The nation celebrated its 70th Republic Day today with a grand military parade and exhibition of its history, cultural diversity and strategic weaponry at Rajpath in New Delhi. The theme for this year’s Republic Day parade was dedicated to the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi as India is celebrating the 150th year of his birth. Thousands of spectators, including foreign dignitaries and the country’s top political and military brass, attended the celebrations.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s presence as Chief Guest was significant in view of the parade highlighting Mahatma Gandhi’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle.Gandhiji had joined the struggle after a 21-year stay in South Africa. The ceremony began with Prime Minister Narendra Modileading the nation in paying homage to the fallen soldiers by laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate.
President RamNath Kovind unfurled the tri-colour to a 21 gun salute. The President conferred the Ashoka Chakra India’s highest peacetime gallantry award to Lance Naik Nazir Ahmad Wani, a militant-turned-soldier who laid down his life fighting a group of terrorists inShopian in Kashmir in November. Wani’s wife Mahajabeen and mother Raja Bano received the award.
Main Battle Tank of the Indian Army, T-90 Bhishma, Infantry Combat Vehicle Ballway Machine Pikate, K-9 Vajra-T, Ultra Light Howitzer and Akash weapon system were the highlights of the parade. Reports of Republic Day celebrations have also been received from different states and Indian missions abroad. President Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Modi have greeted the people on the occasion.