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Nari Shakti and military prowess take centre stage at Republic Day parade

In this combo photo are seen women officers (L-R top row) of Armed Force Medical Services, Indian Coast Guard, Bombay Engineer Group, & (bottom row) CISF, Delhi Police and Tri-service (PTI Photo)

India celebrated its 75th Republic Day on Friday, displaying its military might and growing ‘Nari Shakti’ (women power) with an all-women tri-service contingent participating in a grand parade at Kartavya Path here for the first time.

The  90-minute women-centric parade where French President Emmanuel Macron was the chief guest had twin themes of ‘Viksit Bharat’ (developed India) and ‘Bharat – Loktantra Ki Matruka’ (India – the mother of democracy) this year. The tableaux of the Indian Air Force (IAF), paramilitary forces, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and other organisations showcased women’s participation in their respective operations.

Tableaux of 16 states and Union Territories took part in the parade. A French military contingent comprising 95 troops and a 30-member French band contingent also participated in the parade which concluded with a flypast by 46 aircraft of the IAF. The IAF fleet included 29 fighter jets, seven transport aircraft, nine helicopters and one heritage plane, which operated from the six different bases and 15 women pilots, including six from the fighter streams, operated the IAF platforms during the flypast. Two Rafale fighter jets flanked by a ‘Phoenix’ multi-role tanker transport aircraft of the French Air Force were also part of the flypast.

As the French marching contingent marched down the Kartavya Path, the two Rafale jets and the Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft flew in a triangle formation. “A great honour for France. Thank you, India,” President Macron posted on X with a video of the French band and the military contingents marching down in front of around 70,000 spectators.

Exhibiting the parade’s theme of “cultural expression of women power – accomplishment through resolve”, a group of 1,500 dancers under the banner of ‘Vande Bharatam-Nari Shakti’ graced the event. The performance reflected 30 distinctive folk dance styles, including Kuchipudi, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Satriya, Mohiniyattam, Odissi, Manipuri, contemporary classical dance, and those inspired by Hindi and other Indian language films. According to officials, 120 dancers adorned masks representing various tribal and folk performing arts, while as many dancers performed with traditional umbrellas and artistic objects from Gujarat, Manipur, Kerala and Maharashtra.

The theme of ‘Nari Shakti’ is in continuation of the government’s stress on women’s empowerment. Parliament passed the legislation to ensure a one-third quota for women in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies in September 2023. In the Assembly elections in December, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) credited its victories in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the support of its schemes like ‘Modi’s guarantees’ from women, including the promise of subsidised cooking gas cylinders and monthly allowance to eligible women.

First Published: Jan 26 2024 | 8:59 PM IST

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