India to showcase military might, cultural diversity at Republic Day parade


New Delhi: India is celebrating its 66th Republic Day on Monday. The biggest of the celebrations will be held at the Rajpath where the country’s military might and cultural diversity will be on full display as part of the Republic Day parade.

Watching the parade from the sidelines will be the chief guest, US President Barack Obama, his wife Michelle, President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of other dignitaries, apart from the general public

Obama is the first US president to be chief guest at the annual Republic Day parade.

He was invited to be the chief guest at the parade by Prime Minister Modi – the invitation is considered as one of the biggest honours India can bestow on a foreign leader.

The invitation came soon after Modi visited the US late last year and highlighted the growing closeness between the two world leaders. A warm hug between the two upon Obama’s arrival at the Delhi airport on Sunday underscored the growing friendship.

At the Rajpath on Monday morning, President Obama will witness everything from tanks and state-of-the-art weaponry to camels and traditional dancers.

The main attraction of the annual extravaganza would be marching contingents of all-women officers of the three Services, with “Women’s Empowerment” being the theme of this year’s parade.

The Republic Day parade celebrates the adoption in 1950 of the Indian Constitution — the day that India became a republic — three years after gaining independence from Britain.

An unprecedented security cover has been put in place for Obama who will watch the parade from behind a bulletproof glass enclosure along with President Mukherjee and PM Modi.

The area has been declared a no-fly zone and snipers will be positioned on rooftops along the route, where 15,000 new CCTV cameras have been installed.

“I`m honoured to be the first American president to attend this celebration, as well as the first president to visit India twice,” Obama said on Sunday.

Later on Monday, Obama and Modi will make a joint address CEOs in an event organised by the US-India Business Council.

Obama had been scheduled to visit the Taj Mahal on Tuesday with First Lady Michelle, but his trip has been cut short to allow him to travel on to Saudi Arabia and pay respects to new King Salman.

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