NEW DELHI — India Jan. 26 celebrated its 69th Republic Day with the 10 leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, who got a close look at the country’s military might, cultural diversity and many achievements at the annual grand parade here.
It was for the first time that 10 guests of honor – from all 10 ASEAN countries – were invited to the annual official celebrations, signifying India’s growing strategic interests in its eastern neighborhood that surrounds the maritime underbelly of Asia – the Indo-Pacific.
Despite a thick fog blanketing the city, hundreds turned up on both sides of Rajpath in the heart of Delhi to watch the eight kilometer march that – with the imposing Rashtrapati Bhavan in the backdrop – wound its way from Raisina Hill to the 17th century Red Fort.
The day began with President Ram Nath Kovind unfurling the Indian flag at Rashtrapati Bhavan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying tribute to the fallen soldiers at the Amar Jawan Jyoti near India Gate.
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