All-women marching contingents, stunning displays ready to roll on R-Day

NEW DELHI :  Breath-taking manoeuvres by air force jets, a procession of tableaux presenting a glimpse of India’s cultural heritage and the progress made by the country and all-women marching contingents of the three Services, these are some of the attractions in store for dignitaries and guests at the Republic Day function here.
A dress rehearsal of the parade held here today on Rajpath also made it clear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects like ‘Jan Dhan Yojna’, ‘Maa Ganga’, ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, bullet train and the ‘Make in India’ drive will be in the spotlight this year as most of the tableaux were based on these themes.
Even Gujarat government’s tableau is on the theme of the ‘Statue of Unity’ – the initiative which Modi started when he was the chief minister of that state. One of the cultural performances by schoolchildren, too, was based on the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
The main attraction of this year’s event, which will have US President Barack Obama as its Chief Guest, is going to be the all-women marching contingents of the three Servics with ‘Women’s Empowerment’ being the theme of the 66th Republic Day parade.
The preview today began with four army helicopters flying above Rajpath displaying the tricolour and the flags of Army, Air Force and Navy.
India’s military might was then put on show as BrahMos missiles, Akash Surface-to-Air Missile, 214-mm Pinaka rockets, T-90 Bhishma tank, T72 Trawl and 3 Dimensional Tactical Control Radar system rolled down Rajpath.
Along with modern weaponry systems, contingents of armed forces’ personnel, paramilitary forces and NCC cadets marched to the beat of the bands accompanying them.
CRPF’s elite “CoBRA” Force and Delhi Police’s marching contingent, a regular at the parade since 1950, got the loudest cheers as they walked past the large gathering of Delhiites which had turned up to witness the preview.
National bravery award-winning children seated in open jeeps, too, were part of the cultural pageant. What also caught the attention of the spectators at the dress rehearsal was the musical band mounted on bedecked camels.
In all, 25 tableaux, including 16 from the various states, provided a kaleidoscopic view of the country’s economic strength, cultural heritage and development of science and technology.
Four cultural presentations of children from Delhi schools, two groups of children from the West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur, and the South-Central Zone Cultural Centre, Nagpur, also performed at the parade.    Each group of children performed for about two minutes in front of the presidential dais.
The parade also featured jaw-dropping stunts by SSB officers on motorbikes, who executed daredevil stunts as they showcased the ‘double ladder’, ‘human pyramid’, ‘bouquet’ and ‘chakra’ formations.
After the national anthem and before the departure of the President, balloons of three colours of the national flag would be released from different locations at Rajpath on Republic Day.
The end of the dress rehearsal was marked by a grand air show by IAF aircraft. A majestic display by Air Force’s Sukhoi, Jaguar and Mig-29 fighter jets and the newly-inducted C-130J Super Hercules flying just 300 metres above the ground left the crowd spellbound.
The full dress rehearsal, however, caused traffic jams in central and south Delhi as restrictions were imposed around the venue of the parade. (agencies)


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