Abide With Me to feature at Beating Retreat ceremony
An army handout on the programme for the Beating Retreat ceremony on January 29 has ended the uncertainty over the performance of Abide With Me during the ceremony.
Reports, including in this newspaper suggested that the government was considering dropping the melancholic Christian hymn, a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi. The army did not comment on these reports at the time.
However, its handout says it will feature India’s national song Vande Mataram and Abide With Me.
The ceremony usually ends with the hymn.
In an anticipated change, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial for the first time before the Republic Day parade begins, said Major General Alok Kacker, the second-in-command of the parade. The wreath used to be placed at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. The PM inaugurated the memorial last February.
The defence minister, the minister of state for defence, the chief of defence staff, the three service chiefs and the defence secretary will also be present at the memorial. This will be the first RD parade for General Bipin Rawat as CDS.
The indigenously developed 155mm 45-calibre towed artillery gun Dhanush and the anti-satellite missile (A-SAT) will be showcased for the first time during the parade. Last March, the 19-tonne A-SAT missile struck a Microsat-R satellite orbiting 283km above the earth with pinpoint accuracy, propelling India into an elite space club which, until then, was restricted to the US, Russia and China.
Captain Tania Sher Gill, a fourth-generation army officer, will lead an all-male contingent of the Corps of Signals at the parade. She was the parade adjutant at the Army Day parade on January 15.
The Indian Air Force’s Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavy-lift choppers will also make their debut at this year’s Republic Day fly-past, which is one of the most popular elements of the annual parade at New Delhi’s Rajpath. The IAF fly-past will comprise 45 aircraft — 16 fighter jets, 10 transport planes, and 19 helicopters. The fighter jets taking part in the fly-past are Sukhoi-30s and upgraded MiG-29s.
Other planes in the display include C-17 Globemaster III heavy lifters, C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft, Mi-17 V5 helicopters, Rudra advanced light helicopter (ALH) Mk IV WSI, and the army’s Dhruv ALH.
Five US-made AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and three CH-47F (I) Chinook heavy-lift helicopters — the IAF’s latest acquisitions — will be the highlight of the 90-minute parade.
The navy’s tableau this year will display its firepower in all three dimensions --- surface, sub-surface and air. The tableau will have mock-ups of a Kolkata-class stealth destroyer armed with BrahMos missiles, the Kalvari submarine with its Exocet missiles and the P-8I submarine hunter aircraft with its Harpoons.
It will also showcase the indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant that is being constructed at Cochin Shipyard Limited and is expected to be inducted into the navy by 2022.
In 2016, the National Democratic Alliance government decided to cut down the duration of the parade by 25 minutes --- from 115 minutes to 90 minutes --- to make it crisper. In 2005, then United Progressive Alliance regime shortened the parade by 45 minutes.