New Delhi: This year republic day will go down for many firsts, from the participation of Indian National Army (INA) veterans to 1st-time women leading all men contingent to biofuel being used by aircraft. The 90 minutes parade that will start at 10 am on 26th January will have South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as the chief guest. For the first time, 4 INA veterans will be participating aged between 98 to 100 years.

Speaking to WION Major General Rajpal Punia, Chief of Staff, HQ Delhi Area and Deputy Parade Commander said, “Four INA soldiers, who are participating, are– Lalti Ram, 98-year-old living in Panchkula, Hira Singh, 97, living in Narnaul, Bhagmal, 100 years living in Manesar and Parmanand Yadav, 95 from Chandigarh. It is a great honour for the country that we have veterans of INA participating.”

Other than this, for the first time, biofuel extracted from Jatropha plant will be used as a fuel in AN32 aircraft which will be taking part in Republic day.

Major General Rajpal Punia, Deputy Parade Commander explained, “We are trying to extract oil for a number of years from it. We are thinking that it will replace oil in the coming years. Jatropha oil is being used by AN 32 to fly. You can imagine, if an aircraft can fly, then for the country it is self-sufficiency.”

Sankhnaad: A martial tune  

Sankhnaad, a martial tune created for the Indian Armed forces will be played for the first time. This is the first original martial tune of independent India based on Indian classical music and the composition of the tune is the combination of 3 paramparic ragas–Paag bilaskhani todi, Raag Bhairavi, Raag Kirvani. The tune is composed by Dr Tanuja Nafde, a professor, based on a poem written by Brig Vivek Sohal. It was accepted as official martial tune in December 2017.  It was played by 14 military bands together for the first time during the Army day parade held on 15th January 2019.

Women power At Rajpath

On this Republic Day, first-time women participation will be highest. Lt Bhavana Kasturi, Contingent commander, army service corps would be first women to lead all men army contingent in the history of the Republic day.

Speaking to WION Lt Bhavana Kasturi said, “Its a matter of great pride and honour for me and its a glory for us. This will remain in hthe istory of army service corp that our contingent has been part of Rajpath at Republic day 2019. Not just me, 2 of our JCOs and 144 jawans in the contingent are very privileged and it will be in history for us. We will be in the books of history forever.”

Major Khushboo Kanwar of Assam rifles will be the first women to lead all women army contingent. Captain Shikha Surabhi a daredevil lady officer would perform stunts during the display. Captain Bhavna Syal, Lt Ambika Sudhakaran will be other lady officers playing an important role at the parade at Rajpath.

22 Tableaux of various states and departments with the theme –150 years of Mahatma Gandhi will add colour to the parade and be the main attraction for many.

India will be displaying its military might with the display of latest weapons like M-77 A2 Ultra light Howitzer (ULH) procured from the United States, K9 Vajra T which is a self propelled artillery gun made under “make in India” programme and 2 projects of Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO)– Medium range surface to air missile, Arjun armoured Rec and Repair Vehicle. 16 marching contingents from Armed forces, Para Mil forces, Delhi police, NCC, NSS along with 16 bands will be participating.

The Indian army will be represented by mounted columns of 61 cavalry, 8 mechanised columns, 6 marching contingents and a flypast by Rudra and Dhruv Advanced light Helicopters of army aviation.

(Written by Sidhant Sibal)