With Many Firsts, Colourful 74th Republic Day Parade Showcased Emergence of a ‘New India’

By Sri Krishna

PM at Kartavya Path on the occasion of 74th Republic Day 2023, in New Delhi.

New Delhi: The 74th Republic Day parade amid much pomp and colour had many firsts to its credit with it being held for the first time at the ceremonial Central Vista avenue, renamed Kartavya Path last year after Rajpath. The celebrations was led by President Droupadi Murmu who is the second woman President of India with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as the chief guest at the parade.

The week-long celebrations commenced on January 23, the birth anniversary of iconic freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose, now celebrated as Parakram Diwas, culminating  on January 30, when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated and is observed as Martyrs’ Day.

The parade witnessed by over 65,000 people at the venue along with millions on television.  Shown live, the parade was a unique mix of India’s military prowess and cultural diversity, depicting the country’s growing indigenous capabilities, Nari Shakti and emergence of a ‘New India.’

A total of 23 tableaux – 17 from states and Union territories and six from various ministries and departments – depicting India’s vibrant cultural heritage, and economic and social progress were part of the parade which was witnessed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi attired in a colourful turban along with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and their cabinet colleagues, top government officials and diplomats.

Another first in the parade were the Agniveers, the defence recruits through the Agnipath Scheme.  The parade  commenced with the Prime Minister visiting the National War Memorial leading the nation in paying solemn tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

In keeping with tradition, the National Flag was unfurled followed by the National Anthem with a booming 21-gun salute and for the first time, this gun sauté was given with 105-mm Indian Field Guns replacing the vintage 25-pounder gun, reflecting upon the growing ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence. Four Mi-17 1V/V5 helicopters of 105 Helicopter Unit showered flower petals on the audience present at Kartavya Path.

The parade was commanded by Parade Commander, Lieutenant General Dhiraj Seth, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, a second-generation Army officer. Major General Bhavnish Kumar, Chief of Staff, HQ Delhi Area will be the Parade Second-in-Command. The parade saw the march past by the proud winners of the highest gallantry awards.

Marching down the Kartavya Path for the first time was the combined Band and Marching contingent of the Egyptian Armed Forces, led by Colonel Mahmoud Mohamed Abdel Fattah El Kharasawy. The contingent comprised 144 soldiers, representing the main branches of the Egyptian Armed Forces. A total of six marching contingents of the Army, including the Mechanised Infantry Regiment, the Punjab Regiment, the Maratha Light Infantry Regiment, the Dogra Regiment, the Bihar Regiment and the Gorkha Brigade participated in the march past.

Another highlight of the parade this year was the Veterans’ Tableau, with the theme ‘Towards India’s Amrit Kaal with Resolve – A Veterans’ Commitment,’ giving a glimpse of veterans’ contributions in the last 75 years and their initiatives in shaping India’s future during ‘Amrit Kaal’.

The Indian Navy contingent comprised 144 young sailors, led by Lt Cdr Disha Amrith as Contingent Commander. For the first time ever, the marching contingent had three women and six Agniveers followed by the Naval Tableau, designed on the theme ‘Indian Navy – Combat Ready, Credible, Cohesive and Future Proof’. It showcased the multi-dimensional capabilities of the Indian Navy, Nari Shakti and key indigenously designed and built assets under ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

The Indian Air Force contingent had 144 air warriors and four officers, led by Sqn Ldr Sindhu Reddy with its tableau, designed on the theme ‘Indian Air Force Power Beyond Boundaries’, with a rotating globe highlighting IAF’s expanded reach, whereby it has been able to provide humanitarian assistance across borders, as also exercises conducted with friendly countries.

Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) had one tableau with the theme ‘Securing Nation with Effective Surveillance, Communication and Neutralising Threats’. The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) marching contingent was  led by Deputy Commandant Rohit Singh. The ICG, with 157 ships and 78 aircraft, is capable of countering threats at and to the sea.

The parade saw contingents of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) led by Assistant Commandant Poonam Gupta; the Railway Protection Force led by Assistant Security Commissioner Saurav Kumar and the Delhi Police led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Shweta S Sugathan. The Camel Contingent of Border Security Force (BSF) was led by Deputy Commandant Manohar Singh Kheechee. For the first time, female camel riders  participated in the parade, showcasing women’s empowerment in various fields.

The National Cadet Corps (NCC) Boys Marching contingent, comprising 148 Senior Division cadets, was led by Senior Under Officer Pujari Sivanand of the Maharashtra Directorate. Senior Under Officer Sonali Sahoo of Odisha Directorate led the NCC Girls Marching contingent, consisting of 148 Senior Division Cadets drawn from all 17 Directorates. The marching contingent of the National Service Scheme (NSS), comprising 148 volunteers, was led by  Aanchal Sharma from Himachal Pradesh, Regional Directorate of NSS, Chandigarh.

The parade saw twenty-three tableaux – 17 from States/Union Territories and six from various Ministries/Departments, depicting the nation’s rich cultural heritage, economic progress and strong internal and external security.

The grand finale and the most eagerly-awaited segment of the parade, the Fly Past, saw a breath-taking air show by 45 aircraft of Indian Air Force, one from the Indian Navy and four helicopters of Indian Army. There was the mesmerising motorcycle display by Corps of Signals Dare Devils in which 33 members formed the  ‘Human Pyramid’ on nine motorcycles. The celebrations on Kartavaya Path saw performances by 479 artists chosen through the nation-wide Vande Bharatam dance competition adding a touch of colour and displaying the folklore of the nation. The theme of the cultural extravaganza was ‘Nari Shakti’ presented by 326 female dancers, ably supported by 153 male dancers, of age group 17-30 years.

– The writer is a senior journalist and media consultant. The views expressed are of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda