On India's 70th Republic Day on Saturday, New Delhi’s Rajpath will see a grandiose display of India’s defence capabilities and cultural heritage. The day will begin with a tribute to the departed soldiers when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, possibly the last time that this ceremony will be performed at the historic venue at India Gate. A senior defence ministry official told Hindustan Times this ceremony may be moved to the National War Memorial from next year.
This will be followed by the arrival of President Ram Nath Kovind at Rajpath, along with his bodyguards, who are mounted on horses. Kovind and Modi will welcome this year’s chief guest South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.
After the hoisting of the National Flag and a 21-gun salute, gallantry awards — Ashok Chakra, Kirti Chakra and Shaurya Chakra — will be conferred upon defence personnel with outstanding achievements. Militant-turned-soldier Lance Naik Nazir Ahmed Wani will be posthumously honoured with the Ashok Chakra.
Children who will be given the National Bravery Award will ride past the president, dignitaries and spectators in open jeeps.
These honours will be followed by the part of the celebrations that most look forward to: the 90-minute parade. The parade’s five-kilometre-long route starts from Raisina Hill, moves past Rajpath and India Gate and concludes at Red Fort.
The might of the country's defence forces — Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force — will be on display, as will be the skills of their marching bands, who will salute the president. Among the highlights: the Border Security Force’s camel-mounted regiments and a contingent from the National Cadet Core.
An all-women contingent of the Assam Rifles will be among the many firsts. Major Khushboo Kanwar, who will lead this contingent, told PTI, "I am a daughter of a bus conductor from Rajasthan and if I can accomplish this any girl can fulfil her dream.”
Four veterans belonging to Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army, aged between 90 and 100 years, will take part in the parade for the first time. Twenty-two colourful tableaus by states and government departments will display the country’s cultural heritage, festivals, noteworthy achievements and projects. As 2019 marks the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Delhi government’s float will depict the life of the Father of Nation.
Daredevils on motorcycles will begin drawing the parade to a close. Another first in the offing: A woman member of the BSF’s motorcycle stunt team will perform a standing salute on a motorbike. The parade will culminate in a dramatic flypast by the Indian Air Force and tri-colour balloons will be set free.
Three days after the parade, the Beating Retreat ceremony will be held on 29 January to mark the end of Republic Day festivities. The three wings of India’s defence forces and their bands will perform this at Vijay Chowk, situated between the north and south blocks of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Traffic restrictions are applicable on the route of the parade and Delhi Metro services will be available for commuters at all stations on Republic Day. However, there will be no boarding and de-boarding at Central Secretariat and Udyog Bhawan stations from 5 am till 12 pm. The parade will be broadcast on television and radio. Around 25,000 security personnel, CCTV cameras, mobile hit teams, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters will keep a vigil on the parade route and nearby localities.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jan 25, 2019 15:46:35 IST