India celebrates 60th Republic Day
India has marked its 60th Republic Day with celebrations including its traditional military parade in New Delhi.
An impressive and colourful parade, a traditional attraction of the national event, marched down the thoroughfare connecting the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the historic India Gate as President Pratibha Patil took the salute from marching contingents.
Armed forces in battle regalia proudly marching before their supreme commander, scintillating show of air power, fascinating tableaux depicting the diverse culture and hundreds of colourfully-dressed dancing school children were part of the parade.
The march-past was watched by the Republic Day chief guest Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Defence Minister A K Antony and the country's top political and military brass, including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, besides a large enthusiastic crowd that had gathered on either sides of the Rajpath.
Families of six security officers who were killed in the Mumbai attacks received honours from President Pratibha Patil.
In all 11 security personnel were posthumously honoured with Ashok Chakra medals for losing their lives in acts of terrorism.
Six were killed in Mumbai (Bombay) in November - attacks that left more than 170 dead and severely strained relations with Pakistan. Among those honoured was Hemant Karkare, the head of Mumbai's anti-terror squad.
Floats from each of India's states proceeded along Rajpath and on to the Red Fort in the colourful parade.
Thousands of security officials were deployed in Delhi to protect roads, railways and shopping centres.
The celebrations took place without Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is recovering from heart bypass surgery.
Indians living abroad also marked the 60th Republic Day with flag ceremonies and cultural events in places such as China, Pakistan and Israel.
At a ceremony at the Indian embassy in Beijing, Ambassador Nirupama Rao hoisted the national flag and read out President Pratibha Patil's address to the nation.
Children from the local cultural group 'Gurukul' rendered patriotic songs. Members of the Indian community and officials of the embassy gathered to celebrate the day.
Indian missions in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong also marked the occasion.
In the Sri Lankan capital city of Colombo, some 250 people attended a function organised by the Indian High Commission. A BSF contingent staged a march past after High Commissioner Alok Prasad unfurled the Tricolour.
The Indian High Commission in Islamabad also organised a Republic Day ceremony where envoy Satyabrata Pal hoisted the national flag. Screening of a special film and cultural events were the other highlights of the day.
However, the High Commission had to cancel a reception planned to be held at a five-star city hotel due a serious threat perception, officials said.