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India's military might and culture on display at 73rd Republic Day parade

By A Draft Correspondent

On India's 73rd Republic Day, President Ram Nath Kovind led the nation in celebrating the joyous occasion on 26 January 2022. The celebrations this year were special as the Republic Day falls in the 75th year of Independence, being celebrated as ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ across the country. To mark the occasion, the Ministry of Defence conceptualised a series of new events during the main parade at Rajpath on 26 January and the Beating Retreat ceremony at Vijay Chowk on 29 January 2022.

DIVERSITY: Performance displaying India's rich culture left the attendees spellbound
The Republic Day celebrations from now on will be week long from 23 January till 30 January every year. The celebrations will commence on 23 January, the birth anniversary of great freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and culminate on 30 January, which is observed as Martyrs’ Day.

This year, the parade at Rajpath commenced at 1030 hrs, instead of the earlier timing of 1000 hrs, to provide better visibility of the parade and the flypast.

Several unique initiatives

Several firsts were planned during the main parade including the launch of Shaheedon Ko Shat Shat Naman programme by the National Cadet Corps (NCC); a grand flypast by 75 aircrafts / helicopters of the Indian Air Force; cultural performances by 480 dancers selected through a nationwide Vande Bharatam dance competition; display of ten scrolls of 75 metres length each prepared during the Kala Kumbh event and installation of ten large LED screens for a better viewing experience of the spectators. 

GROWTH: A tableau displaying transformations in various sectors of governance
Digital registration

This year, special arrangements were made keeping in view the current COVID-19 situation. The number of seats for spectators was significantly reduced and people were encouraged to register on the MyGov portal (https://www.mygov.in/rd2022/) to witness the live celebrations online. The online portal would also give them a chance to vote for the best marching contingent and tableau in the popular choice category.

COVID safeguards

Strict COVID-19 safeguards were in place during the parade including entry only to double-vaccinated adults and children of 15 years and above with one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Social distancing norms were strictly followed and wearing of mask was mandatory. This year, no foreign contingent participated in the parade due to the pandemic.

Special spectators

This year, special arrangements were made to give an opportunity to those in society who do not get a chance to watch the parade usually. So, auto-rickshaw drivers, construction workers, safai karamcharis and frontline health workers were invited to watch the Republic Day Parade as well as the ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony.

The Republic Day parade

The Republic Day Parade commenced with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the National War Memorial. He led the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath at the memorial. The Prime Minister and other dignitaries then headed to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the parade.

TOGETHER: PM Modi received President Kovind at Rajpath for the Republic Day celebrations
As per tradition, the National Flag was unfurled followed by the National Anthem with a booming 21-gun salute. The parade commenced with President Ram Nath Kovind taking the salute. The parade was commanded by Parade Commander, Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra AVSM, a second-generation Army officer. Chief of Staff, Delhi Area, Major General Alok Kacker was the Parade Second-in-Command.

Soon after, the proud winners of the highest gallantry awards were announced. These included the winners of the Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra. Param Vir Chakra winners Subedar Major (Honorary Captain) 18 Grenadiers (Retd) Yogendra Singh Yadav and Subedar (Honorary Lieutenant) 13 JAK Rifles Sanjay Kumar and Ashok Chakra winner Colonel D Sreeram Kumar followed the Deputy Parade Commander on jeeps. 

The Param Vir Chakra is awarded for the most conspicuous act of bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of the enemy. The Ashok Chakra is awarded for similar acts of valour and self-sacrifice but, other than, in the face of the enemy.

Indian Army contingents

The first contingent in the uniform of the erstwhile Gwalior Lancers was 61 Cavalry led by Major Mrityunjay Singh Chouhan. The 61 Cavalry is the only active serving horse cavalry regiment in the world. It was raised on 1 August 1953 with the amalgamation of six state forces’ cavalry units.

