Diplomacy meets defence on R-Day, marching contingents to carry Asean flags

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) In a display of diplomacy in tandem with national power, the Republic Day parade here on January 26 -- where heads of all 10 Asean nations will be chief guests -- will see Indian soldiers marching past with flags of all Asean countries, as well as the Asean flag.

On display at the parade -- traditionally a show of military strength of the Republic of India -- will be some of the best weapon systems, including supersonic cruise missile BrahMos and the Akash missile system.

Also for the first time, armed Rudra Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) of the Army Aviation will participate in the flypast.

The Asean flag will be aflutter during the flypast, along with the Indian tricolour, along with the flags of the three Indian armed forces, carried by Mi-17 V5 helicopters in an "ensign" formation.

Major General Rajpal Punia, briefing the media here on the parade, said there will be 16 marching contingents, 23 tableaux from 14 states and four ministries at the parade.

For the first time, a tableau of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police would be participating, along with one from the All India Radio. A tableau on the completion of 25 years of the Asean bloc will also be part of the parade.

Lt Gen Asit Mistry, General Officer Commanding of Delhi Area, will be the Parade Commander. Maj Gen Rajpal Punia, Chief of Staff, Delhi Area, will be the second-in-command.

Also, bringing alive the colours of Asean nations will be school children who will present a cultural performance related to the 10 countries.

"The presence of 10 heads of Asean nations will add a lot of colour to the mega event," Maj Gen Punia said.

"The stage set up this time is double the usual size to accommodate all dignitaries," he said.

The 90-minute parade will also showcase three T-90 tanks, three Ballway Machine Pikate, two BrahMos missiles, weapon-locating radar Swathi, a bridge-layer tank T-72, a mobile base transceiver station and two Akash missiles.

An all-women contingent of the Border Security Force will give a motorcycle display, an activity so far performed by their male colleagues, on Rajpath.

In another first, the flypast will showcase the armed Rudra Advanced Light Helicopters and Mi-17 choppers, as well as the indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System 'Netra'.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation will display the first indigenously designed and developed long-range sub-sonic cruise missile 'Nirbhay', which was successfully test fired in November last year, after three of its four earlier tests failed.

The marching contingents from paramilitary forces will include contingents and bands from the BSF, including their camel contingent, Coast Guard, Sashastra Seema Bal, ITBP and Delhi Police.

Leaders of all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) bloc -- Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam -- have confirmed participation in the Republic Day celebrations that will also commemorate 25 years of New Delhi's close ties with the bloc.

--IANS

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