Source : Press Trust of India (PTI)
|Traditional 25-pounder gun (Left) used in Republic Day parade 21-gun salute to be replaced with 105 mm Indian Field Gun (Right) on this year’s Republic Day celebrations on Kartavya Path|
New Delhi: The vintage artillery with 25-pounder guns that traditionally fires the thundering ceremonial 21-Gun Salute during the Republic Day celebrations will be replaced by 105 mm Indian field guns this year, as the government makes a further push for its Make in India initiative.
During a press interaction here on Monday, Chief of Staff Delhi Area Maj Gen Bhavnish Kumar said, ”We are transitioning towards indigenisation” and the ”time is not far when all are equipment will be ‘swadeshi”’.
All equipment from the Army that will be showcased during the 74th Republic Day celebrations are made-in-India, he said, adding that the Akash weapon system and helicopters, Rudra and ALH Dhruv, will also be part of it. ”This year the 21-Gun Salute will be fired by the 105 mm Indian field guns replacing the 25-pounders,” he said.
Part of the 2281 Field Regiment, seven cannons of early 1940s era form part of the artillery that has been firing the ceremonial salute in the backdrop of the Republic Day celebrations on Rajpath (renamed to Kartavya Path last year). Made in the United Kingdom, they had participated in the World War II.
The duration of the 21-Gun Salute coincides with the length of the national anthem.
”Each gun (25-pounder) is handled by a team of three personnel, and ideally all seven fire in a cyclical fashion until the 21st round is fired when hay of …jay jay hay is being sung or played,” a senior Army official had told PTI on January 26, 2017.
The weather had played a bit of a spoilsport at the Republic Day parade on Rajpath — now Kartavya Path — in 2017 but the ceremonial artillery unit had fired the traditional 21-Gun Salute with ”clockwork precision” despite the rains.
Asked about the reason behind the move of replacing the 25-pounders, Maj Gen Kumar said, ”Since the 105 mm Indian Field Gun is an indigenised gun, so we want to use this to replace the 25-pounder guns used earlier for the 21-Gun Salute. And, it is a matter of pride that we are showcasing our indigenous gun for this too”.
The 105 IFG (Indian Field Gun) was designed in 1972. The Gun Carriage factory, Jabalpur and Field Gun Factory, Kanpur, manufacture it. They are in service since 1984, he said.
These field guns are compact light and they can also be airdropped. It is a very good Indian gun, Maj Gen Kumar said.
Army sources said these guns (25-pounders) are ”obsolete and phased out of the Army now. And, presently being used as warm trophies in various army establishments like the Artillery Centre, etc.”.
The 74th Republic Day celebrations will take place on the revamped Central Vista avenue as well as be the first at the ceremonial boulevard after Rajpath was renamed Kartavya Path.
Asked about the change in nomenclature of the ceremonial boulevard, Maj Gen Kumar said, ”Kartavya Path is a very good name that has been chosen, by changing name of Rajpath. Not only Army, but we all feel pleasant, as we walk this road performing our duty. So, we are very proud”.
A 144-strong military contingent and a band contingent from Egypt will also be taking part in the celebrations, he said, adding, they took part in the full dress rehearsal of the parade that took place on Monday.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
The Chief of Staff Delhi Area said the parade will begin at 10:30 am and go on till 12 noon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay respects to the fallen braves at the National War Memorial before the commencement of the parade.
The military assets which will be displayed during the parade include made-in-India equipment, showing the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat, the official said. Main battle tank Arjun, Nag Missile System (NAMIS) and K-9 Vajra will also be showcased, Maj Gen Kumar said.
Three Param Vir Chakra awardees and three Ashok Chkara awardees will also take part in the parade, and a ”veterans tableau” will also be part of it with the theme — ‘Towards India’s Amrit Kaal with a Resolve of Veterans’ Commitment’, he said.
The Akash weapon system display will have Lt Chetana Sharma at the forefront, the Army official said.
The marching contingents will have six from the Army, and one each from the Indian Air Force and the Navy.
The marching contingents from the Army will include a mechanised infantry, the Dogra Regiment, the Punjab Regiment, the Maratha Light Infantry, the Bihar Regiment and the Gorkha Brigade, the official said, adding a camel band from the Border Secuirty Force will also take part in the parade.
Captain Raizada Shaurya Bali will lead the 61st Cavalry, the world’s only serving horse-mounted cavalry regiment.
”This is the first time I am participating in the Republic Day parade and there is an immense sense of pride and honour,” he said.
Lt Dimple Singh Bhati from the Corps of Signals will be part of the ‘Daredevils’ that performs motorcycle stunts.
”I will be part of the pyramid formation. Initially, there was a bit of fear but then slowly we learn to trust ourselves and our motorcycles,” Bhati, who is taking part in the parade for the first time, told PTI.
Capt Shashwat Dabas, 26, who hails from Delhi and will be leading the Maratha Light Infantry contingent, feels that in his schooldays, he had sort of prophesied the role he would eventually play on January 26.
”Dream do come true. As a school boy, 15 years ago, I had told someone that I will lead a contingent some day, and here I am. It is also a humbling experience to walk on the Kartavya Path and be reminded of our duties,” he told PTI. Dabas, who stands 6’2” tall, says, his father retired from the air force while his great grandfather was part of Netaji’s INA.
Capt Ama Jagtap, 26, who will lead the Punjab Regiment said, this will be his second participation in the Republic Day Parade here.
”Earlier, I taken part as an NCC cadet, but as a contingent leader, it is my first time,” he said.
Major Ratnesh Tiwari, who will lead the Bihar Regiment, was also beaming with pride.
”This is my first time in R-Day parade, and I am the first officer from 12 Bihar (of the regiment) to represent my unit. I used to watch the parade on TV, but people will watch us on TV, it is very humbling experience,” said the young officer who hails from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh.