January 26 is a special day. We celebrate the anniversary of the day India became a Republic in 1950. The day starts with the Prime Minister leading the nation in paying homage to those who gave up their lives in the service of the nation. A formal wreath is placed at the cenotaph where the Amar Jawan Jyoti (Flame of the Immortal Warrior) burns forever. Then follows the famous Republic Day parade with all the fanfare and ceremony. We enjoy the sight of marching troops, the latest fighting equipment and cultural tableau. A magnificant spectacle- managed immaculately year after year.
Equally magnificent is the Beating of the Retreat three days later. This solemn ceremony brings back visions of the past when fighting stopped at sunset. It is a feast for lovers of martial music with the massed bands playing traditional favourites for this function like Abide With Me and Saare Jahan Se Achcha.
I am proud that we have maintained these traditions and continue to provide a treat each year which all of us in India look forward to keenly.