President Cyril Ramaphosa has wrapped up his two day state visit to India, after holding bilateral talks with Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister on Friday where the two nations signed a three year strategic partnership program to deepen ties, Saturday was dominated by the Republic Day parade.

Escorted by the President’s bodyguards on horseback, Ramaphosa and the Indian President made their way to India’s Republic Day Parade.

The last time that a South African leader was given this honour was when Nelson Mandela was President.

On a day that marked 70 years since India became a republic, the country put up a grand show of its military capabilities.

March pasts by every military contingent saluted the guests.

The theme for this year’s parade was the 150th birth year of Mahatma Gandhi- a man whose legacy is shared by both India and South Africa.

“As President of South Africa, I am particularly proud that the seeds of Gandhi’s political awareness were sown in my country. Barely days after arriving in the country as a newly qualified barrister, he was forcibly removed from a train carriage reserved for whites only,” says President Ramaphosa.

At the parade, this tableau highlighted the 1893 incident that was the catalyst for Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent resistance against colonial rule.

The parade also marked the culmination of President Ramaphosa’s first state visit to India.

In their talks, Prime Minister Modi and President Ramaphosa signed a three year action plan. This highlights areas like agriculture, financial services and defence as areas of potential.

There’s also a commitment to double trade from the existing 10 billion dollars, increase bilateral investment and simplify visa regimes.

Former ambassador Skand Tayal says while the visit has helped revitalise ties that had stagnated during Jacob Zuma’s government, the work has only just begun.

“The bilateral relationship has all the structures which are in place but getting that translated into action that has been a challenge in the last few years. Perhaps there there will be more energy that will be provided by this plan of action.”

With both leaders slated to face elections this year, the challenge will be to ensure domestic concerns don’t put bilateral ties on shaky ground once again.