The country’s first woman Rafale fighter jet pilot Shivangi Singh was part of the Indian Air Force tableau at the Republic Day parade on Wednesday. She is only the second woman fighter jet pilot to be part of the IAF tableau. Singh, who is from Varanasi, joined the IAF in 2017 and was commissioned in the IAF’s second batch of women fighter pilots. She had been flying MiG-21 Bison aircraft before flying the Rafale. She is part of the IAF’s Golden Arrows squadron based out of Ambala in Punjab.
The 73rd Republic Day parade also featured its biggest-yet fly-past, with 75 aircraft from all three services on display. For the first time in its history, the parade began half an hour later than usual, due to low visibility and fog. Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the National War Memorial on Wednesday morning, where he paid homage to the armed forces personnel who were killed in action. He was received by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and the chiefs of the three defence forces.
With the parade taking place under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic yet again, strict guidelines have been imposed for those attending. Those attending must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and children below 15 years of age will not be allowed to attend the function. Visitors must carry proof of vaccination and must adhere to all Covid-protocols, such as wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.