New Delhi, Jan. 26 : President Pratibha Devisingh Patil unfurled the national flag and took salute of the armed forces here at the Rajpath marking the commemoration of the 59th Republic Day.
President Patil was given salute by the marching contingents of Army, Navy, Air Force, paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces during the parade commanded by General Officer Commanding of Delhi Area, Major General K. J. S. Oberoi.
She became the first woman President to unfurl the national tricolour on the Republic Day.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is here on a two-day visit to India, was the chief guest at this year's Republic Day parade at Rajpath.
President Patil gave Ashok Chakra to three army personnel posthumously for their supreme sacrifice and bravery.
Eighteen of the 22 children selected for the National Bravery Award 2007 also participated in the parade riding on caparisoned elephants. Four children were given this award posthumously.
The Army showcased its impressive armoury before the nation with indigenously developed frontline T-90 battle tanks, the Indian version of Brahmos, and surface-to-surface Agni missiles making its maiden appearance at this year's Republic Day parade.
The marching contingents of paramilitary and other auxiliary civil forces included contingents from the Border Security Force (BSF), the Assam Rifles, the Coast Guard, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Central Industrial Security Force, the Sashastra Seema Bal, the Railway Protection Force, Delhi Police, National Cadet Corps and National Service Scheme.
The armed forces also showcased the T-72 tanks, 155mm/45mm Soltam Guns, Smerch Multiple Launch Rocket System, Brahmos missile, Tunguska Air Defence Weapon system, Sarvatra Bridge, Infantry Combat Vehicle BMP-II and carrier mortar tracked vehicle.
'Jaanbaz', the motorcycle display by the BSF was the major attraction of the parade. It consisted of 178 riders on 34 motorcycles performing border man salute, ladder balancing, parallel bar, human pyramid, guldasta safari and flag march.
Thousands had converged on the occasion to watch the annual parade at Rajpath here. Colourful tableaux representing different States added to everyone's joy.
Twenty-six tableaux from States and public undertakings showed their regional cultural heritage and developmental projects in this year's parade. Besides, the grand march-past was also watched by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the country's top political and military brass.