For the first time, 75 aircraft & helicopters of the Indian Air Force displayed a number of formations

Contingents of the Indian Army showcasing the evolution of uniforms and personnel weapons over the decades and a grand flypast of 75 aircraft and helicopters that included Rafale fighter jets were among the highlights of the 73rd Republic Day at New Delhi's Rajpath on Wednesday.

The Republic Day parade, marked by strict Covid-19 protocols, had several other firsts.

These included the launch of ‘Shaheedon Ko Shat Shat Naman’ programme by National Cadet Corps; cultural performances by 480 dancers selected through a nationwide Vande Bharatam dance competition; and a display of 10 scrolls each of 75 metres.

The Republic Day Parade ceremony commenced with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the National War Memorial to pay tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.

At the saluting dais at Rajpath, the National Flag was unfurled followed by the National Anthem with a booming 21-gun salute. The parade commenced with President Ram Nath Kovind taking the salute.

The parade was commanded by Parade Commander, Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra, Ati Vishisth Seva Medal, a second-generation Army officer. Major General Alok Kacker, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area was the Parade Second-in-Command.

They were followed by winners of the nation's highest gallantry awards, including the Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra.

Army, Navy, Air Force contingents

The theme of the marching contingents of the Indian Army was the display of the evolution of uniform and personnel weapon of Indian Army over the last 75 years.

The contingent of the Rajput Regiment wore the uniform of the Indian Army of 1947 and carried the .303 Rifle. The Assam Regiment was in uniform during the period of the 1962 and also carried .303 Rifles.

The Jammu & Kashmir Light Regiment was dressed in the uniform worn during 1971 and carried the 7.62mm self loading Rifle.

The contingent of the Sikh Light Regiment and the Army Ordnance Corps were in the present day uniform with the 5.56mm INSAS Rifle.

The contingent of the Parachute Regiment donned the new Combat Uniform of the Indian Army which was unveiled on January 15. They were carrying 5.56mm x 45mm TAVOR Rifle.

The Naval contingent comprised 96 young sailors & four officers led by Lt Cdr Aanchal Sharma as Contingent Commander. It was followed by the Naval Tableau designed with the aim to showcase the multi-dimensional capabilities of the Indian Navy.

The Indian Air Force contingent comprised 96 airmen and four officers and was led by Squadron Leader Prashant Swamyanathan. The Air Force tableau titled ‘Indian Air Force, Transforming for the Future’ showcased scaled down models of MiG-21, Gnat, Light Combat Helicopter and Rafale aircraft, as well as the Aslesha radar.

India's first woman Rafale fighter jet pilot Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh was a part of the Indian Air Force tableau.

Grand Flypast

The grand finale, the Fly Past, for the first time, had 75 aircraft/helicopters of the Indian Air Force displaying a number of formations, as part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

Vintage as well as current modern aircraft/helicopters like Rafale, Sukhoi, Jaguar, Mi-17, Sarang, Apache and Dakota displayed different formations, including Rahat, Meghna, Eklavya, Trishul, Tiranga, Vijay and Amrit.

The ceremony culminated with the national anthem and the release of Tri-colour balloons. For the first time, IAF had coordinated with Doordarshan to show cockpit videos during the fly past.

The Republic Day parade saw tableaux of 12 States/Union Territories and nine Ministries/Departments, which had been prepared on various themes under ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

In keeping with Covid-19 safeguards, only double vaccinated adults and children above 15 years with one dose of vaccine were allowed entry at the parade.

All social distancing norms and compulsory wearing of masks was strictly enforced. No foreign contingent participated this year in view of the pandemic.