Fighter jets tearing through the skies and battle tanks rumbling down Rajpath at the R-Day parade make a billion hearts swell with pride. But the parade is robbed of its grandeur, when the nation watches heaps of poop, left behind by well-groomed camels, elephants and horses, being mopped up manually.
The defence ministry is weighing a proposal to import dung-disposal machines to restore the majesty of the celebrations. An army officer said, “The celebrations tend to be a messy affair… we don’t wish to project the country like that. It can easily be fixed.”
HQs Delhi Area has bought the machines and used them during pre-R-Day ceremonial functions. Each such machine costs about R7 lakh. About a dozen machines would suffice to keep Rajpath clean.
Among the 5,000-odd participants marching on Wednesday will be 100 camels of the Border Security Force, a dozen elephants carrying children who have won national bravery awards and mounted columns of 61 Cavalry.
President Pratibha Patil and her Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the chief guest at the parade, will arrive Rajpath escorted by the President’s 46 bodyguards astride thoroughbreds.
The camels have been practising for the big day since November. They are fed 10 kg of fodder and three kg of composite feed to endure four hours of daily practice. The elephants are on a diet of chapattis made of wheat and ghee.