New Delhi: The national capital turned into a fortress as India celebrates its 70th Republic Day on Saturday. The Republic Day 2019 Parade ceremony will commence with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, an eternal flame to commemorate the indomitable courage of our Armed Forces personnel, under India Gate at 9 AM. The chief guest for this year’s Republic Day parade is President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa. He was accorded ‘guard of honour’ at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday morning. (Republic Day 2019: List of Stations Where Delhi Metro Services Will Remain Affected)

The parade will begin at 9.50 AM from Vijay Chowk and proceed towards Rajpath, ‘C’ Hexagon, Tilak Marg, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Netaji Subhash Marg, to culminate at Red Fort. Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around Delhi and national capital region to ensure smooth conduct of the ceremony. In the wake of the celebrations, traffic and Delhi Metro services will also remain restricted for a specific duration.

What to Expect?

The Republic Day celebrations will begin with unfurling of the National Flag and playing of national anthem with a 21-gun salute. The nearly 90-minute parade will start from Vijay Chowk under the command of Lieutenant General Asit Mistry, General Officer Commanding, Headquarters Delhi Area. Major General Rajpal Punia, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Delhi Area will be the parade Second-in-Command. They will be followed by the proud winners of highest gallantry awards – Param Vir Chakra and the Ashoka Chakra. President Ram Nath Kovind will take the salute.

Four helicopters would precede the parade commander. The lead helicopter will carry the national flag and the other three choppers would carry services flags, while the echelon aircraft would shower flower petals.

Many Firsts

This year all women marching contingent of the Assam Rifles will be taking part for the first time. Major Khusboo Kanwar will be leading the contingent. The veterans of Indian National Army (INA), Parmanand, Lalti Ram, Hira Singh and Bhagmal, who fought valiantly against the imperial forces will also take part in Republic Day parade.

Sankhnaad, a martial tune created for the Indian Armed forces will also be played for the first time. It is the first original martial tune of independent India based on Indian classical music. The composition is a combination of 3 paramparic ragas–Paag bilaskhani todi, Raag Bhairavi, Raag Kirvani. Composed by Dr Tanuja Nafde, the tune is based on a poem written by Brig Vivek Sohal.

Lieutenant Bhavana Kasturi, Contingent commander, army service corps would be first women to lead all men army contingent in the history of the Republic day. Captain Shikha Surabhi, a daredevil lady officer, would perform stunts during the display.

Besides, 22 Tableaux of various states and departments with the theme –150 years of Mahatma Gandhi will also add colours to the Republic Day celebrations. India will display its military might by showcasing latest weapons like M-77 A2 Ultra light Howitzer (ULH), 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 Military forces, Delhi police, NCC, NSS along with 16 bands will also be participating.

Security Tightened

In the wake of the Republic Day 2019 celebrations, women commandos, mobile hit teams, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters have been deployed at strategic locations to keep a close watch on the eight-km-long parade route. Parakram vans, manned by NSG-trained commandos, have been patrolling strategic locations to ensure that security is not jeopardised. Thirty six women commandos of Delhi Police’s Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit, who were formally inducted in August last year, are also a part of the security deployment.

About Republic Day

India was an independent nation but it didn’t have a Constitution and hence couldn’t elect its leaders to run the country. So, the Constitution of India came into effect on January 26, 1950. The Constitution replaced the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India. Since then, we celebrate Republic Day every year on January 26.

The Drafting Committee, with Dr BR Ambedkar as a chairman, was formed to draft a permanent Constitution. On November 4, 1947, the committee submitted its first draft. The Constitution was passed by the Constituent Assembly of India on November 26, 1949, but was finally adopted on January 26, 1950.