Indian soldiers in tanks take part in a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade
Indian soldiers in tanks take part in a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, January 23, 2018.REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

India is set to celebrate the 69th Republic Day on January 26, and several cities in various states carry a festive look with the tri-colour displayed everywhere. Schools and students are busy making last-minute preparations for parades and cultural events and various states are getting their tableau ready for the parade in New Delhi.

While these preparations are pretty routine and the parades are held every year, the 69th Republic Day is a tad different.

What is different in 2018?

The celebrations will be graced by 10 ASEAN leaders from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Brunei.

The parades and cultural events this time will not just feature the armed forces – the Indian Army, the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy – but will also see the performance of more than 700 students from foreign countries, reported the Times of India.

All-women bikers contingent

The parade will feature the newly formed all-women bikers contingent of the Border Security Force. The BSF "daredevils" squad named Seema Bhavani features 27 members, who will showcase acrobatic stunts on the very popular 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet.

ITBP Tableau makes a return

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police will showcase its float after a gap of 20 years and will show troops patrolling the China border. While this may seem quite regular, these troops will be seen using the newly-inducted snow-scooters.

The tableau will be accompanied by a marching contingent of the winter wing that will showcase how the troops work in tough and freezing weather conditions.

"The tableau will showcase high-altitude Himalayan borders, snow terrain, achievements in mountaineering, river rafting and adventure sports, latest clothing equipment among others," PTI quoted an ITBP spokesperson as saying.

Mann Ki Baat tableau

This Republic Day will also see a tableau by the All India Radio with a Mann Ki Baat theme. In tune, AIR has reportedly already received an approval for the same and has developed a tableau.

"Mann Ki Baat is the flagship programme of All India Radio and the broadcaster wants to feature it," Livemint quoted a source as saying..

"It's the first time that AIR is doing something like this (Mann Ki Baat tableau). It is a good idea as it will help AIR popularize the show and further reach out to the remotest parts of the country. The tableau will definitely help the reach of Mann Ki Baat," a former information and broadcasting ministry official added.

IAF flypast
ndian Air Force aircrafts fly past during the full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New DelhiReuters

Rudra attack helicopter to make a parade debut

This Republic Day will also witness attack helicopter Rudra at the parade for the first time. The Indian Air Force's flypast at the event will feature 38 aircraft, including 21 fighters, 12 helicopters and five transporters.

Rudra is an attack helicopter manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Army. It is the first armed helicopter to be produced indigenously in India.

This year, the theme of the IAF tableau is "Indian Air Force encouraging indigenisation," and the tri-service's theme is "veterans are asset to the nation."

Delhi on high alert

As the Republic Day celebrations will see several dignitaries, New Delhi has been put on high alert. Personnel of the Delhi Police, paramilitary forces, intelligence agencies and armed forces have been deployed for safety and police are also monitoring the movement of vehicles.

Amar Jyoti Jawan
A soldier stands guard next to Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate war memorial on a smoggy winter morning in New DelhiReuters

This time the stage erected at the venue is also three times higher than the usual one and will be covered by bulletproof glass from all sides.

Will Northeast celebrate Republic Day?

Militant outfits in Northeast India have called for a boycott of the Republic Day celebrations in the region and are also demanding a complete shut down on the day.

"UNLFW also called 24-hour shut down on January 26 in the region and urging the people to not attend or gather at any governmental offices, public places," India Today quoted Khango Konyak, chairman of United Liberation Front of Western Southeast Asia.

In preparation, security also has been beefed up in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, as well as Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura, which go to polls in February.

Twitter gets ready for R-Day

Micro-blogging site Twitter too is ready to mark the 69th Republic Day and has launched a special #RepublicDay emoji. The hashtag is available in nine languages and the emoji, which shows "India Gate" will be live until January 29.

"Twitter is delighted to join the celebration with a customised emoji of the India Gate. This national symbol in the emoji serves as a reminder of unity as the country joins in the public conversation on this day," said Mahima Kaul, Head of Public Policy and Government, at Twitter India.