Hollande’s Visit to India

Ended with Republic Day Celebrations

Business & Politics

News - Biz@India

January 26, 2016

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Rajpath comes alive with the dare devil stunts of motorbike riders of Corps of Signals, on the occasion of the 67th Republic Day Parade 2016, in New Delhi on January 26, 2016.

Rajpath comes alive with the dare devil stunts of motorbike riders of Corps of Signals, on the occasion of the 67th Republic Day Parade 2016, in New Delhi on January 26, 2016.

India’s Republic Day celebrations marked the end of French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India, where he was also the guest of honour. The French troops that marched in the parade added glamour to the customary parade and celebrations.

As the capital woke up on January 26 to a chilly morning, the roads were fairly busier than any other holiday with security lined up at every turn and traffic signal, courtesy Republic Day. A little stricter than the usual, considering the recent terror attack in Pathankot and threats; and of course the arrival of French President Francois Hollande as the chief guest that made the ordeal more sensitive.

The numerous diversions to reach Rajpath where celebrations and parades occur, security checks and having to leave behind your commute to walk for miles are a few of the customary grinds.

Amidst the hue and cry to reach the desired entry gates to Rajpath where the Republic Day is celebrated with fervour, one could spot more uniformed men than usual. Clearly it’s the day of the armed and security forces as they dress up in their uniform and walk with their families towards the gates and are slightly more honoured than the general crowd. Inside the scene is no different.

Nearly 125000 people, apart from the VIPs, occupied the pavilion this year while a few thousand went back disheartened as they could not be accommodated; although they did have the pass. After a long wait that mostly got filled with spotting the ministers, politicians and a few famous faces who came one by one, people were thrilled to see the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Pranab Mukherjee and French President Francois Hollande. A big uproar drove everyone’s attention to them.

Watching it on television and celebrating in institutions is a completely different experience from the one at Rajpath under the open sky, standing against India Gate, a war memorial for the soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. You are aware, while singing the national anthem that you are amidst hundred thousand fellow civilians, armymen, politicians and leaders. The air is heavier than usual and the 21-gun salute adds to the patriotism.

While everything henceforth in the celebration remained the same, the presence of French troop in the parade added glamour to the event. The French Army’s 35th Infantry Regiment, interestingly, was founded in the 17th century and had served in India between 1781 and 1784, joining the army of Hyder Ali, a southern Indian leader, fighting British troops. The troop came in early January for an eight-day exercise jointly with Indian army that focussed on operational drills and counter-terrorism procedures in Rajasthan and later after its conclusion practiced for the parade. Led by army music band, they gave another beat to the Indian vibes. A sense of pride among the French delegates and Hollande was visible while the troop marched through the Rajpath.

Another attraction was the participation of 36 army dogs in the parade that walked along with one of the troops. These Labradors and German shepherds, covered for protection from the cold, had already gained attention during the practice.

Rest that followed were the usual representation of different battalions and forces; tableaus from different states showcasing the culture and economy and the performances that also included stunts and airshows. However, the increasing number of women in army, apparent through the parade, is one of the welcome changes.

As the event ended with the fighter planes such as Mig and Hercules performing air acrobatics, Indians would hope to see Rafale doing the same the next year. However, that needs to be finalised as President Hollande left for France after a private lunch hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhawan; the guest list to which included celebrities, politicians, journalists and industrialists such as Sunil Mittal, Manish Arora, Ritu Beri, Aishwarya Rai, Arun Jaitley and Barkha Dutt.

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