Thailand PM attended R-Day parade

New Delhi: Yingluck Shinawatra, the first woman Prime Minister of Thailand, today became the fourth leader from Asia to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade in the past four years, signalling the importance India attaches to the region. Shinawatra is the third woman leader to be the chief guest in the Republic Day celebrations in the last 63 years.

Queen Elizabeth II was the chief guest at the celebrations in 1961 while Sri Lankan Prime Minister Srimavo Bandaranaike graced the occasion in 1974.

Shinawatra, who arrived here on Tuesday, came to Rajpath along with President Pratibha Patil escorted by horse-mounted presidential bodygueards. The 44-year old former businesswoman, known for her glamour quotient, was received by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the VVIP enclosure at the Rajpath following which she offered a "Namaste" to him.

Shinawatra also greeted other guests at the enclosure with a Namaste before settling down at the bulletproof enclosure along with Singh and Vice President Hamid Ansai. Once the parade by the defence forces came to an end she was also seen chating with Patil. She is the fourth leader from Asia to grace the Republic Day celebrations as chief guest.

In 2009, Kazakistan President Nursultan Nazar Bayev was the chief guest at the celebrations while South Korean president Lee Myung Bak graced the occasion in 2010. Last year Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was the chief guest.

Shinawatra, who became Prime Minister in August last year, has a Master`s degree in politics from Kentucky State university in the US.

Wearing an off-white coat, she was seen clapping during the performances by school children. Shinawatra is accompanied by a high-level ministerial delegation, senior officials and a business delegation.