President Obama’s visit to India as the guest of honour on the occasion of our 66th Republic Day was not only historic but momentous as well. He is the first US President to grace this solemn function. The Republic Day parade is essentially organized by the Ministry of Defence to showcase our military power along with the exhibits from different states to highlight cultural and economic developments taking place in recent time. A large number of people, besides the invited dignitaries, witnessed the march past on the Jan path. Both the children and the elders enjoyed the show which included dance by school children, acrobatic motor cycle rides by Border Security Forces.
For Barack Obama, the President of the mightiest nation on earth, our military power may be nothing but kid’s toys, yet both Obama and the First Lady Michelle were charmed by the enthusiasm and joy among the people and were touched by the hospitality of our government to them. PM Narendra Modi spared no efforts to explain the visiting President every army squad or any tableaux marching past them. He was delighted to see the school children along with the army personnel. Special feature that caught the imagination of the visiting couple was, first Pooja Rathore led the Guard of Honour to Obama at the Ratrapati Bhavan and then women contingents were led by women. It is very significant for the season that at a time when the women are very badly treated elsewhere in the world, here in India they move shoulder to shoulder with men. President Pranab Mukherjee hoisted the National Flag and took the salute.
In the beginning of the function there was light rain. This, however, did not mar the occasion. The dignitaries as well as the onlookers stayed on and celebrated the Republic Day parade.
In the afternoon the President couple enjoyed an ‘at home’ in Rastrapati Bhavan with President Pranab Mukherjee, PM, the council of Ministers and many dignitaries from different walks of life. The President met men from industries, arts and science, social services and other fields. Overall, it was a great visit benefitting both India and USA thereby fostering fellow feeling and friendship across the world. Such visits alone shall clear up the clouds of misunderstandings and clear the decks for development and eliminating terrorism.