Republic Day Parade Showcases Multi-faceted India

 

New Delhi: It was a celebration of India in all its diversity, complexities and colour. The 63rd Republic Day unfolded Thursday with a grand pageant here showcasing a resurgent India’s military power and culture kaleidoscope and also millions of tricolours hoisted across the country in ceremonies big and small.

There were boycott calls by insurgents in parts of the country, including restive Chhattisgarh and Orissa, where Maoists hold control over large swathes of territory, and in volatile northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, but the day passed off peacefully. And even in these cynical times, when fatigue with the government, corruption and rising prices dominates daily discourse, people came out in large numbers to celebrate the day.

Promises were made and sacrifices acknowledged in state capitals and in New Delhi, the centrepiece of the festivities where history, tradition and modernity marry perfectly in a 90-minute ceremonial parade down Rajpath.

The beginnings are traditionally sombre and so it was Thursday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laying down a floral wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti to pay tribute to an unknown soldier. Soon after, a grateful nation acknowledged one of its heroes when President Pratibha Patil posthumously conferred the Ashok Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award, to young army commando Lt. Navdeep Singh, who died battling terrorists in Kashmir.

As Thailand’s first woman Prime Minister Yinluck Shinawatra, the guest of honour, watched along with the president, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other dignitaries, the spectacle began with the uniformed men and women of armed and paramilitary forces marching down the famous boulevard.



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