The Indian Army was represented by a Mounted Column of 61 Cavalry, 14 Mechanised Columns, six marching contingents and a fly past by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) of Army Aviation. One Tank PT-76 and Centurion (On Tank Transporters) and two MBT Arjun MK-I, one APC TOPAS & BMP-I (On Tank Transporter) and Two BMP-II, one 75/24 Towed Gun (On Vehicle) and two Dhanush Gun System, one PMS Bridge and Two Sarvatra Bridge System, one HT-16 (On Vehicle) and two Tarang Shakti Electronic Warfare System, one Tiger Cat Missile and two Akash Missile System were the main attraction in the mechanised columns.

SPECTACULAR: A contingent showcasing India's military might
A total of six marching contingents of the Army were present including the Rajput Regiment, Assam Regiment, Jammu & Kashmir Light Regiment, Sikh Light Regiment, Army Ordnance Corps and the Parachute Regiment. The combined Band of the Madras Regimental Centre, Kumoun Regimental Centre, Maratha Light Regimental Centre, Jammu & Kashmir Light Regimental Centre, Army Medical Corps Centre and School, 14 Gorkha Training Centre, Army Supply Corps Centre and College, Bihar Regimental Centre and Army Ordnance Corps Centre also marched past the saluting dais.

Past to Present: Soldiers’ uniform and weapons

The theme of the marching contingents was the display of evolution of uniform and personnel weapons of the Indian Army over the last 75 years. The Rajput Regiment contingent wore Indian Army's 1947 uniform and carried .303 rifles. The Assam Regiment wore uniform during the period of 1962 and carried .303 rifles. The Jammu & Kashmir Light Regiment wore 1971's uniform and carried 7.62 mm self-loading rifles. The contingent of the Sikh Light Regiment and the Army Ordnance Corps wore present-day uniforms with 5.56mm INSAS rifles. The contingent of the Parachute Regiment donned the new combat uniform of the Indian Army that was unveiled on 15 January 2022 and carried 5.56mm x 45mm TAVOR rifles.

Indian Navy contingent

This year at the parade, the naval contingent comprised 96 young sailors and four officers led by Contingent Commander Lt Cdr Aanchal Sharma. It was followed by the Naval Tableau designed to showcase Indian Navy's multi-dimensional capabilities and highlight key inductions under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative. The ongoing 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' also found a special mention in the tableau.

INDIA@75: A tableau displaying initiatives under Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav
The forward part of the tableau depicted the Naval Uprising of 1946, which contributed in India's struggle for independence. The rear section illustrated the 'Make in India' initiatives of the Indian Navy from 1983 to 2021.

Indian Air Force contingent

The Indian Air Force contingent comprised 96 airmen and four officers led by Squadron Leader Prashant Swamyanathan. The Air Force tableau was titled ‘Indian Air Force, Transforming for the Future’. The tableau showcased scaled down models of MiG-21, Gnat, Light Combat Helicopter and Rafale aircraft, as well as the Aslesha radar.

DRDO tableaux

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) displayed two tableaux this year, signifying the defence technological advancements of country. The tableaux were titled ‘Suite of Indigenously Developed Sensors, Weapons and Electronic Warfare Systems for LCA Tejas’ and ‘Air Independent Propulsion System’ developed for Indian Navy's submarines.

HIGH-TECH: A DRDO tableau displaying India's defence technological advancements
The first tableau displayed an indigenously-developed Advanced Electronically Scanned Array Radar; five different aerial launched weapons and an Electronic Warfare Jammer to further enhance the capabilities of fourth generation LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) Tejas. The second tableau showcased indigenously-developed AIP System for propelling the Indian Naval submarines underwater. The AIP System is powered by indigenously-developed fuel cells with a novel onboard hydrogen generator.

CAPF and Delhi Police contingents

The marching contingents of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) led by Assistant Commandant Ajay Malik; 15 times winner of best marching contingent, Delhi Police led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Vivek Bhagat; Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) commanded by Assistant Commandant Mohnish Bagree; Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) led by Deputy Commandant Nirupesh Kumar and Border Security Force (BSF) Camel Contingent headed by Deputy Commandant Manohar Singh Kheechee also marched past the saluting dais.

MIGHTY COLOURFUL: BSF's camel contingent passes through the Rajpath during the parade
The various tableaux

After the myriad contingents, tableaux of 12 States and Union Territories and nine Ministries and Departments prepared on various themes under the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ were on display.

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