Military might on display at parade
In a delicate play of balance on its 64 th Republic Day, India announced its entry into an elite club of nations by displaying its new nuclear missile with strategic reach and acknowledged the need for an "overhauled national mindset" in view of the recent street protests and social media movements after the Delhi gangrape.
Like in the past, the Republic Day parade was a display of India's military might and cultural diversity, with defence systems ranging from high-end fighter aircraft to indigenous tanks and missiles rolling down the Rajpath, followed by performances and tableaux featuring the cultural heritage of the nation.
What was different this year was the candid admission in the commentary during the parade that is watched by millions that the Delhi gangrape has shaken the national conscience and has spurred the government into action.
A little before chief guest Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck arrived, the role of the social media as well as the protests were mentioned in detail. "If the anger on India's streets was one thing, it was equally unbridled online, on social media, where a separate and equally undeniable narrative played before the nation. In this, was born a great new strength, a power that has now come to be recognised and respected," said the prepared script read out by the commentators, in a rare comment on national matters at a Republic Day parade.
This came a day after President Pranab Mukherjee spoke on the issue in his address to the nation. However, at the parade itself it was acknowledged that the government and civil society are working to give quick justice and more "infallible social values" in the wake of the incident. Overhauling the "national mind set, at every level and at all costs" was listed as the most challenging task.