India Wednesday celebrated its 62nd Republic Day, displaying its
military might and vibrant cultural diversity, a spectacle
witnessed by the country's who's who and tens of thousands of
enthusiastic commoners on a grand boulevard in the heart of Delhi.
Among those who watched the parade at Rajpath with visible delight
was Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He is the
second Indonesian chief guest on the occasion after Sukarno who
graced the event in 1950, on the first Republic Day.
President Pratibha Patil, commander in chief of the armed forces,
took salute as military and paramilitary contingents, including
mounted troops from the 61st Cavalry, mechanised columns and eight
regiments of the army marched down Rajpath during the 100-minute
As a bright sun shone down on the city, the country's cultural and
religious diversity was represented by folk artists and dancers
who came on colourful tableaus. Many won huge applause from the
Indonesian president as well as the mass of Indians, the children
Martial music from various military contingents -- including the
ever popular 'Sare Jahan Se Achcha' -- filled the air.
The event displayed indigenous military hardware. Taking
centrestage and vying for attention were Light Combat Aircraft
Tejas, T-90 main battle tank Bheeshma, BrahMos supersonic cruise
missile, advance light helicopter Dhruv, armoured vehicle,
multi-barrel rocket launcher Pinaka and state-of-art radar.
The two-seater Tejas aircraft's trainer version was unveiled for
the first time. It is likely to be inducted by December 2012.
The tableaux unfolded a cultural spectacle from various parts of
India -- from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to Kerala in the deep
The Kashmir tableau showcased the valley's dying folk culture.
The Central Public Works Department float had giant flower
sculptures of two tigers along with two cubs. The entire central
boulevard resounded with the roar of the tiger, underlining the
threat to the national animal.
Yudhoyono, president of the world's most populous Muslim nation
watched with fascination, as Karnataka and Bihar showcased India's
rich Islamic heritage. The country's Buddhist roots came alive on
the Gujarat tableau.
Schoolchildren put up colourful dances. The daredevil bikers from
the army's Corps of Signals displayed breath-taking formations on
motorcycles, as tens of thousands watched in awe.
The parade ended with a spectacular fly past by the air force,
with 28 aircraft and helicopters staging stunning manoeuvres.
Before the parade began, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paid
tribute to the unknown soldier at the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial at
India Gates, a World War I monument.
As he reached the parade venue, several children came forward and
shook hands with him.
Across the capital, security was tight, with police and
paramilitary personnel checking motorists. Helicopters hovered in
the sky at the parade venue while sharpshooters were deployed on
buildings near Rajpath.
Besides the crowds at Rajpath and along the route to the 17th
century Red Fort where the parade ended, millions in India and
abroad were glued to TV sets to soak in the snapshot of the
country's diversity and might.