Indian Army multi-rocket launcher vehicles drive through the ceremonial Kartavya Path boulevard, previously known as Rajpath, during India’s Republic Day parade celebrations in New Delhi. [Manish Swarup/AP Photo]Published On 26 Jan 202426 Jan 2024
Thousands of people lined a ceremonial boulevard in the heart of India’s capital to watch a colourful parade showcasing the country’s military power and cultural heritage to mark its 75th Republic Day.
French President Emmanuel Macron attended the parade on Friday as the chief guest at the celebration of the adoption of the country’s Constitution on January 26, 1950, following India’s independence from British colonial rule.
Indian President Draupadi Murmu escorted Macron in a ceremonial British-era horse-drawn carriage from the nearby president’s palace to the viewing stand. It was the first time the carriage has been used at the parade since it was abandoned by the government 40 years ago in favour of a car.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wearing a saffron-and-yellow turban, greeted Macron at the viewing stand.
India traditionally invites foreign leaders to witness the spectacle. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was the guest of honour last year, former French President Francois Hollande in 2016 and former US President Barack Obama in 2015. Ten Southeast Asian leaders watched the parade in 2018.
Tanks, missile systems, infantry combat vehicles and medium-range surface-to-air missile systems were displayed, with hundreds of police and military personnel marching with them. Stunt performers on motorbikes, including more than 250 women, also participated.
Macron accepted India’s invitation at short notice after US President Joe Biden couldn’t make it, reportedly because of his State of the Union address and re-election bid.
“A great honour for France. Thank you, India,” Macron said on X.