68th Republic Day: India’s big military, cultural show at Rajpath


New Delhi, The majestic Rajpath saw a scintillating display of India’s military might and resplendent cultural diversity as the country celebrated its 68th Republic Day today, with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan attending the event as guest of honour.

Light rain and overcast skies failed to dampen the enthusiasm of thousands of spectators who watched the nearly an hour-and-half-long parade along the imposing Rajpath, India’s ceremonial boulevard.

A major highlight of the parade was 149-member marching contingent from UAE comprising personnel from Presidential Guards, the Air Force, the Navy and Army, led by a band comprising 35 musicians from the Gulf country with which India’s defence and security ties are on an upswing.

Al Nahyan, also Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces, was seated next to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who wore a pink coloured ‘safa’ (turban). The two leaders were seen sharing some light moments.

Alongside the Crown Prince, the ceremonial parade was watched by Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and the country’s top political and military brass, besides the diplomatic community.


In a first, the ‘black cat’ commandos of the elite counter-terror force National Security Guard (NSG) participated in the parade which drew loud cheers from the spectators.

A number of weapons systems and aircraft including the Tejas light combat jets and the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) developed by DRDO were on display, showcasing India’s military prowess.

The Indian Army’s missile firing T-90 ‘Bhishma’ tank, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP-2K, Mobile Autonomous Launcher of the BrahMos Missile System, Weapon Locating Radar ‘Swathi’ and Akash Weapons System, and Dhanush artillery guns were among the main draw in the mechanised columns. President Pranab Mukherjee took the salute of marching contingents.

The splendid driving skills of ‘Dare Devils’–the motorcycle acrobatics team of Corps of Military Police was a major attraction of the parade. They performed breathtaking manoeuvres like Salute to President, Ladder, Double Bar, Lotus, Christmas Tree, Aircraft, Sudarshan Chakra, Flower Pot, Pyramid and Wheeling on moving motorcycles.


The ‘Netra’, an Airborne Early Warning and Control System aircraft also known as “Eye in the Sky” was one of the major attractions.

It was followed by the ‘Globe Formation’ comprising one C-17 Globemaster flanked by two Su-30 MKIs. Next in line were the fighters, with five Jaguars fling in arrowhead formation, while five MiG-29 fighters darted through the sky in fulcrum style.

It was followed by the breathtaking ‘Trishul’ formation comprising three Su-30 MKIs.

The flypast concluded with another Su-30 MKI carrying out a ‘Vertical Charlie’ manoeuvre over the saluting dais. The ceremony concluded with the national anthem and release of colourful balloons.

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The theme of IAF tableau was “Air Dominance Through Network Centric Operations” and it displayed the scaled down models of Su-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, AWACS, UAV, Apache and Communication Satellite.