Thursday, January 28, 2016

26 th January 2016

"67 year old republic. Oh really!" said my american cousin giving a bemused expression.
"Yes India is growing older but its young citizens are keeping her on toes."
By the time I had defended India's youthful ageing like an angry warrior we had reached Rajpath. The sun was glistening on the green grass sprinkled with the morning mist. 
"It isn't as cold as we had thought it would be." she said.
I had hoped against hope that the weather would treat us kindly and especially since this airy american cousin had landed down in the city, nail biting chill would have played spoilsport and given her all the reasons to complain.

We had reserved our seats and were sure of being comfortably seated, but even then to avoid a last minute confusion, I dragged her to the venue in the wee hours of the morning.

"Oh I thought we have cushioned seating arrangement." she complained.
"This is an open air event. Do you get to sit on padded seats during soccer matches in the US of A?" I asked visibly irritated by her snobbishness. 
"Ah ok! We'll manage." she said sensing the angry discomfort in my voice.
These american born confused desis. Ofttimes I wonder, whether they were all born with a silver spoon?"

The city had turned into a fortress with 50,000 police personnel and a whooping 150,000 paramilitary staff guarding the city. I had read in the newspaper that one police personnel was deployed after every twenty metres. With the recent Pathankot attacks, the government and security agencies were leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the city was nestled in safety.

The celebrations began with the chanting of the national anthem. This was followed by a posthumous Ashoka chakra award to Lance Naik Mohan Goswami who was martyred while fighting eleven terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir. I could see my cousin intently listening to the voice of the announcer reminiscing Mohan Goswami's  acts of daredevilry. Our brave soldiers are the only reason that we sleep comfortably in our homes and we must always be thankful to them for guarding our borders from the enemies of the state.
The first highlight of the day was the French army's 35th infantry regiment marching smartly in their uniforms. They were not stiffly marching much like our armed forces but yes most of the people present there were awestruck by their charm. There was also a french band named "Music of Infantry" that played tunes joyously as the crowd cheered them.

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My personal favourite was the women marching contingent and woman officers perched atop tankers giving the salute of honour to the dignitaries. It makes the women folk of this country swell with pride when we see women venturing into professional spheres that were always dominated by men.

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Another first in this year's parade were the dogs from the Army veterinary Corps. They were smartly dressed and ambled with the smartness of a soldier.

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 There were ballistic missiles and tanks on display that showcased the military might of our country. It was wonderful to see these devils of war with the naked eyes.

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The show of military prowess was definitely outstanding but what stood apart were the cultural tableaux which began with the state of Goa. Some of the other tableaux  that took part were from Gujarat, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Orissa etc. I liked the tableau from Rajasthan that was showing the Hawa mahal, the Bihar tableau that depicted the Chamaparan movement and the one from Chattisgarh that showed the Khairagarh music and arts university, one of the the oldest music university of the world dedicated to various forms of music, fine arts, dance and theatre.

The tableau from Uttar Pradesh also stood out for its showcasing of zardozi work ,with a large sari pink spread across the tableau.
I also admired the message that the tableau of Dr. BR Amedkar was giving with a giant icon of the great man himself and a large book on annihilation of caste alighted on the tableau. In these times when dalits are being suppressed may this be a strong message to the promoters of caste division in our country. 

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The other tableaux that caught my attention were the ones displaying solar energy, the need for clean drinking water, Swacch Bharat mission and the digital India campaign. The election commission of India and the Panchayati raj tableaux also grabbed quite a few eyeballs. 

This was followed by the arrival of the recipients of this year's bravery awards for the display of exemplary courage. They prove to us that courage has no age. 
The finale was a breath taker with an exhibition of acrobatics by the fearless army soldiers, with the human pyramid being a stand alone act.
The day ended with the unfolding of the flypast by the air force personnel. My heart stood still when I saw the silver wings tearing into the cotton clouds. The vertical charlie act was no mean feat.

As we stood up for the national anthem, I could see a bedazzled expression on my cousin's face which was followed by a token of thanks for bringing her to the Republic day parade on a cold January winter morning. She was pleasantly surprised by the ostentatious show of how India is creating an impact on the world.

Despite the advances in science and technology and the strengthening of military prowess I wonder why are we still considered as the land of snake charmers and beggars by the west? 

Every Republic day parade is a gentle reminder of how powerful we are but how we peacefully live in our country despite our differences and choose to respect our neighbours.What helps us stand out is our tolerance which is definitely not an inability and will create an exceptional impact in this world ridden with wars, hatred and malice. 

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This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can  apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

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