The Republic of India is joyfully celebrating its 63rd Republic Day, marking the 62nd anniversary of being a complete republic nation on 26th January 1950.
The celebration began in the capital around 10 a.m. when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh laid a floral wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti to pay tribute to unknown soldiers who laid down their lives for defending the nation. Union Defence Minister A K Antony and chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force followed the PM.
Indian President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil unfurled the tricolour and awarded Ashok Chakra - the highest peacetime gallantry award - posthumously to Lieutenant Navdeep Singh who died foiling an infiltration attempt by Pakistan-based terrorists along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir thereafter. His father received the award.
After ending the tricolor unfurling episode, 21-guns saluted and MI-17 helicopters scattered the rose petals in the sky.
The President who is the head of the Indian armed forces took salute on dais of the well-uniformed men and women soldiers of Indian armed forces - Military, Naval and Air Forces.
Thailand's first woman Prime Minister Yinluck Shinawatra was the guest of honour at this moment.
Lt Gen Vijay Kumar Pillai, general officer commanding, Delhi Area and his deputy Major General Rajbir Singh commanded the parade.
The colourful ceremony began thereafter with a grand parade on the Rajpath. The marching contingents of Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, paramilitary and other auxiliary forces including Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Assam Rifles, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Coast Guard, Sashastra Seema Bal, Central Industrial Security Force, Railway Protection Force, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme march pasted on the Rajpath and saluted President.
The Indian Navy's contingents was led by Lt Commander Manikandan K and the Air Force contingent by Flight Lieutenant Sneha Shekhawat - the first woman ever to lead an IAF contingent at the Republic Day parade.
The 19 children out of 24 national gallantry award winners for 2011 was one amongst the prime attractions of the parade.
The soldiers of Indian armed forces demonstrated various acrobatically show in the parade and won the attraction of the public.
The audience first time saw 'Agni-IV' missile (which range is 3000 k.m.), 'Prahar' missile (range 150 k.m.), unmanned reconnaissance aircraft 'Rushtam-1', and 'C-130J Super Hercules' fighter plane in the parade.
Moreover, T-72 Tank, Multi-trajectory Rocket System, Pinaca Multi-barrel rocket system, VHF Jammer station and indigenous light-weight chopper 'Dhruv' were also displayed in the parade.
The tableaux from 23 states and central ministries displaying the varied historical, architectural and cultural heritage of the country were also the part of the parade.
Besides President and Prime Minister of India, Vice President Hamid Ansari, defence minister A K Antony, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh and top political and military brass were also present in the celebration parade.
The Republic Day celebration is also going on other parts of the country and head of the states have unfurled the tricolour at the scheduled venues. The Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) were also celebrating the Republic day festival in their respective countries.
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