iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ritam Halder, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 27, 2013
It was a chilly Saturday morning as thousands were spotted on the streets of Central Delhi walking towards Rajpath and India Gate, in an attempt to watch the once-in-a-year spectacle - the Republic Day parade. And most of them are part of the 'new' Delhi. Prasad Rao, a 30-year-old from Balasore in Odisha, had come with his wife from their IIT Gate home to show off the "grand show" he had seen once earlier. "I really like this function as you can see all the armed units and weapons our country possesses. I have told her stories and this time got her to see it," Rao said.

These 'new' Delhiites formed a majority of the crowd on both sides of the Rajpath.

Amar Lal, a native of Allahabad and now a resident of Chanakyapuri, who had come with his friends, felt that the Republic Day parade was one of the defining features of the city and there is obvious enthusiasm among those new in Delhi to experience it on first-hand basis.

"I loved it. Even though I had to wake up really early on a holiday, it was worth it. I will cherish this experience forever," Lal, a 29-year-old employee in a private firm currently living in Rohini, said.

Some of them, quite literally, had to jump boundaries to be able to catch the fiesta.

Kanika Kaviraj, who came with her husband Pranay from Mahipalpur, was initially not allowed to enter by the Delhi police personnel manning the gates because of "lack of space inside". "We had invitation cards but were still being held at the gates. Somehow, in the midst of the chaos, we crossed the bamboo barricade and slipped in," Kaviraj, hailing from Asansol, who has been living in Delhi for the past three years, said.

The tableaux from 19 states and government departments got loud cheers and applause along with the motorcycle acrobatics and show of strength by the air force. The gathering watched in awe the nuclear-capable 5,000 km Agni-V ballistic missile - developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and flight-tested last year - as it went past as an unofficial centerpiece of sorts.

The tricolours flew high at different points. The 21 gun salute shook the ground and the gathering with its powerful retaliation. The security personnel marched in perfect sync.The marching bands played near-perfect tunes. The children danced with glee.

After 100-odd minutes, the show was over. As the countdown for 2014 began, the new Delhiites left pondering about whom to poke for a pass for next year.