New Delhi: The Republic Day parade this year will be shorter by at least 15 minutes. The government plans to hold a 90-minute parade instead of the nearly two hours, cutting down the number of marching military contingents and clubbing together the mechanised ones. The number of tableaux will also be fewer.
According to senior officials, the decision to cut down was taken at the “highest level”. Last year, when US President Barack Obama was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade the march past was thought to be long.”Beating the Retreat” that signals the end of the celebrations and returning of the contingents will also undergo change, with Indian music being fused with martial tunes. Also, unlike previous January 26 celebrations, all tableaux and music bands will be showcased for three days till January 29 at the Red Fort to allow more people to participate.
Top defence ministry sources told that the number of the Army’s marching contingents has been reduced from 8 to six. The Navy will also be one contingent short – deploying 2 instead of the usual three. The Air Force will be putting up a single marching contingent. The six Central para- military forces will be putting up only 3 marching contingents instead of one contingent each.
The fly-past by the IAF, however, has been retained.The veterans of the forces will not march, they will ride in tableaux. Another possible change is that instead of individual mechanised contingents, composite contingents will be put up. “Earlier, tanks, air defence, guns and artillery used to be showcased in individual columns. This year, several elements could be put in a single contingent, an officer said.
The Navy will showcase “Make in India” and put up models of the indigenously made aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and indigenously made submarine INS Kalvari.The Air Force will showcase its “Humanitarian and Disaster Relief” activity and put up models of the new acquired heavy transport aircraft C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globe Masters and the Mi-17 Helicopter, which are extensively used in relief and rescues activity.The Army will showcase the theme “Marching ahead with Incredible India”.
Also, the dais for this year’s chief guest, French President Francois Hollande, President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be covered. This decision was taken after last year’s embarrassment, when President Obama and the US First Lady, along with President Mukherjee, had to brave rain during the parade.