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Obama in India joins Modi at Delhi Republic Day parade
January 26, 2015, 11:11 am

US President Barack Obama has attended India's annual Republic Day parade in Delhi, the first US head of state to do so, on the second day of his visit.Mr. Obama arrived in India on Sunday for a three-day visit seen as a sign of warming ties between the two countries.

On Sunday, both sides announced a breakthrough on a pact that will allow US companies to supply India with civilian nuclear technology. Indian PM Narendra Modi said it was a "new journey" of co-operation. Mr. Obama will meet the main opposition Congress party leaders later on Monday and will also speak at a business summit.

Trade vow

Republic Day marks the adoption of India's constitution in 1950, three years after independence from Britain. Uniformed soldiers in colourful headgear marched down Rajpath, or King's Avenue, where Mr Obama watched the parade with Mr Modi inside a bullet-proof glass enclosure.

The ceremony showcased India's military might with soldiers marching in formation and the latest weapons on display, including several that are American-made. Helicopters showered petals on the crowds and brass bands and dancers filed past the guests on a foggy and rain-hit morning.

"The day is all about patriotism and I'm lucky to be a part of it," Ajith Kumar, a student watching the parade, said. "The fact that we have a guest like Obama has made it all the more special."

The US president received a warm welcome on Sunday when Mr Modi greeted him at the airport with a bear hug. The two men spent several hours discussing defence and trade ties, and then announced the breakthrough on the civilian nuclear deal.

The pact was agreed in 2008 but has been held up for six years because of differences over the liability US firms would face in India in the event of a nuclear accident. Now a large insurance pool will be set up, without the need for any further legislation.

The two sides have also pledged to increase their bilateral trade five-fold, from the current $100bn (£66.7bn) a year, and build co-operation on defence projects.

Mr. Obama's visit to India has been shortened so he can visit Saudi Arabia and pay his respects following the death of King Abdullah. It means he and his wife, Michelle, will not now visit the Taj Mahal.

Here are the latest developments in this story

  • By the side of the chief guest sat Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a multicoloured bandhej safa. Before receiving President Obama and his wife Michelle at Rajpath, the PM paid homage to India's martyrs at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate. 
  • A loud cheer went up as the US president alighted in the Delhi drizzle from his special car, called the beast. A poster in the crowd read "We love Obama." He is the first US president to be chief guest at India's Republic Day celebrations.
  • Holding up umbrellas in the rain, President Obama and Michelle Obama watched the display of India's military might and cultural diversity along with PM Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee from a salute dais erected behind a special bullet-proof enclosure, amid unprecedented security.
  • Women's power or Nari Shakti is the theme of the 66th Republic Day celebrations and for the first time all-women contingents from the three services marched down Rajpath.   
  • Four helicopters with the tricolour and the flags of the three services flew over a wet Rajpath as the two-hour parade began. Tanks and missiles rolled by and columns of soldiers marching in perfect precision followed; and then there were colourful floats and performances by school children.
  • "Impressive display by#India's all-women military contingent in the Republic Day parade," tweeted NSCPress, run by President Obama's National Security Council. "#India's amazing diversity is on full display at today's Republic Day parade," tweeted America's National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
  • There was unprecedented security. 50,000 security personnel, including 500 US Secret Service Agents, were deployed. The Delhi Police was alerted against an alleged Maoist plan to stage protests.
  • In the afternoon, the US President is expected to meet Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh, with whom he is said to share a special rapport. He will later attend President Pranab Mukherjee's "At-home."
  • At 5.30 pm, the US President will attend the India-US CEO Forum meeting at the hotel Taj Palace. Another meeting with business delegations from the two countries -- India-US Business Summit - will take place later in the evening.
  • Mr Obama, the first US president to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations, arrived with his wife Michelle on a three-day visit yesterday.  PM Modi broke protocol and received President Obama at the airport, greeting him with a hug.

Watch the Republic Day parade:

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