New Delhi: The 75th Republic Day parade on Friday witnessed the nation’s Aatmanirbhar military prowess and growing ‘Nari Shakti’ on Kartavya Path. In a historic first, an all-women tri-service contingent and an all-women parade & band contingent of the Delhi police participated in the parade where French President Emmanuel Macron was chief guest.
Macron’s state visit marked France’s sixth participation, the highest of any other nation, as chief guest on India’s Republic Day.
A French military team also marched down the Kartavya Path alongside Indian contingents at the parade. There were six Indians who were part of the French contingent.
PM Narendra Modi began the Republic Day 2024 celebrations by paying floral tributes at the National War Memorial on Friday morning to honour bravehearts of the Indian armed forces. He was received by defence minister Rajnath Singh on his arrival at the National War Memorial.
This year’s Republic Day witnessed the comeback of the horse-drawn ‘buggy’ after a gap of 40 years as President Droupadi Murmu and her French counterpart Macron travelled in the traditional carriage to the Kartavya Path for the parade.
Amid elaborate security arrangements with over 8,000 security personnel deployed in the national capital alone, the parade, whose theme was ‘Viksit Bharat’ and ‘Bharat-Loktantra ki Matruka’, began.
75th Republic Day celebrations live updates
Parade Commander and General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area, Lieutenant General Bhavnish Kumar led the parade, followed by Parade Second-in-Command and Chief of Staff HQ, Delhi Area, Major General Sumit Mehta. Winners of the highest gallantry awards, including the Param Vir Chakra and the Ashok Chakra, followed the parade commander. The Param Vir Chakra is awarded for the most conspicuous act of bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of the enemy, while the Ashok Chakra is awarded for similar acts of valour and self-sacrifice, other than in the face of the enemy.
The first Army contingent that led the mechanised column was of 61 Cavalry, led by Major Yashdeep Ahlawat. Raised in 1953, the 61 Cavalry is the only serving active Horsed Cavalry Regiment in the world, with the amalgamation of all the ‘State Horsed Cavalry Units’. It was followed by 11 mechanised columns, 12 marching contingents, and a fly-past by Advanced Light Helicopters of Army Aviation Corps.
Tank T-90 Bhishma, NAG missile system, infantry combat vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, Pinaka, weapon locating radar system ‘Swathi’, Sarvatra mobile bridging system, drone jammer system, and medium range surface-to-air missile system among others were the main attractions in the mechanised columns. The Army marching contingents included India’s oldest infantry Madras Regiment, Grenadiers, Rajputana Rifles, Sikh Regiment and the Kumaon Regiment.
The women dominated the parade this time. Wih President Murmu, also the supreme commmander of the forces, taking the salute, Capt Sandhya Mahla led an all-women tri-service contingent at the parade along with Sub Lt Aashu Yadav, Flt Lt Shrishti Verma and Capt Sharanya Rao. The contingent consisted of women Agniveers from all the three services.
In a first, the parade was heralded by 100 women artistes who played Shankh, Nadaswaram, Nagadac and other traditional music instruments.
Major Srishti Khulla, an eye surgeon and a paratrooper, led the all-women Armed Forces Medical Services marching contingent. Lieutenants Deepti Rana and Priyanka Sevda led the Swathi weapon locating radar and Pinaka rocket system display at the parade. They were among the 10 women officers commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery for the first time last year.
A 149-member all-male contingent of the Bombay Sappers, which returned to the parade after two decades, was led by woman officer, Major Divya Tyagi.
This was the first time in the history of the Delhi police force when its marching contingent comprised only women personnel. IPS officer Shweta K Sugathan, additional DCP (North District), led the marching contingent of 194 female head constables and constables. At least 80% of the participants this year were from the northeastern states as Delhi police has a policy of recruiting people from the eight northeastern states to “bridge the gap” between the police and people from that region.
Another special feature this time was the display of six modern specialist vehicles, which included ‘Quick Reaction Force Vehicles — Heavy and Medium, a Light Specialist vehicle, Vehicle Mounted Infantry Mortar System, All-terrain vehicle and a Specialist Mobility Vehicle.
The Indian Navy contingent consisted of 144 men and women Agniveers, led by Lt Prajwal M as Contingent Commander and Lt Mudita Goyal, Lt Sharvani Supreiya and Lt Devika H as platoon commanders.
