January 26, 2015
The focus of this year’s parade was more on cultural diversity than on military might.
Nuclear-capable Agni missiles - a highlight for the past several years - were missing as U.S. President Barack Obama witnessed India's military might and cultural diversity on what proved to be a rainy and cold 66th Republic Day.
In doing so, Mr. Obama became the first U.S. President to be the chief guest at the parade as President Pranab Mukherjee took the salute at the parade.
In another departure from practice, Mr. Obama arrived in his own motorcade and not with President Pranab Mukherjee as is the practice. The crowd erupted in cheers as Mr. Obama and First Lady Michelle stepped out of the ‘Beast’ vehicle.
Mr. Obama watched as several Russian-made tanks rolled over. The latest imported military hardware took part in the flypast such as the C-130 Hercules tactical transport, C-17 heavy transport and the Naval P-8I maritime patrol aircraft flying in formation with the two latest Russian-built MiG-29Ks.
While some of India’s latest military arsenal was on display and impressive marching contingents marched in precision, it marked a departure from past years in that the focus of this year’s parade was more on cultural diversity than on military might.
Some of the recent inductions both indigenous and imported were on display. The Akash medium-range surface-to-air missile and Weapon Locating Radar developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), INS Kolkata, the most advanced ship in the Navy’s arsenal and BrahMos cruise missile were the indigenous highlights.