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Obama Attends India's Republic Day Celebrations

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Obama watch the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, India, on Monday.

President Obama became the first U.S. head of state to attend India's annual Republic Day parade, which marks the day the country adopted its constitution.

NPR's Scott Horsley, who is traveling with Obama, says the parade is "partly a showcase for the country's military might, but there are also floats honoring everything from India's female mountain climbers to its home-grown industrial development."

Julie McCarthy, who is NPR's correspondent in India, says it "was a jaunty occasion despite the rain."

Julie tells our Newscast unit:

"India's military hardware — much of it imported from Russia — rolled down the Parade route overseen by President Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A loud cheer went up as the president stepped from his special car called 'The Beast.'

"The two leaders and first lady Michelle Obama sat in a bullet-proof, but not weather-proof, enclosure, as colorful floats passed depicting the life of fishermen in the state of Goa [and] matchmaking in the state of Madhya Pradesh. There was a band that played sitting atop camels, performances by schoolchildren. Daredevil stunt riders got the thumbs-up from Obama, the first American president to view India's Republic Day parade, which ended with a flyover featuring a Russian-made fighter jet that flew vertically into the clouds, and left the crowd below breathless."

The highlight of Obama's trip so far is what Obama called a "breakthrough understanding" between the U.S. and Indian governments that would allow U.S. companies to help build nuclear plants in India.

The nuclear deal was originally signed in 2008, but it was held up because of an Indian law that holds the companies that build nuclear plants and supply equipment liable in case of an accident. The "breakthrough understanding" could help India the world's No. 3 greenhouse gas emitter, cut its carbon pollution.

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