Elephants missed at Republic Day parade
New Delhi, Jan 26 (IANS) The huge disappointment of this year's Republic Day was the absence of the elephants that normally carried children recognised for exemplary bravery. When the boys and girls came aboard open military vehicles, they failed to generate the usual attention and cheer.
In contrast to earlier Republic Day parades, the ride did little to lift the spirits of the 20 young ones. Eventually the shy youngsters sat waving to rather placid crowds.
Thousands had gathered here Monday all long the Republic Day route from Vijay Chowk, near the Rashtrapati Bhavan, to the Red Fort seven kilometres away to witness the annual parade that blends India's military might and cultural diversity.
After a brief award ceremony by President Pratibha Patil, the momentum of the parade mounted.
Among the colourful floats the one that stood out was when a dummy train 'chugged' onto the parade path - courtesy the Indian Railways - depicting the Jammu-Baramullah rail service. An excited Railway Minister Lalu Prasad pointed it out to others in the audience.
Maharashtra's musical float, depicting shepherds in their traditional attire and a man dressed as a sheep dancing in front, amused spectators as well as President Patil, who hails from the state.
As in the past, the Border Security Force's (BSF) colourful camel contingent was a major hit with the crowds, including diplomats as well as the chief guest, Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarvayev.
What really got the audience off their seats - literally - was the act of daredevilry by the BSF's motorcycle riders. They presented various formations including a human pyramid on nine bikes holding up the national flag.
The fly past by the Indian Air Force another huge hit with the crowds. It began with three MI-35 helicopters flying at only 100 meters above ground level. This was followed by an awesome display of fighter jets - Jaguars and Sukhois flying at 420 knots (nautical miles per hour) and 840 km per hour respectively.
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