Republic Day awards 1997

The ever reliable Jaguar on display at the ceremonial parade on Republic Day.

NEW DELHI, Jan 26, 1997(taken from Hindustan times): The country's military might depicted by deadly Prithvi missiles, a battery of state-of-the-art war machines like Lakshya (pilotless target aircraft) and heavy armour, was on full display at the Republic Day parade here today.

Smartly dressed contingents from the Army Navy, Air Force paramilitary forces and National Cadet Corps marched past the majestic Rajpath in clock-wise precision with President Shanker Dayal Sharma taking salute from a specially erected bullet-proof dais.

A glimpse of the spectacular march past on Republic day as the President takes the salute.

Among the lethal war machines were the highly manoeuvrable main battle tank Arjun, versatile 155 MM field Howitzer, lethal missile systems, formidable MiG-27 fighter bombers and sophisticated radars, besides the indigenously designed and developed Lakshya and surface-to-surface guided missile Prithvi.

The highest peacetime gallantry award "Ashok Chakra" was presented to Lt. Colonel Shanti Swarup posthumously for sacrificing his life while fighting terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. His wife, Ms Savita Rana, received the award from the President while the huge crowd listened mesmerised to the commentator dwelling on the heroism of the man.

Besides the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Basdeo Panday, who was the Chief Guest for the occasion, Vice-President K. R. Narayanan Prime Minister H D. Deve Gowda, several Union Ministers, Members of Parliament, top officials and diplomats were present to witness the impressive display.

People from all over the Capital and other parts of the country were present in thousands along the entire parade route from Vijay Chowk to Red Fort for the occasion. The morning ceremony began with paying a homage by the Prime Minister at Amar Jyoti Jawan to the soldiers who laid down their lives fighting to safeguard the borders of the country.

The announcement regarding the arrival of VlPs including the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and other dignitaries were treated with indifference but just as the band started playing "Kadam kadam badhae Ja..." the crowd became silent.

And then arrived the tableau depicting Subhash Chandra Bose's struggle for the country's independence. The hero passed away long back but the nation has not forgotten him. There was nothing in the ceremony which was greeted with such reverence as this tableau.

It may not have been a perfect example of the official aesthetic sense. But the fact that the name of Netaji was associated with it, was enough to command respect. Netaji led the way, as he did in his lifetime, for the rest of the country. Glimpses of the free nation, in all its glory, were seen on the Rajpath.