The Republic Day celebrations this year will mark a series of firsts, from changes in some old traditions to the introduction of new ones.
New Weapons on Display
The DRDO has announced that an Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile will be part of the Republic Day display this year, for the first time.
Mission Shakti, held on 27 March, 2019, marked India’s successful test of its first ever ASAT. This made India part of a select group, as only Russia, China and the US have previously tested ASAT missiles successfully.
Another feather in the cap of the Indian Army, the Dhanush gun artillery system, will also be showcased for the first time ever at this year’s parade. A Short Span Bridge system will also be appearing this year, said Chief of Staff (Delhi Area) Major General Alok Kacker, as reported by India Today.
Change of Location
Bringing in a change in tradition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay homage to India’s fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial.
Till now, the ceremony was conducted at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate. Inaugrated in February 2019, the National War Memorial has been announced as the site for the guard of honour at all events of national importance, and has a new Amar Jawan Jyoti in the complex.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, will be present at the laying of the ceremonial wreath at the memorial. On 1 January 2020, he had been appointed India’s first ever CDS, to coordinate the functions of the Indian Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
Display of Female Power
Captain Tania Shergill will be a parade adjutant for the Republic Day parade, continuing her streak, as she had previously been the first ever woman officer to lead an all male marching contingent during the Army Day parade.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) display at the parade will also feature a motorcycle stunt performance by an all-women team.
‘Vande Mataram’ Included
Following controversial rumours that ‘Abide With Me,’ the popular hymn reported to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite, would be replaced by ‘Vande Mataram’, the defence ministry clarified that both songs would be played at the celebrations this year. The hymn, written by poet Henry Francis Lyte of Scotland, has been part of the celebrations every year since 1950.
The Beating Retreat ceremony that marks the end of the Republic Day celebrations takes place on 29 January, and a variety of music and marching tunes are played.