President Ram Nath Kovind will lead the nation in celebrating India’s 73rd Republic Day on Wednesday (January 26).
The celebrations this year are special as Republic Day falls in the 75th year of Independence, being celebrated as ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ across the country.
To mark the occasion, the Ministry of Defence has conceptualised a series of new events during the main parade on Rajpath on Wednesday and for the ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony at Vijay Chowk on January 29.
It has been decided that the Republic Day celebrations will now be a week-long affair from January 23-30 every year. The celebrations will commence on January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, and culminate on January 30, which is observed as Martyrs’ Day to mark the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
The Republic Day ceremony will commence with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the National War Memorial, where he will lead the nation in paying tribute to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.
Thereafter, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries will head to the saluting dais at Rajpath to witness the parade.
As per tradition, the national flag will be unfurled followed by the national anthem with a booming 21-gun salute. The parade will commence with President Kovind taking the salute. It will be commanded by Lt General Vijay Kumar Mishra, a second-generation Army officer. Major General Alok Kacker, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area, will be the Parade, Second-in-Command.
The proud winners of the highest gallantry awards will be honoured next, including the winners of Param Vir Chakra and Ashok Chakra.
Param Vir Chakra winners Subedar Major (Honorary Captain) Yogendra Singh Yadav, 18 Grenadiers, and Subedar (Honorary Lieutenant) Sanjay Kumar, 13 JAK Rifles, and Ashok Chakra winner Colonel D. Sreeram Kumar will follow the Deputy Parade Commander on jeeps.
The Param Vir Chakra is awarded for the most conspicuous act of bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of the enemy. The Ashok Chakra is awarded for similar acts of valour and self-sacrifice, but other than in the face of the enemy.
Indian Army Contingents
The first contingent in the uniform of the erstwhile Gwalior Lancers will be 61 Cavalry led by Major Mrityunjay Singh Chouhan. The 61 Cavalry is the only active serving horse cavalry regiment in the world. It was raised on August 1, 1953 with the amalgamation of six state forces’ cavalry units.
The Indian Army will be represented by a mounted column of 61 Cavalry, 14 mechanised columns, six marching contingents and a fly past by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of Army Aviation.
One Tank PT-76 and Centurion (On Tank Transporters) and two MBT Arjun MK-I, one APC TOPAS and BMP-I (On Tank Transporter) and Two BMP-II, one 75/24 Towed Gun (On Vehicle) and two Dhanush Gun System, one PMS Bridge and Two Sarvatra Bridge System, one HT-16 (On Vehicle) and two Tarang Shakti Electronic Warfare System, one Tiger Cat Missile and two Akash Missile System will be the main attractions in the mechanised columns.
A total of six marching contingents of the Army will be there, including the Rajput Regiment, the Assam Regiment, the Jammu and Kashmir Light Regiment, the Sikh Light Regiment, the Army Ordnance Corps and the Parachute Regiment.
A combined band of the Madras Regimental Centre, Kumoun Regimental Centre, Maratha Light Regimental Centre, Jammu and Kashmir Light Regimental Centre, Army Medical Corps Centre and School, 14 Gorkha Training Centre, Army Supply Corps Centre and College, Bihar Regimental Centre and Army Ordnance Corps Centre will also march past the saluting dais.
Soldiers’ Uniform and Weapons to Showcase Evolution
The theme of the marching contingents will be the display of the evolution of uniform and weapons of the Indian Army over the last 75 years. The contingent of the Rajput Regiment will be wearing the uniform of Indian Army of 1947, carrying .303 rifles. The Assam Regiment will sport the uniform of 1962, carrying .303 rifles.
The Jammu and Kashmir Light Regiment would be in uniform worn during 1971 and would carry 7.62 mm self-loading rifles. The contingent of the Sikh Light Regiment and the Army Ordnance Corps would be in the present day uniform with 5.56 mm INSAS rifles.
The contingent of the Parachute Regiment would be donning the new combat uniform of Indian Army, unveiled on January 15, and would be carrying 5.56 mm x 45 mm TAVOR rifles.
Indian Navy Contingent
The Naval contingent will comprise 96 young sailors and four officers led by Lt Cdr Aanchal Sharma as the Contingent Commander. It will be followed by the Naval tableau which is designed with the aim to showcase the multi-dimensional capabilities of the Indian Navy and highlight the key inductions under ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. The ongoing ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ also finds a special mention in the tableau.
The forward part of the tableau depicts the Naval Uprising of 1946, which contributed to India’s struggle for independence. The rear section illustrates the ‘Make in India’ initiatives of the Indian Navy from 1983 to 2021. Model of New Vikrant with LCA Navy in air flanked by models of indigenously designed and built warships will also be on display. The frames on the sides of the trailer depict the construction of Indian Naval platforms in India.
Indian Air Force Contingent
The Indian Air Force contingent comprises 96 airmen and four officers and will be led by Squadron Leader Prashant Swamyanathan. The Air Force tableau is titled ‘Indian Air Force, Transforming for the Future’. The tableau showcases scaled down models of MiG-21, Gnat, Light Combat Helicopter and Rafale aircraft, as well as the Aslesha radar.
The tableaux are titled ‘Suite of Indigenously Developed Sensors, Weapons and Electronic Warfare Systems for LCA Tejas’ and ‘Air Independent Propulsion System’ developed for the submarines of Indian Navy.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will display two tableaux, signifying the defence technological advancements of the country.
It will be followed by tableaux of 12 states and Union Territories and nine Ministries and Departments, which have been prepared on various themes under ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.
The tableaux will be followed by cultural performances by 480 dancers chosen through an all-India dance competition ‘Vande Bharatam’. It is for the first time that dance groups, which will perform during the parade, have been chosen based through an all-India level competition. This will be followed by a motorcycle display by Seema Bhawani Motorcycle Team of BSF and Himveers of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
Grand Fly Past
The grand finale and the most keenly-awaited segment of the parade, the FlyPast, will, for the first time, witness 75 aircraft/helicopters of the Indian Air Force displaying a number of formations. Vintage, as well as current modern aircraft/helicopters like Rafale, Sukhoi, Jaguar, Mi-17, Sarang, Apache and Dakota, will display different formations, including Rahat, Meghna, Eklavya, Trishul, Tiranga, Vijay, and Amrit. The ceremony will culminate with the national anthem and the release of Tri-colour balloons. For the first time, the IAF has coordinated with Doordarshan to show cockpit videos during the flypast.