It was followed by the Naval tableau, depicting the themes ‘Nari Shakti’ and ‘Sea Power Across the Oceans Through Indigenisation’. The first part of the tableau showcased the women in the Indian Navy in all roles and in all ranks across the Navy while the second depicted the very first indigenous carrier battle group, comprising aircraft carrier Vikrant, her highly capable escort ships Delhi, Kolkata and Shivalik, the light combat aircraft and advanced light helicopter, the Kalvari class submarine and Isro’s GSAT-7, Rukmani satellite.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) comprised 144 airmen and four officers, led by Squadron Leader Rashmi Thakur. Squadron Leaders Sumita Yadav & Pratiti Ahluwalia and Flight Lieutenant Kirti Rohil marched past as supernumerary officers behind the contingent commander. The IAF tableau was on the theme ‘Bharatiya Vayu Sena: Saksham, Sashakt, Aatmanirbhar’.
The tableau depicted LCA Tejas and Su-30 flying over the IOR, and a C-295 transport aircraft being flown by women aircrew in the cockpit. The GSAT-7A satellite positioned on the tableau represented the IAF’s incorporation of space technology in its operations. The tableau showed that IAF has been at the forefront of rendering humanitarian aid, both within and across borders.
The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) contingent was led by assistant commandant Chunauti Sharma followed by officers of the guard Assistant Commandants Priya Dahiya, Hardik and Pallavi. The ICG, with a fleet of 154 ships and 78 aircraft, is capable of countering threats at and to the sea.
The Border Security Force marching contingent was headed by assistant commandant Monika Lakra; Central Industrial Security Force by assistant commandant Tanmayee Mohanty; Central Reserve Police Force by assistant commandant Megha Nair; Indo-Tibetan Border Police by assistant commandant Moniya Sharma; Sashastra Seema Bal by deputy commandant Nancy Singla; and Delhi Police by additional deputy commissioner of police Shweta K Sugathan.
The camel contingent of the BSF was led by deputy commandant Manohar Singh Kheechee. For the second time, female camel riders on their decorated camels took part in the parade. Various contingents of the NCC witnessed female representation. For the first time, there was an all-girl tri-service marching contingent, which was headed by senior under officer Tanu Tevatia of Uttar Pradesh Directorate. Two hundred (200) female volunteers formed the National Service Scheme (NSS) contingent. It was led by Ragina Tamang from Sikkim, Regional Directorate of NSS, Guwahati.
This year’s parade witnessed the participation of around 13,000 special guests – an initiative which provided an opportunity to people from all walks of life to take part in the celebrations and encourage Jan Bhagidari in this national festival.
The grand performance included 30 folk dance styles uniquely prevalent in different states, as well as contemporary classical dance and Bollywood styles. The artists included tribal dancers, folk dancers, and classical dancers.
A tableau of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is in the pursuit of self-reliance to defence and has developed many high tech systems, was led by Sunita Jena, an outstanding scientist and specialist in guided missiles. From an anti-satellite missile to a third generation anti-tank guided missile and light combat aircraft Tejas, women’s involvement in DRDO were prominently highlighted in the defence research organisation’s tableau. Isro showcased one of its biggest feats, Chandrayaan-3, at its landing site Shiv Shakti point on the Moon.
A total of 25 tableaux —16 states/UTs and nine ministries/departments – rolled down the Kartavya Path during the parade.
The states and UTs whose tableaux displayed were Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Ladakh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. The departments and organisations whose tableau participated are ministry of home affairs, ministry of external affairs, ministry of electronics and IT, Ministry of ports, shipping & waterways, ministry of culture, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), Centre For Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Election Commission of India, and Central Public Works Department.
The Republic Day celebrations ended with the flypast by 46 aircraft of the Indian Air Force. For the first time, indigenously-built Tejas Light Combat Aircraft flew in a formation of four aircraft.
There was a previous occasion of one Tejas jet being part of the parade. One multi-role tanker transport aircraft and two Rafale fighter jets of the French Air and Space Force flew above the contingents while marched the saluting dais. Fifteen women pilots, including six from the fighter streams, operated various IAF platforms during the fly-past.