FRENCH DEBUT ON INDIAN REPUBLIC DAY PARADE
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Bharat and France will experience a new feeling of fraternity and solidarity on our Republic Day Parade-2016. His Excellency Mr Francois Hollande, President of the Republic of France will be the Chief Guest of the great Indian annual show of military might, cultural resurgence and energized youth power. Thanks to the untiring efforts of Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi, a new bon-homie is developing between the two nations. Both have suffered the pain inflicted by Islamist terror and it is one of the many binding factors. The Indian Rashtrapati Shri Pranab Mukherjee will be the chief host and take the salute at the parade.
FIRST TIME EVER
For the first time ever, a contingent of the French Army will march past the high rostrum doing “Eyes Right” a salute to the Rashtrapati standing at the saluting dais. The French Army soldiers are already in India for rehearsals after their participation in a joint India-France anti-terror exercise named SHAKTI. A French military band comprising 80 army bandsmen will be playing martial music tunes to enable their marching compatriots keep in step. It will indeed be a show worth seeing.
One may recall that an Indian armed contingent had marched along with the French military contingents in France celebrating the Bastille Day on 14 July 2009. The French infantry men are indeed returning the call.
CHANGES FOR VARIETY
The 67th Republic Day Parade will be watched with great interest by friend and foe alike. Many a connoisseur of strategic affairs watch the Indian Republic Day Parade with intent to compare last year’s show with this year’s to fathom the depth of progress in acquisition of new weapon systems, assess the morale of marching men and women and, of course, keep a count of indigenous arms and the imported ones. The world knows that Bharat is one of the biggest buyers of armaments from abroad. Our notable suppliers are Russia, America, Israel and so on. Japan may be joining the ranks of our military well wishers sooner than later. The tally is on record in various journals and annual numbers of military importance. One has to just flip over pages to find what one is looking for. A military commentator is indeed at liberty to surmise on bare statistics and advise one’s military clients accordingly. Jane’s Reviews are always at hand to help as and when required.
Just taking a furtive look at what spectators are going to miss on the Rajpath this year. Quite a few contingents of the para-military forces like the CRPF, the ITBP, SSB, not forgetting the ever green prize winner in marching contingents – the Delhi Police will not be a part of the Parade. Perhaps this is being done to cut down on the long stretch of time that the Parade takes and some spectators yawn with boredom at the repetitive spectacle of same type of marching contingents in almost similar uniform. Apparently one does not have much room to introduce newness or variety therein.
The Raksha Mantralaya under Shri Manohar Parrikar organizes the biggest event like the Republic Day Parade. They make an endeavour to bring in focus the tableaux of various ministries and departments that lay an emphasis on the “Make in India” national push for progress. Of course, the youth of our nation is given due importance by introducing their newness and showing their eagerness to aspire for the sky and say that even sky is not the limit of their pragmatic ambition. The rehearsals of myriad events are in progress and let us wait and see what the time unfolds on the D Day that is just around the corner.