India's military might, its multi-hued cultural heritage and the nation's achievements in various fields were on display today at Rajpath, the ceremonial boulevard in the heart of Delhi, as the nation celebrated its 65th Republic Day amid tight security. (See pics)
Marching down from Raisina Hills in central Delhi to the historic Mughal monument of Red Fort, the parade showcased India's 'unity in diversity' and defence capabilities as thousands of spectators cheered the contingents and the mechanized columns along the 8-km-long route. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the chief guest at the event. (Watch)
Among the proud highlights today was India's first indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, a fourth generation, supersonic, multi-role combat aircraft designed and developed by DRDO. (For Jan 26, join #ProudToBeIndian campaign)
Other attractions included main battle tank Arjun MK-II, the first indigenously designed and developed tank also referred to as 'Desert Ferrari'; recently-inducted transport aircraft C-130J Super Hercules, optimised for undertaking special operations; and the gigantic C-17 Globemaster, a heavy lift, long-range aircraft.
DRDO also displayed the 'Astra' and 'Helina' missiles, models of an underwater vehicle, mini UAV-NETRA, tracked surveillance vehicle Muntra S and unmanned aerial vehicle-'Nishant'. The weaponry put on display by the Indian Army included T-90 tank 'Bheeshma', multi-launcher rocket system Smerch, Brahmos weapon system and transportable satellite terminals.
A flypast by the Advanced Light Helicopter 'Dhruv' of the Army Aviation Corps drew loud cheers from the spectators, which included Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the country's political and military elite, besides diplomats from around the world.
The Delhi fog failed to dampen the spirits of thousands of people who came to witness the ceremony. A massive ground-to-air security apparatus was put in place in the national capital.
Minutes before the parade began, PM Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister AK Antony and chiefs of armed forces laid wreaths at 'Amar Jawan Jyoti', the war memorial at the India Gate.