India celebrates 70th Republic Day with special tribute to Mahatma Gandhi

An Indian army contingent marching during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, on Jan 26 2019.
An Indian army contingent marching during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, on Jan 26 2019.PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (DPA) - India showcased its cultural heritage and military hardware in the capital on Saturday (Jan 26) as the country celebrated its 70th Republic Day with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa as the guest of honour.

The South African leader joined President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a parade in New Delhi, the main attraction of national celebrations to commemorate the country's Constitution.

India attained independence from British rule in 1947 and its Constitution came into force on Jan 26, 1950.

India's independence hero and apostle of peace, Mahatma Gandhi, was in focus at the Republic Day, with several tableaux depicting his life displayed at the parade.  

India is this year celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, who had a special connection with South Africa. Gandhi lived in South Africa for 21 years and it was there that he conceived the idea of non-violent political resistance.

Large crowds thronged the parade, which featured a cultural extravaganza of dances and gymnastics as well as colourful floats from Indian states.

The parade included marching troops, military bands, a show of tanks, missiles and other military hardware, and camel-mounted paramilitary troops.

 

It also was a display of women's empowerment with all-women contingents as well as units led by women officers participating in the parade. This show ended with a flypast by the Indian air force.

Thousands of policemen and paramilitary forces were guarding New Delhi and major Indian cities as the authorities mounted elaborate security arrangements to foil any terrorist attack.