India becomes the fourth country to put up an indigenously designed and conceptualised drone show of this size

The annual ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony, which takes place on January 29 in Delhi, will witness a spectacular show of about 1,000 drones this time.

The drone show will be 10 minutes in duration and will showcase India's achievements through many creative formations in the dark sky, the Ministry of Defence said on Friday.

With this, India will become the fourth country in the world to put up an indigenously designed and conceptualised drone show of this size after China, Russia & US, said the ministry.

The ceremony will be graced by President and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Ram Nath Kovind at the historic Vijay Chowk.

Other dignitaries, including Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, will witness the show, which has been conceptualized, designed, produced and choreographed under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.

According to the Ministry of Defence, the move is an initiative to encourage an IIT-Delhi startup, ‘Botlab Dynamics’ that had indigenously developed these drones, and is being supported by the Department of Science & Technology.

Botlab in association with the Defence Ministry conceptualised the novel drone show to commemorate the 75th year of Independence. The project has been developed within the country, developing all the necessary components, including both hardware and software such as the flight controller (brain of the drone); precision GPS; motor controller; Ground Control Station (GCS) algorithms etc.

The Ministry of Defence said martial musical tunes with Indian fervor will add to the celebration of the ceremony this year. A total of 26 performances will enthrall the spectators with foot-tapping music played by the bands of Indian Army, Navy, Air Force and Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).

The entry band will be Massed Band playing the ‘Veer Sainik’ tune, which will be followed by Pipes & Drums Band, CAPF Band, Air Force Band, Naval Band, Army Military Band and Massed Bands. The principal conductor of the ceremony will be Commander Vijay Charles D’Cruz.

A number of new tunes have been added to the ceremony to celebrate ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. These include ‘Kerala’, ‘Hind ki Sena’ and ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon’. The event will come to a close with the ever-popular tune of ‘Sare Jahan se Acha’.

Moreover, for the first time, on the parapet of the North Block and the South Block, there will be a laser projection mapping show. “Another attraction would be a projection mapping show to commemorate 75 years of independence. The show of around 3-4 minutes’ duration will be showcased on the walls of North and South Block before the end of the ceremony” added the Ministry.

Similar to the Republic Day Parade, eco-friendly invitation cards have been prepared for the ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony, keeping in mind safety precautions in the COVID-19 times. The cards have been prepared with the seeds of medicinal plants of Ashwagandha, Aloe Vera and Amla embedded in it. People are being encouraged to plant it in their gardens/flower potsand reap the age-old medicinal benefits.

The Beating Retreat ceremony marks a centuries-old military tradition, dating back to the days when troops disengaged from a battle at sunset. As soon as the buglers sounded the “retreat”, the troops ceased fighting, sheathed their arms and withdrew from the battlefield.

It is for this reason that the custom of standing still during the sounding of retreat has been retained to this day. Colours and standards are cased and flags lowered at retreats.

Drumbeats recall the days when troops, billeted in towns and cities, were recalled to their quarters at an appointed time in the evening. Based on these military traditions, ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony creates a mood of nostalgia of the times gone by.