Social Icons

Malaysian Prince To Lead Cavalry Unit At India's Republic Day.

Malaysian prince Tunku Ismail Idris will be the first foreigner to lead India's mounted Jaipur-based cavalry regiment during the colourful Republic Day celebration this Friday.

Grandson of the Johor Sultan, the 23-year-old prince, who was promoted to captain, will lead the 61st Cavalry Regiment, the first non-Indian chosen by the Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to participate in the annual ceremony.

"It is a great honour to lead (the unit) and wonderful experience which I will cherish all my life," Tunku Ismail told Malaysian reporters at a leading hotel in New Delhi last night, while waiting for his father's arrival from Kuala Lumpur to watch the parade, held under tight security.

In July 2003, the polo-enthusiast enrolled as a cadet officer in the Indian Military Academy, which is India's premier military training school located in Dehradun.

"I am proud to represent and being part of the Indian army, it is a great experience," added Tunku Ismail, who was commissioned as a lieutenant in December 2004 and absorbed into the Indian army where he is currently attached.

The prince completed his early education in Sekolah Sri Utama Johor Baharu and Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan St Joseph before pursuing his higher studies in Singapore and Australia and later joined the Indian military academy.

"It is a different world here. It is tough to cope and competitive (to join the army) because everybody in a country of one billion people wants to be in the military, it is prestige," he said.

Weighing 62kg, the prince, will ride his horse through more than 10 km, in the chilly winter morning, but under tremendous security heat, as the Indian government has marshalled more than 20,000 security personnel to ensure safety, as bombs continue to explode in states like Assam and communal riots rupture peace in IT-haven Bangalore.

During the Republic Day ceremony, since India adopted its republican constitution in 1950, the nation will showcase its military and economic prowess.

Late yesterday evening, the prince's father, Tengku Mahkota Tunku Ibrahim Ismail arrived in the Indian capital to witness his son in action on Friday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be the chief guest.