India showcased its military and its cultural diversity in a colourful parade on Thursday at the revamped colonial avenue in New Delhi to mark Republic Day, the anniversary of the day the country’s secular Constitution came into effect in 1950. Several thousand people watched the parade from seats around Kartavya Path – or path of duty – braving the cold on a foggy morning in New Delhi, while millions more watched on television. Known as Rajpath since independence, and as King’s Way during British colonial rule, the ceremonial central boulevard was renamed in September last year.
Accompanied by marching bands, troops from the country’s military, border and police forces paced in perfect synchronisation towards the dais where President Droupadi Murmu took the salute. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the chief guest for the event and 144 soldiers from the Arab nation’s armed forces also participated.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, chief of defence staff and the three service chiefs were also present at the parade, which featured more women in the military contingents. The country’s rich and diverse heritage was showcased in vibrant tableaux from different states and ministries, highlighting the central theme of ‘nari shakti’ or women power.
The army’s tableaux comprised only locally-made weapons, reflecting India’s drive to become more self-reliant in the defence sector. The event climaxed with a flypast by 45 aircraft of the Indian Air Force, with French-made Rafales, Russian-made Su-30s and the Indian-made Tejas fighter jets putting on an impressive aeronautical display. But foggy weather spoilt the spectacle, as spectators struggled to catch a glimpse of the aircraft as they roared overhead.