An estimated 10,000 spectators braved thick smog and air quality levels to watch the annual Republic Day parade, a pomp-filled spectacle of military might including camels and daredevil stuntwomen, with French President Francois Hollande the chief guest. A contingent of French infantry in India for joint military exercises led the march down the capital’s central Rajpath avenue, the first time foreign forces have ever taken part in the parade. The parade, which also features colourful floats showcasing the culture of the country’s states, is the highlight of annual celebrations of the birth of modern India. India launched a nationwide security crackdown in the lead-up to the celebrations, making a string of arrests. Some 50,000 police, army and paramilitary forces were deployed across the capital.