and
military brass.

The capital had turned into a security fortress for
the event as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and helicopters
scanned the capital from air, snipers kept a hawk-eye vigil
from rooftops and armed personnel at "every 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`, the British-era World War-I memorial at India Gate,
where an eternal flame burns in memory of those who laid down
their lives while defending the nation`s frontiers.

The parade began shortly after Patil and her
Indonesian counterpart arrived at the Rajpath escorted by the
President`s 46 bodyguards riding well-trained and impeccably-
bedecked horses.

After the President unfurled the tricolour and a
customary 21-gun salute, an Army doctor Major Laishram Jyotin
Singh was awarded posthumously the highest peacetime gallantry
award -- the Ashok Chakra -- for his bravery while fighting
militants during an attack on Indians in Kabul. He was the
first Army doctor receiving Ashok Chakra.

Four Mi-17 helicopters then zoomed in from the western
skies and showered flower petals on the spectators, signalling
the beginning of the parade followed by the winners of the
Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra and mounted columns of 61

The Army showcased its impressive weaponry which
included advanced Brahmos Launcher System, T-90 Bheeshma
tanks, Brahmos Launcher System, Multi Barrel Rocket System
`Pinaka` and Tactical Control Radar `Reporter`.

They also displayed NBC (Nuclear-Biological-Chemical)
Reconnaissance Vehicle, indigenous Pontoons Movable Section
Bridge, Integrated Network Platform and armoured troop carrier
Prahar 510.

Showcasing its air power, Army also conducted a
flypast of three advanced light helicopters Dhruv in arrowhead

The Army contingent from Punjab Regiment, Rajputana
Rifles, Rajput Regiment, Sikh Light Infantry, Jammu and
Kashmir Light Infantry and Gorkha Rifles marched to the tunes
of `Gangotri`, `God of War`, Pragati and `Vir Bharat`.

The next to follow were smartly-dressed 148 Navy
personnel and then the Air Force marching to the tunes of Jai
Bharati and Sound Barrier. While the Navy showcased aircraft
carrier INS Viraat, IAF`s marching contingent showcased the
tableaux of Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS)
and Aerostat Radar.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation
(DRDO) brought the Active Phased Array Radar, which is a
ship-borne multi-function radar, and Naval Underwater Weapon
System at the parade for the first time along with the trainer
version of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas.

87-year-old M M Shukla, the flying officer of Royal
Air Force based in Rawalpindi during the World War II, who is
the oldest participant in this year`s parade, then led the
ex-servicemen contingent to a huge applause from the

Other marching contingents were those of camel-mounted
BSF, Assam Rifles, Coast Guard, CRPF, ITBP, CISF, SSB, RPF,
Delhi Police, NCC and NSS.

Following the country`s armed and police forces came
the country`s rich cultural diversity in full display in 23
tableaux -- 13 from states and 10 from ministries. This time,
the number of tableaux has risen to 23 from last year`s 21 to
provide a kaleidoscopic view of the vibrant cultural heritage.

Rabindranath Tagore, Lord Buddha, Jammu and Kashmir`s
Bandh Pandher, Tripura`s Kharchi festival, Punjab`s Mehandi
ceremony and Bihar`s Maner Sherif were among the focus areas
of tableaux from various states.

The first to be rolled out was the one on `Gurudev`
Rabindranath Tagore by Culture Ministry and Sangeet Natak
Akademi to commemorate the Nobel laureate`s 150th birth

A big bust of Tagore formed the foreground of the
tableau with Santiniketan in the backdrop and depiction of a
meeting Mahatma Gandhi had with the poet laureate.

His works like Gitanjali and some of his paintings as
well as his famous verse `Ekla Chalo Re` (Go Alone) also
formed the artwork.

Orissa`s float depicted saint poet Jayadev and 12
chapters Geeta Govindam with paintings on Lord Krishna while
Assam`s Ankiya Nat or Bhaona had a scene from Bhagavata Purana
on Bhakt Prahlad.

Maharashtra came with the enthralling Lawani dancers
on a float modelled on a bullock cart while Tripura gave a
glimpse of Kharchi or the worship of earth, a festival on
community harmony and integration during which 14 tribal Gods
are worshipped to acquire universality.

Gujarat`s offering was the Buddhist heritage in the
state and it had a replica of 4th century Buddha statue found
in Devni Mori, a stone edict of King Ashoka and Chinese
traveller Hiuen Tsang.

A creative representation of two dance forms is what
Kerala brought to Delhi by blending the majestic paraphernalia
of Kathakali and the simple beauty of Mohiniattom in a

The exotic handicrafts from Bidar -- Bidriware -- was
the highlight of Karnataka tableau showcasing the finest of
the human workmanship while Punjab came up with the exuberance
of mehandi ceremony when the bride is teased and pampered by

Bihar`s tableau was the 17th century architectural
marvel of Maner Sharif in Patna, the mausoleum of Sufi Saint
Makhdoom Daulat.

Guto Cham, an annual ceremony held in monasteries to
destroy evil, was the theme of Sikkim`s tableau which depicted
the colourful culture of the country`s smallest state while
Delhi showcased its harmonious nature through the depiction of
a series of religious symbols.

The Bagh prints, one of the most ancient traditions of
wooden block printing on clothes, was the theme of Madhya
Pradesh`s tableau while Jammu and Kashmir brought Bandh
Pandher, a folk theatre, to the parade.

The ministries and departments showcased the priority
areas and initiatives taken by the government which included
saving tigers, emergency response to handle a disaster, new
drug development and affordable healthcare and modern farm