By Sumit Kumar Singh
New Delhi, Jan 18 (IANS) From original compositions of martial tunes to western beats, Indian Air Force Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar has been leading the force band contingent for the last 13 years. He has been part of the Republic Day parade for the last 25 years, first as part of the team and then as team leader. This year, too, he will be leading the band of 72 musicians, including three drummers.
The 48-year-old Kumar will be making history with his appearance in the parade in coming years and is currently inching closer to a feat achieved by an Indian Navy employee who participated in the parade for 27 years. Master Chief Petty Officer Ramesh Chandra of the Indian Navy, who has retired, was part of the Navy band for 27 years. With eight years of service to go, he is hopeful of making history.
Born in Karnal in Haryana, Kumar and two of his brothers are all musicians and part of the Indian military. One of his brothers is Air Force Sergeant Anil Kumar. He is also part of Indian Air Force band contingent and also in his team. He has been part of the martial band for the last 23 years. His other brother Naik Subhash Kumar doesn’t don the blues like his elder brothers but has chosen the olive green.
Speaking to IANS, Kumar said, “It’s been a privilege for us to be part of Republic Day band contingents year after year. I will complete 26 years and my younger brother 23. Our youngest brother has also participated many times but this time he is not participating.”
He also said that it is the occasion that all his brothers meet and practice for the big day.
All of the three brothers play the trumpet. It was only Ashok Kumar who went for musical course training and attained the acclaimed position of a drum master in 2008. Thereafter, he has been leading the band contingent.
Kumar also said that this year, the IAF band would be playing indigenous musical martial tunes — Tiranga Senani, Air Battle, Vayu Shakti, Nidar Yodha – in addition to Sky War, Evening Star and Saare Jahaan Se Acha.
The famous Martial tune ‘Sound Barrier’ would be played on ‘Quick March’ in front of the main dais when the Air Force contingent would present the salute to the President.
(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at [email protected])