A war memorial will be constructed in Kochi to honour the memory of fallen soldiers, said Minister for Excise and Ports K. Babu. Several freedom fighters and members of the public had sought such a memorial and steps would be taken to fulfill their wish, he said. The Minister was speaking at the district-level Republic Day celebrations held at Marine Drive in Kochi on Saturday.

Mr. Babu said that economic reforms were necessary to make the country a superpower by 2020.

But reforms should ensure the welfare of the poor and backward sections of society, he said. The government would implement schemes that would bring the State on par with developed countries, said the Minister. The national flag was hoisted at 8.30 a.m. A colourful parade was held as part of the celebrations. The Minister took the salute at the parade led by Reserve Inspector M.V. Paulose of the Kochi City Armed Reserve.

The groups that excelled in the march past were given awards. The units of the District Armed Reserve Ernakulam Rural Police and NCC Senior Division Navy Wing topped the armed units category of the parade.

The NCC Army Wing Junior Division (Girls), Student Police Cadets 3rd Platoon (Boys), Student Police Cadets 4th Platoon (Girls), and Perumanoor CCPLM topped the scouts category, while the group from Ernakulam St. Teresa’s School came first in the guides section.

In the Junior Red Cross category, Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Ernakulam, St. Teresa’s High School, and St. Antony’s HSS secured the first three spots. St. Mary’s LP School came first in the Bulbuls and Cubs categories.

Bands from different schools gave each other a tough competition at the parade. St. Teresa’s High School, St. Antony’s HSS, and CCPLM High School, Perumanoor, secured the first three spots respectively in the bands category.

Patriotic songs were performed as part of the celebrations by students of Ernakulam Government Girls High School and Tripunithura RLV College of Music. District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed, Inspector General K. Padmakumar, and Kochi Police Commissioner K.G. James were among those who welcomed the Minister to the function.

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