INDIA. Mumbai: With thrilling military exercises comprising acrobatic motorcycle rides, a flypast, tableaux display, and the participation of national and foreign NCC cadets, the 74th Republic Day celebrations based on the theme Janbhagidari will be a spectacular affair.
On R Day, which marks the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950, a lot of people in India and the Indian diaspora around the world are expected to take part.
This is the first time the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day Parade in Delhi. He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including five ministers and senior officials. A 144-person military contingent of the Egyptian army will also march in the parade.
The Republic Day parade
The Republic Day parade will be held on Delhi’s renovated Kartavya Path (earlier Rajpath), the stretch of road between India Gate and Rashtrapati Bhavan. There will be 16 marching contingents from the Armed Forces, Central Paramilitary Forces, Delhi Police, NCC, NSS, and Pipes and Drums Bands.
The army’s indigenous 105 mm Indian field gun will give a 21-gun salute. There will be mounted columns of 61 Cavalry, nine mechanised columns, six marching contingents, and a flypast by helicopters of Army Aviation.
A team of Daredevils motorcycle riders from the Corps of Signals company, led by a woman officer, will be part of the parade. For the first time, women will form part of the BSF Camel Contingent.
Two NCC contingents from friendly countries will take part in the parade, and 198 cadets from the USA, UK, Argentina, Brazil, Mongolia, Russia, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Vietnam, the Maldives, Mozambique, Mauritius, Seychelles, Sudan, New Zealand, and Fiji will watch the parade.
The aerial show will include 50 aircraft, including nine Rafale aircraft and the Indian Navy’s IL-38, which will be showcased for the first time. Indigenously produced, a multi-role, light attack helicopter named Prachand will also be part of the Indian Air Force flypast along with ALH Dhruv and ALH Rudra.
23 tableaux (17 from states and union territories and six from various ministries and departments), depicting the nation’s rich cultural heritage and diversity and strong internal and external security, will participate in the Republic Day parade. The theme adopted this year by various states is Nari Shakti (women’s power). Maharashtra’s float is based on three and a half Shakti Peethas (prominent seats of the Hindu Goddess).
Although the country is moving towards progress, there are many issues confronting the largest democracy in the world. An inventory of different issues must be taken.
The growth forecast continues to be a cause for concern. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has slashed its gross domestic product (GDP) estimate to 6.8 percent from earlier estimates of 7 percent. Given the soaring dollar, India’s foreign exchange reserves declined to $562.851 billion in December last year.
According to RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das’ Monetary Policy statement, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stood at USD 22.7 billion from April to October 2022 (up from USD 21.3 billion in the same period last year).
The Indian rupee, which hit an all-time low due to the economic slowdown in 2022, is expected to rebound in the current year in the range of US $ 77 and Rs. 84.5.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the average urban unemployment rate rose to 10.09% (earlier 8.96%) in December last year, while the rural jobless rate decreased to 7.44% (from an earlier 7.55%). Haryana had the highest unemployment rate of 37.4%, while Odisha had the lowest at 0.9%.
The double-digit unemployment rates were noticed in seven other states, including Delhi. With a high level of automation and digitization, manufacturing may not remain an avenue for job creation. As such, the focus should be on services and self-employment.
India’s population, which is around 141 crore, is expected to surpass that of China on April 14 this year. At the same time, the health infrastructure is questionable. The doctor-to-population ratio in India is 1:2148, and the infant mortality rate is 64 per 1,000 live births.
The overall mortality rate has declined from 27.4 to 8 per 1,000 people, and the life expectancy at birth has increased from 37.2 years to 60.6 years.
As per India’s National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5), from 2019 to 2021, 35.5% of children under five had stunting, 19.3% were wasted, and 32.1% had an underweight condition.
Over 40% of youngsters receive less food, and almost a third of Indians are said to be malnourished. Despite a hike in food subsidies, a fast-expanding population negates attempts to ensure better health conditions.
While the Union Government has decided to give free food grains to over 80 crore people under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), this year’s estimated food grain production is 149.92 million metric tonnes. It is 6.98 million more than last year’s average (2016–17 to 2020–21).
According to the National Survey of India report, the average literacy rate is 74.37%, while the female literacy rate is around 70.3%. Kerala has the highest literacy rate of 94 %, whereas Bihar has the lowest rate of 61.80%. India has a demonstrable capability to reach a near-100 percent literacy level by 2025.
While India promotes domestic defence capabilities, 70% of the defence budget has been reserved for this work. Domestic defence procurement contracts totaling Rs. 54,000 crores (US$ 7.1 billion) have been signed, with the government aiming to meet an export target of Rs. 36,500 crores (US$ 4.8 billion) by 2025. Amid this, the Indian Navy has already received five India-made submarines.
As for the missiles, India successfully tested the new-generation nuclear-capable Agni Prime ballistic missile off the Odisha coast in October 2022, followed by the launch of the first privately built rocket Vikram-S (suborbital) on November 18, 2022, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
In addition, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to make an aero-scientific leap in the space sector this year. Chandrayaan-III is scheduled to be launched on the GSLV Mk-III in June this year. ISRO is also preparing for Gaganyaan, the first human space flight, and its first mission, uncrewed G1, which will be launched in the last quarter of 2023.
The industry must work in tandem with the government to achieve self-reliance and the target of a $5 trillion economy by 2025.