NEW DELHI :
India marked its 71st Republic Day on Sunday with a parade showcasing some of its newly acquired indigenous capabilities such as the anti-satellite missile, as well as US-made Chinook heavy-lift and Apache attack helicopters.
President Ram Nath Kovind took the salute at the one-and-a-half hour ceremony witnessed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, the chief guest, cabinet ministers including home minister Amit Shah, foreign minister S. Jaishankar, human resources development minister Ramesh Pokriyal, top bureaucrats and several diplomats.
The ceremony was marked by several firsts. Modi paid homage to martyrs at the National War Memorial instead of the Amar Jawan Jyoti where he was met by Chief of Defence Staff, Bipin Rawat, besides Indian Army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane, Navy chief Karambir Singh and Air Force chief R.K.S. Bhadauria. The National War Memorial, inaugurated in February last year by Modi, has been built in memory of the soldiers who laid down their lives for the country after independence.
For the first time, women bikers of the Central Reserve Police Force performed daredevil stunts. They were led by Inspector Seema Nag who saluted the President while balance on a moving motorcycle. A contingent of the Corps of Army Air Defence, which was awarded colours by the President, also marched for the first time.
One of the showstoppers was India’s anti-satellite weapons system, successfully tested in March 2019, which put India in an exclusive club of nations comprising the US, China, and Russia that has the capability to shoot down a low-orbital satellite.
The finale was marked a breathtaking fly past that too saw many new elements. There were three helicopters, one each from the Army, Navy and Air Force, flying past the saluting dias in a “tri-service formation".
This was followed by three newly-acquired Chinook helicopters, used for airlifting diverse loads to remote locations, flying in a formation resembling the letter V. The Chinooks were followed by five Apaches in an arrowhead formation. Both were inducted into Air Force last year and made their debut at the parade.