Change is certainly in the air as the Indian government breaks away from decades-old traditions to introduce a more modern, fresh twist to this year’s parade. Here are some of the unique things you’ll see on Rajpath on January 26.
French Marching Contingent
This is the first time ever that foreign troops will be part of the Republic Day parade. A contingent of 123 French soldiers will march along with Indian troops, in the presence of France’s President Francois Hollande, who is the chief guest this year.
This seems to be a reciprocal of when France had requested Indian troops to march down the Champs Elysees in Paris, along with the French Army, on Bastille Day in 2009. The day is also known as French National Day and is celebrated each year on July 14.
Women Daredevils of the CRPF
In another groundbreaking first, an all-women contingent of the CRPF will showcase their motorcycle riding skills. The Women Daredevils CRPF comprises 120 women from the three women battalions of the CRPF and the Rapid Action Force. They are replacing the regular CRPF male contingent this year.
Army Dog Squad
After a hiatus of 26 years, dogs are making a comeback at this year’s parade. The canine team has 36 Labradors and German Shepherds who are trained in detecting explosives and landmines, avalanche rescue and tracking. The dogs, aged 2-5 years, will wear capes with maroon and gold stripes—the colours of the Army Veterinary Corps.
The inclusion of the dog squad this year is said to be a tribute to sniffer dog Mansi, who was killed in an encounter with militants in Jammu and Kashmir along with her handler rifleman Bashir Ahmed War. The last time dogs had marched down Rajpath was in 1990, and before that in 1963.
A couple from the Bonda Tribe
Dhabalu Sisa, 41, and Samari Sisa, 46, a couple from the Bonda community will be attending the Republic Day function as PM Narendra Modi’s guests. This is the first time that anyone from their community has stepped out of their home state, Odisha.
The Bondas are categorised as particularly vulnerable tribal community with only 7,000 of them alive. They are of Austro-Asiatic origin and rarely descend from their hill home in the inaccessible region of Malkangiri. Women enjoy a privileged position in the Bonda society, and women in thr tribe marry men who are at least five to ten years younger than them.
Shorter and crisper parade
The Republic Day celebration this year is going to be only 90-minutes long, 25 minutes shorter than the traditional duration of 115 minutes. Last year’s parade, when US President Barack Obama was the chief guest, was considered too long.
Marching bands and tableaux display at the Red Fort
The government is organising a ‘Bharat Parv’ at the iconic Red Fort from January 26-29 to showcase India’s rich heritage. As part of the celebration, military bands will perform live at the fort for spectators for the first time. Also, the various tableaux will be exhibited on all three days so that people can see them more closely.
Feature image source: President of India