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.
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.