They Did Stand Up This Republic Day ...Well Almost!
An Army daughter had written a short article after the Repubic Day parade last year for The Citizen http://www.thecitizen.in/NewsDetail.aspx? that went viral on the social media and led to a slight shift in approach this January 26. Rashmi Oberoi noting this, writes again:
The true feelings of loyalty and patriotism soared high yesterday while watching the 67th Republic Day parade as India proudly displayed its military prowess and our rich cultural heritage and diversity. It was also a day to remember that this was when India's Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950, completing our country's transition toward becoming an independent Republic.
For me, the most poignant moment was when Lance Naik Mohan Nath Goswami’s widow Bhavana came up on the dais to receive the Ashok Chakra that had been awarded to the fallen soldier. The country's highest peacetime gallantry award was for the heroism of her commando husband who sacrificed his life while saving colleagues during a deadly exchange of fire during an encounter with terrorists last September. His citation described him as an intrepid and indefatigable commando. He is survived by Bhavana and their nine-year-old daughter who live in Haldwani.
While there were many firsts in this particular parade, I was pleased to note that during the gallantry awards ceremony this year, while handing out the bravery medal and citation it was not only President Pranab Mukherjee and the guest of honour, the French President Francois Hollande who stood during the whole ceremony but this time Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Parrikar made it a point to stand up as the widow came up on the podium. I can’t say the same for those seated on the opposite flank who clearly did not stand up as the occasion demanded. There is a huge difference in my opinion between protocol and respect for the dead.
This was sadly lacking last year which had prompted me to write a critical piece immediately after the parade was over. It is of prime importance that at such solemn occasions we must look after our war widows and the dependents of martyrs with full regard and compassion. One cannot forget the sacrifices of the fallen soldier which has been made not only for their country but for each one of us as well. If anyone demands more respect than others are those who show the highest degree of valour and selfless sacrifice in defending their country against external and internal threats. For there is nothing greater than this, believe you me. It is only the soldier who displays exemplary courage while facing the toughest of situations and fighting for their country.
The other pleasant firsts were the French army contingent that became the first-ever foreign military group to march in the parade and after 26 years, the Indian army's unsung heroes returned to the parade - A dog squad drawn from the Army's Remount Veterinary Corps looking dapper in maroon and gold striped coats, marching along with their handlers.
What was not a pleasant sight at all was the Ex-servicemen tableau instead of our proud veterans marching down Rajpath which has been a tradition for all these years since they had decided to boycott the celebrations due to the on-going protests over the issue of One Rank One Pension (OROP). That indeed was not a sight for sore eyes, depicting a sad state of affairs.