NEW DELHI // Thousands braved inclement weather while warmly greeting the chief guest, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, at the Republic Day parade in the Indian capital on Thursday.
Despite wet and cold conditions, the 68th edition of the celebrations took place as scheduled in front of Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Indian president, Pranab Mukherjee, Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, and leaders and dignitaries from both countries.
Sheikh Mohammed watched a contingent of UAE Armed Forces and a marching band lead the day’s march — only the second time since the inaugural procession in 1950 that a foreign army contingent participated in a Republic Day parade.
Republic Day is an example of how positive values propel nations into greatness, Sheikh Mohammed said.
“This is something that we in the UAE take at heart,” he tweeted.
“[The] UAE’s participation in Republic Day celebrations reflects the depth of our ties which are based on mutual respect and common interests.”
Sheikh Mohammed met with Mr Mukherjee at Rashtapati Bhavan Presidential Palace on Thursday ahead of the official celebrations.
They left for the military parade in a presidential motorcade accompanied by a team of horsemen.
The Indian national anthem was played while they stood at the main viewing stand followed by a 21-gun salute.
The annual parade which runs down Rajpath from the President’s residence to India Gate, is observed every year to commemorate showcase the country’s defence capabilities and their cultural and social heritage. The parade also commemorates those who died in India’s fight for independence.
A UAE Military Contingent opened the parade, with the participation of 149 soldiers from the country’s Land, Navy, and Air Forces, along with the Presidential Guard, who were accompanied by a UAE Military Band of 35 personnel.
Demonstrating India’s military might — the third largest in the world after China and the USA — the event displayed tanks, missile carriers, horseback units and aircraft fly-bys.
Soldiers performed daredevil stunts on motorcycles ahead of a marching band and regiment on camelback, and — for the first time — a masked special ops unit from the National Security Guard.
Also making up the parade were 23 parade floats, 600 students performing dances, 25 children selected for bravery awards, and dozens of military ground vehicles and aircraft.
Sheikh Mohammed said he was honoured and delighted to have shared this special event with the Indian people.
Also on Thursday, President Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, sent congratulatory cables to Mr Mukherjee.