Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet projects — Make in India, Jan Dhan Yojana and Beti Bachao — were on display on a rain-soaked Rajpath on Monday as chief guest US President Barack Obama cheered on the Republic Day parade.
Thousands of spectators braved wet and cold weather and a seven-tier security ring to watch the extravaganza that marked India’s 66th Republic Day.
Obama, the first US president to be honoured as the chief guest at the annual celebrations, and wife Michelle, sitting in a bullet-proof enclosure with our dignitaries, were treated to an impressive display of traditional dances, marching contingents, state-of-the-art weaponry and a steady stream of tableaux.
Modi’s print was hard to miss as floats rolled in. First came the tableau for Make in India, with the logo — a cutaway leonine automation — on display.
Launched in September by the PM, the initiative promises to remove bureaucratic sloth, reduce red tape, ease rules and turn India into a manufacturing powerhouse.
Of the 25 floats on display, nine were from the Centre.
The PM’s home state Gujarat had a replica of the Statue of Unity that paid tributes to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, India’s first home minister and Modi’s idol. The move to build the statue, billed the world’s tallest, was initiated by Modi when he was the CM of the western state. States ruled by the BJP and its allies dominated the tableaux display.
Another of the “tasks” that Modi has set for his government was presented in the Central Public Works Department’s Maa Ganga. The float, made out of flowers, showed Gomukh, the primary source of the holy river. The PM has promised to make the Ganga pollution free and has assigned the job to minister Uma Bharti.
The finance ministry highlighted the Jan Dhan Yojna through which the PM wants to end “financial untouchability” by providing every Indian with a bank account.
The rural development tableau carried the message of Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana.
The Beti Bachao, Beti Padao (save girl child, educate her) campaign launched last week by the PM to create awareness against female infanticide was the message sent out by the women and child development ministry. The float had women dressed as doctors, soldiers and engineers celebrating the birth of a baby girl.
The railways presented a replica of a bullet train. Modi wants India to move on high-speed trains and has been tapping Japan for it.
Before the parade started, a commentator recited Kadam Mila Ke Chalna Hoga, a poem penned by former prime minister Atal BihariVajpayee, recently awarded India’s highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna. The poem by the BJP stalwart perhaps set the tone for the proceedings.