India’s 66th Republic Day: Nine Things That Happened For The First Time

Barack Obama visits India on its 66th Republic Day

Barack Obama visits India on its 66th Republic DayThe ceremonial exchange of sweets with bordering nations and display of military prowess are considered the highlights of Republic Day celebrations in India. The 66th Republic Day of India was different. When the news dailies discuss PM Modi’s bear hug to Obama after breaking protocol and receiving him at the gate of his aircraft, let us delve deep into the way the event played out.

The 2015 Republic Day celebrations was marked by many firsts. Like other Republic Day celebrations, there was an impressive mishmash of military precision and display of cultural diversity. But, there was also a certain element of newness in the offering.

  1. Barack Obama as the Chief Guest: The fact that Barack Obama became the first American President to grace the occasion needs reiteration since it signals a more cordial ties in the coming days.

  2. An all-women unit marched on Rajpath for the first time: What is noteworthy is the march by an all-women contingent drawn from the armed forces – army, navy and air force. It was for the first time in the history of India’s Republic Day celebrations that the attendees beheld such a spectacle. This was in line with the theme of the 66th Republic Day celebrations – Women Power or Nari Shakti.

  3. Maiden appearance of MiG 29K Fighter jet and anti-submarine aircraft: A rather murky and cold start to the Republic Day did get its share of highs as the long-range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft P-8I and the advanced MiG-29K fighter jet made their debut appearance. It was a photographer’s delight to capture that proud moment when the stunt riders at the parade got a thumbs up from the US President for the famed human pyramid that they form.

  4. Tableaux on government campaigns: It was perhaps for the first time that tableaux on government campaigns were presented during the Republic Day celebrations. The ‘Make in India’ campaign to promote manufacturing in India was depicted in a tableau. The ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign against female foeticide and other pet projects such as Jan Dhan Yojana, Clean Ganga, and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan also featured in the tableaux.

  5. Telangana’s Debut: Surprising the spectator with their maiden appearance is the state of Telangana. As the 29th state of India, Telangana’s colourful tableau depicted its popular festival ‘Bonalu’.

  6. Internet, mobile connectivity in Kashmir remained unaffected: For records, it was also for the first time in a decade that mobile phone and Internet services were not disrupted in Kashmir on the Republic Day.

  7. CoBRA forces on Rajpath: For the very first time, the CRPF’s special forces Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) were seen marching on the Rajpath.

    The 66th Republic Day celebrations was also a clear departure from tradition in many ways.

  8. Obama breaks US protocol, stays outdoor for more than two hours during parade: The excitement centering Obama’s second visit as the US president was evident in the ‘extraordinary hospitality’ he received from Modi. Very prudently, he returned the gesture in his own way. In fact, Mr. President was in no mood for receiving preferential treatment as he broke the Secret Service’s security protocol by remaining in the open for over two hours. If US media reports are to be taken at face value, Obama has never been on an outdoor event for more than 40 minutes.

  9. Obama departs from the tradition of arriving and departing Republic Day parade venue with the Indian President: As breaking away from tradition was the highlight of the day, Obama chose to be driven to the venue in his own bulletproof car instead of accompanying the President of India.

If you discount the obvious – seven-layer ring of 50,000 security personnel, the other facets of 2015 Republic Day did lend uniqueness to the celebration of sovereignty and democracy.

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