India celebrated its 61st Republic Day on Tuesday with a spit-and-polish parade that showcased the country’s military might, culture and lifestyle.
The ceremonial parade took place amid tight security following intelligence inputs that terrorists could carry out attacks. A thick fog descended on New Delhi in the morning but failed to dampen the spirits of the thousands who came to watch well turned-out military contingents march down Rajpath.
President Pratibha Patil —the Supreme Commander of the armed forces — took the salute. South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak was the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade.
Lieutenant General K.J.S. Oberoi, General officer Commanding, Delhi Area led the parade after the President unfurled the Indian tricolour.
The fog forced the Indian Air Force to cut down its customary flypast, one of the most awaited events at the parade. Despite the weather, the air force made sure that the crowds got their fill of excitement. The IAF carried out an impressive fly-past comprising Sukhoi-30 fighter planes, Jaguars and the new addition Phalcon AWACS.
The military showcased an array of weapon systems including the indigenous main battle tank Arjun, SMERCH multiple launch rocket system, surface-to-surface Shaurya missile, Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Agni-III missile and electronic warfare systems.
The battery of dignitaries included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Vice President Hamid Ansari, defence minister A.K. Antony and the three service chiefs.