INDIA’S 71st Republic Day: military prowess & cultural diversity showcased

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INDIA celebrated the 71st Republic Day on New Delhi’s historic Rajpath displaying its military might, progress in science and technology plus unity in diversity amidst applause by lakhs of people. In a first, a contingent of women bikers of CRPF performed daredevil stunts. The contingent was led by Inspector Seema Nag who was seen saluting President of India Ram Nath Kovind while standing atop a moving motorcycle. A lone Su-30MKI flew at a speed of 900 km/hr and splits the sky with a ‘Vertical Charlie’. The aircraft was piloted by Wing Commander Yathartha Johri along with Flight Lieutenant S Mishra. Su-30 MKIs of Indian Air Force executes the ‘Trishul’ manoeuvre. The formation is being led by Group Captain Nishit Ohri. The captains of the other two aircraft are Wing Commander Nilesh Dixit and Wing Commander Karan Dogra. A flypast by India Air Force fighter jets and the newly acquired Apache helicopters enthralled the audience. President Ram Nath Kovind unfurled the Tricolour which was followed by the National Anthem and booming 21-gun salute. Brazil President Jair Messias Bolsonaro was the Chief Guest for Republic Day celebrations. Earlier in the morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended greetings to people on the auspicious occasion stressing the need to uphold the Constitution. Multi-layered security arrangements were in place. “Sharpshooters and snipers were deployed atop high-rise buildings to keep a watch on the 8km-long parade route from Rajpath to the Red Fort, said police. Heavylift helicopter Chinook and attack helicopter Apache, both recently inducted in the Indian Air Force, partok in the Republic Day flypast for the first time. The Chinooks can airlift diverse loads in remote locations. It is a heavy lift, twin rotor helicopter which has enhanced IAF’s lift capability across a range of military and HADR missions. The Apache, on the other hand, is a versatile helicopter capable of firing air to air and air to ground missiles, rockets and front gun aided through fire control radar which can unleash havoc on the adversary. It has provided the Indian armed forces a significant edge against the enemy on the battlefield. The DRDO Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) Weapon System was on display on the Republic Day parade.With space becoming a vital dimension of any country’s economic and military superiority, A-SAT (Anti-Satellite) weapons play a critical role in providing the necessary strategic deterrence. In March last year, the Defence Research Development Organisation launched ‘Mission Shakti’, India’s first A-SAT mission and demonstrated its anti-satellite technology. A live orbiting satellite in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) was destroyed in a “Hit to Kill” mode with 10 centimetre accuracy, with the satellite and the missile approaching each other at a high speed of nearly 11 km per second. The covert technology of ‘hit to kill’, developed for the first time by India for such applications, enables it to destroy an enemy satellite by directly colliding with it with pin-point accuracy. The successful demonstration has placed India at par with the elite club of three nations — US, Russia and China — that possess this capability. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to the fallen soldiers at the newly-built National War Memorial for the first time instead of the Amar Jawan Jyoti beneath the India Gate arch. The iconic memorial in the India Gate complex behind the canopy was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 25 last year. Amar Jawan Jyoti is symbolised by an inverted bayonet and soldier’s helmet over it with an eternal flame burning beside it. It was built in 1972 underneath the India Gate arch to commemorate soldiers martyred in the Indo-Pak War of 1971.Spread over an area of approximately 40 acres, National War Memorial comprises four concentric circles, namely — the ‘Amar Chakra’, ‘Veerta Chakra’, ‘Tyag Chakra’ and the ‘Rakshak Chakra’ with names of 25,942 soldiers inscribed in golden letters on granite tablets. It also includes a central 15.5-m obelisk, an eternal flame and six bronze murals depicting famous battles fought by the Indian Army, Air Force and the Navy in a covered gallery (Veerta Chakra).The memorial is dedicated to soldiers killed during the Indo-China War in 1962, Indo-Pak Wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971, Indian Peace Keeping Force Operations in Sri Lanka and in the Kargil Conflict in 1999, and also those in the UN peacekeeping missions. The 42 m-high India Gate was built during the British Raj as the All India War Memorial Arch to honour the soldiers who died in the First World War (1914-1918) and the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919). The landmark has the names of soldiers inscribed on its surface.(edited by Chakravarty PK)

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