5 firsts at the 67th Republic Day parade in Delhi

The 67th Republic Day parade on New Delhi’s Rajpath on Tuesday was a spectacular display of India’s military might and rich cultural diversity.

The event, with French president Francois Hollande as guest of honour, also witnessed a few firsts. Here they are:

1. French army contingent became the first-ever foreign military group to march in the parade

For the first time in the history of the Republic Day, foreign troops joined the celebrations as soldiers from France’s 35th Infantry Regiment, one of the country’s oldest active regiments, marched alongside their Indian counterparts. France’s participation was a reciprocal gesture after Indian troops marched down Paris’s Champs-Elysees on Bastille Day in 2009.

2. Army dog squad returns after 26 years

After 26 years, the Indian army’s unsung heroes returned to the parade. A dog squad drawn from the Army’s Remount Veterinary Corps — clad in maroon and gold striped coats — marched along with dog handlers. The squad, comprising Labradors and German Shepherds, works in the restive northern region of Kashmir detecting explosives and landmines and tracking avalanches. Only 36 of 1,200 army dogs were chosen and underwent weeks of training in preparation for the march.

3. Ex-servicemen tableau instead of a parade
This was a break from tradition. Instead of a marching contingent of former servicemen, there was a tableau dedicated to the army veterans in the first part of the parade.

4. Motorised sliding glass roof for VVIPs
It rained on the Republic Day parade last year, forcing the then guest, US President Barack Obama, to take shelter under a large umbrella, in what was said to be an embarrassment for the organisers. This year, the VVIP enclosure had a motorised sliding glass roof in case there was rain. The roof was rolled back for the Air Force fly past for a clearer view of the spectacle.

5. Bravery award-winning children marched at the end of the parade

In another break with tradition, the young recipients of the National Awards for Bravery marched only towards the end of the parade. In earlier Republic Day parades, the children rode on elephants, in what used to be one of the highlights of the parade.

2 3 4French soldiers march at Rajpath during the full dress rehearsal of the Republic Day parade, in New Delhi, India , Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. A contingent of French soldiers will march down the Rajpath on Republic Day along with Indian troops in the presence of President Francois Hollande who is the chief guest for this year's celebrations. India marks Republic Day on Jan. 26 with military parades across the country. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

6 7 26republic-day1 418780-republic-day-colleagea republic-Prime Minister Narendra Modi receives French President Francois Hollande and president Pranab Mukherjee at the Republic day function at Rajpath in New Delhi on Jan 26th 2016. Express photo by Ravi Kanojia.

School students performing during the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in New Delhi on Jan 26th 2016. Express photo by Ravi Kanojia.