New Delhi, January 26
The grandest flypast with 75 aircraft to mark the ‘Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav’ celebrations was the highlight of the 73rd Republic Day Parade on Wednesday where India displayed its military might and vibrant cultural heritage on Rajpath, with the ceremonial event this year being drastically scaled down in view of the Covid pandemic.
Showcased at the Republic Day parade were the Centurion tank, PT-76 tank, 75/24 Pack howitzer and OT-62 TOPAZ armoured personnel carrier that played a major role in defeating Pakistan in the 1971 war.
India in 2021 celebrated the Swarnim Vijay Varsh (Golden victory year) to commemorate the country’s win over Pakistan in the 1971 war that led to the creation of Bangladesh. The mechanised columns of the Army showed one PT-76 tank, one Centurion tank, two MBT Arjun MK-I tanks, one OT-62 TOPAZ armoured personnel carrier, one BMP-I infantry fighting vehicle and two BMP-II infantry fighting vehicles.
The ceremony began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath at the National War Memorial, a monument to the soldiers who have made supreme sacrifice for the country.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the three service chiefs were present at the solemn ceremony.
The prime minister ditched his traditional turban look on Republic Day this year and wore a traditional cap from Uttarakhand with an image of the brahmakamal, the state flower, and also sported a stole from Manipur.
Official sources said Modi uses the brahmakamal whenever he offers prayers at the Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand.
Turbans have previously been a highlight of the prime minister’s sartorial choices at Independence Day and Republic Day events.
There was no chief guest at the parade this year. However, Swachhagrah, frontline workers, auto-rickshaw drivers, construction workers and labourers who prepared the majestic tableaus were among special guests invited this year to the Republic Day parade.
The parade started at 10.30 am this year, half-an-hour later than usual for better visibility.
Commanded by Lt Gen Vijay Kumar Mishra, with Maj Gen Alok Kacker as the second-in-command, the parade began with President Ram Nath Kovind taking the salute. The national flag was unfurled followed by the national anthem, synchronised with a 21-gun salute.
Horse-mounted soldiers of the Indian Army’s 61 Cavalry Regiment, the only active horsed cavalry unit in the world currently, was the first marching contingent at the parade. This regiment’s contingent was led by Major Mrityunjay Singh Chouhan.