REPUBLIC DAY 2016 VIEWED BY A COMMENTATOR
By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
The 67th Republic Day Parade had many new features that attracted all spectators from all walks of life. The Indians and foreigners came to the enclosures with enthusiasm to see the Parade of the Republic of India that has sailed so smoothly into the sixty seventh year of its existence. I can safely say that ALL IS WELL WITH THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA.
The enthusiasm of the men, women and children who thronged both sides of the Rajpath was to be seen to be believed. The dark forebodings and threats of Islamist terrorists from all over, especially from across the north-western borders did not dampen the high spirits of the Indian citizens of all age groups. The Vedic philosophy of Reincarnation of soul and the cycle of birth, death and rebirth until the soul attains MOKSHA or liberation from the birth, death and rebirth cycle has a lot to do with Fearlessness of individuals who formed the multitude.
WHAT WAS NEW
Well, it was for the first time since formation of the Republic of India on 26th January 1950 that a foreign military contingent marched in step to show solidarity with the Indian hosts. It was the French military contingent from the 35th Infantry Regiment and their military band that was the focal point of all connoisseurs of martial music and military marching. Our history recalls that it was over two centuries ago that the footfalls of the military boots of the Republic of France were heard on the soil of Bharat to be heard again in 2016; of course, in more friendly atmosphere. It may be recalled that a contingent of the Indian Army was invited to take part in the Bastille Day celebration in 2009 and their presence in Paris was received well by the French men and women.
With the growing friendship between Bharat and France and nearness between President Francois Hollande of France and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, the warmth was indeed felt on the Republic Day Parade too. It augurs well for both the countries and sounds an alarm bell for Islamist terrorists who are making devilish plans to destroy the spirit of Freedom under which both the Republics bask. The concept of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity generated by France and accepted by democracies all over the world is an anathema to the concept of Terror practiced by countries like Iraq, Syria and nurtured by Rakshasas, Devils and she devils all over.
France and Bharat have taken a vow to decimate Islamist terror and uproot it forever. The presence of President Francois Hollande of France and Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi on the rostrum where our Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee took the salute is a signal to the world to take note of changing times. When President of India presented the ASHOK CHAKRA to the wife of our military Martyr, young Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami of the Parachute Regiment Special Forces who had killed as many as TEN Islamist terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, the vast crowd applauded with long clapping. President of France, our Rashtrapati, our Pradhan Mantri remained standing during reading of citation and presentation of the Ashok Chakra to the wife of the martyr to honour his brave deed of patriotism. However our Vice-Presidnt kept sitting, one knows not why he chose to ignore an act of national honour to the martyr.
It was the Dog Squad of the Remount and Veterinary Corps and their handlers commanded by Captain Anurag Chandran Hati Boruah who stole the show at that time. They made their entry on the Raj Path after a long gap of 26 years but made a mark. Known as the Silent Warriors, the dogs are trained at the War Dog Training School, Meerut in specialized jobs like explosive detection, mine detection, tracking, guarding and assaulting anti-national elements and terrorists.
It is interesting to note that the proud Army Dogs and trainers have won medals like Shaurrya Chakra, Sena Medals and Commendation Cards. Special emphasis is laid on improving their behavior in both war and peace. The motto of the RVC is “Pashu Sewa Asmakam Dharmah”.
Among the marching contingents was the Parachute Regiment at the double in their fatigues and maroon beret recognized from far away. They were singing a morale boosting song that went well with them and the spectators. Motto of the Parachute Regiment is: SHATRU JEET AND THEY WIN WHENEVER THEY GO INTO BATTLE.
Among the helicopters of the Army Aviation Corps, a special mention should be made of RUDRA that made a debut on Parade this year. Indigenously developed RUDRA, a weaponised helicopter is equipped with a gun, rockets, air to air missiles and air to ground missiles. Rudra flew along with Dhruv helicopters, old flying war horse in a Diamond formation.
It was led by Colonel Dhananjay M. Bhosle, Sena Medal, Commanding Officer of 205 Army Aviation Squadron. This formation helps our infantry, artillery and armour in fighting ground battle and supports the formations and units on ground with its air fire capability.
The BSF camel contingents always steal the thunder on the Rajpath. The Border Security Force are our sentinels of the Desrt borders and camels known as the ships of the desert are their mainstay of movements in the waterless difficult terrain in Rajasthan bordering Sind province of Pakistan. A lot of smuggling of narcotics, weapons, men and women including terrorists takes place through tunnels under the fenced borders. Of late the BSF came under the cloud for its failure to stop smugglers and Islamist terrorists across the Punjab borders that led to our losses in the Pathankot Airbase.
The camel contingents are not new but they are evergreen darlings of vast crowd of spectators year after year. There was a question mark on their participation in this year’s Republic Day Parade but the vox populi or voice of the people prevailed.
The women contingent of the Central Reserve Police Force was applauded. Perhaps it was for the first time that an exclusively women’s contingent was fielded on Parade and they were second to none. MAHILA SHAKTI was in evidence.
KODAGU, the coffee land of Karnataka was appreciated by all coffee drinkers. Women take an active part in the growing to brewing of coffee and the tableau depicted it clearly. It may be recalled that the land of brave men and women, Kodagu or Coorg has the proud privilege of giving two Army Chiefs to the Indian nation, namely General (later Field Marshal) K.M. Cariappa and General KS Thimayya. General KM Cariappa was the first India Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army.
The tableaux were rather large in number. But their scenic beauty or historical theme led the spectators stick to their seats. The White Tigers of Madhya Pradesh were a sight to see. Of course, they were not in real flesh and blood but in model or toy form that looked almost real. Credit goes to Maharaja Martand Singh of Rewa for having sighted White Tigers in his territory and reared them in captivity. Thus Rewa gave the world a new species of White Tigers.
The Navy had displayed the new aircraft carrier built in India and named VIKRANT like the first one that we had acquired from the United Kingdom and has since been decommissioned. Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi’s plan of “ Make in India” has enthused the Defence Services and many projects are in hand. The new aircraft carrier is a proud product of our Bharat.
The charm of the Air Force flypast was rather dulled by the foggy weather where the visibility was tremendously reduced. Nevertheless, credit must be given to the Bhartiya Vayu Sena for having carried on with their plan of Flypast and the spectators loved it. The Chief Guest is expected to sell to the hosts RAFALE fighter jets – 36 of then, at a favourable price. Apparently the Rafale fighter jets of France would add colour to the flypast whenever they make a debut in the Indian skies.
I, as a commentator of the electronic media, who has commented on as many as 43 Republic Day Parades must say that the one this year was as enchanting as ever. Our Government of India showcased the military might of the nation, the cultural heritage and the national fervor of the youth to let the large number of spectators on ground and on TV screens feel emboldened to face any eventuality and come off with flying colours to make MERS BHARAT MAHAN.